Brush Up Your Shakespeare Sample

Brush Up Your Shakespeare Sample

Shakespeare, like many other writers, used the historian Raphael Holinshed’s Chronicles as sources for the plots of many of his earlier plays. He used Holinshed again to find information about Macbeth. As in Shakespeare’s other plays, which are based on real figures, he altered the original version in order to create his own, individual work.

In Shakespeare’s Version of Macbeth, Banquo becomes Macbeth’s enemy and Macbeth arranges his murder. In Holinsheds work Banquo and Macbeth were partners in the murder of King Duncan.

Macbeth was a real king in Scotland from 1040 and he did succeed King Duncan to the throne. King Duncan was looked upon as a weak and indecisive King. No one knows whether the real Macbeth killed him to claim the throne, all we do know is that Scotland at that time was full of murderous tribes all competing for power.

Macbeth reigned for 17 years and during that time he brought peace to the North and South of Scotland. He was killed in 1057 by the army of Duncan’s son Malcolm.

Ghosts in plays by Shakespeare were very popular with the audience – the paying public liked it when someone could physically appear on stage and speak. But the audience was to be disappointed when watching Macbeth during Elizabethan times as Banquo is a silent ghost. Today in a modern interpretation many directors have Banquo as a figment of Macbeth’s imagination.

The Main Characters

The Main Characters

Macbeth

  • Macbeth is the Thane of Glamis at the beginning of the play and a general in King Duncan’s army.
  • He lives in Dunsinane Castle.
  • Married to Lady Macbeth.
  • He has no Children.
  • Best friend is Banquo.
  • When the play starts he is fighting rebels for King Duncan.
  • He meets three witches with Banquo on the heath.
  • He murders King Duncan because the witches tell him he will be King.
  • He becomes King and has his best friend Banquo murdered, because he fails to support him.
  • He revisits the three witches who tell him of new prophecies.
  • He has Macduff’s wife and children slaughtered to protect his crown.
  • Macduff hears about the death of his wife and children and gains support from King Duncan’s allies and finally kills Macbeth.
The Main Characters

Lady Macbeth

  • She is married to Macbeth.
  • She is the wife of a Thane (a Scottish Lord.)
  • She is ambitious.
  • When Macbeth returns from the war he tells her of his meeting with the witches.
  • She welcomes in King Duncan.
  • When night time falls and the King is asleep she persuades Macbeth to murder the King.
  • Macbeth forgets to leave the murder weapon in King Duncan’s room.
  • Lady Macbeth returns to the King’s room to leave the dagger.
  • Lady Macbeth becomes cold-blooded.
  • She lies for Macbeth to cover his tracks.
  • Macbeth leaves Dunsinane castle.
  • Lady Macbeth can’t sleep; she sees things to do with King Duncan’s death.
  • She finally takes her own life.
  • Macbeth on hearing the news of his wife’s death, doesn’t care whether he lives or dies in the final fight with Macduff.

Character Focus

Macduff

  • Macduff is Thane of Fife.
  • He is married to Lady Macduff and they have children.
  • Macduff is the first person to see King Duncan’s murdered body.
  • Macduff is suspicious of Macbeth regarding the King’s murder.
  • He leaves Macbeth’s castle and joins forces with Malcolm.
  • Macduff’s wife and children are murdered, on Macbeth’s orders.
  • Macduff fights Macbeth and kills him.

Banquo

  • Banquo is a general in King Duncan’s army who fights bravely alongside Macbeth against Norwegians and rebel Scots.
  • He is a friend of Macbeth – they both appear together at the start of the play.
  • Banquo has one son, Fleance, and possibly ancestor to future kings (if the prophecy of the Witches is to be believed.)
  • Banquo is murdered on the orders of Macbeth. Macbeth sees the ghost of Banquo at the feast he is holding.
  • Does Banquo return as a ghost or is it a figment of Macbeth’s guilty imagination.

Malcolm

  • Malcolm is the elder son of King Duncan.
  • He is made heir to the throne, Prince of Cumberland.
  • He has a brother, Donaldbain.
  • Once the body of King Duncan has been discovered, he is blamed for the murder of his father along with his brother.
  • Malcolm & his brother Donaldbain flee Macbeth’s Castle
  • He meets with Macduff and they decided to return to Scotland with an army.
  • He is restored to the throne after Macbeth’s defeat.

The Supporting Characters

King Duncan

  • King of Scotland at the start of the play, some say a weak ruler and murdered by Macbeth in Act 2.

