44 Facts About Macbeth


Brave Scottish general named Macbeth receives a prophecy from a trio of witches that one day he will become King of Scotland.

FactSnippet No. 551,334

Macbeth sends a message ahead to his wife, Lady Macbeth, telling her about the witches' prophecies.

FactSnippet No. 551,335

Lady Macbeth suffers none of her husband's uncertainty and wishes him to murder Duncan in order to obtain kingship.

FactSnippet No. 551,336

When Macbeth arrives at Inverness, she overrides all of her husband's objections by challenging his manhood and successfully persuades him to kill the king that very night.

FactSnippet No. 551,337

The rightful heirs' flight makes them suspects and Macbeth assumes the throne as the new King of Scotland as a kinsman of the dead king.

FactSnippet No. 551,338

Banquo reveals this to the audience, and while sceptical of the new King Macbeth, he remembers the witches' prophecy about how his own descendants would inherit the throne; this makes him suspicious of Macbeth.

FactSnippet No. 551,339

Macbeth invites Banquo to a royal banquet, where he discovers that Banquo and his young son, Fleance, will be riding out that night.

FactSnippet No. 551,340

Macbeth becomes furious: he fears that his power remains insecure as long as an heir of Banquo remains alive.

FactSnippet No. 551,341

At the banquet, Macbeth invites his lords and Lady Macbeth to a night of drinking and merriment.

FactSnippet No. 551,342

The others panic at the sight of Macbeth raging at an empty chair, until a desperate Lady Macbeth tells them that her husband is merely afflicted with a familiar and harmless malady.

FactSnippet No. 551,343

Thirdly, a crowned child holding a tree states that Macbeth will be safe until Great Birnam Wood comes to Dunsinane Hill.

FactSnippet No. 551,344

Macbeth is relieved and feels secure because he knows that all men are born of women and forests cannot possibly move.

FactSnippet No. 551,345

Macbeth asks whether Banquo's sons will ever reign in Scotland, to which the witches conjure a procession of eight crowned kings, all similar in appearance to Banquo, and the last carrying a mirror that reflects even more kings.

FactSnippet No. 551,346

Macbeth realises that these are all Banquo's descendants having acquired kingship in numerous countries.

FactSnippet No. 551,347

Lady Macbeth becomes racked with guilt from the crimes she and her husband have committed.

FactSnippet No. 551,348

Macbeth is certain that the witches' prophecies guarantee his invincibility, but is struck with fear when he learns that the English army is advancing on Dunsinane shielded with boughs cut from Birnam Wood, in apparent fulfillment of one of the prophecies.

FactSnippet No. 551,349

Macbeth boasts that he has no reason to fear Macduff, for he cannot be killed by any man born of woman.

FactSnippet No. 551,350

Macbeth realises too late that he has misinterpreted the witches' words.

FactSnippet No. 551,351

The publication of Daemonologie came just a few years before the tragedy of Macbeth with the themes and setting in a direct and comparative contrast with King James' personal obsessions with witchcraft, which developed following his conclusion that the stormy weather that threatened his passage from Denmark to Scotland was a targeted attack.

FactSnippet No. 551,352

In Chronicles, Macbeth is portrayed as struggling to support the kingdom in the face of King Duncan's ineptitude.

FactSnippet No. 551,353

Macbeth has a long, ten-year reign before eventually being overthrown by Macduff and Malcolm.

FactSnippet No. 551,354

The characters of Banquo, the Weird Sisters, and Lady Macbeth were first mentioned in 1527 by a Scottish historian Hector Boece in his book Historia Gentis Scotorum who wanted to denigrate Macbeth in order to strengthen the claim of the House of Stewart to the Scottish throne.

FactSnippet No. 551,355

Boece portrayed Banquo as an ancestor of the Stewart kings of Scotland, adding in a "prophecy" that the descendants of Banquo would be the rightful kings of Scotland while the Weird Sisters served to give a picture of King Macbeth as gaining the throne via dark supernatural forces.

