Macbeth Act 3, Scene 2: 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 Act 3, Scene 1 of Macbeth. It will then go on to include a summary of Act 3, Scene 2. King Macbeth tells Lady Macbeth that he is worried about his throne, and has made plans to deal with the cause of his worries.


In Act 3, Scene 1 of 'Macbeth', Banquo wondered if the witches' prophecy about his children becoming King will come true. After all, everything they foretold about Macbeth came true. King Macbeth also wondered about Banquo's prophecy, and saw him and his son as a direct threat to his throne. As such, King Macbeth hatched a plan to kill Banquo and his son, Fleance.

Lady Macbeth Despairs

Act 3, Scene 2 of Macbeth begins with Lady Macbeth sending a servant to get King Macbeth. He comes, and Lady Macbeth says that King Macbeth has been keeping to himself a lot, and that saddens and worries her. Lady Macbeth says what's done is done., and that the King should stop worrying so much.

King Macbeth Disagrees

But King Macbeth tells Lady Macbeth that the job he began with murdering Duncan is not yet finished. He can not rest until he can make sure he remains on the throne. That is why he worries about Banquo and his son, Fleance, who he now sees as a direct threat to that throne.

He goes on to further explain. Wear have scotch'd the snake, not kill'd it: She'll close and be herself, whilst our poor malice Remains in danger of her former tooth. King Macbeth has only wounded the snake. It is still alive, and still poses a threat. He is of course referring to Banquo and his son, and the witches' prophecy.

Lady Macbeth Focuses

At this point, Lady Macbeth tries to calm the King, and remind him that he is to host a dinner that evening. Come on; Gentle my lord, sleek o'er your rugged looks; Be bright and jovial among your guests tonight. She wants him to straighten himself up and put on a happy face for his upcoming dinner guests.

King Macbeth asks Lady Macbeth to do the same. And so, I pray, be you: Let your remembrance apply to Banquo; Present him eminence, both with eye and tongue: Unsafe the while, that we Must lave our honours in these flattering streams, And make our faces visards to our hearts, Disguising what they are.

He tells Lady Macbeth that he will put on his most pleasant face, so he can cover up his true feelings about Banquo and Fleance, and lull, calm, them into a false sense of security. Lady Macbeth begs him to drop it. You must leave this. But King Macbeth can not let his mind rest at ease.

King Macbeth Reassures

King Macbeth tells Lady Macbeth that O, full of scorpions is my mind, dear wife! Thou know'st that Banquo, and his Fleance, lives. He says his mind will be full of fear and troubles as long as Banquo and his son Fleance live. The witches' prophecy still scares King Macbeth, and makes him see Banquo and his son Fleance as direct threats to his throne.

To unlock this lesson you must be a Member.
Create your account

Register to view this lesson

Are you a student or a teacher?

Unlock Your Education

See for yourself why 30 million people use

Become a member and start learning now.
Become a Member  Back
What teachers are saying about
Try it risk-free for 30 days

Earning College Credit

Did you know… We have over 200 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 1,500 colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level.

To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page

Transferring credit to the school of your choice

Not sure what college you want to attend yet? has thousands of articles about every imaginable degree, area of study and career path that can help you find the school that's right for you.

Create an account to start this course today
Try it risk-free for 30 days!
Create an account