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The shortest version:

The phrase "There Will Be Blood" could easily be a summary of Macbeth. Here's the shortest summary of the play:

Three witches prophesy to Macbeth, telling him that he'll be made Thane of Cawdor as well as King of Scotland. Shortly thereafter, he's promoted to Thane of Cawdor. He considers killing Duncan, the king, but it's not until his wife puts him up to it that he commits to carry through. Macbeth kills the king as well as the guards, and his wife frames the guards for the king's murder. Macbeth takes the crown after Duncan's sons flee, one to Ireland, one to England. Macbeth later hires thugs to kill Banquo and his son (they miss the son somehow) and has Macduff's wife and children slaughtered. Power mad, he tracks down the witches, who provide him with additional prophesies: 1) Beware of Macduff; 2) No man born of woman can kill him; 3) He need not be afraid until the forest comes to Dunsinane. When Macduff turns up from England with a group of soldiers bearing branches from the forest, Macbeth gets nervous. His wife, mad after her participation in the plot, ends up dead (likely from suicide). Macbeth kills a young Englishman named Siward (whose father is aligned with Macduff), crowing all the while about being unstoppable, then battles Macduff, who, it turns out, was born by Caesarian section. "Lay on, Macduff!"


The short version:

Cast of key characters:
Three Witches
Duncan, King of Scotland and his two sons, Malcolm and Donalbain
Macbeth, Thane of Glamis
Lady Macbeth, Mrs. Thane of Glamis
Banquo, Macbeth's co-commander in Duncan's army
Macduff, a Scottish noble


Act I, scene 1: A desert place

Witches "Fair is foul and foul is fair." Remember that - it's a major theme of the play.

Act I, scene 2: A camp near Forres

Duncan The current Thane of Cawdor is a traitor. Kill him, stick his head on a pike, and give his title to Macbeth.

Act I, scene 3: A health near Forres

Witches "A drum, a drum!/Macbeth doth come."

Macbeth "So foul and fair a day I have not seen."

Witches Macbeth - you'll be Thane of Cawdor and King of Scotland.

Banquo What about me?
First Witch Lesser than Macbeth, and greater.
Second Witch Not so happy, yet much happier.
Third Witch Thou shalt get kings, though thou be none.

Ross and Angus Congratulations on being Thane of Cawdor, Macbeth!

Act I, scene 4: Forres castle

Macbeth About the former Thane of Cawdor: "Nothing in his life became him like the leaving it."

Act I, scene 5: Macbeth's castle at Inverness

Lady Macbeth This letter from my husband is full of good news. Ah! There you are - welcome home husband! You need to man up and do what needs to be done in order to take the crown.

Come, you spirits
That tend on mortal thoughts, unsex me here,
And fill me from the crown to the toe top-full
Of direst cruelty. Make thick my blood.

Macbeth Okay, I guess.

Lady Macbeth "Leave all the rest to me."

Act I, scene 6: Outside Inverness's doors

Duncan It's so nice of you to have me as a guest.

Lady Macbeth Boy, do we have something special planned for you.

Act I, scene 7: Inside Inverness

Macbeth If I'm going to do this, I'd better do it quickly. Only first, I think I'll soliloquize for a while. Because "dither" is my middle name. Also, maybe I can talk myself out of it.

[Enter Lady Macbeth]
Lady Macbeth What the hell are you doing here? Duncan's been asking for you, and it's nearly time for you to off him.

Macbeth Nah. I think we'll just leave him alone. He's been pretty great to me, and everyone's thinking well of me.

Lady Macbeth What are you, a sissy? Have you no stones, man? All talk and no action?

Macbeth Um, . . . "I dare do all that may become a man. Who dares do more is none."

Lady Macbeth Boy, do you have THAT right. Because I dare to do more, and I'm sure no man. You promised me that you'd kill him! I've given birth to babies, but I would smash their little infant skulls rather than be a promise-breaker like you're turning out to be.

Macbeth Um, . . . what if we fail?

Lady Macbeth "Screw your courage to the sticking place and we'll not fail."

Macbeth Man, you are hardcore, woman. To get back to one of the primary themes of the play, though: "Away, and mock the time with fairest show./False face must hide what the false heart doth know."


Act II, scene 1: Court of Macbeth's castle

Banquo Been thinking about those witches?