Donaldbain

  • King Duncan’s youngest son. Is accused of the murder of his father.

Lady Macduff and her son

  • Married to Macduff.
  • Murdered by the orders of Macbeth.
  • Macduff’s son also murdered.

Fleance

  • Son of Banquo. Macbeth gave orders to the murderers to kill Fleance along with his father
  • They did not succeed

The Three Murderers

  • In the play they have no identity.
  • Some say one of the murderers is in fact Macbeth.

Doctor

  • The Doctor informs Macbeth of the death of Lady Macbeth.
  • He can’t wait to leave the castle in the last Act.

Hecate

Queen of the Witches

  • Enjoys causing chaos.
  • Has a hand in the final spell.

The Three Witches.

  • Three Weird Sisters.
  • Enjoy causing chaos.
  • They are the supernatural characters in the play.
  • Their prophecies are misinterpreted by Macbeth.

Scottish Thanes

Ross, Lennox, Menteith, Angus,, Caithness

  • At the beginning of the play the Scottish Thanes are Macbeth’s friends.
  • They grow uneasy with the events during the play.
  • At the end of the play they have joined forces with Malcolm, King Duncan’s son.

A Brief Plot: Scene by Scene

Act 1: Scenes 1 – 7

Scene 1. The Witches meet on the heath.

Three unnamed Witches appear and decided that they will meet Macbeth once the battle has finished. The scene ends with the Witches chanting what sounds like a spell.

Scene 2. Two battles are reported to King Duncan.

King Duncan is given news from the battlefield, where his forces are fighting rebels. He is told that Macbeth has killed a rebel Macdonwald & Banquo assisted in this matter. A Scottish nobleman, Ross, informs the King that the Thane of Cawdor has been defeated and orders Cawdor’s execution. Macbeth is given the title of Thane of Cawdor for bravery.

Scene 3. Macbeth and Banquo meet the Witches.

The three weird witches await the arrival of Macbeth & Banquo. Upon their arrival the witches speak to them and tell their prophecies:

  • Macbeth will become Thane of Cawdor
  • Macbeth will become King
  • Banquo will be father of future kings.

The witches disappear and two lords meet Macbeth and Banquo on their return journey. They tell Macbeth he is now Thane of Cawdor. Macbeth is shocked at the news.

Scene 4. King Duncan greets Macbeth.

This scene takes place at the Royal Palace where King Duncan is told about the death of the traitor, Cawdor. Then Macbeth and Banquo arrive and the King welcomes then warmly.

Duncan gives his son Malcolm, the title, Prince of Cumberland and names him heir. The King announces he will come to stay at Macbeth’s Castle. Macbeth is unhappy that Malcolm has been made heir and starts to plot the King’s downfall.

Scene 5. Lady Macbeth reads the letter.

Lady Macbeth receives a letter from her husband telling her of the prophecies from the witches and that King Duncan will be visiting the castle for one night. Lady Macbeth immediately starts plotting the King’s death.

Scene 6. King Duncan arrives at Macbeth’s Castle.

King Duncan arrives at Macbeth’s castle and is welcomed by Lady Macbeth who speaks of loyalty and service.

Scene 7. Lady Macbeth reveals the plot.

Macbeth starts to have doubts about the murder & tells Lady Macbeth he can’t go through with it, she convinces him by questioning his manhood. She reveals how she will make King Duncan’s guards drunk and then make it appear they were guilty of the crime.

Act 2: Scenes 1 – 4

Scene 1. Macbeth visits Banquo then enters King Duncan’s chamber.

The scene starts after midnight in Macbeth’s castle. Banquo admits to his son Fleance that he cannot sleep and feels uneasy.

Macbeth appears, and Banquo tells him that he has had dreams about the Witches. Macbeth offers his friend power and reward if he sides with him in the future.

Scene 2. Macbeth returns from the Kings chamber.

Lady Macbeth awaits Macbeth’s return. He appears in a dreadful state carrying the daggers, unable to think about what he has done. Lady Macbeth takes the daggers and goes to Duncan’s room to smear the guards with the blood. She returns, her hands now bloody too.

Scene 3. The murder is discovered.

Early the next day, the porter opens the gate to Macduff and Lennox, and jokes with them. Macbeth appears and Macduff goes to wake the King. Macduff returns in apparent shock, to tell everyone about the murder.

Lady Macbeth appears and then the King’s two sons, Malcolm & Donaldbain enter and are also told the news. Macbeth reappears and admits he has killed the servants in his anger. Malcolm and Donaldbain flee, fearing that they too may die.

