Three Witches and Lady Macbeth

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Last updated: August 10, 2019


Act 1

1. – Why does Shakespeare open the play by showing the witches? Why is it good for Mcbeth no to appear first? To set the scene up, to have suspense and get an impression of Macbeth.2.

– How does Duncun reward Macbeth for his bravery in defeating the rebels? Comment on the order in which Duncan announces it and Macbeth finds it out. Making him Thane of Cawdor, he finds out from the witches before Duncan.3. – Macbeth calls the day of the battle “foul and fair”. Comment on what you think he means.

It was foul because it was a bloody battle and lives were lost, but fair because they on.4. – When Macbeth is told of his new title, how do he and Banquo react? Can you think of reasons for the difference in reactions? Macbeth was shocked and surprised, almost speechless. Banquo was happy, but in disbelief.5. – Why does Macbeth call Malcolm “a step on which” he “must fall down or else o’er leap”? Which of these alternatives do you expect Macbeth to choose and how might he do it? In order for him to become king he must go over Malcolm or give up. He’s going to get rid of Malcolm by killing him.

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6. – What does Lady Macbeth fear about her husband, after she has read his letter?That he’s going to give up and not try to be king.7. – Lady Macbeth tells her husband to “look like the innocent flower/But be the serpent under it”. Explain what she means (either generally or specifically or both, as you think appropriate). She wants him to smile and act as if everything is 0k but stick to the plan and act for him to be king.8.

– What is the purpose and effect of Duncan’s and Banquo’s comments when they approach Macbeth’s castle?9. – Why, in Macbeth’s opinion, is the murder of Duncan so wrong? Because that’s his cousin and he serves him and if he does kill him he will be truly issed.10. – How does Lacy Macbeth make sure that her husband murders Duncan? By getting the guards drunk outside the kings door.

Act 2

1. – Comment on Banquo’s speech beginning “There’s husbandry in heaven.

.. ” and ending “… in repose”.

Rememberthat this play would originally have been performed in the daytime, using natural light. There’s no scenery and it’s a play in the daytime so he has to tell of what’s going on.2. – After his servant leaves him (Act 2, scene 1, line 33, and following) Macbeth imagines he can see something (in some flim versions the audience may be shown this, too. ) What is it?Explain why, you think, Macbeth sees this, especially at this time and in this place? A dagger, because he has killing Duncan on his mind.3. – When Lady Macbeth says, “That which hath made them drunk hath made me bold”, what does she mean? Who are “them” and why should she would them to be drunk? That the guards are drunk and now the deed can done.

She was talking about the guards so they can sneak in and kill Duncan.4. – Sometimes Shakespeare shows killing onstage (mostly on the end of the play).

Why, in your view, is the killing of Duncan not shown, but uderstood to happen offstage?To draw the people in and show the blood and gore. It was more disturbing and suspenseful and people knew what happened because Macbeth came back out with blood on his hands.5. – How is Macbeth’s mind affected by the murder of Duncan?6. – Who is more practical after the killing, Macbeth or his wife? Can you think of reasons for this? Lady Macbeth, she’s made the plan and she couldn’t go through with the killing.7. – The scene featuring the porter makes a great contrast with what goes before and after it.

Can you explain why Shakespeare should use comedy at this point in an otherwise not very comical play?This is sometimes explained by the phrase “Comic Relief”, which has recently been taken over by a well-known charity. ) Because it’s funny and eases the tension off the whole killing situation.8. – After Duncan’s death, Macbeth says, “All is but toys”. Explain what you think by saying this. He is, of course, concealing his part in the murder, but do you think he is sincere when he makes this statement? Why? He was not sincere he was saying everything is fake.

9. – How do Malcolm and Danalbain react to the murder of their father? Is this a wise council of action?Give reasons in favour of this and against it. Can you think of any other things they might do in this situation? They ran away to Ireland it was wise so they wouldn’t get killed.10. – An old man tells Ross about a “mousing owl” that killed a falcon and about Duncan’s horses turning wild and eating each other. What might be the point of this speech? Comment on the idea of things being “unnatural” at this point in the play. It’s telling how everything is unnatural.

