Macbeth: Act 1, Scene 5 Full Summary {Step by Step Guide}

Macbeth: Act 1, Scene 5 Full Summary {Step by Step Guide}

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Macbeth: Act 1, Scene 5 Full Summary | Macbeth: Act 1, Scene 5 Summary

Lady Macbeth is reading a letter from her husband. His words tell her about his meeting with the witches on the day he had won the fight against the rebels who had been trying to take power from King Duncan.

Macbeth’s letter says that he has had a “most perfect report,” an accurate report, that the witches are not mortal. They do not die and they know more than ordinary humans.

The witches had not stayed to answer his questions, and Macbeth writes that he saw them turn themselves into the air and disappear.

Macbeth’s letter continues by describing his wonder (surprise) when the “weird sisters” (witches) had disappeared. ? The letter describes the messengers from King Duncan coming and calling Macbeth by the title Thane of Cawdor.

Macbeth says one of the witches’ prophecies had already come true! He says the witches said he would become king and he is writing his wife, his “partner of greatness,” so she will not miss the joy of the greatness promised to her (that she will be queen).

Macbeth tells her to keep the news close to her heart (keep it secret). Then he writes, “Farewell (Goodbye).?!

Lady Macbeth looks up from the letter and speaks aloud to Macbeth as if he were there with her. She says that yes, Macbeth is the Thane of Glamis and the Thane of Cawdor.

She says Macbeth will be king just as he was promised, but she is not happy. She says she is afraid of his nature-that he is “too full o’ the milk of human kindness/ To catch the nearest way.” (He is too kind to murder King Duncan so that he can quickly become the new king.)

Lady Macbeth continues to speak to her absent husband. She says he wants to be great, but he does not want to do what is necessary to be great.

He has ambition but is not mean enough to go after what he wants. She says Macbeth greatly wants some things, but he wants to get
them fairly. He does not want to “play false” (cheat), but he wants more than he can get without cheating.

Lady Macbeth says her husband wants something (to be king), but he is afraid to do what must be done (kill King Duncan). She says Macbeth is afraid of killing, but still wants to be king.

Lady Macbeth tells her absent husband to hurry home to her, so she can “pour [her] spirits in [his] ear” (talk him into killing Duncan).

She says she wants to be brave and use her tongue to talk to him and make him try to get the “golden round” (the king’s crown). She says that fate and the “metaphysical” (supernatural) want Macbeth to be king.

While Lady Macbeth is thinking about what she will say to her husband when he gets home, a servant enters the room. She asks him what news he has, and he tells her King Duncan is coming.

She is surprised (perhaps because now suddenly she truly must get ready to help Macbeth kill Duncan). She tells the servant he must be crazy to say the king is coming, because if he were, Macbeth would have sent a message.

The servant says Macbeth did send a messenger who has arrived just before Macbeth is expected. The servant says the messenger was out of breath because he had come so fast.

Lady Macbeth tells the servant to go and take care of the messenger because he has brought good news (that King Duncan is coming)

After the servant leaves, Lady Macbeth speaks her thoughts aloud. She says that the raven (the messenger) was hoarse (had a weak voice) because of his hurry to tell her that King Duncan was coming to her battlements (her home with protective walls).

Lady Macbeth says Duncan’s entrance to her home will be “fatal” (deadly) to him.

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Note: Lady Macbeth’s use of the word “battlements” may remind the audience of her husband fighting on battlefields. After such battles, ravens made terrible sounds above the silence of dead bodies.

Ravens were seen as symbols of death. Lady Macbeth sees her home as being like a battlefield. It will be the place where Duncan will die.

Lady Macbeth calls out to the spirits of evil to “unsex” her (make her less of a caring woman) and fill her from the top of her head to her toes with cruelty (the ability to do very bad things).

She asks the spirits to make her blood thick, so no Goodness can enter her, make her fell sorry for Duncan, and stop her from completing her plan. She wants to help kill Duncan, so her husband can become king.

Lady Macbeth asks the spirits to come out from where they hide when they wait to do evil. She wants them to turn the milk from her breasts into a sour poison.

Lady Macbeth asks for a “thick night” to come covered in hell’s smoke, so it will be very black. Then her knife will not see the wound it makes, and heaven will not see through “the blanket of the dark” and cry, “Hold hold!” (Stop!)

Note: In this famous speech, Lady Macbeth shows how she and her husband are alike. They both want more than they can get fairly, but they do not want to see themselves as evil.

They both ask for help from evil supernatural spirits, but they do not want to believe they are separating themselves from heaven.

Shakespeare, the author, shows how humans act. People want everything, but sometimes they lie to themselves and others to pretend that they are making good choices when they know they are not.

Macbeth comes in, and Lady Macbeth greets him by his titles. She calls him “Great Glamis!, worthy Cawdor.” Then she continues, saying he will have a greater title than Thane of Glamis or Thane of Cawdor when he gets the title of king.

Lady Macbeth tells her husband that his letter took her away from the present and made her feel the future. (She can feel what it will be like when they are king and queen.)

Macbeth says, “My dearest love, Duncan comes here tonight.” (He reminds her of the news he had sent by his messenger.) Lady Macbeth asks when Duncan will leave.

Macbeth says Duncan plans to leave tomorrow. Lady Macbeth says that the sun will never see the day that Duncan will leave. (She plans for Duncan to die tonight.)

Lady Macbeth tells her husband that his “face is a book…where men may read strange matters”. (People will be able to see by Macbeth’s face that he is thinking of doing something very bad.)

Lady Macbeth tells her husband that he must trick people by having his eye, hand, and tongue look like he is welcoming everyone.

He must look as innocent as a flower. He must be the snake under the flower. (He will look good, but he will be very bad.)

Lady Macbeth tells her husband that they must get ready for King Duncan. She tells Macbeth to let her take care of “this great business” that will change all their “nights and days to come” and give them “Masterdom.” (By the end of the night, Duncan will be dead and they will be ready to become king and queen.)

Macbeth says they will talk more later. Lady Macbeth reminds him to not show his feelings and to leave everything to her. They leave the room to go meet King Duncan.

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