Make a timeline for the main scenes within Macbeth in order.

The main scenes within Macbeth include the following:

  1. The witches prophesize that Macbeth will become king.
  2. Macbeth murders King Duncan.
  3. Macbeth murders Banquo, but Fleance escapes.
  4. Macbeth listens to the witches' new prophecies.
  5. Macbeth murders Macduff's family.
  6. Malcolm and Macduff join forces to overthrow Macbeth.
  7. Lady Macbeth loses her sanity.
  8. Macduff kills Macbeth.

Expert Answers

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In act 1, scene 2, a Captain in Duncan's army reports on Macbeth's courage in battle. We learn that he is "brave" and "valiant" (1.2.18, 1.2.26). This scene helps to establish that Macbeth begins the play as a good man who is loyal to king and country.

In act 1, scene 3, Macbeth and Banquo meet the three Weird Sisters. The witches tell Macbeth that he "shalt be king hereafter" and that Banquo will "get kings" though he will never be king himself (1.3.53, 1.3.70). This is the inciting incident that initiates all of Macbeth's conflicts in the play.

In act 1, scene 4, Duncan names his son, Malcolm, his heir to the throne, disappointing Macbeth and causing him to consider what he needs to do to take the throne.

In act 1, scene 5, we see Lady Macbeth's reaction to her husband's news. It becomes clear that she holds more power in their relationship that he does. She intends to persuade him to do her will when he returns home. Ultimately, though he wants to talk more, she says, "Leave all the rest to me" (1.5.86).

In act 2, scene 2, Macbeth kills Duncan, and he is overwhelmed by his guilt. In act 2, scene 3, Duncan's body is discovered, and Macbeth also kills the chamberlains that he and his wife attempted to frame for the murder.

In act 3, scene 1, Macbeth hires people to murder Banquo and Banquo's son, Fleance. In act 3, scene 3, they murder Banquo only.

In act 4, scene 1, Macbeth goes to see the Weird Sisters to get more information. They offer him some enigmatically-worded statements of destiny that sound like assurances of safety.

In act 4, scene 2, Macbeth has the wife and children of his enemy, Macduff, murdered.

In act 5, scene 1, Lady Macbeth's decline in mental health becomes clear. She is sleepwalking and, essentially, revealing her own and Macbeth's guilt.

In act 5, scene 8, Macduff avenges his family and kills Macbeth. Malcolm takes his rightful place on the throne.

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on January 15, 2020
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Macbeth traces the destructive elements at play when Macbeth, a decorated and respected soldier, takes matters into his own hands and, with his wife, Lady Macbeth's, persuasion, intends to ensure his  position as king of Scotland, as foretold by the witches, by removing all obstacles in his way, starting with the king, Duncan, himself. 

1. The witches tell Macbeth he will be king and Banquo that his sons will be kings in Act I, scene iii and Macbeth immediately considers his options in safeguarding his future, to the point that, what he is thinking is so heinous that it "doth unfix my hair," (135). 

2. In Act I, scene v, Lady Macbeth expresses her intentions in persuading Macbeth. She will go to any length on Macbeth's behalf, and even begs to be filled with "direst cruelty," (40), to ensure that, if Macbeth loses his nerve she retains her resolve. She is worried that he is too weak being, "full of the milk of human kindness." (14)

3. Macbeth has resolved to murder Duncan, despite questioning his own motives and being disturbed by the vision of the daggers in Act II, scene i. The next crucial part is Act II, scene ii. Duncan is dead and Lady Macbeth has had to return the daggers to his chamber due to Macbeth's confusion. 

4. Act III, scene ii is crucial in recognizing the change in Macbeth as he stops relying on Lady Macbeth. He plans to have Banquo murdered because he is concerned about the witches' prophesy that Banquo's sons could be kings. Line 45 confirms how proud of himself he is that he has put in motion his latest scheme, telling Lady Macbeth to, "Be innocent ...till thou applaud the deed" 

5. In scene iv of Act III, Macbeth sees Banquo's ghost and is in a frenzy because Fleance, Banquo's son, is alive. This is important as it drives the plot and contributes to Macbeth's increasing paranoia. 

6. Macbeth goes to the witches in Act IV, scene i and demands more from them. he is now more confident than ever because the apparitions tell him that "none of woman born shall harm Macbeth," (80) and that he can rest easy until "Great Birnam wood...come against him," (92). The fact that he then sees eight kings that look like Banquo is minimized in Macbeth's eyes as he now knows h is invincible. 

7. The killing spree continues and meanwhile MacDuff and Malcolm conspire to return to Scotland and defeat Macbeth. In Act V, scene i Lady Macbeth makes an appearance and her condition has seriously deteriorated. She is obsessed with removing the "damned spot," (34) which apparently plagues her and her doctor can do nothing more for her. As he says, "more needs she the divine than the physician," (72).

8. Macbeth is saddened by her death in Act V, scene v and is beginning to see the futility but not sufficiently enough to make him surrender. Even on realizing that the witches are nothing more than "juggling fiends,"  in the final scene (scene viii) of Act V, he fights to the death. Order is restored and the rightful king ascends to the throne. 

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Of course, Macbeth is full of many events that all contribute to Macbeth's fall from grace and death in battle.  I selected the most pivotal moments in the story, pertaining to the character of Macbeth, that impact the final outcome.

Major Scenes Timeline in Macbeth:

  • Act1, Scene 3:  Witches make prophecy
  • Act II, Scene 2:  Macbeth murders Duncan
  • Act III, Scene 3:  Macbeth has Banquo murdered, but Fleance escapes
  • Act IV, Scene 1: Witches show Macbeth three spirits with prophesies
  • Act IV, Scene 2:  Macbeth has Macduff's family murdered
  • Act IV, Scene 3:  Macduff and Malcolm join forces to fight Macbeth
  • Act V, Scene 8:  Macduff kills Macbeth

 

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
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