Act I
Act II
Act IV
Act V
Historical Macbeth

Test Review


The Characters:




The Macbeth graphic novel I have in class has the original text. The pictures of the characters to the side are from this adaptation. They also make it in plain text. Click the picture above and you can read:
Act II i, Act II ii, Act III v, Act V iii
for free. Better yet, buy a copy for yourself from



Need easier ways to read the play?

  • No Fear Shakespeare - Modern translation side by side
  • Lit Charts - Breaks down every scene into one or two sentences
  • The Brick Shakespeare - read most of the play accompanied by images made from Legos. I have a copy in the classroom!


What is iambic pentameter, trochaic tetrameter, and line scanning all about anyway?

Iamb - two syllables in this order: unstressed, stressed
Pentameter - five iambs (well, really five feet, but for our purposes, iambs)

Put them together and you get each line with ten syllables all following an unstressed, stressed pattern. Wow! Get more by clicking on the links below.

EXTRA CREDIT: Get a 100 daily grade by reading one of the web sites above and then explaining iambic pentameter to a parent or guardian. You will prove to me that you did this by having them write on a sheet of paper:

My child read the web site and explained to me the wonders of iambic pentameter.

Then have them sign it. Make sure your name is on there too.





Symbolism plays a major role. Look for clothing symbolism. Here is an example:
After Macbeth is first addressed as Thane of Cawdor, he is confused and says

The Thane of Cawdor lives; why do you dress me
In borrowed robes?

Another example would be when Banquo talks about how stunned Macbeth is to be called Thane of Cawdor:

Look, how our partner's rapt.
New honors come upon him
Like our strange garmets, cleave not to their mold
But with the aid of use.

In other words, just as new clothes don't quite fit like old broken in ones, Macbeth doesn't seem like he fits the Thane of Cawdor role.

Another example is after Macbeth tells Lady Macbeth that he decides not to kill Duncan:

We will proceed no further in this business.
He hath honored 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.

After seeing Macbeth struggling with his conscience, he says this which shows that Macbeth should not be king:

Now does he feel his title
Hang loose upon him, like a giant's robe
Upon a dwarfish thief.

In other words, just as a giants robe does not fit a dwarf who stole it, the grandness of kingship does not fit the lowly murderer Macbeth.
There are others. See if you can spot them as you read.



For the AP test, be prepared to expound upon one of the following themes:




Appearance vs. Reality

Supernatural Influences

You will need to use specific examples from the play to shwo how this theme is presented and you will need to be able to explain how this theme is important to Macbeth and potentialluy other characters and how it impacts our understanding of the meaning of this play..

The Curse

Macbeth, in my opinion, is the best of Shakespeare's works. One thing you should be aware of is that the play is cursed - or so legend says.
Extra Credit Opportunity: Write a one page paper on the curse of Macbeth including things that have happened while the play was performed in the past.You can listen to a podcast from Stuff You Missed in History Class that tells you all kinds of information on it. You can skip the first 2 minutes and 30 seconds if you want to get right to the meat of the information. The podcast is only 20 minutes long. The paper will give you a test grade and if you get a piece of paper signed by a parent saying that you listened to the whole podcast, I'll put in a 100 daily grade.
  • Witches

  • During this time, the audience would know exactly what was going on during the scene with the witches. King James was was king during this time and he was very interested in the occult. During Shakespeare's time, anywhere from 4,500 to 8,000 women were burned at the stake as witches.
  • King James was a witch hunter himself. He had an incident that put fear of withces in him. On a return trip from Norway in which King James had picked up his bride, the ship ran into many troubles. Several women were arrested and charged with trying to sink the ship using witchcraft. King James personally attended the trial. They told him that they indeed did try to sink the boat and that they had sailed out into the ocean on sieves (noodle strainers). King James did not believe this tale until one of them told him, word for word, what he had said to his bride on thier marriage night. This spooked King James so bad that he made sure they were killed. In fact, one woman was found innocent, and King James persuaded the jury to reconsider. They did and she was found guilty. All were executed. You can see where Shakespeare used this story in the play.


  • King James wrote a book about witches called Daemonologie, which describes the evil that witches do, how to recognize a witch, and some remedies for their spells. This book sparked a revolt against witches, much like our Salem witch trials that came later. Churches even had boxes under the pews so that anonymous witch accusations could be made. Most of these accusations resulted in a woman being tortured until she confessed. Then she would be burned at the stake.

    Unfortunately for Shakespeare, King James was NOT happy about the witches in the play and banned it.
    Find out more about the witches at What's It All About. Get an extra credit double daily grade by listing 10 things you learned from this blog post.


    EXTRA CREDIT - What is the name of Lady Macbeth? It is not in the play, but it is the name of the real Lady Macbeth! Worth one classwork grade.
    EXTRA CREDIT - What is wrong with the following picture? Worth one and a half classwork grades. (click the image to see it bigger)

    EXTRA CREDIT - Explain the symbolism in the picture below. Worth a half classwork grade (click to see it larger)


    Thou Saucy Miscreant!

