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King Duncan's palace was at Forres; Macbeth's castle at Inverness. The invasion Macbeth and Banquo repelled was from Norway. Note the exposed location of Forres on the north coast,
To show favor to Macbeth after this victory, the King visits Macbeth's castle, and Macbeth, taking advantage of the opportunity, kills him.
The play from this point on becomes a history of crime. After the murder of the King, Macbeth cannot draw back. His fears for safety drive him from crime to crime. His guilty mind becomes a prey to terrors and the consciousness of sin. His soliloquies sometimes take on the form of deep regrets. At other times the torture of his conscience drives him into fits of abstraction during which he sees the very things that terrify his mind to think about.
To Banquo, on the other hand, the witches prophesy he shall be father to a line of kings, though he be none himself. There are no seeds of wickedness in Banquo's heart, so he commits no crimes to fulfill the prophecy. His character is the antithesis of Macbeth's. Banquo becomes the ancestor of the Scottish King who as James I. sat upon the throne of England at the time Shakespeare wrote Macbeth.
Of the later characters, Lady Macbeth concerns usi most. She is a woman with a will of steel. She urges Macbeth on, and when he quite betrays himself, she rescues him from discovery with rare presence of mind and consummate skill.
In Banquo's place, when Macbeth murders him, springs up Macduff, the most dangerous of all Macbeth's wronged enemies.
The play begins with the meeting of the witches on the heath. The witches are both grotesque and terrible. In their dances and at their first appearance we could almost smile at them, but when we realize the hideousness of their designs and their environment, we shiver, and our blood runs cold.
A heath, during a storm [Prolog.] Three witches; then Macbeth and Banquo victorious generals of the Scottish King, coming fresh from battle.
[Exit.] 1 concerns us: this in despite of the fact that Lady Macbeth's own feelings and experiences in the play are not presented in this playlet.
[Thunder. Enter the three Witches R.] 1 Witch. Where hast thou been, sister? 2 Witch. Killing swine. 3 Witch. Sister, where thou? 1 Witch. A sailor's wife had chestnuts in her lap, And munched, and munched, and munched. “Give me!"
quoth I. “Aroint: thee, witch!” she cries. Her husband's to Aleppo gone, master o' the Tiger; But in a sieve I'll thither sail, And, like a rat without a tail,
I'll do, I'll do, and I'll do.
He shall live a man forbid 5
Yet it shall be tempest-tost.
[Drum within L.]
1 aroint: (ä-roint'): begone. 2 master: captain. 3 like a rat without a tail: in the form of a rat; but without a tail, since witches could not assume the shape of any animal perfectly. 4 wind. Make this word rhyme with kind.
The witches were supposed to be able to control the winds.
5 forbid: accursed; i.e. excommunicated.
6 peak (pēk): become thin and sharp-featured. We still use the adjective peaked.
? wracked (råkt): wrecked.
3 Witch. A drum, a drum! Macbeth doth come.
[They join hands and circle slowly around as they chant.] All. The weird sisters, hand in hand,
Posters? of the sea and land,
Enter Macbeth and Banquo L.]
So withered and so wild in their attire,
That man may question?
Speak, if you can. What are you? 1 Witch. All hail, Macbeth! hail to thee, thane of Glamis.. 2 Witch. All hail, Macbeth! hail to thee, thane of Cawdor!? 3 Witch. All hail, Macbeth, that shalt be King hereafter! Banquo. (To Macbeth.] Good sir, why do you start, and
seem to fear Things that do sound so fair? - In the name of truth, Are ye fantastical, or that indeed Which outwardly ye show? My noble partner You greet with great prediction 1 weird (wērd): suggesting magical influence. 2 posters (pās'těrz): rapid travelers.
3 foul and fair. It has been a stormy, foggy day, but a fair, i.e. fortunate, one for Macbeth and Banquo.
4 Forres (for'ěs). 5 thane (thān): an old Scottish title of honor, nearly the equivalent, in Macbeth's time, to earl.
6 Glamis (gläm'Is or glämz). 7 Caodom (kô?dễr).
8 start: Macbeth was startled by the witches' prediction of the fulfillment of what was already his secret wish.
Of noble having and of royal hope,
Your favors nor your hate. 1 Witch. Hail! 2 Witch. Hail! 3 Witch. Hail! 1 Witch. Lesser than Macbeth, and greater. 2 Witch. Not so happy, yet much happier. 3 Witch. Thy children shall be kings, though thou be none;
So all hail, Macbeth and Banquo!
By Sinel's' death I know I am thane of Glamis;
[Witches vanish R.]
And these are of them. Whither are they vanished?
As breath into the wind. Would they had stayed!
You shall be King.
1 Sinel (si'něl): Macbeth's father.