A poster for a c. 1884 American production of Macbeth, starring Thomas W. Keene. Depicted, anti-clockwise from top-left, are: Macbeth and Banquo meet the witches; just after the murder of Duncan; Banquo's ghost; Macbeth duels Macduff; and Macbeth.

Macbeth (θ/; full title The Tragedy of Macbeth) is a tragedy by William Shakespeare; it is thought to have been first performed in 1606.[a] It dramatises the damaging physical and psychological effects of political ambition on those who seek power for its own sake. Of all the plays that Shakespeare wrote during the reign of James I, who was patron of Shakespeare's acting company, Macbeth most clearly reflects the playwright's relationship with his sovereign.[1] It was first published in the Folio of 1623, possibly from a prompt book, and is Shakespeare's shortest tragedy.[2]

A brave Scottish general named Macbeth receives a prophecy from a trio of witches that one day he will become King of Scotland. Consumed by ambition and spurred to action by his wife, Macbeth murders King Duncan and takes the Scottish throne for himself. He is then wracked with guilt and paranoia. Forced to commit more and more murders to protect himself from enmity and suspicion, he soon becomes a tyrannical ruler. The bloodbath and consequent civil war swiftly take Macbeth and Lady Macbeth into the realms of madness and death.

Shakespeare's source for the story is the account of Macbeth, King of Scotland; Macduff; and Duncan in Holinshed's Chronicles (1587), a history of England, Scotland, and Ireland familiar to Shakespeare and his contemporaries, although the events in the play differ extensively from the history of the real Macbeth. The events of the tragedy are usually associated with the execution of Henry Garnet for complicity in the Gunpowder Plot of 1605.[3]

In the backstage world of theatre, some believe that the play is cursed, and will not mention its title aloud, referring to it instead as "The Scottish Play". Over the course of many centuries, the play has attracted some of the most renowned actors to the roles of Macbeth and Lady Macbeth. It has been adapted to film, television, opera, novels, comics, and other media.


  • Duncan—King of Scotland
  • Malcolm—Duncan's elder son
  • Donalbain—Duncan's younger son
  • Macbeth—a general in the army of King Duncan; originally Thane of Glamis, then Thane of Cawdor, and later King of Scotland
  • Lady Macbeth—Macbeth's wife, and later Queen of Scotland
  • Banquo—Macbeth's friend and a general in the army of King Duncan
  • Fleance—Banquo's son
  • Macduff—Thane of Fife
  • Lady Macduff—Macduff's wife
  • Macduff's son
  • Ross, Lennox, Angus, Menteith, Caithness—Scottish Thanes
  • Siward—general of the English forces
  • Young Siward—Siward's son
  • Seyton—Macbeth's armourer
  • Hecate—Queen of the witches
  • Three Witches
  • Captain—in the Scottish army
  • Three Murderers—employed by Macbeth
  • Third Murderer
  • Two Murderers—attack Lady Macduff
  • Porter—gatekeeper at Macbeth's home
  • Doctor—Lady Macbeth's doctor
  • Doctor—at the English court
  • Gentlewoman—Lady Macbeth's caretaker
  • Lord—opposed to Macbeth
  • First Apparition—armed head
  • Second Apparition—bloody child
  • Third Apparition—crowned child
  • Attendants, Messengers, Servants, Soldiers
Other Languages
Afrikaans: Macbeth
العربية: مكبث (مسرحية)
asturianu: Macbeth
বাংলা: ম্যাকবেথ
български: Макбет
bosanski: Macbeth
brezhoneg: Macbeth
català: Macbeth
čeština: Macbeth
dansk: Macbeth
eesti: Macbeth
español: Macbeth
Esperanto: Makbeto
euskara: Macbeth
فارسی: مکبث
Frysk: Macbeth
galego: Macbeth
贛語: 麥北斯
हिन्दी: मैकबेथ
hrvatski: Macbeth
Igbo: Macbeth
Bahasa Indonesia: Macbeth
italiano: Macbeth
עברית: מקבת'
Kiswahili: Macbeth
kurdî: Macbeth
Latina: Macbeth
latviešu: Makbets
മലയാളം: മാക്ബെത്ത്
Malti: Macbeth
नेपाली: म्याकवेथ
occitan: Macbeth
ਪੰਜਾਬੀ: ਮੈਕਬਥ
polski: Makbet
português: Macbeth
română: Macbeth
Scots: Macbeth
shqip: Makbeth
සිංහල: මැක්බත්
Simple English: Macbeth
slovenčina: Macbeth (dráma)
српски / srpski: Магбет (драма)
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Macbeth
suomi: Macbeth
svenska: Macbeth
தமிழ்: மக்பெத்
తెలుగు: మక్‌బెత్
Türkçe: Macbeth
українська: Макбет (п'єса)
Tiếng Việt: Macbeth
Winaray: Macbeth
ייִדיש: מאקבעט
粵語: 馬克白
中文: 馬克白