    Click above to get some Shakespearean insults and you can feel free to use them in class. I may even hand out some team points for a clever one.


    The Songs

    Twice in Macbeth you have songs mentioned (Act III, iv and Act IV, i). Both times the song was probably stuck in the play by someone other than Shakespeare. They are most likely the same songs used in the play The Witch by Thomas Middleton. Here are the words to the songs.


    "Come Away, Come Away"
    [WITCHES]: Come away, come away,
    Hecate, Hecate, come away.
    HECATE: I come, I come, I come, I come,
    With all the speed I may,
    With all the speed I may,
    Where's Stadlin?
    [STADLIN]: Here.
    HECATE: Where's Puckle?
    [PUCKLE]: Here.
    [WITCHES]: And Hoppo, too, and Hellwain, too;
    We lack but you, we lack but you.
    Come away, make up the count.
    HECATE: I will but 'noint, and then I mount.

    A spirit like a cat descends.

    [WITCHES]: There's one comes down to fetch his dues,
    A kiss, a coll, a sip of blood,
    And why thou stay'st so long
    I muse, I muse,
    Since the air's so sweet and good.
    HECATE: Oh, art thou come?
    What news, what news?
    [MALKIN]: All goes still to our delight,
    Either come or else
    Refuse, refuse.
    HECATE: Now I am furnish'd for the flight.
    Now I go, now I fly,
    Malkin my sweet spirit and I.
    Oh, what a dainty pleasure 'tis
    To ride in the air
    When the moon shines fair
    And sing, and dance, and toy, and kiss;
    Over woods, high rocks, and mountains,
    Over seas, [over misty] fountains,
    Over [steeples,] towers, and turrets,
    We fly by night, 'mongst troops of spirits.
    No ring of bells to our ears sounds,
    No howls of wolves, no yelps of hounds,
    No, not the noise of water's breach
    Or cannon's throat our height can reach.
    No ring of bells, etc.


    "Black Spirits"

    HECATE: Black spirits and white, red spirits and grey,
    Mingle, mingle, mingle, you that mingle may.
    Titty, Tiffin, keep it stiff in.
    Firedrake, Puckey, make it lucky.
    Liard, Robin, you must bob in.
    Round, around, around, about, about,
    All ill come running in, all good keep out.
    FIRST WITCH: Here's the blood of a bat.
    HECATE: Put in that, oh, put in that.
    SECOND WITCH: Here's libbard's bane.
    HECATE: Put in again.
    FIRST WITCH: The juice of toad, the oil of adder.
    SECOND WITCH: Those will make the younker madder.
    HECATE: Put in; there's all, and rid the stench.
    FIRESTONE: Nay, here's three ounces of the red-hair'd wench.
    ALL: Round, around, around, about, about,
    All ill come running in, all good keep out.



    Test Review

    This is an excellent character web that really lays out who each character is and what their relationship to each other is. I kept it here on the test review instead of up in the character listing because it has spoilers in it. Thank you, Ms. Mattera, for this!


    60 Second Shakespeare creates a review that looks like a British tabloid newspaper. It is a fun way to review who and what are important in the play.
    Simplified Shakespeare offers a brief synopsis of the play that you may wish to read to refresh yourself on the earlier acts.
    Spark Notes Quiz - test yourself on how much you know of the play. While you are there, try reading the act summaries.
    What else do I need to know for the test?.
  • Are the witches real in their last appearence (Act IV, i)?
  • Does Banquo's ghost really exist?
  • Who is the third murderer?
  • The Three Apparations. You will need to tell me what image did Macbeth see, what did the apparition say, and how did it come true? The apparitions appear in Act IV, i.
  • Important quotes and their meanings (you can see important quotes through this web site). We completed this worksheet in class.
  • Know the bare basics of iambic pentameter.

    Macbeth Cartoon

  • The BBC did some cartoon versions of Shakespeare plays a while back. You could watch these to help review, catch up on something you missed, help you understand the play better, or just for fun.
    Part 1

    Part 2

    Part 3


    Middle Earth Macbeth?

    In 2003, my class did a movie version of the last act of Macbeth set in Middle Earth (Lord of the Rings). It was hard, but so much fun and the movie turned out great. However, I no longer have a copy of it and that makes me very sad.

    We were inspired by the original Act V redo:
    Star Wars Macbeth

    Extra Credit: Get a classwork grade for watching Star Wars Macbeth and have a parent sign a piece of paper saying you did it.





    Historical Macbeth

    Macbeth was written for King James (the same as the one who commissioned the King James Version of the Bible). King James was really into the occult and the fantastical. This why there are so many spells and witches.
    This play is based on history (from Raphael Holinshed's Chronicles).

    EXTRA CREDIT: Find an online version of Raphael Holinshed's Chronicles and list out what is different and what is the same in the two accounts. Boost the worth of the project by doing it on poster board with pictures and decorations that match the play and time period. Could be worth major quiz grade or test grade.


