Macbeth: Act 3, Scene 1 Full Summary {Step by Step Guide}


Macbeth: Act 3, Scene 1 Full Summary {Step by Step Guide}

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Macbeth: Act 3, Scene 1 Full Summary | Macbeth: Act 3, Scene 1 Summary

Banquo is at the royal palace in Forres waiting for Macbeth. As he waits for Macbeth to enter, Banquo speaks his thoughts aloud, imagining he is talking to Macbeth.

He says Thou hast it now: king, Cawdor, Glamis, all… ” Banquo adds that he thinks Macbeth has made the witches’ words about him becoming the Thane of Cawdor and the King of Scotland come true by acting “foully” (unfairly and violently).

Banquo wonders if, since the witches’ words had come true about Macbeth’s future, wasn’t it possible that their words about himself were also true? Banquo remembers that the witches had said that he, not Macbeth, would be the ancestor of future kings of Scotland.

Banquo, thinking aloud about how the witches had said Macbeth would be not only the Thane of Glamis, but also the Thane of Cawdor, and the King of Scotland, asks why the witches, the “oracles” who had accurately predicted Macbeth’s success, should not also give him hope for the success of his descendants.

Then he hears Macbeth coming and says, “But, hush! no more.” King Macbeth and his queen enter with Ross, Lennox, and attendants. Lords and ladies follow.

Macbeth says, “Here’s our chief [most important] guest.”

Lady (and now Queen) Macbeth says if they would have forgotten to have Banquo as their guest, their feast would have been incomplete
and not as good.

Macbeth tells Banquo that they will have a ceremonial supper and he asks Banquo to come. Banquo says that Macbeth, his “highness,” can
command him to do any duty, and he, Banqu0, will obey.

Banquo says his tie to his duties is “indissoluble” and “forever knit.”

Note: Banquo is telling Macbeth that he is loyal, but the audience knows that Banquo has just been thinking about a possible royal future for his own, not Macbeth’s, descendants.

Macbeth asks Banquo if he is going out riding in the afternoon, and Banquo says that he is.

Macbeth tells Banquo that he and the other members of the council would have liked Banquo’s advice at the afternoon council meeting, but they will get Banquo’s advice the next day.

He asks Banquo if he is riding far. Banquo says he will be riding from the current time until the evening meal. Unless the speed of his horse surprises him, Banquo says he will be back an hour or two after sunset. (He says he will need to borrow time from the night.)

Macbeth tells Banquo not to miss the feast. Banquo says he won’t miss it. Macbeth says he and others have heard that King Duncan’s sons Malcolm and Donalbain are in England and Ireland, but they are not confessing that they committed “parricide” (the murder of a close relative – in this case, their father King Duncan.)

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Macbeth says Malcolm and Donalbain are telling strange lies (probably about Macbeth killing their father), but he will talk to Banquo about that tomorrow when they meet to discuss the country’s business.

Macbeth tells Banquo to hurry to his horse. Macbeth says, “Adieu” (a word meaning “good-bye,” but literally meaning to God”). Then he asks if Banquo’s son Fleance will be going with Banquo.

Banquo says that his son is going with him and that it is time for them to Banquo go. Macbeth says he hopes Banquo’s horses will be fast and not fall, and he says he will now send Banquo and his son to their horses’ backs. Macbeth says goodbye. Banquo leaves.

Now that Macbeth knows exactly what Banquo’s plans are, he tells his other guests that they may do what they want until 7:00 p.m.

He will be alone until then, and that will make their company during the feast even more enjoyable. He says until then, he hopes God will be with them.

Everyone leaves except a servant. Macbeth calls him over. Macbeth asks if two men are waiting to speak to him. When the servant says that there are two men waiting outside the palace gate, Macbeth sends the servant to get them.

While the servant goes to get the two men Macbeth wants to speak to, Macbeth thinks aloud. He says that being the king is “nothing” unless he can feel safe.

Macbeth says he is afraid of Banquo. Macbeth says his fear of Banquo is deep because Banquo has “royalty of nature.” In addition to having a royal nature, Macbeth says Banquo is brave and smart; Banquo can keep himself safe even in dangerous situations.

Macbeth says Banquo is the only man he is afraid of. Macbeth says his own “genius” or spirit is weaker than Banquo’s spirit. Macbeth says he is like Mark Antony (the famous Roman general) whose spirit was weaker than the spirit of Octavius Caesar (the Roman emperor).

Macbeth remembers what happened when he and Banquo met the witches. Macbeth had not known what to do. He had been unable to move or speak after the witches had told him he would be king.

Banquo had been forceful. He had told the witches to speak to him. Macbeth remembers the witches’ prophecy: Macbeth would be king, but Banquo’s descendants, not Macbeth’s, would be future kings.

Macbeth wonders if the witches have given him a “fruitless crown” and a “barren scepter.” (He is wondering if he will have no children to whom he can pass on the title of king.)

