Copyright

Macbeth Act 3, Scene 4: Summary & Quotes

An error occurred trying to load this video.

Try refreshing the page, or contact customer support.

Coming up next: Macbeth Act 3, Scene 5: Summary & Quotes

You're on a roll. Keep up the good work!

Take Quiz Watch Next Lesson
 Replay
Your next lesson will play in 10 seconds
  • 0:04 Previous Scenes
  • 0:42 Fleance's Escape
  • 1:22 Banquo at the Banquet
  • 2:36 Bedtime for Macbeth
  • 3:16 Lesson Summary
Save Save Save

Want to watch this again later?

Log in or sign up to add this lesson to a Custom Course.

Log in or Sign up

Timeline
Autoplay
Autoplay
Speed Speed

Recommended Lessons and Courses for You

Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Margaret Stone

Margaret has taught both college and high school English and has a master's degree in English.

In Act III, Scene 4 of William Shakespeare's ''Macbeth'', the title character discovers that one of his intended victims has escaped and encounters the ghost of another victim at a banquet.

Previous Scenes

In the events leading up to Act 3, Scene 4 in Macbeth, Macbeth has killed Duncan, King of Scotland, and has set his sights on those who might usurp the throne from him. Duncan's sons have fled the country, fearing for their own safety as legitimate heirs to the throne. In their absence, Macbeth has been crowned kings. The three witches, whose predictions fanned the flames of Macbeth's political ambitions, and that resulted in the murder of King Duncan, claimed that Banquo's descendants, not Macbeth's, would rule. To avoid such an outcome, Macbeth engages three murderers to kill Banquo and his son Fleance. However, events do not unfold as planned.

Fleance's Escape

As Scene 4 opens, Macbeth welcomes Rosse, Lennox, and others to his home for a banquet. When the guests are seated and the first round of drinks served, Macbeth is called to the door. There he finds one of the murderers with blood on his face, who reports that Banquo's throat has been cut. This news pleases Macbeth until the murderer reveals that Fleance, Banquo's son, has escaped.

Macbeth considers the situation and decides that Fleance is not presently a threat, although he could become one in the future. 'The worm that's fled,' Macbeth says, 'Hath a nature that in time will venom breed.' Macbeth dismisses the murderer, telling him he will meet with the three cutthroats again the following day.

Banquo at the Banquet

Lady Macbeth summons her husband back to his guests. While Macbeth speaks with his guests--even going so far as to cast aspersions upon Banquo for his absence--Banquo's ghost enters the banquet hall and sits in Macbeth's place.

When Macbeth notices Banquo's ghost, he accuses the lords: 'Which one of you have done this?' Apparently Banquo's ghost is not visible to anyone but Macbeth, so the guests have no idea what Macbeth is talking about. Then Macbeth turns his attention to the ghost. 'Thou canst not say I did it; never shake/Thy gory locks at me,' Macbeth says.

The banquet guests believe Macbeth must be ill to act in such a way, but Lady Macbeth tells them that, although Macbeth frequently has these 'fits', he'll soon be back to normal. Lady Macbeth scolds Macbeth for his behavior and tries to shame him for acting afraid. He tells her that he sees Banquo's ghost. Lady Macbeth encourages her husband to return to the banquet so that their guests will not realize that anything is amiss.

To unlock this lesson you must be a Study.com 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 Study.com

Become a Study.com member and start learning now.
Become a Member  Back
What teachers are saying about Study.com
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? Study.com 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
Support