Macbeth Summary Essay

Macbeth is a tragedy written by William Shakespeare about a brave Scottish general named Macbeth who receives a prophecy from a trio of witches that one day he will become King of Scotland. Consumed by ambition and spurred to action by his wife—a cold-hearted, manipulative woman Macbeth murders the king and takes the throne for himself, only to meet his demise in the final act of the play.

Macduff, an honorable man with a wife and young children, hears rumors that Macbeth has murdered King Duncan, which causes him great distress. He visits Ross who tells Macduff than he too heard about Macbeth murdering King Duncan. Macduff then leaves for England where he knows Malcolm (the rightful heir to the throne) will be safe because it is not safe for him in Scotland any longer due to Macbeth becoming king.

Macbeth is a king in the country of Scotland, who receives a prophecy from a trio of witches that one day he will become King of Scotland. Consumed by ambition and spurred to action by his wife—a cold-hearted, manipulative woman Macbeth murders the king and takes the throne for himself, only to meet his demise in the final act of the play. Macbeth was written by William Shakespeare between 1603 and 1607 while it is believed he was writing King Lear, The Tempest, and Hamlet.

King Duncan of Scotland is murdered by his thane, Macbeth, who becomes king himself. A revolt leads to the restoration of Duncan’s son, Malcolm, as king. MacDuff, who has lost his family to the hands of Macbeth during this tumultuous time, finds out that his friend Banquo knows about King Duncan’s murder and must take matters into his own hands. He goes back to face off with Macbeth in order to restore peace and balance. Can he do it? Watch Shakespeare at its best!

King Duncan’s son, Malcolm, flees to England when he hears that his father has been murdered. He meets up with the King of England who takes an oath that he will help Malcolm become king in Scotland. Meanwhile, back in Scotland, it is discovered that there are witches prophesying about Macbeth becoming king and Lady Macbeth tries to convince him to kill the king so they can succeed. Despite her efforts, she knows in the end that he doesn’t have what it takes to do this deed himself so she hires some men to kill the king.

Macbeth is only driven to evil deeds because of his wife and her persuasive ambitions. Macbeth is a worthy king who even protects the common people from their enemies, but he eventually succumbs to his ambition and commits regicide and betrayal in order to become king. Macbeth’s tragic flaw is that he cannot resist temptation and does not remain true to himself when tempted by others with power; Macbeth begins killing for self-gain when he should be killing for the greater good [1].


Macbeth, Thane of Glamis, was one of King Duncan’s most trusted men. He fights bravely at the battle of Dunsinane Hill against rebel Cawdor, for which he is given the title of Thane of Cawdor. Macbeth begins to have weird visions and dreams that predict his ascent into kingship. His wife convinces him that these are true prophecies that must be followed through with because Macbeth will become king if he fulfills them. Macbeth kills King Duncan at a dinner party hosted by Macbeth himself under the pretense of treason by the king against his host. Macbeth becomes king but fears being overthrown so he makes Banquo, who was there at the murder, an accomplice to fear as well as MacDuff [2].


Macduff is not only afraid for his life but has just lost his entire family to Macbeth. MacDuff’s wife and children are killed at Macbeth’s orders after Macduff is made Thane of Fife by Macbeth. MacDuff escapes because he was not home when the order came down but remains alienated from them until the end of the play [3].

MacDuff seeks revenge for his dead family once he regroups with Macbeth’s enemies. He kills Macbeth before being killed himself in turn by Macbeth’s soldiers [4].

Lady Macbeth

Macbeth has a weird vision before Duncan arrives, which frightens him greatly. Lady Macbeth says that it is nothing; Macbeth cannot act like a coward. Lady Macbeth has Macbeth kill King Duncan because he will be the only one who can tell that Macbeth murdered him for his crown.


Macbeth begins to suffer guilt, nightmares, and fears after killing the king; its affects on his character are shown in his conversations with Banquo. Macduff murders Macbeth near the end of Act Four to take revenge for Macbeth’s murder of his family [5].

The play ends with Malcolm becoming king, as foretold by all of Shakespeare’s witches combined.

Macbeth’s plays Macbeth and Banquo, murdering Macdonwald and Macduff and his wife all serve as cautionary tales for James. Macbeth is a tyrant who falls from power, Macduff is the legitimate successor to the throne, Macdonwald was once friends with Macbeth before he betrayed him, Lady Macbeth is both ruthless and cold but her mind, like Macbeth’s eventually deteriorates. Shakespeare was not trying to criticize James or portray him as Macbeth or Macduff, but instead bring the comparisons of their rule closer to home for his audience.

There are several key elements in this play that contribute to the theme of Macbeth’s over-reaching. Macbeth is constantly taking matters into his own hands, resulting in several key elements that are out of his control. Macbeth hires murderers to kill Duncan and cannot stop them once they have begun their work, he promises Banquo’s heirs to Fleance which results in Macduff’s flight from Macbeth, Macbeth is tricked into believing that Banquo’s heir Fleance escaped him and Macduff killed Macbeth.

Shakespeare puts Macbeth in situations where he must rely on others to make a significant decision or move which inevitably leads to over-reaching because he cannot control the situation. Even though Macbeth is king, he ultimately has no control over a situation and must rely on a third party. Macbeth’s biggest problem lies in the fact that he cannot stop himself from murdering Duncan even after all of his planning and troubles with Banquo have occurred.

Macbeth knows going into the meeting with Duncan that he will murder him but cannot stop himself from doing it anyway. Macduff flees to England as soon as Macbeth breaks his oath to protect Macduff’s family which leads to Macbeth’s loss of power because Macduff becomes an enemy instead of a friend. Overall, Macbeth takes everything into his own hands and then suffers from the consequences throughout the entire play.

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