Macbeth: Act 1, Scene 7 Full Summary {Step by Step Guide}


Macbeth: Act 1, Scene 7 Full Summary {Step by Step Guide}

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Macbeth: Act 1, Scene 7 Full Summary | Macbeth: Act 1, Scene 7 Summary

As his servants take food and drink to King Duncan and his men, Macbeth thinks about murdering the king so Macbeth, himself, can become king.

Macbeth says to himself, “if it were done when ’tis done, then ’twere well/ It were done quickly (lines 1-2).

Macbeth is saying that if everything bad would end as soon as he killed Duncan, then it would be best for Macbeth to kill him right away.

Macbeth continues to speak his thoughts aloud: “if the assassination Could trammel up the consequence, and catch With his surcease success; that but this blow Might be the be-all and the end-all here.” (lines 2-5)

Macbeth is saying that if he could kill Duncan and catch all of the resulting problems in a net so that with Duncan’s death Macbeth could have success, then he would kill the king.

Macbeth, though, knows that the blow he would hit the king with might not be the “be-all and the end-all.” It might not be the most difficult thing he will have to do to become king.

Macbeth knows that people will not be happy with the king’s murder. Macbeth says that life is a “bank” (land) next to the ocean of “time,” and even though he believes that the life that comes after death is far longer than life on earth, he would give up a happy afterlife in order to be king.

Macbeth worries, though, that if he kills Duncan, Macbeth will become a teacher who has given a lesson (“bloody instructions”) to others who want to be king. They may learn to murder him.

Macbeth continues to think aloud. He says justice is “even-handed.” Justice sees what poison bad people make for others and forces the creators to drink it themselves.

Macbeth is saying that he thinks he will not be able to kill King Duncan without later being killed himself. Others may try to take power away from him or try to punish him.

He will not really be forced to drink poison, but his violent acts may cause violent acts by others. That violence might cause his own death.

After Macbeth thinks about what bad things could happen to him if he were to kill Duncan, he next thinks about why it would be wrong to kill Duncan.

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Again, Macbeth speaks his thoughts aloud. He says he should not murder Duncan because Duncan trusts him for two reasons.

First, Duncan trusts Macbeth because they friendly relatives. (They have the same grandfather.) Second, Duncan trusts Macbeth because he is a host who welcomed Duncan to his home.

Macbeth thinks that a host should welcome his guest (Duncan) and shut the door against murderers (protect Duncan). He says a host should not be the murderer who kills his own visitor.

Macbeth, still thinking aloud, says he should not kill Duncan because he has been a “meek” (not too proud) and “clear” (honest) king.

Macbeth talks to himself, saying that Duncan’s good characteristics will be like angels with trumpets who will protest Duncan’s murder.

Pity (sadness) will be like an innocent baby floating in the air, and everyone, including angels on invisible horses, will tell the news of Duncan’s murder to all people everywhere. There will be so much crying that tears will drown the wind.

Macbeth says he has no spur to hit his sides. He has only one ambition that will make him jump too high and cause him to fall.

Macbeth is saying that after thinking about reasons to kill or to not kill King Duncan, the only reason to kill Duncan is Macbeth’s desire to be king. Ambition is not a strong enough reason for murder. Macbeth is like a horse with no reason to run.

Just as Macbeth has decided that he will not kill Duncan, Lady Macbeth walks up to him. Macbeth asks his wife if she has any news.

Lady Macbeth says that King Duncan is almost finished with supper. She wants to know why Macbeth left the dining room. He asks if the king has been asking for him. Lady Macbeth angrily asks her husband if he does not know that Duncan has asked for him.

Macbeth tells his wife that he and she will “proceed no further in this business.” He says the king has given him new honors. Macbeth says he has earned “golden opinions” from different people.

Macbeth says those honors and opinions should be “worn” and not “cast aside so soon.” (Macbeth is comparing enjoying new honors and titles to enjoying new clothing. He wants to be happy with what he has and not murder Duncan.)

Lady Macbeth is angry! She asks Macbeth if he had dressed himself in drunken hope and then his hope had gone to sleep and woken up green and pale at the idea of murder.

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(She also is comparing clothing to something. She compares the hope some people get by drinking wine or alcohol to clothing, and she is asking Macbeth if he can only have hope that he will become king when he is drunk.

She is asking Macbeth if he can be brave only when he is drunk and she asks if now that he is not drunk, Macbeth (dressed in he is sick about the idea of killing King Duncan.)

Lady Macbeth tells her husband that from now on she will think of his love for her as being the same as his hope of being king (that he only has those feelings when he is drunk).

Lady Macbeth asks her husband if he is afraid to act to get what he wants. She asks him if he will try to get the “ornament” (the king’s crown) that he wants or if he will spend the rest of his life saying he cannot instead of he will.

Finally, she asks Macbeth if he is going to be like a cat that wants to catch a fish but is afraid of getting wet.

Macbeth tells his wife to give him peace. He says he does what a man should do. He says there is no man who “dares do more.”

Note: Readers should remember that Macbeth had fought heroically against strong armies to earn the honors King Duncan has given him.

Lady Macbeth tells her husband he must have been a beast when he told her he wanted to kill King Duncan since now he says he has done all that a man dare do.

She says he was a man when he thought of killing Duncan. He can be more than a man if he would kill Duncan. Even though the time and place were not good then, he was ready to kill. Now that the time and place are right, he is afraid to kill.

Lady Macbeth tells her husband that she had fed a baby from her breast and had known how wonderful it was to love that baby.

Lady Macbeth says she would have taken that baby and smashed its brains out if she had promised to do it the way Macbeth had promised to kill King Duncan.

Note: Macbeth and Lady Macbeth have no surviving children.

Macbeth asks his wife what will happen if they fail to kill Duncan. Lady Macbeth tells her husband that if he can be courageous, they will not fail.

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She says Duncan’s journey to their home will “invite him” to sleep (because he is tired after traveling). While he is sleeping, she will get the two men who stay with him drunk.

Lady Macbeth tells her husband that once the two men are drunk, their memories and abilities to reason will disappear like smoke. They will be like drunken pigs and sleep as if they are dead. Then she asks her husband what they won’t be able to do to the unguarded Duncan.

She asks why they couldn’t blame Duncan’s death on his two drunken officers. Macbeth tells his wife that she should only have male children because her fearlessness should be passed on to only males.

He asks her if they kill Duncan with the officers’ daggers and put some of Duncan’s blood on the men, won’t people be sure that the officers were the murderers?

Lady Macbeth answers her husband by asking who would dare think that anyone other than the officers had killed Duncan, especially if she and Macbeth “roar” (loudly say) how upset they are by his death (after they murder him).

Macbeth tells his wife that now he has decided to do the “terrible feat” (the murder of King Duncan). He says he will commit every part of his body to do the act of murder.

He tells his wife to go back to Duncan and to be a good hostess. He says, “False face must hide what the false heart doth know.” (She must show a pleasant face to everyone and not let them see that her heart is not kind, but evil.)

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