Act 1 summaries


Scene 1: A desert place.

Shakespeare's Macbeth begins during a storm somewhere in Scotland. Three witches and the magical animals that serve them, such as a toad and a cat, meet up and mysteriously talk of a battle going on. They agree to gather again once the battle is over, in order to meet with Macbeth.

Scene 2: A camp near Forres.

In a military camp, King Duncan, sons Malcolm and Donalbain, and a nobleman named Lennox meet with a sergeant who has been injured in the battle mentioned in Scene 1. Later Ross, another nobleman, arrives. The sergeant tells them about the battle. Victory was secured in particular through the bravery of Macbeth, who is the King’s relative and loyal thane (a Scottish nobleman). 

In the battle, the King’s army fought against an army of Irish rebels led by Macdonwald, who has now been killed by Macbeth. The Norwegian king, Sweno, joined forces with the rebels but he, too, was defeated. One of Duncan’s noblemen, the thane of Cawdor, sided with the rebels but has been captured. King Duncan is t...

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