Some close study question’s I had to complete for school on Macbeth.
MACBETH CLOSE STUDY QUESTIONS
1. What atmosphere is evoked, and what is the purpose of the scene?
The atmosphere created in this scene is scary, disturbing and frightful as the witches speak through the “fog and filthy air”.
2. What do we learn of Macbeth in this scene?
We learn that those surrounding him believe Macbeth to be “brave” and noble. We also learn that the previous Thane of Cawdor was disloyal, and that what the previous Thane of Cawdor “hath lost, noble Macbeth hath won” meaning that Macbeth is to be pronounced the new Thane of Cawdor.
3. What information is given about the state of Scotland?
We learn that Scotland is engaged in a war against the Norwegian’s. We learn that the Norwegians currently have the upper hand as the King of Norway seizes the advantage that the traitorous Thane of Cawdor has given him and begins a fresh assault on Fife. The Norwegian banners ‘flout the sky”, but we then learn that Macbeth has confronted the enemy and his heroic actions turn the tables and “the victory fell on us”. At the end of the scene, the previous Thane of Cawdor’s death is “pronounced”.
4. What do the three witches prophesy?
The three witches state that in the near future, not only will Macbeth be Thane of Glamis and Thane of Cawdor, but King of Scotland as well. Macbeth does not understand how he will become Thane of Cawdor because “the Thane of Cawdor lives”. And when the witches express that he will be King, it “stands not within the prospect of belief”.
5. How do Macbeth and Banquo respond to the prophecies?
Macbeth and Banquo are confused and dumbfounded by the witches prophecies and wonder if they have eaten the “insane root”, rendering them senseless. “Your children shall be kings” says Macbeth to Banquo, with Banquo replying “You shall be king and Thane of Cawdor too”. Their sense of foolishness is lifted as Ross and Angus enter the scene, stating that Macbeth is the new Thane of Cawdor. Macbeth is shocked, wondering why Ross “dress him in borrowed robes”, because “the Thane of Cawdor lives”.
6. Comment on Macbeth’s words: so foul and fair a day I have not seen.
The phrase “so foul and fair a day I have not seen” is a paradox, meaning it is a good day but also a bad day. The “foul” part of the day consisted of the bloodshed of the battle he had just fought and the storm the witches brought upon the world. The “fair” part of his day was the great victory the Scottish forces had over the Norwegians and also the news that he is the new Thane of Cawdor and also predicted by the three witches to become the next King of Scotland. At the beginning of the script, the witches’ state that “fair is foul, and foul is fair” meaning with all good that comes, there is always some bad.
7. What further obstacle appears to prevent the fulfilment of the witches’ prophecy?
A further obstacle that presents itself to prevent the fulfilment of the witches’ prophecy is the fact that King Duncan pronounces his eldest son Malcolm “The Prince of Cumberland” (the heir to the Scottish throne). This stands in the way of the prophecy that Macbeth will be King because there is now two people standing in the way of him and the throne.
8. What aspects of Lady Macbeth’s character are revealed in this scene?
In this scene, it is revealed that Lady Macbeth is greedy, controlling, and willing do whatever is required to gain more power for not only herself, but her husband as well. She is the mastermind and Macbeth is the one who does her bidding as she says “leave all the rest to me”.
9. What is her opinion of her husband?
Lady Macbeth believes that he husband is “greater than both by the all-hail hereafter” and should be King of Scotland.
10. Show how Duncan’s trustfulness and Lady Macbeth’s hypocrisy are brought out in this scene.
Duncan’s trustfulness is brought out when he says “See, see, our honour’d hostess.- The love that follows us sometime is our trouble, which still we thank as love” because he is telling her that he’s grateful for her kindness even though he doesn’t always show it. Lady Macbeth’s hypocrisy is brought out when she says “all our service, in every point twice done and then done double” because she’s saying that she would do everything for him twice and then twice again to please him, when in reality she’s planning to kill him with Macbeth in the background. She is telling him that she is so grateful and honoured because he’s staying in their house when she says “those honours deep and broad wherewith your majesty loads our house”, but she’s just happy he’s there so she can kill him.