    EXTRA CREDIT - What is Macbeth's real Gaelic name and what was his nickname (The ____ King)? Worth a classwork grade..

    All Scottish clans have a tartan (a plaid design) as their family emblem. Here is the tartan of the real Macbeth.


    I have heard that this is the scariest version of teh play out there. If you watched the three versions of the wtich scene back up in Act I, this is the one that has the witches as nurses. You may recognize Patrick Stewart (Professor X of teh X-Men).




    What happened to the first boy playing Lady Macbeth? How is this play connected to the Gunpowder Plot? Find out in:
    5 Interesting Facts about Macbeth



    Extra Credit Opportunity: Read this post on Mental Floss. Summarize each of the six points mentioned on a Google Doc and share it with me for an extra classwork grade and a half.


    Calling all Whoovians!
    What did the Doctor have to do with Macbeth? You tell me! Watch episode 2 of season 3, "The Shakespeare Code" and complete this Deus ex Machina assignment.



    Teachers, if you liked this, you may also enjoy the Extreme English Teacher Blog.


Macbeth - Our tragic hero. Macbeth is an awesome fighter and starts the play with a noble title - Thane of Glamis

Lady Macbeth - Macbeth's wife. He trusts her and listens to her advice


Banquo - Macbeth's best friend and #1 soldier

Fleance - Banquo's son


Duncan - King of Scotland

Malcolm - Duncan's son and Prince of Cumberland
Donalbain - Duncoan's son


The Three Witches - also called the Weird Sisters

Hecate - The goddess of witchcraft









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The Nobles (other than Macbeth)

Macduff - The Thane of Fife. He does not trust Macbeth

Lady Macduff - Macduff's wife
Macduff's Son


Other Nobles

Cawdor - Thane of Cawdor - the king's #1 guy, third in line to the throne. Cawdor at the beginning of this play is a traiter.

Lennox - Thane of Lennox - he is always at the king's side

Ross - Thane of Ross

Angus - Thane of Angus - hard to tell where his loyalties lie

Caithness - Thane of Caithness

Menteith - Thane of Menteith


Other Characters

Siward - An English General ~

Young Siward - His son ~

Seyton - A solider in Macbeth's service ~

A Gentlewoman - Lady Macbeth's servant ~

A Porter - Macbeth's doorman

Three Murderers - or maybe only two...

An English Doctor

A Scottish Doctor



Place: Scotland

Year: 1040 AD (so note that this takes place after the Romans leave but before William the Conqueror comes in - Alfred the Great has mostly unified England, but that does not include Scotland). In England, King Edward the Confessor is in power (remember our 1066 notes).


This is my best grasp of where all the places in Macbeth are.
Click the map to see it bigger.

The Background Slides shown in class to get visuals of the setting.

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Act I

Use Play Script to read this act online
Use Mattera's Macbeth Plot Points to review this act.
Use Audio Book to listen to this act.

Study Guide for Act I and II

Soundboard for Act 1

Scene i

We meet the three witches. Through their talking, we see that there is a battle and they will meet with Macbeth.

We spent some time learning about iambi pentameter, yet here the witches start off the play and anyone can plainly see that there is no iambic pentatmeter here. The witches speak in trochaic tetrameter with rhymed couplets. The rhymed couplets simply means that every two lines rhyme. The trochaic tetrameter means that you have eight syllables in each line. You can hear the difference every time the witches talk. It sounds sing-songy with a DUM da DUM da DUM da DUM da rhythm. Sometimes they leave off a syllable, which you'll notice if you count out the syllables.

You can see the scene from this page of the graphic novel (click it to see the image bigger):


Graymalkin and Paddocks are names of their pets. Graymalkin is a cat and Paddocks is a toad.

Watch three different screen versions of this scene. This first is traditional. The second two are more modern takes on the play.


Scene ii

This get a bit confusing with all the thanes and the MacThis and MacThats involved. Basically, King Duncan is fighting a war. The Thane of Cawdor has betrayed the king and is revolting. Banquo and Macbeth have gone off to meet this threat and have run into Macdonwald (an Irishman) who is fighting on Cawdor's side. It is a bloody battle. The key point (besides setting the scene) is to show Macbeth's fighting skills. Meanwhile, Sweno, the King of Norway, is attacking as well. The other soldiers come in to report how that fight is going.

The line to the king goes: Prince then Thane of Cawdor. Since there is no prince, the Thane of Cawdor is the heir to the throne.

What is all this for? To let us know two things:

  1. Macbeth is a good guy who kicks serious butt on the battlefield
  2. Macbeth is now the Thane of Cawdor (a promotion), but he doesn't know it yet

Scene iii

The witches come in and through their talking we can see how incredibly evil these hags are (that poor guy whose wife wouldn't share her chestnuts!). They meet with Macbeth and greet him three ways:

  1. Thane of Glamis (he is already this),
  2. Thane of Cawdor (which we know Macbeth is, but Macbeth doesn't (dramatic irony)), and
  3. king.

