Macbeth Scene Analysis’ (Act 1)


Setting: a camp near Forres

Characters in the scene and Character development:

  1. Duncan – The King of Scotland
  2. Malcom – Duncan’s older son
  3. Donalbain – Duncan’s younger son
  4. Captain – The Captain the Duncans army
  5. Lenox and Rosse – Noble men

In this scene, Macbeth taking Macdonwald as prisoner is described. “unseemed him fro, the nave to th’ chops”. This quote describes Macbeth putting his sword in Macdonwald and “unseeming him” so dragging his sword from the bottom of his body to his mouth.

Macbeth is courageous, brave, an action taker and loyal. Macdonwald was a traitor as he was aligned with Norway. The Norwegians and the Scots have a rivalry due to the proximity of their countries as seen below.

Image result for scotland and norway ancient rivalry
Norway’s proximity to Scotland

The Captain comes into the room in so much blood he can hardly be recognised. The captain describes the state of the battle against Norway and Scotland. Norwegians are invading and there are two Scottish rebels who have aligned themselves with Norwegians. These people are Macdonwald and the Thane of Cawdor. There have been two extremely brave Scottish noble men (Macbeth who is the Thane of Glamis and Banquo).

The second half of the scene is when The Thane of Ross arrives and talks about how Macbeth defeated the Norwegian King who is begging for a truce. Duncan then says the the traitor, Thane of Cawdor must die and that Macbeth will take his title and become the Thane Of Cawdor.

QUOTE: ” As two spent swimmers, that do cling together”

This quote is showing that the battle was at a standstill and that they were even, as two spent swimmers are drowning each other and dragging each other down.


Setting : a Heath

Image result for a heath
Example of a Heath.

Characters in the Scene :

  1. Duncan – King of Scotland
  2. Witches – 1,2 and 3
  3. Macbeth – A general in the Kings army (Thane of Glamis)
  4. Banquo – A general
  5. Rosse – Scottish nobleman
  6. Angus – Scottish nobleman

The witches have reappeared in the scene after taking revenge. They run into Macbeth and Banquo as they are making their way from the battlefield. The witches make three prophecies. The first and second prophecies say that Macbeth will be given the role of Thane of Cawdor, and then the King. The last prophecy says that Banquo will be the father to future kings, though he himself will not be ruling Scotland. “Your children shall be kings.”

Then the witches disappear. Ross and Angus show up and confirm the news of the witches first prophecy, that Macbeth is now the Thane Of Cawdor. Macbeth is confused and he ponders on whether he will full upon the crown or whether he will have to kill or fight for the title.

QUOTE: So foul and fair a day I have not seen.

This oxymoron was used at the very start of the play as well by the witches. This shows that Macbeth is already under the powers of the witches, had not even met them before. It leaves the audience wondering and their thoughts being provoked.

Act 1 Scene 4

Setting: A room in the King’s palace

Characters in the scene:

  1. Duncan – The King of Scotland
  2. Malcolm- Duncan’s older son
  3. Banquo – A general
  4. Macbeth – A general in the Kings army (Thane of Glamis)

Duncan is at the king’s palace and hears the news of the execution of Macdonwald from Malcolm. Malcolm passes on the message that Macdonwald dies “nobly”. He means this because Macdonwald confessed to his crimes. Macbeth and Banquo enter along with Ross and Angus. Duncan is very grateful for the general’s actions on the battlefield. They declare their loyalty and gratitude towards the king.

Duncan shares how he plans to name Malcolm the heir of the throne. Macbeth declares his joy, but then thinks to himself aside. He says:

QUOTE: The Prince of Cumberland! that is a step On which I must fall down, or else o’er-leap For in my way it lies. Stars, hide your fires! Let not light see my black and deep desires: The wink at the hand; yet let that be Which the eye fears, when it is done, to see.

This quote is Macbeth noting that Malcolm (prince of Cumberland) stands between him and the crown. He is in a way asking the stars to hide their light so they don’t see his terrible desires. He also states that he won’t let his eye look at what is hand is doing. This means he will no look if he has to kill anyone in his way… Malcolm in this case. But in the end, he will do the thing he is horrified to see.