Macbeth Nope.

Banquo 'night, then.

[Everyone leaves Macbeth alone for some soliloquy time.]
Macbeth
Is this a dagger which I see before me,
The handle toward my hand? Come, let me clutch thee.
I have thee not, and yet I see thee still.
. . .
I go, and it is done; the bell invites me.
Hear it not, Duncan; for it is a knell
That summons thee to heaven or to hell.

Act II, scene 2: same place

Lady Macbeth "That which hath made them drunk hath made me bold."

Macbeth I did it. What a mess.

Lady Macbeth Try not to think about it.

Macbeth I swear I heard a voice say I'd never sleep again. "Macbeth does murder sleep" and "Macbeth shall sleep no more".

Lady Macbeth Did you plant the evidence on the two guards?

Macbeth Damn. I knew I forgot something.

Lady Macbeth Go do it.

Macbeth I can't go back in there.

Lady Macbeth Fine. I'll do it. *Mutters about doing things yourself if you want something done right, heads out to plant evidence on the guards*

Act II, scene 3: same place

Porter Hello, Mr. Macduff. Welcome to Inverness castle! I am the plucky comic relief!

Macduff Dude, what took you so long to answer the damned door? Were you drunk or something?

Porter I was drunk last night, but I worked it out, so to speak. Also, I have a very funny bit about the perils of drink - how it makes you frisky, but unable to get it up, for instance. Seriously, you ought to read all of my lines:
Marry, sir, nose-painting, sleep, and
urine. Lechery, sir, it provokes, and unprovokes;
it provokes the desire, but it takes
away the performance: therefore, much drink
may be said to be an equivocator with lechery:
it makes him, and it mars him; it sets
him on, and it takes him off; it persuades him,
and disheartens him; makes him stand to, and
not stand to; in conclusion, equivocates him
in a sleep, and, giving him the lie, leaves him.


[Enter Macbeth.]
Macbeth Welcome to Inverness!

Macduff Where's the king? *walks off to see, comes back upset*
Dudes, the king is dead. Sound the alarum.

[Macbeth goes to see and kills guards so they can't talk.]
Macbeth Damn guards.

[Enter Donalbain and Malcolm]
Macduff Good morning. Your father's been murdered.

Donalbain and Malcolm *skivv off due to unsafe conditions*

Act II, scene 4: outside Inverness castle

Old guy Weird goings-on are going on

Ross You said it.

Macduff Looks like those two guards were the ones who killed Duncan. And now his sons have skivved off.

Act III, scene 1: Forres castle

Macbeth Now I'm king. "To be thus is nothing,/But to be safely thus."

[Enter two murderers.]
Macbeth You seem like desperate men. The cause of your desperation is Banquo. What say you do us all a favor and kill him, and his son Fleance, too?

Murderers Good plan!

Act III, scene 2: same

Lady Macbeth I must be starting my descent into madness, since I've started speaking in witch-like rhyme. Also, "What's done is done."

Macbeth Oh noes! I'm starting to speak in rhyme too!

Act III, scene 3: A park near Forres castle

Two Murderers Wait - why are there suddenly three of us?

Third Murderer Just go with it, okay?
[They murder Banquo, but Fleance gets away.]

Act III, scene 4: A hall in the palace

Macbeth Welcome, everyone, to dinner.

Lady Macbeth Sit down, won't you?

Macbeth AUUGGHHH! How can I sit down? He's already in my seat! [Points at empty chair, in which he sees Banquo's ghost.]

Everyone else WTF?

Lady Macbeth Well, now you know. He has minor fits. Everyone out.

[Everyone leaves.]
Macbeth "Blood will have blood." I've waded so far into blood that more blood can hardly make a difference. If all this blood were a river, I'd be in the middle, and coming back would make me as bloody as moving forward.

Lady Macbeth You need to get some sleep.

Macbeth Sleep. Good idea. Too bad I murdered sleep a few scenes ago.

Act III, scene 5: A heath
*Most scholars believe this scene wasn't written by Shakespeare. It involves Hecate and the witches, and takes a different tone and tack.

Act III, scene 6: Forres castle

Lennox Weird things are happening. Murder seems to follow Macbeth around, and all the deaths are mysterious, too.

Lord Aye, it's weird.