They tell Banquo that he will have descendents as kings. When Ross and Angus come and pronounce Macbeth the new Thane of Cawdor, both he and Banquo start thinking about the other prophecies the witches told them.

Pay attention to the fact that the witches began scene i with, "fair is foul and foul is fair." When Macbeth is about to meet the witches, he says, "So foul and fair a day I have not seen." He is talking about it being a glorious day because the traitor was killed but it is foul weather. It is interesting that they use the same words.

Important Line: "Thou shalt get kings, / though thou be none."

Important Line: "If chance will have me king, why / chance may crown me without my stir."

Scene iv

Important stuff:

  1. Malcolm (Duncan's son) is named Prince of Cumberland and now becomes the heir to the throne over Thane of Cawdor.
  2. The king invites himself to Macbeth's castle to celebrate the victory and his promotion.

Up until this point, Macbeth felt that Fate might make him king without his 'stir.' This means that he felt that he might become king by doing nothing different. Now, however, he feels that he might need to take action.

Scene v

Lady Macbeth gets a letter informing her of what has happened so far. She expresses concern that Macbeth will not be able to take the quickest route to kingship because of his kindness. She is an evil woman (ah, but I am redundant...)!

Unsex Me Worksheet

Scene vi

We start with the King and others in front of Macbeth's castle. Lady Macbeth greets them at the door. The King talks nice about her, she talks nice about the king, blah, blah, blah. The king enters the castle.

The king's words here are very ironic as he compliments the look of the castle as a pleasant place to stay.

Scene vii

Read this scene with Shakespeare Online (with explanatory notes)

Dinner is already underway and Macbeth has left the dinner table to talk to himself. Macbeth is having second thoughts. The idea of murder to him is much different that the idea of slaying enemies on the battlefield. He thinks about the lose of his salvation in this action and then begins to think about someone trying to kill him later.

Lady Macbeth enters and scolds him for leaving the dinner table. She then scolds him for having second thoughts, questions his manhood, and tells him that if she had promised to do an evil deed for him, she would do it, even if it were to bash her baby's head against a rock.

Macbeth still questions about the possibility of failing but Lady Macbeth assures him that they will not fail.

This scene really gives the image that most people think of when they think of Lady Macbeth.



Be able to answer these questions:

  1. Macbeth is alone on stage and speaking aloud. What literary term is this?
  2. What three reasons does Macbeth give for not killing the king?
  3. What does Macbeth tell Lady Macbeth in line 31?
  4. What does Lady Macbeth say she would do for Macbeth if she had promised to do it?
  5. Who will be framed for the murder of Kind Duncan?
  6. What has Macbeth decided about murdering King Duncan at the end of this scene?


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Act II

Use Play Script to read this act online.
Use Mattera's Macbeth Plot Points to review this act.
Use Wired for Books to hear a dramatic audio of this act.

Study Guide for Act I and II

Scene i

Read this scene in graphic novel plain text format.

The importance of this scene is to set the now evolving relationship between Banquo and Macbeth. This also gives us our first inkling that Macbeth is having some mental problems (that is what lines 33 - 61 are all about).

It is unclear, but it seems that Banquo suspects the possibility of Macbeth murdering the king. He says that he will always be loyal to Macbeth as long as he can do so and stay innocent.

Check your email - we did an EdPuzzle on this speech.

If I am reading that long soliloquy by myself, I will want to make sure I know that there really isn't an actual dagger magically floating in the air. It is Macbeth with some serious internal conflict over killing King Duncan.

Interesting fact - the murder happens off stage, but in the Roman Polanski film, it is shown in graphic detail. Polanski's wife and unborn child had been brutally murdered by Charles Manson's group and he had this scene re-enact their deaths.

Possible quiz questions for scene i

  • Who is with Banquo before Macbeth enters?
  • What does Banquo dream about?
  • When Macbeth asks Banquo if he will support him, what is Banquo's answer?
  • What imaginary object does Macbeth see?
  • What is the signal to let Macbeth know the guards are drunk and passed out?

If you think about who this play was written for, you'll probably understand why the murder happens off stage.

How would direct this? So you show an imaginary dagger or not? This version chooses not to show it.

Scene ii

Read this scene in graphic novel plain text format.

Inside Macbeth's castle.

Lady Macbeth explains the plan (again, for no reason since she is all by herself).

At this point, King Duncan has kicked the bucket (or rather, Macbeth has kicked it for him), but Lady Macbeth doesn't know that and hse starts to think that Macbeth has failed even though she set everything up for him. When Macbeth comes in, he's being all loud and he's very much so freaked out. He passed by someone's room when they were praying and he tried to say, "Amen," in repsonse, but he couldn't so he figures he is damned for all eternity.

The bloody hands imagery here is big in posters for productions of Macbeth.

