Macbeth: Novel Summary: Act 3, Scene 6-Act 4, Scene 1

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Act 3, Scene 6: Lennox and another lord discuss the macabre atmosphere in the palace.  Lennox notes that everyone who has been in contact with Macbeth is now dead or has disappeared-King Duncan, Banquo, Macduff, Fleance, Donalbain and Malcolm.  He is glad that Malcolm and Donalbain are not near Macbeth and thus not vulnerable to his murderous hands.  Lennox asks the other lord the whereabouts of Macduff.  The lord tells him that Macduff has gone to England to ask for help from Malcolm, Edward the King of England and Siward (Earl of Northumberland) in overthrowing Macbeth from the throne.  The lord also tells Lennox that in response, Macbeth is rallying his own troops to fight the English forces.  Lennox prays that the English are strong enough to remove the "tyrant" Macbeth from the throne.

Act 4, Scene 1: At the witches' haunt, the weird sisters and Hecate are busy preparing the potion that will bring about Macbeth's ruin.  Macbeth enters and asks to speak to the witches' masters about the future.  An apparition takes the form of a helmeted head and tells Macbeth to beware the Thane of Fife (Macduff).  A second specter appears in the form of a bloody child.  It tells Macbeth to be brave because "none of woman born" can kill him.  (Act 4, Scene 1, Line 80) Then, a third spirit emerges in the form of a crowned child with a tree in its hand.  It tells Macbeth that he shall never be vanquished until the Great Birnam Wood travels to high Dunsinane Hill (part of Inverness).  Macbeth becomes relieved, because he laughs at the idea of trees moving.  As a final question, Macbeth asks the witches if Banquo's sons will ever reign in Scotland.
Eight ghosts with crowns emerge, who represent the future sons of Banquo.  Banquo himself appears at the end of the line with a mirror, thus implying an infinite number of descendants.  Stupefied, Macbeth cannot believe his eyes and is angered to realize that despite all of his work, he wears a "fruitless crown." (Act 3, Scene 1, Line 61) The witches disappear and Lennox enters the haunt.  He informs Macbeth that Macduff has run off to England.  Macbeth decides that he must act out all of his thoughts and impulses.  He determines to kill Macduff's wife and children as his first step of revenge.

 

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