Macbeth: Act 3, Scene 4 Full Summary {Step by Step Guide}


Macbeth: Act 3, Scene 4 Full Summary {Step by Step Guide}

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Macbeth: Act 3, Scene 4 Full Summary | Macbeth: Act 3, Scene 4 Summary

The Macbeths welcome Ross, Lennox, and other nobles to a feast. Macbeth welcomes everyone and tells them to take their seats according to their degree of nobility.

Macbeth says that he welcomes everyone from the first to the last (from the highest rank to the lowest).

After the lords sit, Macbeth says that he will “mingle with society” (mix himself in with his company by walking around and talking to each person). He says he will have his wife welcome everyone later.

Lady Macbeth asks her husband to say welcome to all of their friends because her heart says that they are all welcome.

First Murderer comes to the door. Macbeth tells his wife that their guests give her “their hearts’ thanks.” Macbeth says he will sit in the middle. He tells the guests to be happy. He says they will all have a drink soon.

Macbeth goes to the door to talk quietly to First Murderer. Macbeth says that First Murderer has blood on his face. First Murderer says the blood is Banquo’s blood.

Macbeth makes a joke about Banquo. Macbeth says that it is better for Banquo’s blood to be outside of his body and on First Murderer’s face than to have Banquo’s blood within Banquo’s own body.

(Macbeth wants Banquo to be dead, so Macbeth will not have to worry about Banquo and his descendants took the crown away from Macbeth.)

Macbeth asks if Banquo is dead. First Murderer says he cut Banquo’s throat. Macbeth tells First Murderer that he is the best cutthroat, but the murderer who killed Fleance must also be a good cutthroat.

Macbeth says if First Murderer killed Fleance and Banquo, then First Murderer is the best cutthroat of all, a “nonpareil” (someone so good that he has no equal).

First Murderer tells Macbeth that Fleance escaped. Macbeth says he is having a “fit” (a time of being very angry and upset) again. He says everything would have been perfect if Fleance had been killed.

Fleance’s death would have made Macbeth feel as strong and safe as marble and rock. Macbeth says he would have felt as free as air. Since Fleance is alive, Macbeth feels trapped by the fear of losing his crown.

Macbeth asks again if Banquo is dead. First Murderer says Banquo is dead with 20 cuts in his head. Macbeth says that the snake (Banquo) is dead and the worm (the young snake represented by Fleance) has no venom (poison) or teeth yet.

Macbeth tells First Murderer to leave and tells him they will meet again the next day. First Murderer leaves.

Lady Macbeth goes to her husband and tells him that he is being rude to his guests because he is not visiting with them. She says that if the host does not make the guests feel welcome, a feast feels like a meal that guests must buy.

Lady Macbeth says if people just want to eat food, the best place to eat is at home. At a feast, a ceremony makes the meeting of people special just like adding sauce to meat makes it special.

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The ceremony is like sauce. (Both ceremony and sauce make things better.) After telling his wife that she is sweet for reminding him to make his guests feel welcome, Macbeth picks up his drink.

He tells his guests that good digestion needs a good appetite. Macbeth says he wishes his guests both a healthy appetite and healthy digestion.

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Lennox invites Macbeth to sit down. Before Macbeth can sit down, the Ghost of Banquo sits in the only open space.

Macbeth does not see the Ghost of Banquo. He speaks to his guests, saying that the country’s honor would be “roof’d” (made complete) if Banquo were with them.

Macbeth says he wants to drink that Banquo’s absence is caused by Banquo being unkind rather than by some misfortune. (Of course, Macbeth is just pretending that he cares about Banquo. Macbeth does not want anyone to know that he has had murderers kill Banquo.)

Ross says that Banquo’s absence shows that he has broken his promise to attend the feast. Ross invites Macbeth to sit down. Macbeth looks for an empty seat but doesn’t see one. He says, “The table’s full.”

