|Act 1 Scene Summaries||Characters||Themes||Motifs|
|Scene 1: |
Three Witches get together and start plotting.
|There are 3 witches. I learned that they’re somehow related to darkness from the introduction mentioning thunder, lightning etc.|| |
Evil and Darkness
|Scene 2: |
Duncan hears that Macbeth and Banquo have won them the war.
|We learn Duncan is a good king, very empathetic. And very trusting.||Loyalty and order. Duncan believes Macbeth to be very trustable and grants him the thane of Cawdor.|
|Scene 3: |
The Witches give Macbeth and Banquo the prophecies.
|We learn that Banquo is a man who is fine to joke in situations, ones others harden in. He makes a slight joke about the witches’ beards. He does this despite the skittish fear he displays. Later on, we see his belief in the prophecy with the line ‘What, can the devil speak true’. P 18 |
Macbeth hears word about the prophecy for himself. At that moment, he reaches for more knowledge. He tries to ask for more meaning to the words. And the witches vanish. Leaving him to interpret it himself, which as we know ends in blood being spilled.
|Evil. The witches spark an evil ambition within Macbeth, and a lurking suspicion unto Banquo. Also appearance hiding behind reality The witches may seem innocent, but they’re using their words to plant a seed of ambition. One that once looked upon will be insatiable, like a waterproof fire.||There is a darkness and confusion for the time the witches are around. They bring an aura of evil. |
Clothes ‘New honours come upon him, like our strange garments, cleave not to their mould but with the aid of use.’ P.23
|Scene 4: |
At his palace, the King thanks Macbeth and Banquo for their bravery. The King also names Malcolm heir to the throne.
|We see Duncan’s newfound absolute trust towards Macbeth. After losing it in the past thane of Cawdor. He exclaims Macbeth to be ‘My worthiest kinsman! – I owe you more than I can ever repay’ p 25. |
We clearly see the ambition grow within Macbeth’s character. Just before the scene comes to a close he ponders the fact ‘Malcolm is now the prince of Cumberland! To become king myself, I’m either going to have to step over him, or give up, because he’s in my way.’ P 29
Close after that, continuing the stanza we get a demonstration of an ambition-soaked man, plagued with a fear of self. It is shown in the statement of ‘Stars, hide your fires; Let not light see my black and deep desires.’ P 28
|Appearance hiding behind reality. This is shown in Duncan’s line ‘There’s no art To find the mind’s construction in the face. He was a gentleman on whom I built an absolute trust p 24. |
Duncan is talking about the past Cawdor, but later on, we find that Macbeth is just as far from trustable, probably more so.
|Scene 5: |
Lady Macbeth reads Macbeth’s letter, starts to plot to herself, and then tells Macbeth her ideas when he arrives.
|Here we see the relationship between Macbeth and Lady Macbeth. The affection Macbeth has for his wife, going as far as addressing her as his ‘dearest partner in greatness.’ P 30 He has a great trust in her, and gives her instruction to keep the great prophecy a secret. |
We see Lady Macbeth wants her husband to become the king. After reading about the prophecy. Here she also asks to be ‘desexed’. She wants to be made cold and cruel, so she can go ahead with the murder without being burdened by empathy.
|Scene 6: |
Lady Macbeth receives a gift from Duncan.
|Banquo’s suspicion is shown as he is the one giving the gift from Duncan. He is also aware of the prophecy, making him wonder about Duncan’s murder. |
|Scene 7: |
Macbeth has doubts about killing Duncan but Lady Macbeth persuades him – calling him a coward, etc.
|It is stated how much of a war is going on within Macbeth’s mind as he monologues. He finds pride in telling his wife ‘we will proceed no further in this business’. P 42 |
But we see the grip lady Macbeth has on her husband as she threatens his masculinity. Saying he is weak for not wanting to do the murder. We see the dynamic in the relationship and the cold nature of Lady Macbeth.
Cite this article as: William Anderson (Schoolworkhelper Editorial Team), "Macbeth Act 1: Characters, Themes, Motifs," in SchoolWorkHelper, 2022, https://schoolworkhelper.net/macbeth-act-1-characters-themes-motifs/.