Owl's hooting are thought to foretell death.

Important Line: "Methought I heard a voice cry, "Sleep no more! / Macbeth does murder sleep"

Important line: "A little water clears us of this deed."

Possible quiz questions for scene ii:

  • Lady Macbeth says she would have killed Duncan herself, except he looks like ________
  • Macbeth can't say _________
  • Macbeth thinks he hears someone yell out that Macbeth has murdered _________ (no, not Duncan)
  • Macbeth forgets to do what?
  • Macbeth thinks he will never be able to do what with his hands again?

This scene is from the 1971 movie by Polanski. Polanski's pregnant wife had just been murdered by Charles Manson's group. He used this scene to mimic her death struggles.

Scene iii

Read this scene from Shakespeare Navigators (clicking on the line number explains hard words)

After such a serious scene, Shakespeare gives a bit of comic relief. Here, he shows the porter (a servant) trying to open the door. The porter is drunk and imagines that he is opening the gates of hell. Not slap-stick comedy, but a light hearted moment. Some say that the porter is the devil himself and that is why the play is cursed. Note the lack of iambic pentameter when the drunk guy speaks.

Finally he opens the door for Macduff and Lennox, two noblemen. Macbeth comes in and talks to the noblemen. They have come to get King Duncan. They talk about how rough the night was. They mention several things of importance that happened the night before. They are:

  1. Harsh winds - enough to blow over chimneys
  2. Strange noises - the wind sounded like crying and death screams
  3. Eerie voices that sounded as if they were prophecying
  4. Owls hooted all night long (remember the symbolism)
  5. The earth shook as if it had a fever

Macduff goes in to wake the king and discovers him murdered. This sets off a chain of events:

  • They wake everyone up
  • Lady Macbeth acts all innocent and sad
  • Lennox claims that the guards killed Duncan, so Macbeth, in a false sense of rage, goes and kills them for it (and thus silencing anyone who can say differently).
  • Lady Macbeth faints (to draw attention away from Macbeth's murder of the guards)
  • Malcolm and Donalbain figure if someone killed their dad, then they must be next, so they split (Malcolm to England and Donalbain to Ireland).

Scene iv

Read this scene with Shakespeare Online (with explanatory notes)

It is outside of Macbeth's castle. Ross and an old man are talking about the disturbances in nature last night. They mention:

  • it is still dark even though it is morning
  • a falcon is killed by a mouse-hunting owl
  • Duncan's horses went wild and ate each other

Macduff reveals to them everyone is suspicious of Malcolm and Donalbain being behind the murder, but since the guards were killed by Macbeth, nobody will ever know for sure. Macduff does NOT go to see Macbeth get crowned. Remember that.

These signs once again show the unholy act of the king's murder.

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Use Play Script to read this act online
Use Mattera's Macbeth Plot Points to review this act.
Use Wired for Books to hear a dramatic audio of this act.

Scene i

Read the No Fear version of this scene (right side of the screen) - or -
you can read the Lego Version (way cooler!).

In the castle, Banquo ponders that Macbeth's prophecy has come true, even if he may have used some foul play to get it.

IMPORTANT: Macbeth reveals to us that he fears Banquo. He begins to replay the events of the witches in his mind and convinces himself that Banquo has been jealous of his kingship all along. Then he begins to get angry that he is damning his soul for Banquo's children, since the prophecy states that Banquo will be the father of kings.

IMPORTANT: He calls for two murderers to review plans to kill Banquo and Fleance.

Too bad Macbeth never thought about it this way:

Possible quiz questions:

  • This scene revolves around Macbeth's fear of Banquo. Does Banquo think his friend really murdered Duncan?
  • Does Macbeth know where Malcolm and Donalbain are?
  • Who does Banquo travel with?
  • Macbeth says in line 66, "For them the gracious Duncan have I murdered." Who is "them"?
  • How many murderers does Macbeth hire?
  • Who do the murderers think is their enemy?
  • When is the murder to take place?

Classwork questions for scene i, ii, iii

Scene ii

Read the No Fear version of this scene.

Macbeth and Lady Macbeth talk. She scolds him for thinking about Duncan still. He claims that his worry is with Banquo and Fleance. Macbeth calls her "chuck" - a name like "babe" or "sweetheart." He tells her she doesn't need to worry about anything. He's got it covered.

Interesting Fact: Queen Jezebel from I and II Kings is often referred to as the Lady Macbeth of the bible since she too goads her husband into doing things that he should not.

Possible quiz questions:

  • Is Lady Macbeth happy?
  • What does Macbeth ask Lady Macbeth to do to Banquo?
  • How much of Macbeth's plan for Banquo does Lady Macbeth know?

Scene iii

THREE murderers show up to kill Banquo and Fleance even though Macbeth clearly only hired two. This is not a mistake on Shakespeare's part. They succeed in killing Banquo but fail in killing Fleance. Fleance flees. Ha! Get it? Flees! I crack myself up.

