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Blink 3 of 8 - The 5 AM Club
by Robin Sharma
Thunder booms and lightning crackles as three bearded women enter the stage. They’re witches – and they must decide when next to meet. Perhaps when the nearby battle is finished? Yes, that’ll do. At sunset, they’ll meet upon the heath and speak to Macbeth. “Fair is foul, and foul is fair,” they chant as they exit.
Elsewhere, King Duncan of Scotland receives a battlefield report. His generals, Banquo and Macbeth, have defeated the opposing Norwegians, led by the traitorous general Macdonwald. Due to his betrayal, King Duncan strips Macdonwald of his title – Thane of Cawdor – and awards it to Macbeth.
In the next scene, thunder strikes again, ushering in the three witches. They hear a drumbeat: here comes Macbeth!
Macbeth, accompanied by Banquo, approaches. Each witch hails Macbeth differently: as the Thane of Glamis, the Thane of Cawdor, and finally as king. As for Banquo, they hail him as “lesser than Macbeth and greater” and say that his children shall be kings.
Macbeth is Thane of Glamis – this he already knows. But Thane of Cawdor? And king? Why would the witches address him as such?
Before any of his questions can be answered, the witches vanish. While Macbeth and Banquo stand, puzzled, two other Scottish nobles enter. They tell Macbeth that Duncan has just pronounced him Thane of Cawdor. Macbeth is shocked – one of the witches’ pronouncements has already come true. Can he truly be destined to be king, too?
Afterward, Macbeth and Banquo greet King Duncan. Duncan names his son Malcolm his heir, then declares that he’ll soon visit Macbeth at his castle, Dunsinane.
Hearing Duncan’s declaration regarding Malcolm, Macbeth is incensed – Malcolm clearly stands in the way of the kingship. Immediately, he feels himself struck by “black and deep desires” and asks the stars to “hide [their] fires” so his wishes remain invisible. He’s beginning to imagine the terrible deeds he might soon need to commit to obtain kingship.
Next, in advance of his own and Duncan’s arrival at Inverness, Macbeth writes a letter to his wife, Lady Macbeth, informing her of his new title and the witches’ predictions.
Immediately, Lady Macbeth begins to have megalomaniacal visions. They must plan for Macbeth to murder Duncan so Macbeth can take the kingship. But is Macbeth enough of a man to do the deed? She worries about his nature – it’s “too full o’ th’ milk of human kindness.” She’ll have to influence him with some of her own, much more ruthless nature.
A messenger enters to announce Macbeth and the King’s imminent arrival, and Lady Macbeth resumes her machinations. She calls for “spirits” to “unsex” her and fill her from head to toe with “direst cruelty.” She wishes to feel no remorse, for her womanly nature to disappear so as not to interfere with her bloody mission.
After the chilling speech, Macbeth enters, and Lady Macbeth tells her husband what she wants him to do. Macbeth stops short of agreeing but says they’ll speak again.
In the final scene of Act One, Macbeth wishes for the assassination to be over as quickly as possible. He admits feeling guilty about the plot – Macbeth is the host, after all, and should be protecting the king from prospective murderers, not planning to do the deed himself. Plus, the king’s virtues are obvious – won’t the heavens object to him being so cruelly killed?
Here, Lady Macbeth enters. Macbeth tells her that he no longer wants to go through with the murder, but Lady Macbeth won’t hear it. She questions his manhood and tries to rile him up. She tells him that she, who has felt a mother’s tender love, would murder her own baby – and brutally, at that – if she’d previously committed to doing so. She tells Macbeth to “screw [his] courage to the sticking place” and get it over with. She and his two chamberlains will get Duncan drunk and then Macbeth will murder him. At last, he agrees.
Macbeth (1606) is the Shakespearean tragedy of Scottish general Macbeth and his doomed attempt to seize his country’s throne. His ambitions ignited by a prophecy spoken to him by three witches, Macbeth’s path to power begins with anxiety and reticence and ends with callousness and cruelty. His story is a timeless exploration of guilt, paranoia, madness, prophecy, and the evils of ambition.
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Blink 3 of 8 - The 5 AM Club
by Robin Sharma