William Shakespeare, Macbeth
Act 1: The play takes place in Scotland. Duncan, the king of Scotland, is at war with the king of Norway, and as the play opens, he learns of Macbeth's bravery in battle against a Scot who sided with Norway. At the same time, he hears of the treachery of the Thane of Cawdor, who was arrested. Duncan decides to give the title of Thane of Cawdor to Macbeth.
Macbeth and Banquo, traveling home from the battle, meet three witches, who predict that Macbeth will be Thane of Cawdor and king of Scotland, and that Banquo will be the father of kings. The witches disappear, and Macbeth and Banquo meet up with two nobles who inform them of Macbeth's new title. Hearing this, Macbeth begins to contemplate murdering Duncan in order to realize the witches' second prophecy.
Macbeth and Banquo meet up with Duncan, who tells them he is going to pay Macbeth a visit at his home at Inverness. Macbeth rides ahead to prepare his household. Meanwhile, Lady Macbeth receives a letter from Macbeth informing her of the witches' prophesy and Macbeth's subsequent new title. A servant appears and tells her of Duncan's approach. Energized, she invokes supernatural powers to strip her of her feminine softness and prepare her to murder Duncan. When Macbeth arrives at Inverness, Lady Macbeth tells him that she will take care of all the details of Duncan's murder.
Duncan arrives at Inverness, and Lady Macbeth greets him. Macbeth fails to appear, and Lady Macbeth goes to find him. He is in his room, contemplating the weighty and evil step of killing Duncan. Lady Macbeth taunts him, telling him he will only be a man when he kills Duncan, and that she herself has less softness in her character than he does. She then tells him her plan for the murder, and Macbeth accepts it: they will kill him while his drunken bodyguards sleep, then plant incriminating evidence on the bodyguards.
Act 2: Macbeth has a vision of a bloody dagger floating before him...