Scene 4. Ross and Old Man discuss the murder.

Outside Macbeth’s castle, Ross and an Old man speak together. They mention ‘unnatural’ happenings, the wild behaviour of Duncan’s horses, and how the day seems like night it is so dark.

Macduff appears and tells them that the King’s sons have fled. They are now suspected of the murder, so Macbeth has been named as the new King. He has gone to Scone to be crowned. Macduff is not going, but is returning home.

Act 3: Scenes 1 – 6

Scene 1. Macbeth orders Banquo’s murder.

Banquo reveals his suspicious about Macbeth in a soliloquy. Macbeth, Lady Macbeth and the other lords appear, & ask Banquo to be present at the banquet that evening. Macbeth speaks of the lies Duncan’s sons are telling in England.

Left alone, Macbeth tells the audience why he must kill Banquo, angry that it is Banquo’s children who will eventually be kings of Scotland (according to the witches.) He speaks to the Murderers and persuades them to kill Banquo and his son Fleance.

Scene 2. The Macbeths discuss their situation.

Macbeth & Lady Macbeth meet. Macbeth seems to be thinking too much about what has happened and appears to regret his actions – it hasn’t brought the peace he desired. Lady Macbeth says he must hide his feelings, and he agrees. He then reveals his concerns about Banquo and Fleance, but does not tell her what is planned, just that they are taken care of.

Scene 3. The Banquo is murdered.

A mysterious third murderer appears who seems to know a good deal about Banquo’s movements. In an isolated place the murderers ambush Banquo and Fleance his son. Banquo is killed, but Fleance escapes.

Scene 4. The Banquet and the ghost.

Macbeth is informed that Banquo is murdered but that his son escaped. Macbeth has to continue with the proceedings of the banquet, but as he goes to sit in his place he finds Banquo’s ghost covered in blood sitting there. Macbeth loses his calm & shouts at the ghost.

Lady Macbeth tells everyone his behaviour is the result of a childhood illness. Macbeth eventually regains control only for the ghost to reappear. He responds by shouting violently at the ghost, which finally disappears. The evening is ruined and Lady Macbeth is forced to ask everyone to leave.

Scene 5. Hecate and the three Witches meet.

Hecate meets the three Witches on a heath. She tells them off for meeting with Macbeth without her being there. Then she sends them away having arranged that she and they will meet Macbeth the following morning.

Scene 6. Lennox reflects and summarises.

At the palace, Lennox speaks with another lord about the murderous events. He mentions that it has been noticed that Macduff is missing from the banquet. He informs the lord that Duncan’s son Malcolm is staying in England and Macduff has gone to seek him for support in restoring the rightful heir to the throne.

Act 4: Scenes 1 – 3

Scene 1. Macbeth meets the Witches, again.

The Witches wait for Macbeth, chanting spells and creating a disgusting brew. Hecate, Queen of the witches, appears and praises their efforts. Macbeth arrives and a series of 3 ghosts appear:

  • A head wearing armour, tells Macbeth to beware of Macduff.
  • A bloody child tells Macbeth that none of woman born can harm him.
  • A child crowned, with a tree in his hand tell Macbeth that he has nothing to fear until Birnam Wood moves to Dunsinane (Macbeth’s castle.)

Macbeth is then shown a vision of eight kings, with Banquo’s ghost following. Hecate and the Witches vanish after dances and music.

Lennox appears and tells Macbeth that Macduff has fled to England. Macbeth decides there and then to murder Macduff’s family.

Scene 2. The murders of Macduff’s wife and son.

At Macduff’s castle, Ross tells Macduff’s wife that her husband has left for England. She cannot come to terms with this, despite Ross’ kind words telling her that Macduff is a decent and wise man. Ross leaves. Lady Macduff and her son talk for a while before a messenger arrives to warn Lady Macduff that she is in danger. But it is too late. The messenger leaves and the murderer’s enter. They kill her son, and then pursue her as she runs off.

Scene 3. Macduff meets Malcolm in England.

Macduff visits Malcolm to persuade him to return to Scotland and remove Macbeth but Malcolm is suspicious and needs to test out whether Macduff really is as decent and loyal as he appears. Malcolm pretends not to be worthy of the throne of Scotland. When he sees Macduff’s reaction to this, he tells him the truth: that an English army of ten thousand men, led by Siward, has already set off to Scotland.

Ross arrives with reports of the state of Scotland and the murder of Macduff’s wife and Children. Macduff is devastated, but Malcolm persuades him to turn his anger on Macbeth.

