Macbeth by William Shakespeare

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1 Macbeth by William Shakespeare Study Guide NAME Period Act I 1. The opening scene of Macbeth is one of the most highly compressed in dramatic literature. All the expositionary elements are present including the suggestion of a theme. Identify each of these elements. a. setting: b. protagonist: c. preliminary situation: d. theme: 2. What mood is established from the very beginning of the play? 3. Act I, scene 2 includes accounts of three separate battles. In the first battle Macbeth and Banquo, his fellow Scot, do battle against an army led by whom? What is the outcome of this battle? 4. The second and third battles are fought between the Scots and the Norwegians. In the second Macbeth and Banquo defeat a portion of the Norwegian army near Forres in Northern Scotland. The third battle, fought near Fife, about a 100 miles southeast of Forres is fought between what armies? 5. Who is Bellona s Bridegroom? (Remember that Fife is 100 miles from Forres.) 6. The Norwegian King Sweno was assisted in his invasion of Scotland by what Scottish traitor? 7. What reward does King Duncan give to Macbeth? 8. As scene 3 opens, what are the witches discussing?

2 2 9. What are Macbeth s first spoken lines in the play? With whom do these words associate him? 10. With what three predictions do the witches greet Macbeth? b. 11. What three predictions do the witches make with regard to Banquo? b 12. How do Macbeth and Banquo react to the news they receive from Ross and Angus? 13. What words does Malcolm use in Act I, scene 4 to describe the execution and death of the Thane of Cawdor? 14. Despite the fact that others are more deserving, whom does Duncan name to succeed him on the throne? 15. What does Macbeth realize about the designation of this person as heir to the throne? 16. Act I, scene 5 introduces us to Lady Macbeth who is reading a letter as the scene opens. Who wrote this letter and what events does he describe? 17. Lady Macbeth realizes that Macbeth has high ambitions, but believes he has a flaw that prevents him from achieving his goals. What is that flaw? What does she decide to do to overcome that flaw? 18. Lady Macbeth offers a kind of prayer, beginning with line 42 of scene 5, to the powers of evil. For what two things does she ask?

3 3 19. It is clear that Lady Macbeth has decided to take charge and to do whatever is necessary for Macbeth to become king. But what does she warn Macbeth to do? 20. When Duncan arrives at Macbeth s castle he notices the peaceful song of the martlet (a sparrow) and its peacefulness. Lady Macbeth greets him with false words of loyalty. How does he refer to her? 21. In the soliloquy that opens scene 7, Macbeth realizes that that the act of murdering the king will have many consequences. What reasons does he list for not killing Duncan? b. 22. What does Macbeth realize is his only motivation for killing Duncan? 23. Macbeth at this point appears to have decided not to kill Duncan (lines 34ff.). How does Lady Macbeth goad and taunt him to proceed with their conspiracy against the king? 24. What is the plan that she decides she and Macbeth will follow to murder Duncan? Act II 25. Why is Banquo up late walking with his son Fleance? 26. Macbeth tells Banquo that he does not even think about the Weird Sisters, but of course he s thought of little else. After Banquo and Fleance exeunt, Macbeth sees something strange. What does he see and what is it doing? 27. As scene 2 begins Lady Macbeth is down in the courtyard below Duncan s chamber. What is she visualizing?

4 4 28. Why did Lady Macbeth not kill Duncan herself? 29. During the murder Macbeth hears a voice crying out? What does it cry? 30. What did Macbeth do that deviated from Lady Macbeth s original plan? 31. Why does Lady Macbeth go up to Duncan s chamber? Why are her hands covered with blood when she returns to the courtyard? 32. The famous Porter scene (Act II, scene 3) serves what two purposes? 33. Who is it that actually discovers and announces Duncan s murder? 34. Macbeth and Lennox rush up to Duncan s room to see for themselves the horrible sight. Meanwhile Lady Macbeth enters and asks what all the commotion is about. When she is told of the King s murder, what is her response? 35. While Macbeth was up in the murdered Duncan s chamber, what did he in panic do that was another deviation from the plan? 36. Malcolm and Donalbain realize that they can trust no one until they know who is responsible for their father s murder. What do they decide to do to protect themselves? 37. According to the conversation of Ross and the Old Man in scene 4, what unusual occurrences has transpired during the night? 38. What information does Macduff convey to Ross and the Old Man? Now that a new king has been named, what are Macduff s plans?

5 5 Act III 39. What suspicions does Banquo express as Act III, scene 1 begins? 40. Banquo tells Macbeth that he and Fleance are going riding. Upon what does Macbeth insist? 41. According to the soliloquy that begins with line 52, why is Macbeth fearful of Banquo? 42. What does Macbeth plot to do with the two murderers? 43. From their conversation in scene 2, what can we conclude about the state of mind of Macbeth and his wife now that they are king and queen? 44. Why does Macbeth keep his plot against Banquo a secret from Lady Macbeth? 45. Who is the third murderer that joins the two murderers with whom Macbeth spoke in scene 1? 46. How does Banquo react to the attack of the murderers? 47. What is the importance of Fleance s escape? 48. What good news and bad news does Macbeth receive in scene 4? 49. When Macbeth returns to the banquet, he laments that Banquo is not present. What happens when he complains that Banquo is absent? 50. What is the significance of Banquo s ghost to Macbeth but to no one else? 51. How does Lady Macbeth react to Macbeth s outburst at the banquet in front of all the guests? 52. Against whom does Macbeth now direct his suspicions and fears?

6 6 53. What is the purpose of scene 5, Hecate s conversation with the witches? 54. What information is conveyed by the conversation between Lennox and the Lord in scene 6? Act IV 55. The witches chant and conjuration are presented in great detail in scene 1 of act IV. Why? 56. What three apparitions appear to Macbeth? What is the prophecy of each? b. 57. What are the eight apparitions that next appear to Macbeth? 58. Following the disappearance of the witches, what decision does Macbeth make with regard to Macduff? 59. What attitudes emerge from Lady Macduff s conversations with Ross, her son, and the messenger? 60. Act IV, scene 3 is the longest and most excruciatingly slow scene in the whole play? Shakespeare does this to relieve the tension of the previous scene and to begin to build tension to an even higher level in Act V. In their long conversation how does Malcolm test Macduff and why does he do so? 61. From whom has Malcolm already received help? 62. How does Macduff receive the news of the death of his wife and children?

7 7 Act V 63. Act V is the shortest act in the play, but has more scenes than any other. The action moves very rapidly from scene to scene, some of which are extremely short. In scene 1 of Act V, we observe the further deterioration of Lady Macbeth. What has become of her? What does she imagine she sees and hears? 64. Who is it in scene 2 that are gathering forces against Macbeth? 65. What is Macbeth s state of mind as he awaits the approach of the enemy army? 66. Why is Macbeth angry and frustrated with the Doctor? 67. What battle plan is suggested by Malcolm in scene 4 and why is it significant? 68. How does Macbeth react to news of his wife s death? 69. What other distressing news does Macbeth receive in scene 5? 70. What is the significance of Malcolm s speech in scene In scene 7 what is Young Siward s reaction to the name Macbeth? What happens to Young Sward when he confronts Macbeth? 72. Why does Macbeth speak of playing the Roman fool? 73. What does Macduff reveal to Macbeth that seals his doom? 74. How does Macbeth confront the certainty of his own death? Of whom from Act I does this remind the reader?

8 8 75. What is the significance of Malcolm s ascension to the throne of Scotland? 76. Identify several of the themes developed by Shakespeare in Macbeth. b. d.

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