Detailed plot summary - Part 2

A guilty conscience

Macbeth's guilty conscience
Macbeth's guilty conscience

Despite being King, Macbeth does not feel secure, especially when he thinks about the Witches' prediction that Banquo's descendants and not his own will be kings in the future. Banquo is suspicious of Macbeth's part in Duncan's death so Macbeth arranges for some hired murderers to kill Banquo and his son Fleance. They murder Banquo but Fleance escapes. Macbeth is furious but can do nothing. Later, at a banquet, Banquo's blood-stained ghost appears to Macbeth. Only he can see the ghost and the rest of the court begin to wonder whether Macbeth is going mad.

More predictions

Macbeth decides to consult the Witches again. They show him visions which tell Macbeth:

  • to beware of Macduff
  • that he cannot be harmed by anyone born of a woman
  • that he is safe until Birnam Wood moves to Dunsinane Hill

As the second and third predictions are logically and physically impossible, Macbeth feels relatively safe. However, he learns that Macduff has gone to join Malcolm in England. Angered by what he sees as Macduff's treachery, he orders Macduff's castle to be seized and the Macduff family to be slaughtered. A devastated Macduff swears revenge on Macbeth and vows to support Malcolm in regaining the Scottish throne.