Act 5: Scenes 1 – 9

Scene 1. Lady Macbeth sleepwalks.

At Macbeth’s castle a Doctor & a Gentlewoman watch Lady Macbeth as she sleepwalks during the night. Lady Macbeth constantly rubs her hands. Doctor concludes she needs divine help rather than medical.

Scene 2. The Scottish Lords bring news.

The Scottish Thanes decide to join the English forces led by Malcolm, by Birnam Wood.

Scene 3. Macbeth prepares for battle.

Fear grips those left in Macbeth’s castle, but Macbeth knows he cannot be harmed by anyone ‘born of woman’ or until ‘Birnam Wood moves to Dunsinane’. Both of which he considers impossible.

He receives news of Lady Macbeth’s condition from the Doctor. He calls for his armour.

Scene 4. Macbeth’s enemies at Birnam Wood.

Malcolm & several Scottish lords are on the march. Malcolm orders the soldiers to cut down boughs from the trees in order to disguise themselves.

It is reported that few remain to support Macbeth except those forced to stay.

Scene 5. Macbeth hears of Lady Macbeth’s death.

He prepares himself for battle. His preparations are interrupted as he is told of Lady Macbeth’s death.

A messenger appears and reports that Birnam Wood is moving towards Dunsinane. Macbeth cannot believe it and is now ready to face death.

Scene 6. Malcolm’s forces in front of Dunsinane Castle.

The English army & Malcolm’s forces put down the trees and show their full power. Malcolm gives the battle orders and Macduff promises ‘blood & death.’

Scene 7. Macbeth fights and kills Siward son.

One of the Scottish Lords, Siward has broken through the castle defences with his army. Macbeth face Siward’s son. But remembering the Witches’ prophecy he fears no child, and he kills Young Siward.

Scene 8. Macduff kills Macbeth.

Macbeth realises it futile but will not die by his own sword. Macduff appears and challenges him. Macbeth tells Macduff that he cannot be harmed by ‘one of woman born’. Macduff reveals he was not born in the usual way but was ‘from his mother’s womb untimely ripped’ (Caesarean section.) Macduff kills Macbeth.

Scene 9. Peace is restored.

Macduff enters the stage with Macbeth’s severed head. Malcolm enters informs those present Lady Macbeth committed suicide. Peace is restored and Malcolm invites everyone to see him crowned in Scone.

The following is a simple script of Macbeth. Enjoy acting it out William Shakespeare’s MACBETH

LIST OF ROLES

  • Narrator
  • Duncan : KING OF SCOTLAND
  • Malcolm
  • Donalbain: HIS SONS
  • Macbeth: THE LORD OF GLAMIS CASTLE AND LATER, KING
  • Banquo: MACBETH’S FRIEND
  • Macduff: THE ENEMY OF MACBETH
  • Lenox
  • Ross: LORDS OF SCOTLAND
  • A Doctor
  • hree Murderers
  • Lady Macbeth: WIFE OF MACBETH
  • Three Witches
  • Apparitions
  • Soldiers and Lords

Scene 1

ENTER Three WITCHES

1ST WITCH When shall we three meet again In thunder, lightning, or in rain?

2ND WITCH hen the hurlyburly’s done, When the battle’s lost and won.

3RD WITCH That will be at the set of sun.

1ST WITCH Where the place?

2ND WITCH Upon the heath.

3RD WITCH There to meet with Macbeth

 

NARRATOR Here come Macbeth and Banquo, soldiers of King Duncan, fresh from a battle with Duncan’s enemies

Enter MACBETH and BANQUO

A drum is heard in the distance.

WITCHES A drum, a drum!

Macbeth doth come.

MACBETH It is so foul and fair a day.

BANQUO What are these women, That look not like the people of the earth?

MACBETH Speak, if you can: what are you?

WITCHES All hail, Macbeth, who shall be king!

WITCHES (Turning to Banquo)

And All Hail Banquo – You will not be king But your sons will be kings!

So all hail Macbeth and Banquo!

MACBETH Stay and tell us more…

The WITCHES vanish.

BANQUO Where are they vanished?

MACBETH Your children shall be kings.

BANQUO You shall be king.

SCENE 2

NARRATOR 1

The witches have said that Macbeth will be made King. Macbeth can hardly believe it and writes to his wife to tell her All about it!

Enter MACBETH and LADY MACBETH

NARRATOR Macbeth’s wife is an evil woman She decides that if Macbeth is to be King then someone must die. King Duncan, who is coming to visit Macbeth that night, must be killed!

