Macbeth Act 1, Scene 7: Summary & Quotes

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  • 0:04 Act 1, Scene 6: Recap
  • 0:24 MacBeth's Dilemma
  • 1:32 Lady MacBeth's Response
  • 2:33 Lady MacBeth's Plan
  • 3:02 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 begin with a brief recap of Act 1, Scene 6, of Macbeth. It will then summarize Act 1, Scene 7. Macbeth no longer wants to kill King Duncan, but Lady Macbeth convinces him to go ahead with the plan.

Act 1, Scene 6: Recap

In ''Macbeth'' Act 1, Scene 6, King Duncan arrived at Macbeth's castle with some Scottish noblemen. Lady Macbeth greeted them, and the King thanked her for her hospitality. She responded by saying that the King has done so much more for her and Macbeth than they can ever do for him. King Duncan and the noblemen then entered the castle.

Macbeth's Dilemma

As we begin ''Macbeth'' Act 1, Scene 7, we find Macbeth pacing by himself as the servants set the dinner table. He's having a few problems with killing King Duncan, and is reconsidering his plan.

The first problem Macbeth has with killing the king is that he knows that such actions have a habit of coming back to haunt the people who do them. He says, ''But in these cases We still have judgement here; that we but teach Bloody instructions, which, being taught, return To plague the inventor.''

Macbeth also has some other, more disturbing problems with killing King Duncan. The first is his kinship, or common bond, and his loyalty to the King. ''I am his kinsman and his subject, strong both against the deed.'' As one of King Duncan's loyal generals, Macbeth cannot see himself killing the king.

Macbeth is also King Duncan's host, and that in itself gives him certain responsibility. ''Then, as his host, Who should against his murderer shut the door, Not bear the knife myself.''

Macbeth also considers the fact that King Duncan is very well liked, and that he is a virtuous, or a good and ethical, ruler. Other than his own ambition, Macbeth realizes that he has no reason for killing King Duncan and decides against taking this course of action.

Lady Macbeth's Response

At this point, Lady Macbeth comes to find Macbeth. She tells him that King Duncan has had his dinner, and that he is asking for him. Macbeth tells her that he has changed his mind and that he is not going to kill the King. This makes Lady Macbeth extremely angry.

Ripping into Macbeth, she says, ''Art thou afeard To be the same in thine own act and valour As thou art in desire?'' In essence, Lady Macbeth wants to know if Macbeth is all talk or if he's willing to act.

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