Malcolm's men drop their leafy camouflage and the battle begins...

We learn that King Duncan's two sons have fled, leaving Macbeth to be crowned the new King of Scotland. Macduff, who later becomes instrumental in Macbeth's downfall, has significantly snubbed Macbeth's coronation at Scone to go to Fife instead. A tone of increasing despair for Scotland begins in this scene...

The Three Witches' prophecy of Banquo's sons becoming kings has not been thwarted by Macbeth...

Macbeth famously sees Banquo's Ghost at his party, causing Lady Macbeth to finish their party early to prevent further suspicions about Macbeth's sanity and about their role in recent events (King Duncan's death whilst a guest at their castle). Macbeth makes his famous speech about being too covered in blood to stop killing...


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Malcolm and Macduff discuss how Scotland under Macbeth's rule has been plunged into despair. Malcolm tests Macduff's integrity by describing himself as unfit to rule.


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Hecate instructs the Three Witches to make preparations for her plan to use illusion and the Three Witches' prophecies against Macbeth. The Three Witches, eager to placate (please) their master, eagerly make preparations, doing as they are told...

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Macbeth and a lady are entertaining at their castle. The First Murderer arrives, announcing that Banquo is dead but Fleance has lived. Macbeth immediately realizes the consequences of this (his descendants may not become kings).

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Lady Macbeth and Macbeth speak in private. Macbeth is again plagued by a guilt we thought may have vanished. Lady Macbeth attempts to strengthen Macbeth's resolve.

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A major turning point in the play. Just as the Three Witches prophesied Macbeth's ascendancy to become King in Act I, Scene III, here they prophesies his downfall with the Three Apparitions (visions / ghosts). The first Apparition tells an eager Macbeth that he should fear Macduff, saying "beware Macduff; / Beware the Thane of Fife." The Second Apparition reassures Macbeth that "none of women born / Shall harm Macbeth" and the Third Apparition tells Macbeth he has nothing to fear until "Great Birnam wood" moves to "high Dunsinane hill" near his castle.

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Meeting with Macbeth, Macbeth continuously asks Banquo of his travel plans and those of his son. Alone, Macbeth fears that Banquo's sons will mean his dynasty will be short-lived; only he will become King of Scotland and not his sons who will be replaced by those of Banquo's lineage.

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Ross speaks with an Old Man who describes various unnatural acts happening in Scotland, perhaps the single most significant scene for the theme of nature at war with itself, which relates to the idea of a natural order being disturbed by the death of a king, a prevalent theme throughout this play.