acbeth – Synopsis (Act 4 Scene 1)
On the heath, the witches mix their horrible brew, chanting and dancing around the cauldron. Hecat appears briefly to check their sinister work before Macbeth arrives.
Macbeth demands that the witches answer whatever he may ask, despite the consequences.
The first witch asks if he would rather hear the higher powers of darkness, and, throwing caution to the wind, Macbeth agrees.
The first apparition, an armed head, warns Macbeth to beware Macduff. The second apparition, a bloody child, tells Macbeth to be ruthless and fearless, for no man born of woman shall ever harm him. The third apparition, a crowned child carrying a tree, tells Macbeth that he shall never be vanquished until Birnam Wood comes to Dunsinane Hill.
Macbeth accepts the visions without question: the witches’ earlier prophecies were truthful enough, so why doubt these oracles? Macbeth feels secure with all theses supernatural assurances about his own invincibility, but he still burns to know whether Banquo’s line will inherit the throne.
The witches are reluctant, but Macbeth insists, and they call forth a line of kings, the last with a mirror to reflect Banquo’s dynasty down the ages. Macbeth is beside himself with rage.
The witches vanish and Lenox, who hasn’t yet joined the exiles, brings Macbeth news of Macduff’s flight to England.
Macbeth has just been warned to beware Macduff, but he is now beyond his reach. Furious, Macbeth resolves to slaughter all Macduff’s kin. And in future he will act more swiftly, in case other traitors escape. The iron fist of tyrrany is closing on the land.
Macbeth Synopsis – Act 4 Scene 2
In Macduff’s castle, his wife, left alone with her children, is bewildered at her husband’s unexplained flight. She feels he has abandoned his family out of fear – a treacherous act. Her relative, Ross, tries to soothe her. After he has left, Lady Macduff laments her son’s fatherless state. A messenger bursts in and begs her to flee the castle with her children. Confused, she hesitates, and the murderers enter. Lady Macduff’s small son stands up to the villains, and as he is stabbed to death he cries to his mother to flee. There is no escape, her family and entire household are butchered.
Macbeth Synopsis – Act 4 Scene 3
Macduff, unaware of the tragedy, meets Duncan’s son Malcolm at the English court. Macduff urges him to challenge Macbeth, for the sake of Scotland, groaning under his rule. But Malcolm has learnt from his father’s to ready trust in men, and he suspects Macduff of being Macbeth’s spy. To test Macduff, Malcolm pretends that he has Macbeth’s vices, and more. At first Macduff argues that any king is better than Macbeth, but as the list of unkingly vices grows, Macduff is horrified. The man is not fit to live, let alone rule! All hope for Scotland is dead, he prepares to leave. A spy of Macbeths would have pretended to stick by Malcolm whatever his vices, but Macduff’s genuine concern for Scotland is now beyond doubt. Malcolm throws off his evil disguise, and shares his battle plans with Macduff: his uncle Siward, Earl of Northumberland, is to join him with ten thousand men.
Macduff is digesting this sudden change in Malcolm’s character when Ross enters unexpectedly. He brings the latest news of Scotlands woes, but hedges when Macduff asks after his family. At last he blurts out the terrible news. Macduff is beside himself with grief, remorse and a burning desire for vengeance.
Macbeth Synopsis – The Other Acts
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