The third murderer is up for debate. Who is he? There are several possibilities (not all of them good, but each intriguing):

  • a guy hired to make sure the first two did their job
  • Macbeth (to make sure the job was done properly)
  • Lady Macbeth (to make sure that Macbeth's plans work, especially after his repeated worrying in the last scene)
  • Somebody Lady Macbeth hired (for the same reason as above)
  • one of the witches trying to make sure that Fleance escapes.
  • A minion or dark spirit of the witches for the same reason
  • Hecate, goddess of witches, for the same reason
  • Duncan's ghost
  • One of the Thanes
  • Malcolm or Donalbain
  • Someone else????

Does it matter? Not to the plot of the story, but it does make for interesting thinking. You will be asked to be able to answer this question:

Who is the third murderer? Provide one example from the text to support your answer.

Major Extra Credit (Add points to your test)- Who is the third murderer?


Scene iv

You can listen to the audio version of it while you read.

The dinner party from hell.

This weird scene of Macbeth yelling at Banquo's ghost gives us more insight on Macbeth's mental state. Three questions come up:

  1. Is the ghost real? No one else sees it.
  2. Is the ghost an apparition sent by the witches to torment him?
  3. Is the ghost just part of Macbeth's imagination (maybe if Macbeth is the third murderer, it is the gory image of his best friend that he can't get out of his mind)?

What really matters here is Macbeth's obsession with the absence of Macduff. He has good reason to worry at Macduff's continual absence. He reveals that he has spies everywhere and will find out the information. He also says he will consult the witches again.

Important line (136): I am in blood / Stepped in so far that, should I wade no more, / Returning were as tedious as go o'er.
This means that Macbeth feels that he has now done so much evilness (waded in so far into a pool of blood) that it would be easier to continue through rather than try to make things right.

Important Line: "Thou canst not say I did it. Never / shake your gory locks at me."

Interesting fact - Macbeth is now talking in first person plural (we, us, our) rather than first person singular (I, me, mine). This is because kings represent all of their country, so they always use the plural point of view.

Possible quiz questions:

  • What bad news does the murderer give Macbeth?
  • How many times did they stab Banquo in the head?
  • Who is sitting in Macbeth's seat?
  • How does Lady Macbeth play off Macbeth's actions?
  • Who doesn't come to Macbeth's party?
  • Macbeth reveals that he has what in every noble's house?
  • What does Lady Macbeth say that he needs?


Scene v

Read this scene in graphic novel plain text format (it is page 12 of the free preview).

The three witches gather around Hecate, goddess of witchcraft. Hecate is really upset that they are meddling with Macbeth.

Hecate is the goddess of witches (among other things) and she is often shown with three faces.

Many scholars say that this scene was never in the original, but added later by someone else. One of the reasonings is that this scene is not needed. Another is the difference in the rhyme scheme and line length. Here the witches speak in iambic pentameter and trochaic tetrameter.

The witches sing a song here titled, "Come Away, Come Away." You can find the lyrics to it on the side bar of this page, or by just clicking here.

Possible quiz questions:

  • Who is the goddess of witches?
  • What is man's greatest enemy?
  • Why is Hecate angry with the witches?

Scene vi

Read this scene with No Sweat Shakespeare.

Well it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that the only person to gain from all the murders is Macbeth. Lennox is far from a rocket scientist, and he is able to figure it out.

Malcolm is convincing the king of England to launch an attack on Macbeth to give Malcolm the throne back.

Possible quiz questions:

  • Who is being officially blamed for Banquo's murder?
  • Who is Macbeth currently upset with?
  • Who has figured out Macbeth is guilty of murder?
  • Where is Macduff?

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Act IV

Use Play Script to read this act online.
Use Mattera's Macbeth Plot Points to review this act
Use Wired for Books to hear a dramatic audio of this act.

Scene i

The three witches appear. They dance around a cauldron and put in several items. Hecate comes in and praises them and leaves again. Don't read the translated version of the chant. It is some of Shakespeare's finest poetry.

Here are some links to help explain the ingredients of the witches' brew:

The first witch puts in an hallucinogenic ingredient (toad poison).
The second witch puts in parts of animals, but it really may just be gross names for ordinary herbs (Eye of newt = mustard seed, toe of frog = buttercup, wool of bat = holly leaves, etc.) (source)
The third witch puts in the weird stuff - odd animal parts and parts of unchristian humans (the worst may be the finger of a baby that was delivered in a ditch by a prostitute who then strangled it).

Here's the scene as done by the Anamaniacs, with a less than proper translation by Yakko:



Macbeth comes and demands them to tell him more of the future. Four apparitions (illusions) appear.

  • An armed head - Beware Macduff!
  • A bloody child - No man born of woman can harm Macbeth!
  • A crowned child with a branch in its hand - Macbeth cannot be conquered until the forest around his castle (Birnam Wood) moves to attack the castle (Dunsinane)


So Macbeth is feeling pretty good. As long as the last two prophecies hold true, there is nothing to worry about.