NARRATOR After a dinner party for the King at his castle Macbeth waits for a Lady Macbeth to ring a bell to tell him to kill the King!

MACBETH Is this a dagger which I see before me, The handle toward my hand?
My wife says I must use a knife like this to kill my King!
A bell rings
The bell invites me. Now I must do it!

ENTER KING DUNCAN -getting ready to go to bed/sleeping

MACBETH creeps up on him
King Duncan – I’m sorry. By the ring of this bell
You are sent to heaven, or to hell.
He stabs the KING!

Enter LADY MACBETH

MACBETH I have done the deed.

LADY MACBETH Go, get some water
And wash this filthy blood from your hand. –
Why did you bring the daggers from the place? Go!

MACBETH I will not go! I am afraid.

LADY MACBETH You coward! Give me the daggers!
They both exit.

SCENE 3

NARRATOR With King Duncan dead, Macbeth is made King. The witches prediction has come true. But what about Banquo?

Macbeth and his wife become jealous of Banquo. What if Banquo’s sons try to take the crown away from Macbeth? They decide that someone else must die now.

Banquo must be killed!

(BANQUO enters. 3 murderers hired by Macbeth come on to the stage and slit his throat) Now Macbeth has killed Banquo he can surely enjoy a party at his house with his friends. Or can he?

SCENE 4

LENOX Please, King Macbeth – sit down to dinner

The ghost of BANQUO comes in and sits in MACBETH’s place

ROSS Please your highness. Sit down

MACBETH The table’s full.

LENOX Sit here my good lord

.

MACBETH Which of you have done this?

LORDS What, my good lord?

MACBETH (to GHOST) I didn’t kill you! It wasn’t me!

ROSS Gentlemen, rise!

LADY MACBETH Sit, good friends. Macbeth is simply feeling ill
(aside to MACBETH) Are you a man?

MACBETH

NARRATOR (ignoring his wife and speaking to the Ghost) Go away, you horrible shadow! Unreal ghost, go away!

The party guests get up and leave quickly, embarrassed by Macbeth’s behaviour. Macbeth decides to go and see the Witches again to find out what he should do next!

SCENE 5

Enter the THREE WITCHES

ALL WITCHES Double, double toil and trouble;

Fire burn and cauldron bubble.

By the pricking of my thumbs,

Something wicked this way comes.

Enter MACBETH

MACBETH How now, you secret, black, and midnight hags!

Show me what you know!

3 Apparitions appear and mime whilst the Narrator speaks the following lines

NARRATOR The witches call upon apparitions to tell Macbeth three things. Firstly that he will never be defeated by anyone born of woman. Secondly that he shall not be defeated until the woods march up to his castle. But thirdly, that he should beware Macduff! They also show him a vision of Banquo’s children as kings of Scotland!

MACBETH Filthy hags! Why do you show me this?

Horrible sight! Now I see its true;

Banquo’s sons shall be king after all!

The WITCHES laugh and vanish

>

NARRATOR Meanwhile, in Macbeth’s castle, Lady Macbeth is walking in her sleep…

Enter LADY MACBETH.

LADY MACBETH (WASHING HER HANDS IN HER SLEEP)

Out, out spot! Out I say!

Who would have thought the old man would have

So much blood in him.

What, will these hands never be clean?

SCENE 6

The wood outside Macbeth’s castle.

Enter MALCOLM, MACDUFF AND VARIOUS SOLDIERS MALCOLM Let every soldier take a branch from the wood And disguise himself as if he was a bush or tree.

Macbeth’s wood will march on to his castle! The army pick up branches and cover themselves
Enter MACBETH and SOLDIERS
MACBETH
Lady Macbeth screams off stage.

Enter a DOCTOR

DOCTOR The queen, my lord, is dead.

MACBETH My queen is dead!

How will I live without her?

Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow

All the way to my dusty death!

Enter a MESSENGER

What is it?

MESSENGER As I stood upon the hill
I thought I saw your wood moving towards the castle!

MACBETH Don’t lie to me you slave!

(under his breath) This is what the witches said!

ENTER MACDUFF. MALCOLM AND THE ARMY

MACDUFF I have no words. My voice is in my sword. (They fight)

MACBETH You cannot win. I have a charmed life

I cannot be beaten by anyone born of woman!

MACDUFF Then despair Macbeth!

For my mother died before I was born

I was ripped from her body

So I was not of woman born!

Exit fighting

Enter PRINCE MALCOLM and soldiers

MACDUFF arrives on stage with Macbeth’s head, which he has chopped off!

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