Act 3


– Why does Macbeth ask Banquo so many apparently casual questions about where he is riding? Why should Macbeth be worried about Banquo (think about what he knows and about his character)? Macbeth asks questions to find out where he will specifically be, to give good instructions to the murderers. He is worried because he knows Banquo suspects that he murdered Duncan. 2. – How does Macbeth persuade the murderers to help him? He tells the murderers that it was really Banquo who did some things they thought Macbeth had done to harm them. Is this convincing? situations are due to Banquo. Macbeth said this whilst he was king it probably would have been a lot more convincing.3.

– What does Macbeth say that he envies about Duncan (in scene 2)? He envies that Duncan is king and also that he has a lot of power.4. – How successful are the murderers in following Macbeth’s instructions? Comment on what happens to Fleance, and why this matters to Macbeth. Two murderers were convinced by Macbeth to kill Banquo and his son, Fleance.

They only killed Banquo while Fleance fled. The three witches said that Banquds son will be king. With Banquds son surviving the attack, the possibility of the witches being right still exists. Macbeth fears that Fleance will over throw him.

5. – How does Lady Macbeth react when her husband sees Banquo’s ghost? What similar thing does she recall? (Macbeth has not old her of this in the dialogue of the play, so we must suppose he has told her between scenes. ) Lady Macbeth is embarrased and alarmed by Macbeth’s odd behavior. She makes excues to the court for her husband’s behavior. She says that Macbeth has visions from time to time. However, as Macbeth continues to show an odd behavior, she takes him into his room, saying he needs more sleep.

She recalls Macbeth’s vision of a hovering dagger that pointed toward Duncan. ine 54, “Sit, worty friends. My lord is often thus, And hath beenf rom his youth. Pray you, keep seat. The fit is momentary; upon a thought. He will again be well. If much you note him, You shall offend him and extend his passion. Feed, and regard him not.

-Are you a man? “6. – What does Macbeth mean when he says, “We are yet but young in deed? ” (Act 3, scene4) What does this suggest about his future conduct? Macbeth is telling his wife that they are not experienced criminals yet. They have Just committed one murder and will likely commit more.It also may hint that Macbeth will foul up in some way or that he will have a difficult time dealing with the feelings of guilt and/or paranoia associated with criminal acts.

7. – Who or what is Hecate and what does she think of the witches’ involvement with Macbeth? Hecate is the goddess of witchcraft, the boss of the 3 witches earlier. She was angry that the witches told Macbeth about his future without telling her. She decides to taking over the charge and plan to make horrible illusions for Macbeth and make him overconfident at everything.8. – What is Hecate’s strategy for Macbeth? Comment on the way the audience learns of this before he does. What is Hecate’s strategy for Macbeth? Comment on the way the audience learns of this before he does.

9. – In act 3 Scene 6, Lennox comments on Acbeth’s actions. In your own words, try to explain what he says directly and what he really thinks or hints at. Why might he not want to say directly what is really in his mind? Lennox is ridiculing Macbeth’s action by venerating Macbeth’s deeds.

10. – The lord’s reply to Lennox contains some interesting information about Macduff.What is this, and how might it affect things in scotland? The Lord states that Macduff went to the English king to ask for assistance from England in dethroning Macbeth.

The English king, Edward, has received Duncan’s son with grace and will most likely help Macduff bring about Macbeth’s end.

Act 4

1. – Charm and the apparitions convince Macbeth he is invulnerable because he believes no one, except Macduff, can harm him – a man not born of a woman does not exist and trees cannot march three miles to Dunsinane.

2. – How does Macbeth feel after his second meeting with the witches?What things might reassure him, and what things might trouble him? The riddles reassure him of his invincibility, but the warning of Macduff and the image of Banquo as the ancestor of a great line of kings disturbs Macbeth.3. – When Macbeth says (Act 4, scene 1) that “the flighty purpose never is ‘ertook/Unless the deed go with it”, what does he mean in general, and in the particular situation in which he says it? “The fleeting plan is never fulfilled unless it is carried out at once. ” He refers to hearing the news that Macduff has gone to England to raise an army to attack Macbeth.

His actions now seem to be impulsive, not deliberate or cautious.4. – How does Lady Macduff feel about her husband’s leaving her alone? Why has he done this? Lady Macduff accuses her husband of not loving his family enough and she says she and her children are abandoned. Macduff has fled for a higher purpose though. He is trying to save his country from a murderous tyrant.5. – When Ross comes to see Lady Macduff, how does he behave and why? Ross says that Scotland is in a state of chaos -“Float upon a wild and violent sea” – and he is nervous to leave as quickly as he can.6.