Lennox Where's Macduff?

Lord Not here. He told Macbeth to sod off, and Macduff took off for England.

Act IV, scene 1: A cavern, with a boiling cauldron

Witches Let's list off a lot of disgusting ingredients, in rhyme, then hit the chorus a few times:
Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn, and cauldron bubble.


Second Witch "By the pricking of my thumbs,/Something wicked this way comes."

[Enter Macbeth.]
Macbeth I demand more answers!

First Witch     "Speak."

Second Witch           "Demand."

Third Witch               "We'll answer."

Witches *conjure three separate apparitions

First Apparition Beware Macduff!

Second Apparition No man of woman born shall harm Macbeth!

Third Apparition Macbeth can't lose until Birnam Wood comes to Dunsinane!

Macbeth I AM INVINCIBLE! But just to be on the safe side, I'll send some guys to slaughter Lady Macduff and all of her children.

Act IV, scene 2: Macduff's castle at Fife

Ross And so, long story short, your husband fled to England. [Exit Ross.]

Lady Macduff That bastard!

Macduff's son C'mon mom, dad's not so bad.

Lady Macduff He's dead to me.

[Messenger pokes his head in for sec.]
Messenger Run away - hooligans are coming to kill you.

Lady Macbeth What's that?

[Enter Murderers, who stab son.]
Son "He has killed me, mother. Run away, I pray you."

"[Lady Macduff exits, crying 'Murder!']"

Act IV, scene 3: England, before the King's palace

Malcolm What do you want?

Macduff Come back to Scotland with me and rout Macbeth.

Malcolm I am a wastrel and a scoundrel and a rogue, and you'll get no help from me.

Macduff Alas for my poor Scotland! I shall do what I can on my own!

Malcolm Just kidding! I am neither a wastrel, a scoundrel, nor a rogue. Also, I'm a virgin. Also-also, I was testing you to make sure you weren't working for Macbeth.

Ross Hi Malcolm! Hi Macduff! Just rode in from Scotland. Everyone's fine at home. Except for Macduff's family - they're all been murdered since he left them all alone and undefended.

Macduff "All my pretty ones . . . at one fell swoop?"

Ross Yep. And your servants, too.

Macduff That makes me want to cry.

Malcolm Boys don't cry. Grab your sword and let's invade Scotland.

Act V, scene 1: An ante-room in Dunsinane castle

Doctor Are you sure there's something wrong with Lady Macbeth. I mean, the queen? You've had me here two nights already and I'm bored.

Gentlewoman She sleeps with a candle by her bed and walks and talks in her sleep, I tell you.

Lady Macbeth *walks and talks in her sleep, and rubs her hands*
Out, damned spot! out, I say!--One: two: why,
then, 'tis time to do't.--Hell is murky!--Fie, my
lord, fie! a soldier, and afeared? What need we
fear who knows it, when none can call our power to
account?--Yet who would have thought the old man
to have had so much blood in him.

Doctor That is some scary stuff she's saying.

Gentlewoman Don't I know it?

Lady Macbeth "What's done cannot be undone." Banquo's dead. Macduff's family is dead.

Doctor "Foul whisperings are abroad". Man, do I wish I could get out of here.

Act V, scene 2: In the country, near Dunsinane

*English troops and a number of Scots prepare for battle with Macbeth.*

Act V, scene 3: Dunsinane castle

Macbeth Unless Birnam Wood shows up outside, I don't want to hear any more reports. I AM INVINCIBLE! So, um, Doc - how's my wife?

Doctor Mad.

Macbeth Cure her of that, won't you?

Doctor Not much I can do for a troubled mind.

Macbeth "Throw physic to the dogs. I'll none of it."

Act V, scene 4: Country near Birnam Wood

Malcolm Grab some branches from Birnam Wood - we'll all hold branches, see, and then Macbeth won't be able to sort out how many of us there are!

Act V, scene 5: Inside Dunsinane castle

Macbeth What's that noise?

Seyton Women crying, my lord. [Exits to check up on it further.]

Macbeth I'd be afraid, but "I have supped full with horrors."

[Enter Seyton.]
Seyton The queen is dead.

Macbeth
She should have died hereafter;
There would have been a time for such a word.
To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day
To the last syllable of recorded time,
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more: it is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.

