Macbeth Study Guide Questions
Act I Scenes 1 & 2
1. What is the meaning of “Fair is foul, and foul is fair”? Nothing is completely good; everything comes with a price. Nothing is as it seems. It sets the deceptive tone of the whole play. 2. What description does the Captain (Sergeant) give to Duncan about battle? He tells about how Macbeth and Banqumacbeth ao fought bravely in battle. Macbeth sliced up the enemy, Macdonwald, from his navel to his mouth. 3. What characteristics of the King are evident? He is loving and appreciative of others and is a benevolent ruler. 4. What punishment is pronounced upon the Thane of Cawdor? He will be executed. 5. What reward is bestowed upon Macbeth? He becomes the new Thane of Cawdor. Act I Scene 3
1. What are the first words uttered by Macbeth? “So foul and fair a day I have not seen.” This reflects on how although Macbeth won the battle, it came at a high cost. 2. What 3 messages do the Weird Sisters bring Macbeth? They hail him as the Thane of Glamis (current title), Thane of Cawdor (new title he is about to receive), and tell him that he shall be king. 3. What affect do those messages have on Macbeth? He is very curious and interested in the prophecy, revealing his lust for power. 4. What message do the Weird Sisters give Banquo? His sons will be kings. 5. What word from the King to Macbeth and Banquo do Ross and Angus bring? Macbeth is bestowed the title of Thane of Cawdor. 6. Compare Macbeth’s character with Banquo’s as revealed in their reaction to the witches. Macbeth seems a bit fearful of the prophecy at first. Banquo notices and asks him why he fears “Things that sound so fair” (1.3.55). After the initial reaction, Macbeth is very curious and wants the witches to tell him more. However, the witches vanish and Macbeth is left wishing they had stayed to explain more. This shows his greed for power. On the other hand, Banquo, although also excited, is a bit apprehensive and wary of believing what the witches have revealed. Act I Scene 4 & 5
1. What description of Cawdor and his death does Malcolm give? He “confessed his treasons, implored your Highness’ pardon, and set forth a deep repentance.” (1.4.6-9) In other words, his death was honorable and he died better than he lived 2. What public announcement does Duncan make as to his successor on the throne? Duncan’s oldest son, Malcolm, will be his successor. 3. What is the effect on Macbeth of the announcement? He expresses joy on the outside, but then he mutters his dismay under his breath. He is concerned that Malcolm will get in the way of himself becoming king. 4. Where does Duncan now plan to spend the night? At Macbeth’s castle. Scene 5:
1. Where does this scene take place? Macbeth’s castle–Lady Macbeth is home alone. 2. What are the contents of Macbeth’s letter to Lady Macbeth? It tells her about his new title as thane of Cawdor and describes the prophecy of witches. 3. What is Lady Macbeth’s reaction to the prophecy that he would become King? She fears that Macbeth lacks the ruthlessness needed to make himself king. She launches into a soliloquy in which she wants to be more manly in order to help Macbeth become king. 4. What do Macbeth and his wife plan to do to Duncan? They plan to kill him when he comes for dinner. Lady Macbeth tells Macbeth to leave everything to her.
Act I Scenes 6 & 7:
1. How is Lady Macbeth portrayed? She is portrayed as very strong, masculine, and dominant. She is more powerful than Macbeth and influences his decisions. Scene 7:
1. What state of mind does Macbeth’s soliloquy reveal? He is nervous and unsure of whether he should kill Duncan, because Duncan has done him no wrong. 2. How does Lady Macbeth reproach him? She basically dares him to kill Duncan by calling him a weak coward. Macbeth is easily tempted by the idea of power. 3. What plans for the murder does Lady Macbeth propose? She...
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