Video appunto: Shakespeare, William - Macbeth (6)


-Date and Sources-

Shakespeare’s source for Macbeth was the ‘Chronicles of England, Scotland and Ireland’, where Macbeth was a Scottish King who killed Duncan in order to get the throne, but he was killed by Duncan’s son, Malcolm.
However in the ‘Chronicles’ Duncan was presented as a weak king and Macbeth as a successful monarch, so probably Shakespeare modified the history to please King James I.


-First Act-

The play opens with the news that the invasion of Norwegians, helped by a tratiro, the Thane of Cawdor, has failed thanks to Macbeth.
While returning from the battle, Macbeth and his friend Banquo meet three witches, who told him that he will be the King of Scotland and that from Banquo there will be a line of kings.
Macbeth’s wife (Lady Macbeth) carries out a plan to kill Duncan, in order to help Macbeth to reach the throne of Scotland.

-Second Act-

Duncan is murdered and the blame is put on the King’s servants who slept outside the room. The King’s sons leave the castle of Macbeth, in order to not get killed.
So now Macbeth is on the throne, but Macduff and Banquo suspect him.

-Third Act-

In this act Macbeth kills Banquo and also try to kill his son Fleance, but he escapes and Banquo’s ghost haunts (=tormentare) Macbeth.

-Fourth Act-

In this act the three witches warn Macbeth to beware of Macduff; Macbeth, to avoid any problems with Macduff, kills his wife and his children.
The three witches also predict that Macbeth will be safe as long as Birnam Wood doesn’t move towards him and that “none of woman borne shall harm” him (Macduff wasn’t naturally born from his mother, so Macbeth has to worry about him).

-Fifth Act-

This act begins by showing the madness of Lady Macbeth, since she walks in her sleep, trying to wash away Duncan’s blood from her hands.
Then Malcolm, Duncan’s son, is coming to Scotland with an army; his soldiers cut the branches from the three of Birnam Wood to advance on Dunsinane Castle (where there’s Macbeth and his wife) hidden behind the leaves.
Macbeth is alone, because all the Lords have allied with Malcolm.
Macduff, the one who wasn’t naturally born, because he was ‘torn’ from his mother by a surgeon, kills Macbeth.
The play ends with Macduff carrying Macbeth’s head and proclaiming Malcolm king of Scotland.


Macbeth is the shortest of Shakespeare’s tragedies; it’s simple and direct in its plot, but complex in its psychological analysis of what takes place in the mind of the criminal.
Macbeth initially seems to be an heroic warrior, but, led by ambition, he chooses evil and becomes a murderous tyrant, in fact he kills Duncan, committing regicide, which is an act against nature, that brings about chaos and catastrophe, signalled by terrible weather conditions.
The terms ‘blood’, ‘bloody’ and ‘to bleed’ are the most frequently used words in the play, repeated more than an hundred times.
Equivocation is another theme, showed by the reversal of values (“fair is foul, and foul is fair”) introduced by the three witches.
There’s another important theme: the time; time seems progressing in a way that is pre-ordained.

-The Three Witches-

This is the opening scene of the play.
In an open place, the three witches start talking.
The weather is bad, as there is thunder and lighting; this bad weather is usually linked with the corruption and darkness.

-Duncan’s Murder-

This is a scene full of horror and guilt, as Macbeth kills Duncan.
This murder creates many thoughts inside the mind of Macbeth and of his wife.
They are also worried, because someone is knocking at a door, and that means that someone else is awake and that the murder will be discovered.

-The Exchange of Roles-

Macbeth changed his personality, becoming an evil king, and his wife not seems to be as decisive as she was before.