The porter is a comic figure and his appearance is timed to lighten the atmosphere after such dark deeds, although his topic of drunkenness only stresses further mans depravity in weakened states. Implicating them in Duncans death, Macbeth kills the porters in feigned fury at the Kings death. Fearing a similar fate to their father, Malcolm flees to England and Donalbain to Ireland.
Ross and Macduff, two Thanes of Scotland, discuss the Kings death. Ross immediately guesses the reason for the murder:
"Thriftless ambition that will raven up
Thine own lifes means!"
Banquo, in soliloquy, accuses Macbeth of murdering Duncan:
" and I fear
Thou playedst most foully fort."
However, we see that Banquo still trusts his friend, or harbors some ambitions of his own, because he accepts an invitation to feast with the newly crowned Thane of Cawdor, referring to Macbeth as "your highness".
Macbeth is worried that Banquo knows of his evil deed: "Our fears in Banquo / Stick deep". Macbeth enlists the help of two villainous murderers, who undertake to kill Banquo and his son Fleance whilst they are out riding. With great loquaciousness Macbeth persuades the murderers, and himself, of why Banquo must die. Lady Macbeth is versed in many of the tricks of manipulation that Macbeth has not considered. Before the feast, she says to him:
Gentle my lord, sleek oer your rugged looks,
Be bright and jovial among your guests tonight."
The murderers kill Banquo, but Fleance escapes.
During the feast, Macbeth praises Banquo, trying to remain nonchalant. The arrival of Banquos ghost spoils the charade. It sits in Macbeths place and Macbeth becomes hysterical when none of the other guests can see it. Lady Macbeth, acting deceptively and opportunistically as ever, sends the guests away before they become even more suspicious of her husbands behavior, explaining away his actions as the result of a childhood affliction:
"My lord is often thus;
And hath been from his youth."
We are introduced to Hecate, the leader of the witches, who briefs the three wierd sisters in the correct manner in which to bring about Macbeths downfall. Meanwhile, Malcolm (Duncans son) has joined with Macduff against Macbeth. They have allied with the powerful English county of Northumberland.
The witches cast spells, tolling the refrain:
"Double, double, toil and trouble;
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