Shakespeare’s Macbeth: A Summary
Macbeth is one of Shakespeare’s most famous works, and the plot is full of gruesome murders, betrayal, and paranoia. However, the story of Macbeth focuses on loyalty, guilt, innocence, and fate.
The complete Macbeth summary for kids will introduce you to Shakespeare’s “Scottish Play,” as it follows the rise and fall of the unfortunate Scottish nobleman with all its twists and turns!
It begins with the main character, Macbeth, and his friend Banquo encountering three witches on a lonely Scottish moor. They are known as the Weird Sisters who tell Macbeth of three prophecies that will happen:
- Macbeth will be promoted to Thane of Cawdor.
- He will then become King of Scotland.
- Banquo’s descendants will be kings, but he won’t gain any kingdom.
After stating these prophecies, the Weird Sisters disappear. Soon after this strange encounter, King Duncan of Scotland grants Macbeth the title of Thane of Cawdor after his success in recent battles. It causes Macbeth to start to believe in the rest of the prophecies.
King Duncan plans to stay at Macbeth’s castle that night. Macbeth tells his wife, Lady Macbeth, of the other prophecies and his new title. Lady Macbeth then promises to help Macbeth become king and won’t stop until he does.
Macbeth and Lady Macbeth come up with a plan to kill the king. Lady Macbeth gives the guard drugged wine, so they fall asleep. With them out of the way, Macbeth can enter the king’s chamber to kill him.
As soon as the deed is done, Macbeth starts to regret it. However, Lady Macbeth thinks quickly and leaves the bloody daggers by the dead king. The daggers and dead king are discovered by another nobleman called Macduff.
Macbeth kills the drunk guards in a rage to cover up his crimes. The dead king’s sons, Donalbain and Malcolm, flee the castle in fear for their lives. Macbeth blames them for the murder.
The second prophecy comes true as Macbeth is crowned the new King of Scotland. But unfortunately, this is when Macbeth starts to spiral into madness as things go wrong.
As the first two prophecies come true, Macbeth is convinced that the final one will also occur. To stop Banquo’s descendants from inheriting the throne, Macbeth arranges for Banquo and his son, Fleance, to be killed. Fleance manages to escape the killers, but Banquo is killed.
Later that night, Macbeth sees the ghost of Banquo at a banquet and alarms the guests by madly talking to him. Lady Macbeth tries to calm Macbeth down but is unsuccessful.
Macbeth visits the Weird Sisters again. They tell him three more prophecies:
- Macbeth will be safe until Birnam Wood (a local wood) marches into battle against him.
- He doesn’t need to fear anyone born of a woman (sounds pretty safe).
- The Scottish throne will still go to Banquo’s descendants.
While the first two prophecies make Macbeth feel pretty secure, the last one causes him to become a tyrant king. He kills many people, including Macduff’s family.
Meanwhile, Macduff has gone to find King Duncan’s exiled son Malcolm. He is staying at the English King’s court. Macduff persuades the young Malcolm to return with an army to defeat Macbeth.
Macbeth has moved to a remote castle where he feels safer. This changes when he is told that Birnam Wood is moving toward him. Malcolm’s army has arrived and uses branches from the forest as camouflage! Uh oh!
Meanwhile, the guilt and stress of killing King Duncan weigh heavily on Lady Macbeth, who eventually kills herself. But unfortunately, Macbeth is told of his wife’s death just before the final battle takes place.
During the battle, Macduff challenges Macbeth to single combat. Macbeth learns that Macduff was born by cesarean (not in natural birth, meaning he is not “born of woman” as the Weird Sisters predicted), and he realizes it’s all over.
He is killed by Macduff, who delivers his head to Malcolm. Malcolm declares peace and is crowned the new King of Scotland.
So the curtain falls as the play comes to an end. The story of Macbeth is one of ambition and fate, as Macbeth’s gruesome actions led him to the final battle and his demise.
There you have it – a complete summary of Shakespeare’s Macbeth! We hope you enjoyed this journey into Macbeth’s mysterious Scotland. If you were in his shoes, what would you have done differently to avoid his fate?