Plot Summary / The Story-line
In Act I, Scene VI of “Macbeth”, King Duncan arrives at Macbeth’s castle at Inverness with his two sons (Malcolm and Donalbain), Banquo and other attendant lords to celebrate his victory against the rebels. The King praises the atmosphere of the place. They are warmly welcomed by Lady Macbeth.
Commentary on Act I, Scene vi
Act I Scene VI of “Macbeth” is a rather small and restful scene that sets the stage for the murder itself, which will take place later that night. The fair weather and the calm evening highlight the general impression of peace. It seems to be the calm before the storm.
The theme of appearance vs. reality is highlighted throughout the scene. Though the King finds the place quite pleasant and soothing, he is unaware of the heinous crime being plotted there. Again, although Lady Macbeth appears to be the most hospitable and loyal hostess, her courtly behaviour contrasts the horrible murder she has in her mind.
The use of dramatic irony, in which the audience knows more about the characters’ plans than some of the characters themselves, creates a sense of tension and anticipation that builds towards the play’s tragic climax.
Moreover, this scene throws light on both the characters of King Duncan and Lady Macbeth. While King Duncan is further established as a very innocent person, Lady Macbeth is shown as a hypocrite who doesn’t mind to “Look like the innocent flower / But be the serpent under’t…” just like she advised Macbeth in the earlier scene.
However, Act I Scene VI of “Macbeth” serves as a relief for the audience where nothing new happens. It is set in contrast to the vicious and eventful scenes before and after it. It sets the stage for the climax of the play and reveals important character traits of two of the most important characters.