Macbeth says that if he will have no children, then n0 son of his will never be king. Someone outside of his family (a descendant of Banquo) will one day be king. Then, Macbeth says, his act of murdering King Duncan made his mind dirty only to make Banquo’s descendants kings.

Macbeth says if he will have no sons, then he has destroyed his own peace and has given his “eternal jewel” (his soul) to “the common enemy of man” (the devil).

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Macbeth says he may have destroyed himself to make “the seed of Banquo [Banquo’s descendants] kings!” To stop Banquo’s descendants
from becoming kings, Macbeth says he will invite “fate into the list” (invite fate to fight him on a battleground).

Macbeth says he will fight to the death. Then he hears something and says, “Who’s there?” Macbeth’s servant comes into the room with two men. Macbeth tells the servant to leave until Macbeth calls him back.

Macbeth asks the first man (identified by Shakespeare, the author, as First Murderer) if they had not all spoken together yesterday. First Murderer agrees that they had talked yesterday.

Macbeth asks the two murderers if they have thought about what he had told them the day before. Macbeth says they must know that it was Banquo, not Macbeth, who has kept their “fortune,” their position in life, from being good.

Macbeth says the men had thought Macbeth’s “innocent self” had kept them from being successful, but in fact, it had been Banquo.

Macbeth says at their last meeting, he had given them proof that Banquo had held them in his hand, tricked them, and worked against them.

Macbeth says he gave them enough proof that Banquo was their enemy that even “half a soul” or a crazy person would be certain that Banquo was their enemy.

First Murderer says that Macbeth had given them all the information. Macbeth says he gave the men proof and even more, and that is the reason for this second meeting. He asks the murderers if they are so patient that they will let Banquo continue to hurt them.

Macbeth asks if they are so religious that they will pray for Banquo and his son, pray for the man who has pushed them towards their graves and who has made their descendants poor. First Murderer says, “We are men, my liege [my lord]”

Macbeth, perhaps remembering how Lady Macbeth had insulted him to get him to kill King Duncan, decides to insult the men to get them to murder Banquo.

He says that the two would be listed as men in a catalog, just like greyhounds, spaniels, curs, and others would be listed as dogs.

Macbeth says that a valuable file or list sorts out items according to qualities: fast, slow, smart, herders, or hunters. Macbeth tells the men they need to tell him if they belong higher than the bottom of a sorted list of men.

Macbeth says if they say they are not at the bottom of the list, he will give them some business. If they do what he asks, Macbeth says they will no longer have an enemy and they will get close to Macbeth’s heart and have his love.

Macbeth says that while Banquo lives, Macbeth’s health is sickly. Banquo’s death, says Macbeth, will make his health perfect.

The second Murderer says he is a man who is so angry about the way the world has pushed him around, about the blows he has felt, that he will do whatever he can to get any power at all.

Note: Shakespeare teaches an important truth here. Some people feel that they are blown around and have no control of their lives.

People who feel that they are powerless because they have no control over their lives feel they have nothing to lose, so they are capable of doing very bad things.

First Murderer says he is like Second Murderer. He, too, has had no control over his life. He has felt “tugged” or pulled in different directions by bad fortune or bad luck.

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He is ready to bet his life on any chance to change his life. Then he will either make his life better or end his life and have no more trouble. Macbeth asks the men if they know that Banquo is their enemy. They both say that they do know.

Macbeth says Banquo is his enemy, too. He says he hates Banquo so much that every minute Banquo is alive feels like Banquo is hitting him.

Macbeth says he could use his power to order Banquo’s execution, but he wants Banquo’s murder to be a secret because Banquo has powerful friends.

Macbeth says he needs those friends, so he must have Banquo killed. Then, says Macbeth, he will cry about Banquo’s death.

He will pretend to be upset so that he can keep Banquo’s friends as his own. Macbeth says the need for secrecy and other important reasons are why he needs the murderers’ help.

The second Murderer says they will do what Macbeth commands. First Murderer starts to speak saying, “Though our lives…” Macbeth interrupts First Murderer.

Macbeth says he can see the murderers are ready. He says that before an hour has passed, he will tell them the exact place and time to attack.

He says they must kill Banquo’s son Fleance, too. He tells the men to leave him and make sure they have decided what they will do.

The murderers say they have decided they will do what Macbeth commands. Macbeth says he will call for them soon. He tells the men to stay inside.

After the murderers leave, Macbeth speaks his thoughts aloud, imagining he is speaking to Banquo. He says if\ Banquo’s flying spirit is going to find heaven, it will have to find it tonight. Macbeth leaves.

Note: Shakespeare begins the first scene of Act 3 with Banquo speaking his thoughts aloud, imagining he is speaking to Macbeth.

Shakespeare ends the scene with Macbeth speaking his thoughts aloud, imagining he is speaking to Banquo. The two former friends have become enemies because each of them wants to control the throne of Scotland.

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