Macbeth Study Guide Questions
Act I, sc.i :
1) This scene is an effective and dramatic opening to the play, as we meet the three witches, also known as the Weird Sisters. We quickly point out that these witches possess powers meant only for evil and pain, as they are already placed in a meeting area in a setting that only screams evil, since it is raining with lightning bolts striking the ground nearby. But what truly makes the witches evil in the sense is that they chant together of meeting with the main character Macbeth, which we have only heard of being good, which means they may be planning to either kill or corrupt the hero. The witches also speak in iambic pentameter, this form of poetry is very well used as the witches speak in chants, giving the reader an even bigger sense of their evil.
Act I, sc.ii :
1) Macbeth is introduced to us through a injured captain from a very recent battle, who is explaining how the battle is currently going to King Duncan, and how Macbeth is leading the men with violent battle strategies and fighting skills. The captain continues to praise Macbeth by saying furthermore how he is the bravest man in the battle field, killing enemies with each step he takes, with no fear what so ever. Shakespeare does this so the reader can get an even better sense of Macbeth’s attributes, such as how strong, brave, and violent Macbeth is without even meeting the character yet.
2) “Doubtful it stood; as two spent swimmers, that do cling together and choke their art.”
This sentence (spoken by the wounded captain) uses imagery in order to describe whose favour the battle is currently going. The imagery translates into two drowning swimmers, clawing and drowning at each as they struggle to stay above water, and that death is equally likely for the other. In conclusion the captain felt that the battle was very close to going either way for each battling side.
“As whence the sun 'gins his reflection Shipwrecking storms and direful thunders break, So from that spring whence comfort seem'd to come discomfort swells.”
The captain once again uses imagery to describe the final outcome of the battle, which is that the remaining Norwegian troops that were assisting the rebels had regrouped just as Duncan’s men thought they had the advantage. The captain describes this by saying how a storm may appear even on a clear and sunny day, when everything seems fine, something may still happen.
The purpose of this scene was to describe the beginnings of the Macbeth’s character. We learn here that he is a Scottish nobleman, a near kinsman of the old king, and a valiant warrior. In a single day he has routed two hostile armies, one of the Scotch rebels under MacDonald, whom he has slain with his own hand, the other that of the invading Norwegians under Sweno. He has been assisted by another nobleman, Banquo, but the main glory of the victory is ascribed to Macbeth.
Act I, sc.iii
1) When encountering the witches, they first tell Macbeth of his prophecy. They tell him that he is to become the Thane of Cawdor, and that he is soon to become even King of Scotland. They then go to Banquo, they compare him to Macbeth using paradox’s, such as being greater then Macbeth, yet lesser, and how he is not so happy, and yet much happier. The witches then tell Banquo that the future generations of his family shall become kings, with the exception of Banquo himself. The witches then depart, leaving Macbeth and Banquo to discuss with each other of the prophecies they have been given. Banquo recognizes the evil inside the witches, and so he simply ignores the prophecies, believing them to be fake. Macbeth on the other hand had always lingered the idea for the power one obtains as king, and for witches to appear from nowhere and prove that his thoughts would soon become true only entices Macbeth, causing him to truly believe that the prophecies are true.
2) Macbeth has just discovered that, true to the...
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