But wait! There's more...

  • The ghost of Banquo leading a processions of kings, the last one with a mirror to show that the line goes on (it is Banquo's descendants who will be king, not his). This is yet another suck up attempt by Macbeth since King James is supposedly from the line of Banquo.

Two more interesting things in this scene:

  1. Lennox walks on stage just as the witches leave. By all rights he should have seen them, but he doesn't. Are they illusions in Macbeth's mind or did they just choose to show themselves to Macbeth only and stay invisible to Lennox? Macbeth has been known to see things before. However, we know the witches were real at the beginning because Banquo saw them.
  2. Who comes in after the witches say, "By the pricking of my thumbs, something wicked this way comes"? Yep. Our boy Macbeth is seen as wicked by the three weird sisters. When these chicks think YOU'RE the evil one, you seriously have to rethink your life choices.

Macbeth is obviously happy with these prophecies. How can a man not be born of woman. He's set. Unless....Nooo!!!!

    Interesting fact: Ray Bradbury also used the line, "Something wicked this way comes," as the title for a book.

    Interesting fact: The witches sing a song here titled, "Black Spirits." You can find the lyrics to it on the side bar of this page, or by just clicking here.

Interesting fact: The words that the witches speak in this scene are used to make the song sung by the Hogwarts choir in Prisoner of Azkaban. Listen to it on You Tube.

Interesting fact: The words, "Double, double, boil and trouble," are used by one of the Capulets in the 1996 movie Romeo + Juliet. Plus three pionts on your Macbeth test if you can tell me his name. It is the Phoenix Gas scene.


Scene ii

Read this scene using the eNotes modern translation (original text on the left, modern on the right)

Macduff's castle.

It is here that we see that Macduff is acting on his suspicions of Macbeth. However, he did not make plans to protect his wife and family. Why? Did he think that Macbeth was not on to him? Did he think that Macbeth would be scared to invade his home castle? Whatever he was thinking, it was wrong as Macbeth indeeds sends murders to kill his family.


Things to consider when reading this chapter:

  • The boy and Lady Macduff keep making bird related puns back and forth.
  • Who, if anyone, survives?
  • Does going after Macduff's family make Macbeth worse or is it justified considering what would probably happen to Macbeth's family if/when Macbeth gets caught?


This is where Macbeth crosses the Rubicon.

Possible quiz questions:

  • Why does Lady Macduff say that Macduff "loves us not?"
  • Who is there to comfort or protect Lady Macduff, but leaves?
  • Who dies on stage?
  • Who more than likely dies off stage?


Scene iii

Read this scene using eNotes modern translation (original text on the left, modern on the right)

Macduff has gone to England to get Malcolm back.

Malcolm says he would not make a good king. Here are some reasons why:

  • he is more evil than Macbeth
  • he is lustful and will "deflower" all the women in Scotland
  • he is greedy and will take all the lands away from the nobles for his own
  • he will try to start a war in Scotland

Malcolm is actually none of these things, so why would he tell Macduff this?

Ross comes in and tells Macduff that everyone in his house is dead.

King Edward (with his "healing hands") agrees to spare some forces to help Malcolm get his throne back. This is the same King Edward the Confessor that we learned about when we talked about the events of 1066 AD.

Possible quiz questions:

  • Who is king of England?
  • What is one reason that Malcolm says he will not be a good king?
  • Who tells Macduff about the murder of his family?
  • Will King Edward send forces to help Malcolm?

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Act V

Use Play Script to read this act online
Use Mattera's Macbeth Plot Points to review this act.
Use Wired for Books to hear a dramatic audio of this act.

Scene i

This is a big scene in the play. The sleepwalking scene.

Soem students really struggle with this scene. To help you understand it better, you need to know that the gentlewoman (a lady servant) is talking to a doctor about Lady Macbeth's sleepwalking habit. Apparently she does this often and she always does the same things - ask for a light and pretends to wash her hands.

While sleepwalking this time, she reveals her concerns about Lady Macduff and she confesses her guilt to the murder of Duncan.

For all intents and purposes, she is giving a soliloquy. She is revealing her innermost thoughts and feelings. She does not know that she is being watched by the gentlewoman and the doctor. For that matter, she does not know that she is even talking since she is asleep.

Does this change your feelings toward Lady Macbeth? Does this show that she does have a conscious or is it just karma?

Some people say that the messenger that warns Lady Macduff in the previous act may have been Lady Macbeth in disguise. They say this because there is already talk about the third murderer being someone in disguise, Lady Macbeth does not ever appear in a scene with Lady Macduff, and she seems very upset that Lady Macduff is dead.

Take note that Lady Macbeth is not speaking in iambic pentameter in this scene. For that matter, neither is the gentlewoman or the doctor. This stresses the disharmony of Lady Macbeth's soul.

