Macbeth Act 1, Scene 2: Summary & Quotes

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  • 0:04 Recap
  • 0:22 News from the Battle
  • 1:20 Another Battle for Macbeth
  • 2:34 Macbeth Earns a Title
  • 3:33 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Wendy A. Garland

Wendy has a Ph.D. in Adult Education and a Master's Degree in Business Management. She has 10 years experience working in higher education.

This lesson will go over the battles and military achievements that Macbeth achieves for the Scots in Act 1, Scene 2 of the play 'Macbeth.' It will include quotes along with explanations and an overall summary of the scene.


In Act 1, Scene 1 of Shakespeare's Macbeth, three witches, in the forms of ill and weak old women, appeared out of a heavy thunderstorm in a vast piece of unused land in Scotland. They decided to wait for the thunderstorm and the battle nearby to end before they all meet up with Macbeth in a similar place.

News from the Battle

Act 1, Scene 2 of Macbeth begins in a military camp near the palace of King Duncan of Scotland. A wounded and bleeding officer reports the news from the Scots' battle with Irish invaders. He tells King Duncan that the Irish rebel Macdonwald was near success because he was supplied with fresh kerns and gallowglasses, or Irish foot soldiers. But just as the battle seemed lost, Macbeth took matters in hand.

''For brave Macbeth-well he deserves that name-
Disdaining fortune, with his brandish'd steel,
Which smoked with bloody execution.''

The officer reports that Macbeth fought violently and bravely, using his sword to great effect, and in doing so, he secured victory for the Scots.

''Like valour's minion carved out his passage Till he faced the slave;
Which ne'er shook hands, nor bade farewell to him,
Till he unseam'd him from the nave to the chaps,
And fix'd his head upon our battlements.''

Macbeth killed his way to Macdonwald, and then cut him from nave to chaps, or from his navel to his jaw.

Another Battle for Macbeth

The wounded officer then goes on to report that Macbeth was soon under a new attack by another enemy.

''No sooner justice had, with valour arm'd,
Compell'd these skipping kerns to trust their heels.
But the Norweyan lord, surveying vantage,
With furbish'd arms and new supplies of men, Began a fresh assault.''

Macbeth defeated the Irish rebels and sent the Irish foot soldiers running, but the Norwegian king has repaired weapons and a fresh supply of soldiers. So he sees vantage (an opportunity) to attack a depleted and tired Scottish army.

King Duncan wonders if this worried his generals. ''Dismay'd not this Our captains, Macbeth and Banquo?'' The wounded officer explains that Macbeth and Banquo, another general in the Scottish army, ''fought As cannons overcharged with double cracks; So they Doubly redoubled strokes upon the foe.'' Macbeth and Banquo fought twice as hard and twice as violently as before.

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