What is the story of the famous tragedy play by William Shakespeare  named Macbeth? 

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shakespeareguru | Teacher | (Level 2) Educator

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The plot concerns the rise to power (and the subsequent demise) of a noble warrior (he's called a Thane, which is like a Lord) of ancient Scotland, Macbeth.  He begins the play fighting a battle in the service of the current king, Duncan.  Duncan has decided to silence once and for all by two rebellious Thanes.  When Macbeth proves himself loyal and courageous in battle, Duncan decides to add more glory to him by bestowing one of the titles that had formerly belonged to the slain rebel upon Macbeth.

Meanwhile, Macbeth and his comrade, Banquo have been waylaid by three mysterious witches, who prophesy that Macbeth will become Thane of Cawdor (the title that the king has decided to give him) and then King.  They also say that Banqo will beget kings.  Macbeth and Banquo do not know what to make of these predictions, but Macbeth is later surprised to note that the first prediction has come true when Duncan makes him Thane of Cawdor.

Upon returning home to his wife, Macbeth makes the choice that changes the course of the play for him.  He decides to take his wife's counsel and murder Duncan so that he might fulfill the witches' prophesy and become King.  He does the deed and does become King, but this only, ironically, deepens his troubles.

He finds he must murder Banquo and his son to prevent Banquo's children from becoming kings.  He succeeds with killing his friend, but Banquo's son escapes.  He then must face other prophesies from the witches and, ultimately, an uprising against him led by Duncan's son and other Scottish Thanes.

The culmination of the story shows Macbeth's decline into a desparate killing machine, and ultimately ends in his death at the hands of those more honorable characters that would rule in his place.  His wife, Lady Macbeth, is also overcome with her own guilt and goes mad and kills herself.

The play is considered a classical tragedy. Macbeth is a tragic hero whose tragic flaw is his own ambition.  In the beginning, it seems to be the thing that raises him up, but ultimately, it is the instrument of his own demise.

You can find more detail about the play in the links to the Entoes study guide given below.


niellotus's profile pic

niellotus | College Teacher | (Level 1) eNoter

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The Play Macbeth is considered to be one of the finest tragedies by Shakespeare. The story of this play is about a man driven by over ambition.  The fire of Macbeth’s ambition is fuelled and fanned by Lady Macbeth. When Macbeth tell Lady Macbeth of the Witches’ prophecy that he would be first the Thane of Cawdor and later the King himself, Lady Macbeth prods him on. Even when he abandons the idea of assassinating Duncan, the King who is his guest, Lady Macbeth decides to take matters in her own hands. She murders King Duncan.

The death of Duncan brought in its wake trouble for the two- Macbeth and his wife. Lady Macbeth suffers sleepless nights from the crime she has committed. She begins sleep walking. Macbeth fares no better. Thus begins the decline of one who is driven by over ambition.


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