Important Line - "Out, damned spot! Out I say!"

Important Line - "The Thane of Fife had a wife. Where is she now? -- What, will these hands ne'er be clean?"

Interesting fact: In an attempt to make Shakespeare more family friendly, a chap by the name of Thomas Bowdler put together a censored version of his plays called Family Shakespeare. He cut out about 90% of the stories and changed the language quit a bit. Lady Macbeth's famous "Out damned spot!" was changed to "Out crimson spot!"

Possible quiz questions:

1. What does Lady Macbeth keep beside her bedside every night?
2. What action does she do while sleepwalking?
3. What quote from Act II does this contradict?
4. What does she talk about while sleep talking?


Scene ii

In a field outside Macbeth's castle, several Englishmen and several Scottishmen assemble to to battle against Macbeth.

Ho hum.

Possible quiz questions:

1. Where is everyone who is against Macbeth meeting?
2. Which side has Lennox chosen?


Scene iii

Read this scene in graphic novel plain text format.

Inside of Macbeth's castle, Macbeth rants and raves about how he is not scared of those who come against him since they were all born of woman. A servant comes to tell him of the coming army and Macbeth pounds him with insults for being so scared.

Macbeth talks big, but how does he really feel? We've already learned about iambic pentameter in class. Watch what happens when you scan the lines that Macbeth speaks when he is talking to the doctor in this scene:

See how off the scanning is? When a trained Shakesperean actor reads these lines, they will sound slightly off, showing Macbeth's a bit scared..

Scene iv

Read this scene with Shakespeare Online (with explanatory notes)

The outside army hide in Birnam wood, the forest outside of Macbeth's castle, Dunsinane. Malcolm orders every soldier to cut off a branch and hide behind it to conceal their numbers as they approach the castle.

Third prophecy comes true.






Scene v

A moment of silence for Lady Macbeth.

That's enough. Macbeth delivers a speech showing that he believes he has been played by fate. A messenger comes in and tells Macbeth that the forest is marching against the castle! Macbeth is furious and calls for all to get ready for battle.

This speech Macbeth gives is one of the most quoted speeches in Shakespeare. It shows that he has not and will not realize that this is his fault. He clings the fact that life is unfair.

Important Line - "She should have died hereafter.
There would have been time for such a word.
Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,
To the last syllable of recorded time;
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
And then is heard no more; it is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing."

Extra Credit Opportunity:
List ten things you learned about these lines from this blog post for an extra credit quiz grade.

From Spider-Man 1602:

Sadly this is his last performance as he was killed shortly after by Morlun. You would have known this if you went to Free Comic Book Day in 2014. Don't miss this year's Free Comic Book Day and the opportunity to get extra credit for reading comics.

Scene vi

Malcolm and Macduff's army reach the castle.

Possible quiz questions:

  • None! What a stupid scene!


Scene vii

Read this scene with Shakespeare Online (with explanatory notes)

Macbeth clearly is clinging to the man born of woman prophecy.

Here is how you would probably see this on stage. Macbeth and Young Siward do their thing on the balcony (not to be looked as as a balcony, but as somewhere inside the castle). Macbeth exits. Macduff runs onto the stage (looked as in front of the castle) and rants about revenge and the hauntings of his wife and children. He leaves the stage (and enters the castle). Malcolm and Siward enter the stage (still the outside of the castle), talk and then leave to enter the castle.

Possible quiz questions:

  • Who does Macbeth kill?
  • Who is determined to be the one who kills Macbeth?
  • What does it mean when Malcolm says that "We have met with foes/ That strike beside us"?


Scene viii

Read this scene with No Fear Shakespeare.

Macbeth professes that he will not commit suicide to avoid the enemies.

Macbeth and Macduff fight in what should be a massive fight scene on stage. They pause in the fight to trade words with each other and resume the fighting. Macbeth is wary of Macduff because of the first prophecy, but not too much so since the second prophecy woudl rule him out. That's when Macduff drops the bombshell of how he was not born of woman (I won't tell you how here, you'll have to read to figure that out - all three of my children are capable of fulfilling the prophecy, so it is nothing supernatural).

Important Line: "Why should I play the Roman fool and die / On mine own sword?"

Important Line: "If thou be'st slain by no stroke of mine, / my wife and children's ghost will haunt / me still."

Interesting Fact: The "Roman fool" line is Shakespeare plugging one of his plays (Julius Casear) where a Roman, out of guilt for his actions of killing a leader falls upon his sword on purpose to commit suicide.

Possible quiz questions:

  • What does it mean to "Play the Roman fool"?
  • How does Macduff fit the "No man born of woman" prophecy?
  • When Siward is told of his son's death, what is he concerned about? It is the "Had he his hurts before?" question.
  • What does Macduff bring to Malcolm?
  • Who becomes king of Scotland?
  • Who kills Macbeth?


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Not only did somebody make me into a meme, but he even spelled Spider-Man with the hyphen. Way to go M. R.!