11. Discuss the dramatic irony that is so marked here.
It’s ironic that Lady Macbeth is telling Duncan how pleased she is that he has decided to stay at her house that night, but she is plotting to murder him. She is depicted as caring and devoted when talking to Duncan, but as we have heard in the previous scene, she is greedy and wants Duncan’s power.
12. Why is Macbeth reluctant to proceed to Duncan’s murder?
Macbeth is reluctant to follow through with the murder of Duncan because he loves the king of Scotland because “he hath honour’d me of late” and not only is Macbeth frightened of getting caught, he believes that the King has been extremely rewarding towards him and Macbeth wants to continue to be engulfed in Duncan’s praise. The last reason he is reluctant to commit the murder of Duncan is because he thinks that “bloody instructions, which being taught, return to plague th’ inventor” meaning that if he kills Duncan and becomes King, people may try to kill him because that’s how he came to power and it might be okay to do it again.
13. How does his wife spur him on?
Lady Macbeth spurs Macbeth on by asking him “art thou afeard to be the same in thine own act and valour, as thou art desire?” She challenges his ability to follow through with what he says when she asks “what beast was’t then that made you break this enterprise to me?” Basically she asks why he even told her about this plan if he was never going to follow through with it now that the time has come. She says “you would be so much more the man” if you killed Duncan. She calls him a coward and dares to oppose his manhood.
14. Give the substance of Macbeth’s soliloquy opening scene 7.
In Macbeth’s soliloquy at the beginning of scene seven he is saying that if he was to actually murder Duncan, he would prefer if “it were done quickly” to prevent getting caught up in the consequences later on down the track. He points out that committing crimes teaches others to and these crimes “return to plague th’ inventor. He mentions that Duncan is placing so much trust in him by letting Macbeth host him in his house and that murdering him would be a huge betrayal of trust and loyalty.
15. What is Macbeth’s state of mind now that he has decided on Duncan’s murder?
Macbeth is in a fragile and disturbed state of mind after having on decided on Duncan’s murder. He starts to have alarming visions and thoughts in his “heat-oppressed brain”. This is worrying because considering how many people Macbeth has killed over the years, one more shouldn’t be too bad, but the treachery he is going to commit against his own king nearly sends him mad. He feels guilty that the only reason he is going to kill Duncan is for greed and personal gain, not out of anger or loathing.
16. How is Macbeth affected by the murder?
The murder has a devastating effect on Macbeth and he states that he couldn’t even say amen because it was “stuck in my throat”. This demonstrates to us just how powerfully Macbeth has been affected because it’s almost as if god doesn’t respect him anymore. He is experiencing illusions that say “Glamis hath muder’d sleep, and therefore Cawdor shall sleep no more: Macbeth shall sleep no more”, meaning that his mind will be so influenced that he will have nightmares and will no longer be able to sleep.
17. How does Lady Macbeth try to reassure him?
Lady Macbeth tries to reassure him by telling him to “consider it not so deeply” or “it will make us mad”. She calls him “worthy thane” and questions him as to why he would “unbend [his] noble strength to think so brain-sickly of things”.
18. How does the revealed murder affect the various characters?
Macduff is horrified when he first stumbles upon the body of Duncan. “Tongue nor heart cannot conceive, nor name thee” are his words stating that he can’t even talk of it, that’s how bad the thought of seeing Duncan, “a new Gorgon”, is. Lennox is staggered and Macbeth also pretends to be shocked and goes along with the idea of that he has no idea how this happened. Lady Macbeth also pretends to be surprised with the news, asking “what, in our house?” Banquo states it is a “bloody piece of work” and that “fears and scruples shake us.” Malcolm and Donaldbain consult and decide that they are likely to be the next targets because they are Duncan’s sons, so Malcolm heads off to England and Donaldbain to Ireland.
19. What do Malcolm and Donaldbain decide to do?
Malcolm and Donaldbain, as I just mentioned, decide that because they were so close to Duncan, they were possible targets to be assassinated. So they meet and decide that “our separated fortune shall keep us both safer” and that to avoid being killed, the “safest way is to avoid the aim.” So Malcolm tells that he will go to England, and Donaldbain to Ireland.
