Macbeth: Act 1, Scene 2 Full Summary {Step by Step Guide}

Macbeth: Act 1, Scene 2 Full Summary {Step by Step Guide}

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Macbeth: Act 1, Scene 2 Full Summary | Macbeth: Act 1, Scene 2 Summary

King Duncan, his sons Malcolm and Donalbain, and others hear the sound of a trumpet call and soldiers fighting. King Duncan sees a bleeding sergeant and tells the others that the sergeant must know who is winning the battle.

The sergeant must know if King Duncan’s loyal soldiers or the revolutionaries are winning. Malcolm says the sergeant is the man who saved him from the revolutionaries, Malcolm calls the sergeant his “brave friend.” Malcolm tells the sergeant to tell King Duncan about the battle.

The king listens to the sergeant’s story. The sergeant says that the revolutionaries and the King’s soldiers were like two tired swimmers holding on to each other, unable to do anything.

Then the rebel Macdonwald got reinforcements (more soldiers called kerns and gallowglasses). The sergeant says that it looked like fortune was smiling on Macdonwald as a prostitute smiles at a man and that it looked like Macdonwald would win, but then Macbeth attacked Macdonwald’s soldiers, killing them one after another until he got to the rebel captain himself.

Then, the sergeant says that Macbeth was rude to Macdonwald because Macbeth did not shake hands or say goodbye; he just cut Macdonwald open from his belly button to his jaws and then cut his head off and put it up high on a castle wall.

Note: Kerns were soldiers with light weapons who fought while standing on their feet. Gallowglasses were soldiers who wore heavy armor, carried heavy weapons, and rode horses. Kerns and gallowglasses were either Irish or Scottish.

King Duncan says his cousin Macbeth is “valiant” (brave) and “worthy.” The sergeant says that Macbeth and his soldiers thought they now could win because Macdonwald was dead and the Irish soldiers were running away.

Then, just like when spring comes and it seems the sun will shine, but instead stormy weather comes, the Norwegian King, with new soldiers and new weapons, attacked!

King Duncan asks if Macbeth and Banquo were completely upset and worried when the new attack began.

Note: Macbeth and Duncan are cousins because King Malcolm had been their grandfather. Duncan’s elder son is also named Malcolm.

The sergeant jokes and says that Macbeth and Banquo were as afraid of the Norwegians as hawks are of sparrows and lions are of hares (big rabbits).

Then the sergeant says that truthfully, Macbeth and Banquo fought as if their cannons had twice as much gun powder as normal.

The sergeant says they fought like they wanted to take a bath in their enemies’ blood or make the battlefield as famous as Golgotha (the place where Jesus was killed).

The sergeant says he feels faint and he needs his wounds to be fixed by a doctor. King Duncan says the sergeant’s words and wounds are honorable, and he sends the sergeant away.

King Duncan sees two men coming up to him, and he asks his son Malcolm who the two men are. Malcolm says the first man is the thane of Rose ( a Scottish nobleman and leader of a group of families.) Lennox says that Ross’s eyes look like he has a strange story to tell.

Note: The other man is Angus, another Scottish nobleman.

Ross goes to the king and says, “God save the king!” King Duncan asks where Ross has come from. Ross says he has come from Fife where the Norwegian flag is waving, and it is a fan that is blowing on the Scottish people, making them cold.

(The Norwegian invasion is upsetting the people of Scotland.)

Ross says that the King of Norway had attacked with many more soldiers than the Scottish forces had. The Scottish Thane of Cawdor (the nobleman and leader of Cawdor) had become a traitor, and he and his soldiers were helping the Norwegians.

Then Macbeth, wearing his armor, fought back. Macbeth fought like he was “Bellona’s bridegroom” (the new husband of the Roman goddess of war). Macbeth fought sword against sword until he won.

Duncan says Ross’s news is great! Ross says that Sweno, the Norwegian king, wants a treaty (a written agreement between two countries).

Ross says the loyal Scottish soldiers would not even let Sweno bury his men until he moved his soldiers to the island of Saint Colme’s Inch and paid ten thousand dollars.

King Duncan says that the Thane of Cawdor will never be disloyal again. Duncan tells Ross to tell everyone that the thane will be killed. Duncan says Ross should then go and tell Macbeth that he is now the new Thane of Cawdor.

Ross says he will go and do as King Duncan says. Duncan says, “What he hath lost, noble Macbeth hath won.” (Now everything the Thane of Cawdor possessed belongs to Macbeth.)

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