What are the top ten events that take place in Act three of Macbeth?

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merricat eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Act 3 of Macbeth is a pivotal part of the play. To summarize, Macbeth plots horrific murders completely on his own, without any hesitation, without any remorse, and without any help from his wife. The top ten events in chronological order would be these:

1. When alone, Banquo voices his suspicion that Macbeth killed Duncan. He then rides out for the afternoon, promising Macbeth to return for the great feast at the castle that evening.

2. Macbeth hires three murderers to kill Banquo and Banquo’s young son, Fleance. The killers slit Banquo’s throat and stab him in the head 20 times, but Fleance escapes.

3. Macbeth is upset Fleance lives, since the witches predicted Banquo’s children would be kings. Macbeth wanted to prevent that by killing Fleance, Banquo’s only son.

4. Macbeth sees Banquo’s bloody ghost at the great feast with dozens of noblemen present. No one else can see the specter, so Macbeth appears to be going crazy. Lady Macbeth makes excuses for Macbeth, saying,

Sit, worthy friends: my lord is often thus,
And hath been from his youth: pray you, keep seat;
The fit is momentary; upon a thought
He will again be well.”

5. The ghost leaves; Macbeth apologizes to the guests and attempts to continue with the feast normally. But Banquo’s ghost returns and Macbeth again begins shouting at it. Lady Macbeth quickly dismisses the guests.

6. Macbeth vows to visit the witches again.

7. Hecate, the queen of the witches, reprimands the Three Weird Sisters because they did not consult her before they met with Macbeth.  She insists that they prepare an even more evil set of prophecies in order to mislead Macbeth the next time he comes to visit them.

8. From a conversation between Lennox and another lord, we learn that Malcolm, the son of King Duncan, has fled to England to get help. He is gathering an army to attack Scotland and Macbeth.

9. Lennox makes it clear that most noblemen in Scotland see Macbeth as a tyrant and believe he killed Duncan and Banquo.

10. Macduff has gone to England to support Malcolm. Macbeth has denounced him.