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Summaries of Shakespeare's plays are very easy to find. The play starts with three witches planning mischief, particularly with Macbeth. Macbeth is a highly placed officer in the Scottish military under King Duncan. Macbeth is a good soldier and fights valiantly which causes the king to give Macbeth a new title, Thane of Cawdor, a title belonging to one who, ironically, proved to be a traitor. On the way home from battle, Macbeth and Banquo come upon the witches who tell Macbeth that he will be named Thane of Cawdor (he doesn't know yet that he's been given this new title) and that he will be named king. When he hears that he has indeed been given the new title of Thane of Cawdor, he begins to think seriously about becoming king. He tells his wife in a letter about what happened and she determines that he will do whatever it takes to become king. When Duncan decides to pay the Macbeths a visit, Lady Macbeth plans Duncan's murder and Macbeth carries it out. Duncan's sons, Malcolm, the crown prince, and Donalbain fear for their lives then and flee the country. Macbeth does indeed become king but he doesn't feel secure because he thinks that Banquo might suspect him of Duncan's murder. Macbeth has hired thugs kill Banquo, but Banquo's son, Fleance, escaped. The murderers were supposed to kill him, too, because Macbeth doesn't want Banquo's heirs to become kings as the witches also predicted. Then Macbeth decides, after he sees Banquo's ghost at a banquet, to visit the witches again. This time, they give him visions that say Macbeth should beware of Macduff, that Macbeth need fear no man born of woman, and that Macbeth won't be vanquished until Birnam Wood advances to Dunsinane Hill (site of Macbeth's castle). This makes Macbeth feel secure but it also makes Macbeth determined to strike out against Macduff who is currently out of the country. Because he can't get to Macduff, Macbeth has Macduff's wife and children killed. Macduff, who is in England to rally Malcolm and the English to overthrow Macbeth, finds out about the attack and vows to kill Macbeth. In England, Malcolm tests Macduff's loyalty to Scotland and determines that Macduff is, indeed, loyal to the country and not just a sycophant. Malcolm, Macduff, and the English invade Scotland and begin to advance on Macbeth's castle. Lady Macbeth dies, presumably by suicide. Malcolm orders his men to disguise their numbers with tree branches from Birnam Woods. Macbeth is beginning to get the idea that the witches tricked him. Macduff and Macbeth meet up and Macbeth doesn't want to fight Macduff, he says, because he leads a charmed life and can't be killed by any man born of woman. Macduff tells Macbeth that he was born by C-section and therefore, "not of woman born". Macduff cuts off Macbeth's head and presents it to the new king, Malcolm.
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