Aristotle was one of the first to write about drama and describe its three segments: beginning, middle, and end. Many centuries later, a German playwright, Gustav Freytag, developed the five-act structure commonly used today to analyze classical and Shakespearean dramas. The pattern of this five-act structure can be seen in the familiar plot diagram.
The shortest (and one of the bloodiest) of Shakespeare's tragedies, the play begins with victory and honors for the brave Scottish general, Macbeth. The play follows Macbeth's descent from noble soldier to nefarious traitor.