Lennox tells Macbeth that there is an empty seat. Macbeth doesn’t see an opening and asks, “Where?” Lennox points to where the ghost is sitting and says, “Here…”

Macbeth sees the Ghost of Banquo and asks, “Which of you have done this?” The lords ask Macbeth what he is talking about. (No one except Macbeth sees the ghost.)

Macbeth tells the Ghost of Banquo, “Thou canst not say I did it.” (Macbeth means that the ghost cannot say Macbeth killed him, but Macbeth’s words do not reveal to his guests that he has had Banquo killed.)

Macbeth tells the Ghost of Banquo to not shake his bloody hair. Ross tells the other Lords to stand up. Ross says, “His highness is not well.”

Lady Macbeth tells the lords to sit down. She says her husband often behaves strangely, as he has just done. She says he has been that way since his youth.

Lady Macbeth says her husband’s “fit” (his time of anger) will end soon, as quickly as a thought passes. She tells them that if they give Macbeth no attention, he will not be angry and will be calmer. Lady Macbeth tells everyone to eat.

Just as she did in Act 1, Scene 7, Lady Macbeth tries to control her husband by questioning his manhood. Quietly, so no one else can hear, she asks Macbeth, “Are you a man?”

Macbeth says he is a brave man because he can look at something (the Ghost of Banquo) that would scare the devil. Lady Macbeth tells her husband that he is saying nonsense.

She says that he sees only a “painting” (an image) made by his own fear. She says that what he is seeing is like the dagger that he saw in the air before he went to murder King Duncan.

She says that Macbeth is behaving more like a woman telling a scary story around a fire, a story taught to her by her grandmother, than like
someone who is experiencing true fear.

She says Macbeth should be ashamed of himself. She asks him, “why do you make such faces?” She tells him, “..you look but at a stool.” Macbeth cannot believe that his wife sees only an empty seat. He tells her to look, to see.

Macbeth asks the Ghost of Banquo what he has to say, but then Macbeth says he doesn’t care. Macbeth says if the ghost can nod, he can speak.

Macbeth says that if the places that hold the dead (like mortuaries and graves) send back people that were buried, then the only “monuments” (the only things to honor dead people) will be the mouths and bellies of birds that eat dead meat.

The Ghost of Banquo disappears. Lady Macbeth asks her husband if his foolishness has made him weak and less of a man. Macbeth says that he is sure that he saw him.  Lady Macbeth says Macbeth should be ashamed of himself.

Macbeth says that in the old day’s murder was common before laws were made to keep society peaceful. He says murders, murders too terrible for the human ear to listen to, continued even after laws were passed.

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Macbeth says that in the past, when a man’s brain was out, then he would die. The act of murder was finished. Now the dead are coming back, even with twenty cuts to the head.

A dead man has come back and has taken Macbeth’s place on a stool at the table. Macbeth says, “This is more strange than… a murder is.” Lady Macbeth tells her husband that his friends are missing him. Macbeth says that he had forgotten them.

Macbeth walks back to the table. He calls his guests his “most worthy friends” and tells them not to think about his strange behavior.

Macbeth says he has an unusual health problem which “is nothing to those who know” him. He raises his drink to wish everyone good health and asks for more wine. The Ghost of Banquo appears again.

Macbeth does not see the Ghost of Banquo. Macbeth lifts his drink and says that he wishes happiness to everyone at the table and to his “dear friend Banquo.”

Macbeth says he misses Banquo and wishes he were at the table. He says everyone should drink to wish happiness to all at the table and to Banquo.

The lords raise their drinks, say that they are dutiful men, and drink. Macbeth sees Banquo’s ghost. Macbeth yells at the ghost, telling it to go away and get out of Macbeth’s sight.

Macbeth tells the ghost to let the earth cover it in its grave. He tells the ghost that its “bones are marrowless” (dried up with no tissue to make blood) and its “blood is cold.”

Macbeth tells the ghost that its eyes cannot see even though the ghost looks like it is staring at Macbeth. Lady Macbeth tells the lords to think of Macbeth’s behavior as a strange habit.

She says his behavior is not anything else, but it does destroy everyone’s happiness at dinner. Macbeth says he is as daring (as brave) as any other man.

