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1001 Macbeth
Added on 01st July 2020

Author William Shakespeare
First Published 1623


'The Scottish Play', as it is also known, is a blood curdling tale of witches and prophecy, murder and betrayal, revenge and retribution.


Having won a great battle, Macbeth and Banquo meet three witches on a heath. The witches predict that Macbeth will become Thane of Cawdor and, later, the king of Scotland. When King Duncan does make Macbeth Thane of Cawdor, Macbeth starts to believe the prophecy. Macbeth and his wife start plotting to take the throne, but at what cost?

Why we chose it

Macbeth with its dramatic plot and memorable characters is very frequently performed. It is a popular choice for schools, primary and secondary, both to study and to perform.

Where it came from

Shakespeare’s main source for the Scottish play is Holinshed’s 1587 Chronicles which tells the history of England, Scotland, and Ireland. Macbeth, or Mac Bethad mac Findláich was a real-life medieval king, whose story was popular in the 1600s. Witchcraft was also a popular topic with the king at the time. King James published his own book Daemonologie on the subject.

Where it went next

Macbeth is regularly performed by both professional and amateur companies.

It has inspired numerous films, TV shows, music, and operas, in all different cultures. Lines from the play have become very famous, including Macbeth’s speech ‘Is this a dagger which I see before me’ and Lady Macbeth’s ‘Out damned spot!’ The witches have inspired other presentations of witchcraft, with their curse ‘Double, double toil and trouble!’.

Associated stories

Macbeth is one of Shakespeare’s tragic, flawed heroes, others include Hamlet, Othello, and King Lear. The plan to kill a king also appears in his history plays Julius Caesar and Richard II.

Added on 01st July 2020

Author William Shakespeare
First Published 1623