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Macbeth Act 1, Scene 6: Summary & Quotes

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 begin with a brief recap of Macbeth, Act 1, Scene 5. It will then include a summary of Act 1, Scene 6. King Duncan, his sons, Banquo, and other Scottish nobles arrive at Macbeth's castle, and are greeted by Lady Macbeth just outside the castle.

Recap

In Act 1, Scene 5, of Macbeth, Lady Macbeth read a letter from her husband. In it, Macbeth told her about his encounter with the witches, and their prophecy that he will be King. Lady Macbeth decided that Macbeth did not have the brutality required to rise to the throne. Knowing that King Duncan would stay at Macbeth's castle overnight, she decided to take matter into her own hands.

King Duncan Arrives

We begin Act 1, Scene 6, of Macbeth just outside Macbeth's castle. King Duncan arrives with his sons Malcolm and Donalbain, as well as Banquo and few other Scottish noblemen and their entourage, a group of people who attend to important people's needs.

King Duncan admires the castle's location, 'This castle hath a pleasant seat; the air Nimbly and sweetly recommends itself Unto our gentle senses.' It seems the King approves of the location of Macbeth's castle. He especially seems to like the climate. Banquo, like a good and loyal General, agrees with King Duncan.

Lady Macbeth Meets the King

Just as King Duncan and Banquo finish appreciating the castle's environment, Lady Macbeth comes out to greet the King. King Duncan sees her and greets her first. He thanks her for her hospitality, and asks God to reward her for her trouble. Lady Macbeth knows exactly how to respond.

She humbles herself in front of the King, and says, 'All our service In every point twice done, and then done double, Were poor and single business to contend Against those honours deep and broad wherewith Your majesty loads our house.' Lady Macbeth tells the King that whatever she and Macbeth do for him is not near to what the King has done for them.

The King Makes Small Talk

After the exchange of appreciations and gratitude, King Duncan asks after Macbeth. He tells Lady Macbeth that he and his entourage were just behind him on the way, but could not catch him so they could arrive together, 'We coursed him at the heels, and had a purpose To be his purveyor: but he rides well.'

And King Duncan adds, 'And his great love, sharp as his spur, hath holp him To his home before us.' The King tells Lady Macbeth that even though Macbeth is a great rider, he must have missed her, and It was his love for her that made him ride even better and quicker than usual.

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