He tells the ghost to come at him in the form of a Russian bear, a strong rhinoceros, a tiger from central Asia, or any other shape except for the shape the ghost has chosen (the shape of Banquo). If the ghost had any other shape, Macbeth would not tremble (shake in fear).

Macbeth tells the ghost if it would come back to life and ask Macbeth to fight him with a sword in a place with no other person there, Macbeth would be brave. Macbeth says if he trembled then, the ghost could call him a “baby of a girl” (a girl’s doll).

Macbeth calls the ghost a “horrible shadow” and tells it to go away. Then he calls it an “unreal mockery” (an unreal imitation or copy) and tells it again to go away. The Ghost of Banquo disappears.

Macbeth says, “Why so, being gone, I am a man again.” Since the ghost is gone, Macbeth feels normal again and wants the feast to continue. He asks everyone to stay seated.

Lady Macbeth tells her husband that his strange behavior has taken the happiness from the meeting. Macbeth asks his wife if such things (like happiness disappearing from a feast) truly can happen so fast, like a cloud going in front of the sun on a summer’s day.

Macbeth tells his wife that she makes him feel like he knows himself only as a stranger knows him. (He is saying that he feels that he does not know himself.)

Macbeth says he does not understand how his wife can see such a horrible thing (Banquo’s ghost) and still have healthy red cheeks when Macbeth’s own fear has made his face look white.

Ross asks what sights King Macbeth has seen. (Macbeth had not known that he was the only one who had seen a ghost, and he had been so surprised by the ghost that he had forgotten that he had guests.)

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Lady Macbeth does not know what her husband has seen, but she wants him to stop talking before he says something that will prove that he is a murderer.

Lady Macbeth asks her guests not to speak. She says her husband’s behavior is getting worse, and questions only make her husband angry. She asks the guests to leave now, all together, instead of leaving a few at a time based on their noble ranks.

Lennox says good night and wishes his king good health as everyone leaves. Lady Macbeth says, “A kind good night to all!”

Macbeth tells his wife that there is an old saying, “Blood will have blood.” (The blood of a murdered person will find the blood of his murderer. A murderer will always be discovered.)

Macbeth tells his wife that people have said that stones have moved and trees have spoken (to tell a murderer’s name).

Macbeth tells his wife that people who can tell the future by looking at the behavior of magpies, choughs, and rooks have discovered even the best “man of blood” (the best murderer, someone who hid his secrets well).

Macbeth asks Lady Macbeth how late at night it is. Lady Macbeth says the night is “at odds” with the morning. (lt is so close to being morning that she does not know if it is very late at night or very early in the morning.)

Macbeth asks his wife what she thinks about Macduff not coming to their feast even though he had been invited. Lady Macbeth asks her
husband if he had asked Macduff to explain why he had not come.

Macbeth says he has not heard from Macduff directly. Macbeth says he has only heard “by the way” (by what others have said). Macbeth tells his wife that he pays a servant in every lord’s house to tell him what the lord is saying and doing.

Macbeth says that he will leave the next day to go visit the “weird sisters” (the witches) to find out from the “worst means” (the evilest
people) “the worst” (the worst news). Macbeth says that for his own good, he will do what is necessary.

Macbeth tells his wife that he has stepped into so much blood that even if he tried to go back it would be as difficult as going forward.

(He has already killed King Duncan, Duncan’s guards, and ordered the murder of Banquo.  His killing is like walking into a river of blood. He has decided to continue walking forward through blood.)

Macbeth says he has strange plans in his head that he will have to act on without thinking too much about them (because they are so bad that they make him uncomfortable). Lady Macbeth tells her husband that he needs to sleep. Macbeth says they will go to sleep.

He says his strange behavior (thinking that he had seen the Ghost of Banquo) was caused by the fear that beginners have (his fear of murdering people), but his fear will go away with “hard use” (more murders).

He says, “We are yet but young indeed.” (They are new, not experienced murderers.) They leave to go to bed.

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