Macbeth is a tragedy written by William Shakespeare, set in Scotland. Although a tragedy the main character becomes a usurper, who at the end of the play is deposed. This play is thought to have been written around 1606.
The play opens with the defeat of the rebel Macdonwald, thane of cawdor to Macbeth. Shortly after, three witches meet Macbeth and another general, Banquo, predicting Macbeth would be the new thane of cawdor, and then the King. Later, King Duncan meets Macbeth and makes him thane of cawdor, but declares his son, Malcolm, his heir. Macbeth returns to his wife, Lady Macbeth, who learns of the prophecy by the witches. When the King comes for a feast in Macbeth's castle, Lady Macbeth urges Macbeth to murder the King. Macbeth, reluctantly drawn forward by ambition, murders the King. When the death of the King is discovered, Malcolm is suspicious and flees for his life in England. Macbeth's way to the throne is cleared. As King, he brings desolation to Scotland. He kills and butchers anyone in his way. He murders Banquo, because of a prophecy by the witches that Banquo's descendants will become King. Macbeth also is wary of Macduff, and murders Macduff's household. However, Malcolm soon returns to Scotland with an army. Macduff kills Macbeth and Malcolm is made King of Scotland.
Macbeth: A General in King Duncan's army. He is persuaded by his wife to murder Duncan, King of Scotland. He in effect becomes King, however it is a hollow victory. He soon loses any friends (who he didn't murder) and a rebellion is raised against him. He dies at the hands of MacDuff during a sword fight.
Lady Macbeth: The ambitious wife of Macbeth. She convinces Macbeth to murder King Duncan. During the play she grows more and more guilty, eventually going insane. She dies of guilt.
The Witches: Three Witches (as their name implies) who tell Macbeth that he will become King. They also tell him of his fall.
Banquo: A noble general in the Army serving with Macbeth. Macbeth murders him in fear of revolt. Banquo appears several times after as a ghost.
King Duncan: The King of Scotland. He lodges at Macbeth's castle and is murdered there.
Malcolm: The son of King Duncan. When his father dies, he goes to England for refuge. He returns later on with an army that defeats Macbeth's forces.
Macduff: A Lord loyal to Malcom. His family is slaughtered while he is away becomes bereaved. He goes to Macbeth and kills him before declaring Malcolm King.
Lines and Quotes
"Is this a dagger which I see before me,"
- Act II, Scene 1
"Double, double, toil and trouble;
Fire burn and cauldron bubble"
-The Witches (Act IV, Scene 1)
"Out, out brief candle!
Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
-Act V, Scene 5
Out, damn'd spot! out, I say!—One; two: why, then
'tis time to do't.—Hell is murky.—Fie, my lord, fie, a soldier, and
afeard? What need we fear who knows it, when none can call our
pow'r to accompt?—Yet who would have thought the old man to
have had so much blood in him?
- Act VI, Scene 1
Macbeth has been adapted to the opera stage four times, most famously by Giuseppe Verdi in 1847. There have been no fewer than 17 film adaptations, the first being Stuart Blackton's 1908 silent film, and also include Orson Welles' 1948 version and Roman Polanski's from 1971. Akira Kurosawa changed the setting to feudal Japan in his 1957 film Throne of Blood, often considered one of his greatest works.
Open Source Shakespeare - Macbeth