Macbeth - Plot summary

William Shakespeare
William Shakespeare (1564-1616)

Macbeth has remained one of William Shakespeare's most intense and often performed plays. The play follows the progress of the title character as he becomes increasingly powerful, using any means to get what he wants - even murder! He is encouraged by the ruthless and bloodthirsty ambition of his wife, Lady Macbeth. However, power comes at a price and by the end of the play, Macbeth's world falls apart around him, he is defeated and a new king, Malcolm, is declared.

Social and historical context

Macbeth was written by Shakespeare in approximately 1606. The early 17th century was a time of political upheaval, suspicion and superstition. A new king had just come to power and the future of the country seemed quite uncertain. Shakespeare's play reflects these changes.