Macbeth ACT 1 SCENE SUMMARIES
1: 1 – An Open Field (heath) �Characters: Three witches �Action: Three witches meet in an open field, speaking about a war that is almost over. They agree to meet again, upon the heath, with Macbeth present. �Staging: The “heath”; thunder, lightning—witches may be flying above a cauldron �Problem or Solution: Unsure; they want to meet with Macbeth for some reason. Since this very short scene is the opening of the play, we are not sure what is to come. It begins the play with a dark sense of the unknown.
1: 2 – King Duncan’s Camp at Forres �Characters: King Duncan, Malcolm, the Captain, Lennox, Ross �Action: The Captain meets King Duncan and tells about Macbeth and the way he valiantly fought Macdonwald. He says it was a good fight. Macbeth slit Macdonwald down the middle, then cut off his head and stuck it on top of his sword. Ross announces they have won the battle. The King sends Ross to crown Macbeth the Thane of Cawdor. �Staging: King’s throne, good furniture, flags of Scotland; bloody Captain �Problem or Solution: Solution; Macbeth has helped Duncan and Scotland win the war against Norway, now Macbeth is being honored by Duncan by being promoted to the title of Thane of Cawdor.
1: 3 – Upon the Heath �Characters: three witches, Macbeth, Banquo, Ross, Angus �Action: Witches appear; meet with Macbeth and Banquo—they give both the prophecies; Ross and Angus tell Macbeth he is the new Thane of Cawdor �Staging: the heath, witches, cauldron �Problem or Solution: Problem—Macbeth and Banquo both want to see how this will play out. Macbeth is already thinking evil thoughts about how he is rising to become king.
1: 4 – Duncan’s Camp at Forres �Characters: Duncan, Malcolm, Macbeth �Action: Macbeth comes to the King‘s camp; Duncan thanks him, but names Malcolm his successor. Macbeth is not happy about this. �Staging: same as scene two �Problem or Solution: Problem—Duncan names Malcolm as successor, while Macbeth thought he would be named.
1: 5 – Macbeth’s Castle at Inverness �Characters: Lady Macbeth, Macbeth �Action: Lady Macbeth receives Macbeth‘s letter—she vows to get rid of Duncan, but is afraid Macbeth is not man enough. She asks the gods to make her manly enough to take over if she has to. Macbeth arrives, and they conspire. �Staging: somewhere Lady Macbeth can be alone with her thoughts—a bedroom or a bathroom? Possibly a library or reading room; Lady Macbeth needs a letter for a prop �Problem or Solution: Problem—Lady Macbeth feels they must kill Duncan, but is Macbeth strong and courageous enough to do it, or will she have to do it herself?
1: 6 - Macbeth’s Castle at Inverness �Characters: Duncan, Banquo, Lady Macbeth �Action: Duncan arrives at Macbeth’s castle, he feels very comfortable there. Lady Macbeth welcomes him with open arms. �Staging: Outdoors, in the open area of the castle �Problem or Solution: Problem—Duncan feels much too comfortable in Macbeth‘s castle.
1: 7 - Macbeth’s Castle at Inverness �Characters: Macbeth, Lady Macbeth �Action: Macbeth is having second thoughts about killing Duncan. Lady Macbeth berates him and tries to give him a ―pep talk. �Staging: in Macbeth‘s chamber or a library— somewhere they have privacy �Problem or Solution: Problem—Macbeth is losing his nerve.