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MACBETH

SYNOPSIS


Three witches gleefully anticipate meeting the great Scottish general Macbeth, the Thane of Glamis.


At his field headquarters Duncan, King of Scotland, hears of Macbeth’s extraordinary valor in battle, where he and his fellow general Banquo repulsed the Norwegian invaders and defeated the Scottish traitors. Duncan orders that Macbeth be granted the honor of being known henceforth as the Thane of Cawdor.


The Witches appear to Macbeth and Banquo, astonishing Macbeth when they greet him as Thane of Cawdor, and as the future King. They also name Banquo as the father of a line of kings and then vanish. The Thanes of Ross and Macduff arrive from Duncan and confirm that indeed Macbeth is now the Thane of Cawdor.


At Duncan’s HQ the King formally proclaims his elder son Malcolm his heir, and dispatches Macbeth to prepare his castle for a royal visit.


Lady Macbeth receives a letter from her husband confiding all that the witches have told him, and she calls on the spirits of darkness to give her strength to perform the regicide. That evening, after Duncan’s arrival at Macbeth’s castle, Lady Macbeth urges her husband her husband to cast aside scruples and doubts and to murder the King. Macbeth returns from the killing, distracted and still carrying the blood-coated daggers, which then Lady Macbeth must bring back to the dead King’s chamber. She emerges with blood-stained hands, saying that she smeared Duncan’s sleeping body guards with his blood to incriminate them. A loud knocking sends Macbeth and his Lady hurriedly to their bedroom.


The knocking is finally answered by a hung-over porter. Lennox and Macduff arrive to meet with the King, and it is Macduff who discovers the murder. While chaos descends on the castle Malcolm and his younger brother Donaldbain flee lest the conspiracy engulf them as well.


The Thanes decide that the war hero Macbeth should be the next King. Almost immediately Macbeth begins a paranoid reign of terror, having Banquo murdered and then the family of Macduff, in addition to legions of innocent Scots.


Malcolm, having fled to England, raises an army there to free his country from the butcher’s hands.


Macbeth, his reign becoming increasingly precarious, consults with the witches, who reassure him that no harm will come to him until Birnam Wood marches on his castle and that moreover, no man born of woman will kill him.


Lady Macbeth has descended into madness, walking in her sleep, endlessly trying to free her hands from the traces of blood that haunt her.


When the news is brought to Macbeth that the Queen is dead he is absorbed in a nihilistic revery from which only the approach of the combined Scots and English forces, led by Malcolm, can rouse him. He is confronted by vengeance-seeking Macduff for a climactic fight.


Synopsis by Beverly Bullock

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