William Shakespeare - Macbeth
• Macbeth is a tragedy, by the famous William Shakespeare, written between 1605 and 1608.
• It’s the story of a man, ambitious of political power, that makes him act cruelly and unreasonably, becoming the tyrant of Scotland.
Summary• Scotland. Three witches meet Macbeth and Banquo, who have just defeated two separate invading armies, predicting their future: Macbeth will be thane of Cawdor and then king, Banquo will be a forefather of a royal dynasty.
• Ambitious to be king and prompted by his wife, Lady Macbeth, he kills king Duncan, while he was hosting at his home.
• Accusing the royal guards, nobody suspects on Macbeth. So he assumes the kingship, after the escape of king’s sons, frightened by the murder.
• Fearful by Banquo’s heirs because of the prophecy, Macbeth makes kill him, but the son, Fleance, manages to escape.
• Banquo’s ghost, appearing during a banquet, makes Macbeth go crazy, who startles his guests.
• Frightened, Macbeth goes to visit the witches. They predict him three prophecies: he must beware of Macduff, a Scottish nobleman who opposed Macbeth’s accession to the throne; he cant’ be harmed by any man born of woman; and he will be safe until Birnam Wood comes to Dunsinane Castle, Macbeth’s castle.
• MacDuff joins Malcolm in England. So Macbeth makes kill MacDuff’s family. When he reaches this news, he joins to Malcolm in the battle against the tyrant Macbeth. They succeeds in assembling an army, made of English and Scottish soldiers, leaded by Siward, MacDuff and Malcolm.
• The three prophecies come true: MacDuff, born with a caesarean section, conducts an army, where the soldiers are holding boughs cut from Birnam Wood as shield. MacDuff kills Macbeth, beheading him. So Malcolm becomes king of Scotland.
• Shakespeare audience thought that James I was Banquo’s heir, so also the third prophecy realizes.
Main characters• Macbeth is the main character. He is ambiguous. His thirst of power makes him commit murder, but then he is unable to bear the psychic consequences of his atrocities. He is a brave soldier, but sometimes he has a weak personality. Indeed his wife commands him. He also has to know his destiny for act. If not, he doesn’t know what to do. In the second part of the story he is a tyrant, cruel and violent. He hasn’t got any moral value. Indeed he makes kill his friend. He is blinded by power.
• Lady Macbeth is Macbeth’s wife. She is a strong and ambitious woman. Like her husband, she’s blinded by power. She is violent and she doesn’t feel fear. But then, she falls victim to guilt and madness to such an extent that she eventually commits suicide.
• Banquo is a brave soldier. He was a friend of Macbeth. He thinks ambitious thoughts, but he does not translate those thoughts into action. His ghost stands as a rebuke to Macbeth.
• King Duncan is the model of a virtuous, benevolent ruler, loved by all his subjects.
• MacDuff is a Scottish nobleman. He was the first to suspect Macbeth’s guilt. Indeed he is hostile to him from the start, desiring vengeance for his family killing. He’s a brave soldier.
• Malcolm is Duncan’s oldest son. At first he appeared weak and uncertain of his own power, indeed he fled with his brother. But then he re-establishes the order in Scotland.
Other characters• The three witches, weird sister, commanded by Hecate.
• Ross, Lennox, Angus, Menteith, Caithness, noblemen.
• Fleance, Banquo’s son.
• Donalbain, Duncan’s son.
• Siward, general of the English forces
• Murders, doctors, porter, gentlewoman, Lady MacDuff and her son are secondary characters.