20. What is the purpose of this scene?
The purpose of this scene is to establish the effects of the strange, murderous night had on ordinary people. “I have seen hours dreadful and things strange, but this sore night hath trifled former knowings”. The old man boldly states to Ross that it’s said Duncan’s horses ate each other, that’s how ill the night was. The scene also informs us that “Macbeth hath slain” the drunk guards. Macduff also tells Ross that Malcolm and Donaldbain are under suspicion because they have “stole’n away and fled”.
21. How does nature seem to reflect the events of the murder?
Nature seems to reflect the events of the murder as Ross describes a “falcon tow’ring in her pride of place was by a mousing owl hawk’d at and kill’d” meaning that the eco-system has almost been turned upside down, which is almost a parallel to how Macbeth has exploited his position by forcing himself up to the position of King.
22. What are the immediate results of the murder?
An immediate effect of the murder is that Malcolm and Donaldbain have fled so as to keep themselves free of harm. Another effect is that the natural environment has collapsed into madness with weird, strange happenings occurring, but the most prominent effect is that the title of King has fallen on Macbeth.
SCENES III & IV
23. Describe briefly the banquet scene.
Macbeth and Lady Macbeth are holding a feast, but before Macbeth is involved in the happenings of the meal, he talks to the murderer that he convinced to kill Banquo and Fleance, Banquo’s son, but we discover that Fleance actually escapes. Back to the banquet, Macbeth goes to take a seat but cannot find one available because the ghost of Banquo occupies the one that Lennox leads him to. Macbeth asks, “Which of you have done this?” Lady Macbeth then, unsuccessfully, tries to convince the Lords that Macbeth is “often thus”. Lady Macbeth asks Macbeth; “are you a man?” And all returns to normal, until Macbeth shouts “avaunt and quit my sight! Let the earth hide thee!” because he is seeing the ghost of Banquo again. Here, we see Macbeth stand up for himself against his wife as he says “you make me strange even to the disposition that I owe”. Shortly after, the Lords are dismissed from the banquet and Macbeth tells his wife that “I am in blood stepp’d in so far that should I wade no more, returning were as tedious as go o’er”, because she hadn’t understood about Banquo and had no idea so Macbeth admits that he has committed so much evil, to go beck would be as perilous as going forward, and he tries to tell her that “we are yet but young in deed”, but they did just kill the King.
24. How do you account for Macbeth’s behaviour in this scene?
Macbeth’s behaviour is that of someone who doesn’t have control over their emotions and is feeling massive amounts of guilt. He is ashamed that he is so greedy he would go to the length to kill two people who he cared for and loved, and all for power.
25. Describe the conversation between Macbeth and his wife with which the banquet scene closes. What light does it throw on each of their characters?
Macbeth is almost conscious of the fact that his actions cannot go unpunished as “blood will have blood”. He also realises that he is in too far to go back now because “returning were as tedious as go o’er”. What I find confusing is that Macbeth states he and his wife “are yet but young in deed”. But the ending to this scene makes us realise Macbeth actually knows what he’s in for and accepts the crimes he has committed, whilst Lady Macbeth is still a bit evil and wanting more.
SCENES V & VI
26. What is the importance of Lennox’s speech?
Lennox undoubtedly suspects Macbeth of murdering not only Duncan but Banquo as well. Lennox points out that everything went very smoothly with the killing of the “slaves of drink”, he uses heavy sarcasm mentioning “wasn’t that nobly done?” Lennox is really having a crack at Macbeth in this speech and rightly so, he has picked up the trail and Macbeth is going to struggle on getting out of this one.
27. What do we learn of Malcolm and Macduff?
Lennox states that the whole of Scotland is suffering under Macbeth’s “hand accurs’d”. The King of England is rousing an army to come and defeat Macbeth and Malcolm and Macduff are in England trying to work things out.
28. What does scene six tell us of the state of Scotland?
It tells us that Scotland isn’t faring to well under Macbeth’s rule because he isn’t treating anyone well, plus, everyone suspects that he murdered Duncan and Banquo to get to the position he’s in.