Plot Summary / The Story-line
Act I Scene II of Shakespeare’s play “Macbeth,” takes place in a military camp, where Duncan, the King of Scotland, is receiving news of the war from a wounded captain. The Captain gives a detailed account of how Macbeth and Banquo fought bravely against the Norwegian army, and Macbeth even killed rebel Macdonwald in a gruesome manner. As the Captain is injured, the King orders to take him to the doctor.
Then Ross (a Scottish noble) enters and informs the King of the Scottish army’s victory and of Macbeth’s heroism. Duncan is delighted and he admires Macbeth as his perfect relative. Ross also tells that the Thane of Cawdor has betrayed the Scottish army and fought in favour of the Norwegian army. The King orders Cawdor’s execution and honours brave Macbeth with the title of Thane of Cawdor. Ross exists to deliver the news to Macbeth.
Commentary on Act I, Scene ii
Act I scene II of Macbeth is an important scene that establishes the themes and motifs of the play. The scene highlights the theme of bravery and courage in battle, which is a key motif throughout the play. The captain’s description of Macbeth and Banquo’s bravery underscores their heroic qualities and establishes them as the play’s main protagonists. The language used by the captain is vivid and descriptive, painting a picture of the battle and the valor of Macbeth and Banquo.
The scene also introduces the theme of betrayal and treachery, which is a central motif in the play. The treachery and rebellion of Macdonwald and the Thane of Cawdor indicate that all is not well in Duncan’s reign. The mention of the treacherous Thane of Cawdor and conferring the same title on Macbeth create a dramatic irony as he too will become a traitor to the king.
Another important element in the scene is the use of supernatural elements, which is another key motif throughout the play. The captain mentions that the battle was fought in “doubtful” and “thick” fog, creating an atmosphere of mystery and foreboding. This hints at the supernatural forces at play, which will eventually lead to Macbeth’s downfall.
Overall, Act I scene II is a pivotal scene establishing key themes and motifs of the play, introducing the main characters like Duncan, Macbeth and Banquo, establishing their heroic qualities, and setting the stage for the conflicts and struggles that will drive the plot of the play.