FactSnippet No. 551,356

Macbeth did have a wife, but it is not clear if she was as power-hungry and ambitious as Boece portrayed her, which served his purpose of having even Macbeth realise he lacked a proper claim to the throne, and only took it at the urging of his wife.

FactSnippet No. 551,357

Macbeth interprets the prophecy as meaning never, but in fact, the Three Sisters refer only to branches of the trees of Great Birnam coming to Dunsinane hill.

FactSnippet No. 551,358

Macbeth cannot be dated precisely, but it is usually taken to be contemporaneous to the other canonical tragedies: Hamlet, Othello, and King Lear.

FactSnippet No. 551,359

James had argued that the tyranny was preferable to the problems caused by rebellion which were even worse; Shakespeare by contrast in Macbeth argued for the right of the subjects to overthrow a tyrant king, in what appeared to be an implied criticism of James's theories if applied to England.

FactSnippet No. 551,360

Hadfield noted a curious aspect of the play in that it implies that primogeniture is the norm in Scotland, but Duncan has to nominate his son Malcolm to be his successor while Macbeth is accepted without protest by the Scottish lairds as their king despite being an usurper.

FactSnippet No. 551,361

Garry Wills provides further evidence that Macbeth is a Gunpowder Play.

FactSnippet No. 551,362

Macbeth was first printed in the First Folio of 1623 and the Folio is the only source for the text.

FactSnippet No. 551,363

Macbeth is an anomaly among Shakespeare's tragedies in certain critical ways.

FactSnippet No. 551,364

Bradley, in considering this question, concluded the play "always was an extremely short one", noting the witch scenes and battle scenes would have taken up some time in performance, remarking, "I do not think that, in reading, we feel Macbeth to be short: certainly we are astonished when we hear it is about half as long as Hamlet.

FactSnippet No. 551,365

Pasternak argues that "neither Macbeth or Raskolnikov is a born criminal or a villain by nature.

FactSnippet No. 551,366

Macbeth's suggested, for instance, that the child Lady Macbeth refers to in the first act died during a foolish military action.

FactSnippet No. 551,367

Contrary to popular myth, Shakespeare's tragedy Macbeth is not the unluckiest play as superstition likes to portray it.

FactSnippet No. 551,368

Macbeth portrayed a man capable of observing himself, as if a part of him remained untouched by what he had done, the play moulding him into a man of sensibility, rather than him descending into a tyrant.

FactSnippet No. 551,369

Macbeth's glided on and off the stage almost like an apparition.

FactSnippet No. 551,370

Macbeth's staging was full of spectacle, including several elaborate royal processions.

FactSnippet No. 551,371

Macbeth's leading lady, Ellen Tree, created a sense of the character's inner life: The Times critic saying "The countenance which she assumed.

FactSnippet No. 551,372

The popular American actor Edwin Forrest, whose Macbeth was said to be like "the ferocious chief of a barbarous tribe" played the central role at the Broadway Theatre to popular acclaim, while the "cerebral and patrician" English actor Macready, playing the same role at the Astor Place Opera House, suffered constant heckling.

FactSnippet No. 551,373

Irving's leading lady was Ellen Terry, but her Lady Macbeth was unsuccessful with the public, for whom a century of performances influenced by Sarah Siddons had created expectations at odds with Terry's conception of the role.

FactSnippet No. 551,374

Macbeth's's going to play hostess to Duncan at Dunsinane, and 'provide' is what gracious hostesses always do.

FactSnippet No. 551,375

The production, dubbed The Voodoo Macbeth, proved inflammatory in the aftermath of the Harlem riots, accused of making fun of black culture and as "a campaign to burlesque negroes" until Welles persuaded crowds that his use of black actors and voodoo made important cultural statements.

FactSnippet No. 551,376

Macbeth returned to the RSC in 2018, when Christopher Eccleston played the title role, with Niamh Cusack as his wife, Lady Macbeth.

FactSnippet No. 551,377