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On a heath in Scotland, three witches, the weird sisters, wait to meet “Macbeth” amidst thunder and lightning. Their conversation is filled with paradox and equivocation: “when the battle’s lost and won”(1/1/4)and when “fair is foul and foul is fair”(1/1/11).The Scottish army is at war with the Norwegian army. “Duncan”, king of Scottland, meets a captain returning from battle.
The captain informs them of “Macbeth’s” and “Banquo’s” bravery in battle. He also describes “Macbeth’s “attack on the castle of the treacherous Macdonald, in which “Macbeth” triumphed and planted Macdonald’s head on the battlements of the castle. The Thanes of “Ross” and “Angus” enter with the news that the Thane of Cawdor has sided with Norway. “Duncan” decides to execute the disloyal thane and give the title of Cawdor to “Macbeth”.
The weird sisters meet on the heath and wait for “Macbeth”. He arrives with “Banquo”, repeating the witches’ paradoxical phrase by stating “So foul and fair a day I have not seen”(1/3/38). The witches hail him as “Thane of glamis, Thane of Cawdor and king hereafter”.(1/3/48,49,50).Their greeting startles and seems to frighten “Macbeth”. When “Banquo” questions the witches as to who they are, they greet him with the phrases “Which outwardly ye show? My noble partner You greet with present grace and great prediction”(1/3/54,55).
When “Macbeth” questions them further the witches vanish into thin air. “Ross” and “Angus” appear with the news that the king has granted “Macbeth” the title of Thane of Cawdor. “Banquo” is almost shocked from the statement he heard and ask’s “What, can the devil speak true?”(1/3/108). After the conversation “Macbeth” has thoughts of terror to murdering the king in order to fulfill the witche’s second prophesy. “My thought whose murder yet is but fantastical”.(1/3/139).When “Ross” and “Angus” notice “Macbeth’s” distraught state, “Banquo” dismisses it as “Macbeth’s” unfamiliarity with his new title. Back to “Duncan”, who wants to know if the Thane of Cawdor is dead.
He is, and he confessed to being a traitor right before he died. “Macbeth”, “Banquo, “Ross” and “Angus” now meet the king. The king is grateful, “Macbeth” and “Banquo” pledge their loyalty, group hug all around. The king announces that his son “Malcolm” will be named Prince of Cumberland, which is the last stop before being king of Scottland. They all celebrate the good news at “Macbeth’s” place. “Macbeth” trots off thinking “Malcolm” is all that stands in the way of his kingship. He is thinking naughty thoughts again and hopes nobody can tell that he’s got “black and deep desires”(1/4/51).
In Inverness, “Macbeth’s” castle, “Lady Macbeth” reads to herself a letter she has received from “Macbeth” he tells his wife that “Duncan” plans to depart the next day, but “Lady Macbeth” declares that the king will never see tomorrow. “Duncan” arrives at Inverness with “Banquo” and exchanges pleasantries with “Lady Macbeth”. The king inquires after “Macbeth’s” where abouts and she offers to bring him to where “Macbeth” awaits. “Macbeth” declares that he no longer intends to kill “Duncan”. Then she tells him her plan while “Duncan” sleeps, she will give his guards wine to make them drunk and then she and “Macbeth” can slip in and murder “Duncan” and then blame it on the guards.
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