– Briefly explain Macduffs description to Malcolm of the state of affairs in Scotland (Act 4, scene 3). What does the audience know which makes Macduffs account even more painful? Macduff says that each day, new widows cry, children are made orphans and all of Scotland is crying in despair.7. – Why might Malcolm be suspicious of Macduff? Does e know as much as the audience does about why Macbeth and Macduff are enemies? Malcolm knows that Macbeth is killing other Scottish men and Macduff has been unharmed.

Malcolm fears Macduff may be aiding Macbeth and trying to trap Malcolm.8. – Malcolm pretends to be even more evil than Macbeth. Why does he do this? What does he discover by doing so? Malcolm tests Macduffs loyalty to Scotland, not Macbeth!9. – In Act 4, scene 3, there is an account of the miraculous healing powers of the English king – what is the purpose of this? What effect does it have on the audience? The King of England, Edward the Confessor has great healing powers nd the doctor says that he can not only heal illnesses but political evils aswell.

The doctor says ‘such sanctity hath heaven given his hand’ meaning that he can heal their problems.The effect is to give the audience some hope that the problems is Scotland can be fixed.10. – When Macduff asks Ross about his family, Ross replies, “… they were well at peace when I did leave ’em”. Explain why he gives this answer and what it might mean.

Ross is trying to bring himself to tell Macduff that his wife and children have been killed. That’s how he states it at first. Ross is saying that Macduffs family as safe and well the last time he saw them. Ross doesn’t want to lie to Macduff, but he doesn’t want to tell him the truth about his familys deaths either.

It is a pun as Well at peace’ can mean death aswell.Act 51. – How does Lady Macbeth’s behavior in Act 5, scene 1 affect the way the audience sees her? Lady Macbeth sleepwalks, sleep talks and goes through the motions of washing her hands. Her guilty conscience has destroyed her peace, sleep.2. – Angus says that Macbeth’s royal title is “…

like a giant’s robe/Upon a dwarfish thief” (Act 5, fair description of Macbeth. Can you find other references in the play to the wearing f clothes, as a metaphor or simile (as here) for something else? Macbeth does not fulfill the responsibilities of a virtuous king.In Act l, when given the title “Thane of Cawdor, he said, “Why do you dress me in borrowed robes? “3. – Why does Macbeth say (Act 5, scene 3) “that he must not look to have..

. that which should accompany old age”? What are these things and what does he expect to have “in their stead”? Macbeth says he will not have friends, family and loyalty in old age. Instead, he will be lonely and cursed.4. – Why does Malcolm order his soldiers to cut boughs from the trees of Birnam Wood? Explain the ways in which the audience and (later) Macbeth see more in this action than Malcolm has intended in giving the order.The soldiers will use the branches as camouflage as they approach Dunsinane. The forest will “appear” to move.

5. – Macbeth claims that he has “almost forgot the taste of fears”. Is this a convincing claim? Give reasons for your answer. After Macbeth hears women screaming, he states this. Does he truly fear nothing? At this point, he feels invincible!6.

– Perhaps the most famous speech in the play is the one that begins “Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow’. In your own words, summarize the main points that Macbeth makes in this speech.Macbeth compares life toa brief candle, a bad actor quickly forgotten when he leaves the stage, a story told by an idiot, and an existence full of chaos and violence. He has become a nihilist.

7. – When Macbeth fights Young Siward he is very confident of the outcome? Why is this? Is he right to be so confident? Young Siward was born ofa woman. He fears no man at this point.8. – Macduff believes that he alone should kill Macbeth.

Why does he think this? What other reason emerges, when he speaks with Macbeth, for his being the only person who should do this? Macduff want to get revenge for the souls of his wife and children. Also, he admits he cannot fght Macbeth’s “lame” soldiers.9. – How does Macbeth feel about fghting Macduff? What makes up his mind to do so? Macbeth tells Macduff he [Macbeth] lives a charmed life, but he swears to fight till the end. Is this his fate he is fghting?10.

– How does Old Siward feel about the death of his son? He makes a Joke at this point – does this suggest that he doesnt care, or that he is controlling his feelings? Siward says he wishes he had as many sons as hairs to die so bravely. Sons who die nobly show more dignity than murderous tyrants. 

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