Macbeth by William Shakespeare Summary

Hey Viewers, Literature Desire welcomes you back to another article. In this article, we are gonna discuss the act-wise summary of Macbeth written by William Shakespeare. It shows how wanting power can have bad effects on people’s bodies and minds. This fact makes the story more interesting. In 1606 this tragedy was enacted for the first time. The publishing year was 1623. Just stick with me till the end of this article. I hope that you will enjoy the read.

Table of Contents


Act I Macbeth by William Shakespeare Summary

Macbeth and Banquo play two key parts in the narrative. Both are soldiers serving under King Duncan of Scotland. One day, they come across three mysterious witches in a spooky place called a moor. A moor is like a big, empty field. 

These witches tell Macbeth that one day he is gonna be a powerful guy called the Thane of Cawdor, one day. And then most probably he will be promoted to the king of Scotland. Furthermore, these witches predict that Banquo’s descendants will rule as the king of Scotland. 


But Banquo himself won’t become a king. Macbeth and Banquo are pretty shocked at that time by the news. The witches, though, disappear into thin air and leave them perplexed even before they can ask any more questions.

After a while, Macbeth receives good news from the king that he’s been rewarded with the title of Thane of Cawdor, exactly the same as the witches predicted he would. This makes Macbeth start thinking that maybe he could become king one day, just like the witches predicted.


In the meanwhile, King Duncan decides to visit Macbeth’s castle. The reason for the King’s sudden visit is to thank him for his services and celebrate his new title. This visit sets the stage for the rest of the story, where Macbeth’s ambition and the consequences of his actions will be apparent.

Act II Macbeth by William Shakespeare Summary

Now Macbeth has started thinking seriously about how he could become king, just as the witches predicted. Lady Macbeth, his wife knows well about his intentions and pushes him to go through with it. She begins to implant the idea in Macbeth’s mind that he won’t achieve advancement without murdering the King.


On a night when King Duncan is on a visit to Macbeth’s castle, Macbeth and his wife wait until everyone goes to sleep. At the prearranged time, Lady Macbeth gives drugged wine to guards so Macbeth can enter the room of the King and kill King. 

After that, Macbeth feels bad and scared. His wife Lady Macbeth calms him down and hides the murder weapon. King Duncan’s sons are blamed for the murder. Now, people have started raising different questions about King Duncan’s silent murder.

Act III Macbeth by William Shakespeare Summary

Once Macbeth becomes the King of Scotland, he suffers from anxiety. Macbeth starts seeing things that aren’t there, and Lady Macbeth struggles to stay calm. He has to deal with the consequences of his actions while trying to hold onto his power.

But he remembers the prediction of witches that Banquo’s broods will become heir to the throne. Macbeth makes a plan for Banquo and his son Fleance to be executed.

In the darkness, Banquo is murdered, but his son succeeds in escaping from the assassins. Macbeth sees the ghost of Banquo at his court that night and makes the courtiers worried with his mad reaction. Lady Macbeth discharges the court and unproductively tries to calm her husband. 

Act IV Macbeth by William Shakespeare Summary

Macbeth is now searching for the witches because the witches had predicted that he would only be safe until a forest called Birnam Wood moves. Witched also predicted that even though Macbeth is king now, someone from Banquo’s family would still become king after him.

Macbeth starts ruling with terror or fear. He hurts many people, including the family of a guy named Macduff. This depicts how Macbeth seeks to maintain his position by growing more and more vicious and brutal.

After the brutal murder of King Duncan, Malcolm who is one of the King’s Duncan sons, ran away to England to save his life. On the other side, Macduff, who is grieving deeply for Duncan, goes to England to find Malcolm.  

While meeting with Malcolm, Macduff notices that he is not a confident guy like he was. But Macduff does not lose his hope. He tries to convince Malcolm that they need to join forces and fight against Macbeth who took over the rule after his father’s death. 

Even though Malcolm is unsure of himself, Macduff’s words help him find the courage to lead an army against Macbeth. 

Act V Macbeth by William Shakespeare Summary

Macbeth feels safe in his isolated castle at Dunsinane until he is informed that Birnam Wood is marching toward him. Malcolm’s army is carrying branches from the forest as a cover-up for their attack on Macbeth’s headlock.

Later, Lady Macbeth, who feels very guilty and troubled, starts walking in her sleep. Also, she talks to her doctor about the things she’s done. In the end, she commits suicide. 

As the final battle begins, Macbeth receives the news of his wife’s death. He feels pity for her and starts blaming himself for Lady’s Macbeth death. 

Macbeth is then killed in battle by Macduff, who was “from his mother’s womb premature ripped” by cesarean section, and in that sense, he was not “of woman born.” In the end, Malcolm becomes the rightful king.

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