[Enter Messenger.]
Messenger So, um, strange but true: Birnam Wood has come to Dunsinane.

Macbeth Crap! Sound the alarm and suit up!

Act V, scene 6: Outside Dunsinane castle

Malcolm Drop your branches!

Siward Victory or death!

Macduff Sound the trumpets!

Act V, scene 7: Another part of the field

Macbeth Crap! I'm trapped here like a bear at a bear-baiting contest.

[Enter Young Siward, who exchanges words and blows and is quickly killed.]
Macbeth You were born of woman. Nyah Nyah! I AM INVINCIBLE! [Exit Macbeth.]

[Enter Macduff.]
Macduff Sounds like he went that-a-way! Vengeance is mine!
[Macduff goes that-a-way.]

[Enter Malcolm and Siward for a quick status chat, and leave again.]

Act V, scene 8:: Another part of the field

Macbeth I refuse to kill myself.

[Enter Macduff.]
Macduff "Turn, hellhound, turn!"

Macbeth I would rather not fight you. I've already got the blood of your entire family on my hands.

Macduff Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya Macduff. You killed my family. Prepare to die.

Macbeth Nyah nyah. I AM INVINCIBLE. Nobody of woman born has a chance.

Macduff I was born by C-section. Let's do this!

Macbeth "Lay on, Macduff, and damned be him that first cries 'Hold! Enough!'"
[Massive swordplay breaks out, but ends off stage.]

[Enter Siward, Malcolm and others.]
Ross Hello all. Siward, your son is dead. Also, how come I'm the one stuck giving all the dead family news around here? First Macduff's kids, now yours . . .

Siward He died bravely. I am glad of that. "And so his knell is knolled."

"[Enter Macduff with Macbeth's head.]"

Macduff Hail, King of Scotland! I mean, I cut Macbeth's head off, so that makes Malcolm king, yes?

Everyone Hail, King of Scotland!

Malcolm Go me! You're all promoted to earls! And you're all invited to come see me get crowned at Scone!

THE END

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Comments

( 22 comments — Leave a comment )
ex_kmessner
Jun. 16th, 2009 11:25 am (UTC)
Thank goodness "Screw your courage to the sticking point..." made the cut. I think that is my favorite line from the whole play.
kellyrfineman
Jun. 16th, 2009 12:57 pm (UTC)
I love that line. I also love "Something wicked this way comes", "Macbeth hath murdered sleep", "Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow/creeps in this petty pace", "who would have thought the old man to have so much blood in him", and "It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing". Oh -and "what's done cannot be undone". There are more. Such a quotable play!

I think the "tale told by an idiot" line might be my absolute favorite.
(Anonymous)
Jun. 16th, 2009 12:48 pm (UTC)
Inigo Montoya Macduff!!! Bravo! Nicely done throughout. MacBeth's one of my favorites.
kellyrfineman
Jun. 16th, 2009 12:58 pm (UTC)
*bows*

Thank you very much.
dotificus
Jun. 16th, 2009 01:35 pm (UTC)
You are hardcore, woman
Hahahahaha! I love that. You do realize that now every time we see one of the plays, we'll have some of your jokes pop up in our heads?

And all my children came via C-section, so I love reminding them how they were from my womb untimely ripp'd.
kellyrfineman
Jun. 16th, 2009 04:43 pm (UTC)
Re: You are hardcore, woman
Lay on, Macdot! (Heh - I kill me. Seriously, I laugh out loud at my own damn jokes. Probably a sign of mental illness.)
dotificus
Jun. 16th, 2009 05:59 pm (UTC)
Re: You are hardcore, woman
Then we're both bonkers, because I laugh at my own jokes all the time. I even go back and reread comments or posts I think particularly funny, and laugh again.

kellyrfineman
Jun. 16th, 2009 06:15 pm (UTC)
Re: You are hardcore, woman
Ha very ha! I do the same thing. I also laugh aloud at my own writing (as in the case of the gnomes, which I find hilarious).
writerjenn
Jun. 17th, 2009 01:02 am (UTC)
Re: You are hardcore, woman
As long as you don't sleep with a candle by your bed, and walk and talk in your sleep ... I hear THAT's a sign of mental illness.