Plans are then made for Duncan to dine at Macbeth’s castle that evening. Macbeth then goes on to inform his wife of the king coming to their castle.


Setting: A room in Macbeth’s palace

Characters in the scene:

  1. Messenger: Sends messages
  2. Macbeth: A general in the Kings army
  3. Lady Macbeth: Macbeth’s spouse

This scene starts with Lady Macbeth entering the room reading a letter from Macbeth. The letter announces Macbeth’s promotion to the Than Of Cawdor and also talks about his encounter with the witches. Lady Macbeth murmurs to her self about Macbeth being ambitious, but she is scared he is too full of “th’ milk of human kindness” to take the steps to become king. She makes the decision she is going to convince Macbeth that he must do anything to seize the crown. A messenger arrives and tells Lady Macbeth that King Duncan is on his way. As she waits for her husband she says:

QUOTE: You spirits that tend on mortal thoughts, unsex me here, and fill me from the crown to the toe top-full of direst cruelty.

This quote is Lady Macbeth resolving to the fact that she is going to put her femininity to one side, and do the things as gruesome in order to seize the crown for her husband.

Macbeth then enters the room and they have a conversation regarding the King’s soon arrival. Macbeth mentions how Duncan will be leaving the next day. Lady Macbeth declares that Duncan will not live to see the next day. She tells Macbeth he needs to have patience and leave the plan for her to figure out.


Setting: Outside Macbeth’s castle

Character in the scene:

  1. Duncan – King of Scotland
  2. Banquo – A general
  3. Lady Macbeth – Macbeth’s spouse

Duncan, the Scottish Lords and their attendants enter outside Macbeth’s castle. Duncan notices and complements the pleasant environment of the castle.

QUOTE: This castle hath a pleasant seat: the air Nimbly and sweetly recommends itself Unto our gentle senses.

Lady Macbeth emerges to greet them and Duncan thanks her for hosting them. She then states how it is her ‘duty’ to serve the King as he has done so much for her and Macbeth. Duncan asks to be lead inside to see Macbeth. Duncan states he loves Macbeth dearly and thinks of Macbeth him dearly.


Setting: A room in Macbeth’s castle

Character in the scene:

  1. Macbeth: A general in the King’s army
  2. Lady Macbeth: Macbeth’s spouse

Macbeth is sitting in the castle alone, thinking over the murder of King Duncan. He over complicates things. If it was only a matter of killing the king with no backlashes then it would be easy, but afterwards, there will be many consequences seeing as it is the King. It gets even worse because if they were to kill Duncan in Macbeth’s house it would be a major breach of hospitality.

QUOTE: He’s here in double trust: First, as I am his kinsman and his subject, Strong both against the deed: then, as his host, Who should against his murderer shut the door, Not bear the knife myself.

This quote is explaining that Duncan has two reasons to trust Macbeth. He is part of his family (cousin) and he is also a subject (as in he is in the kingdom). But he also is his host. And it would be a major breach of hospitality if he was to let the murderer in let alone be the muderer hiself.

Macbeth’s duty is to protect the king not to kill him. Duncan is not even a bad king. Macbeth knows that heaven will frown upon him murdering a good man such as Duncan.

QUOTE: I have no spur to prick the sides of my intent, but only Vaulting ambition, which o’erleaps itself, And falls on th’ other.

Macbeth is saying that he has nothing to spur him on other than the vaulting ambition of becoming King, which overtakes all over ambitions.

QUOTE: We will proceed no further in this business: He hath honoured me of late, and I have bought Golden opinions from all sorts of people, Which would be worn now in their newest gloss, Not cast aside so soon.

Macbeth comes to the conclusion that it is not a good idea to commit murder. He has barely any justification to kill Duncan. Duncan has honoured him recently and he has now great respect from many people. He wants to enjoy it while it is new and no cast aside so soon.

Lady Macbeth then enters the room. She ‘tells him off’ for his words, questioning his manhood. She gives him right telling off. She lays out a plan to get the guards of Duncan drunk and frame them for murder. She says if Macbeth can’t keep his vow then he isn’t a real man. Macbeth decides to go through with the murder, due to his wife show if strength.

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