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SCENE SUMMARIES WITH NOTES
Act I, Scene 1
This very short scene immediately sets the dark, evil, somber mood of the entire play. Three witches have gathered in an open field near a battle site in Scotland during a dark thunderstorm. The three of them agree to meet again "upon the heath" to greet Macbeth, the main character of the play. At the end of the short scene, they all cry in their cackling voices, "Fair is foul, and foul is fair", which foreshadows the foulness of the play's plot and the difficulty of distinguishing between appearance and reality.
The three witches introduce and personify the ugliness and evil which pervades the entire play. During their evil planning, they also introduce the main character, Macbeth. Their language foreshadows the utter doom that is to come out of "the filthy air" that surrounds Macbeth. The opening setting, in a dark field haunted by thunder and lightning, is the perfect place for three grotesque creatures to discuss the evil that they predict. One of the witches asks, "When shall we three meet again?" This question addresses the urgency of time, which is apparent throughout the play. The quick pace of the drama is set in this brief scene with an indication that the meeting with Macbeth will occur quickly before "the set of the sun," but after the "battle is lost and won."