Literature Study GuidesMacbethAct 1 Scene 4 Summary

Macbeth | Study Guide

William Shakespeare

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Course Hero. "Macbeth Study Guide." August 10, 2016. Accessed May 17, 2022.


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Act 1, Scene 4

Professor Regina Buccola of Roosevelt University provides an in-depth summary and analysis of Act 1, Scene 4 of William Shakespeare's play Macbeth.

Macbeth | Act 1, Scene 4 | Summary



Duncan confirms the execution of the Thane of Cawdor. Malcolm says he heard that Cawdor died honorably by confessing his treason and repenting before he died. Duncan grieves the betrayal, praises Macbeth for his loyalty, and gives him Cawdor's title and lands. Macbeth swears loyalty to the king, but privately he calculates how many people now stand between him and the throne.


The description of Cawdor's death here is a moment that will later stand in sharp contrast with Macbeth's own end. Cawdor feels remorse for what he has done, so even though he is executed, the king recognizes his honor and grieves the betrayal and loss. Cawdor's death is not cause for celebration. Now that Cawdor is dead and the king has confirmed Macbeth's new title, Macbeth is altered—either the witches' prophesies have taken hold of him, or his own ambition has fully revealed itself. Either way, he has accepted their predictions as truth and begins quietly plotting his way to the throne.

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