These posts are like Shakespeare Cliffs Notes, only better. Certainly funnier.
kellyrfineman
Jun. 17th, 2009 02:18 am (UTC)
Re: You are hardcore, woman
Kelly Fineman . . . funnier than Cliffs Notes.

Quite the slogan!
amygreenfield
Jun. 16th, 2009 02:16 pm (UTC)
Another tour de force, Kelly! You had me in stitches all the way through.
kellyrfineman
Jun. 16th, 2009 04:44 pm (UTC)
Hooray! (I was so sure it couldn't be that entertaining, on account of it being such a bloody bloody play.)
tessagratton
Jun. 16th, 2009 02:54 pm (UTC)
Because "dither" is my middle name.

HAHAHAHAHA! <3
kellyrfineman
Jun. 16th, 2009 04:45 pm (UTC)
For serious - it's Hamlet's middle name, too. Prince Hamlet Dither Waffleman of Denmark.
tessagratton
Jun. 16th, 2009 05:01 pm (UTC)
Hehehe. Yeah. I forgive Hamlet so much more easily, though.
kellyrfineman
Jun. 16th, 2009 06:15 pm (UTC)
It's because Hamlet is far nobler than Macbeth, and far more intellectual. He's really trying to wrap his head around things, and is operating from a position of honor, whereas Macbeth is operating on a much more base level. At least, that's what I think.
tessagratton
Jun. 16th, 2009 06:15 pm (UTC)
I agree. Hamlet wants answers, Macbeth wants excuses.
michellcat
Jun. 22nd, 2009 10:19 am (UTC)
Hamlet vs MacBeth
MacBeth is much more comparable to Claudius, than he is to Hamlet. MacBeth is motivated by a desire for power and money, and the wish to please his even more ambitious wife.

Hamlet is moved by the need to appease his father's spirit, and the desire to do what's "right," whatever the cost. It occurs to me that I could write a whole paper contrasting the witches with Hamlet's father, and Lady MacBeth with Gertrude, and Ophelia with Lady MacBeth.

It's fun to criticize Hamlet for indecision, etc...but the truth is that in this case, waffling is the right thing to do. Hamlet's tragic flaw is hard to nail down. MacBeth's is easy. MacBeth is too proud, and has too great a sense of entitlement.
michellcat
Jun. 22nd, 2009 10:22 am (UTC)
Of course.
There's very little to forgive Hamlet for, really. Not killing Claudius fast enough? That's hardly a fault.

Whereas MacBeth commits what his culture perceives as the ultimate crime. He murders the King. That's like killing God. It's like putting poison cookies out for Santa. There's simply no worse thing you can do in his culture.

It's like Claudius' "primal eldest sin, a brother's murder." You're not supposed to forgive MacBeth at all, although you're meant to feel his pain til you can't put up with it anymore. You're supposed to forgive Hamlet, though, and sympathize with him.
kellyrfineman
Jun. 22nd, 2009 03:40 pm (UTC)
Re: Of course.
I think, though, that in many ways it's easier to identify on a personal level with Macbeth. Hamlet is wonderfully cerebral, but many folks aren't like that. Macbeth operates from a more basic level, and we all can understand the temptation he feels, whether we'd act on it or not. He is, in some ways, playing out one of the darker fantasies that people have (how to get ahead quickly). That there's a heavy price to pay is something even Macbeth knew before he went through with it - he just didn't realize what a slippery slope it was (or that the slope was slippery because it was entirely flooded with BLOOD).

Your point about whom you're supposed to forgive is spot on - and perhaps that's really the biggest takeaway. The ending of Hamlet feels sadder than that of Macbeth because we DO forgive Hamlet (or understand him), and the additional deaths - most notably of Laertes and Gertrude near the end - are unnecessary, but make everything that much more poignant. The ending of Macbeth is a foregone conclusion, between what the witches said and his own readiness to be done with the entire bloody business. Not that I think audiences are rooting for Macduff, really - they just know what's coming, and why.
michellcat
Jun. 16th, 2009 03:00 pm (UTC)
Hysterical.
"Ok, I guess..." LOL!
kellyrfineman
Jun. 16th, 2009 04:48 pm (UTC)
Re: Hysterical.
Well, he does sort of lack conviction just then, or so it seems to me. Not Lady M, though - she's badass.
( 22 comments — Leave a comment )

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