Macbeth Study Guide – Act I Act I, Scene 1 1) What is Shakespeare’s purpose for the brevity of this scene and for its contents? How does this compare to movies of today? 2) What tone is set in this scene? How? 3) What is paradox? What example of paradox exists in this scene? What does it mean? 4) Whom do the witches want to see? Act I, Scene 2 5) What is the simile on pg. 352? What is the effect of the simile? 6) How does Shakespeare characterize Macbeth? What specific quotes show this? 7) Did Macbeth’s slaying of Macdonwald end the war? Why or why not? 8) What humorous contradiction does the captain make when the king asks if Macbeth was afraid of the Norwegian lord’s attack? What is the effect of the contradiction? 9) The Thane of Cawdor has carried out what ignoble act? 10) How does the King of Scotland respond to the news of the Thane of Cawdor’s treachery? Act I, Scene 3 11) How is the mood for this scene immediately set through the stage directions? What is the mood?
12) Why is the 1st witch angry? How does she respond? What is the general effect for any human of not getting enough sleep? 13) What paradox do we see from Macbeth? What is the purpose of the paradox? 14) When Banquo asks in line 39, “What are these,” to what is he referring? What is the effect of the line? 15) How are the witches further described by Banquo? 16) With what three titles do the witches greet Macbeth? Which do we know he will soon be? What does this say about the witches? 17) What do the witches predict for Banquo? How might this affect Banquo and Macbeth’s relationship? 18) What is dramatic irony? Where does it take place in this scene? 19) What news arrives directly after the witches vanish? 20) What is an aside in theatre? What is the purpose? 21) How do Banquo and Macbeth react to the news from the witches and the events that occur after? Act I, Scene 4 1) What has happened at the beginning of the scene? Explain the quote in reference to the late Thane of
Cawdor, “nothing in his life/ became him like the leaving of it” (lines 6-7). How does this characterize the thane? 2) How does the king greet Macbeth? Explain the quote said by the king to Macbeth, “Only I have left to say,/ More is thy due than more than all can pay” (lines 20-21). 3) Macbeth is humble in response to the king’s praises. Is his humility genuine? Explain 4) What announcement does the king make about Malcolm, his son? How will Macbeth most likely react to this? 5) Explain the dichotomy of celestial imagery Shakespeare creates between the king’s speech (lines 41-43) and Macbeth’s (lines 50-53). Act I, Scene 5 6) Who are the “they” in the letter Lady Macbeth reads? 7) What line in Macbeth’s letter shows his views of his wife? Explain. 8) What is Lady Macbeth’s view of Macbeth? Do you agree? Why or why not? 9) Summarize Lady Macbeth’s speech in line 36-52. From Lady Macbeth’s dialogue what do we see about the views of men and women? By
description, what gender do Macbeth and Lady Macbeth more accurately fit? 10) How does Lady Macbeth’s view of darkness parallel Macbeth’s? How might their religiosity play a part in this? 11) What comparisons does Lady Macbeth make about Macbeth in lines 60-66? What is the purpose? How does this relate to the paradox, “Foul is fair, fair is foul?” Act I, Scene 6 12) Where is this scene set? 13) Explain the dramatic irony of King Duncan’s 1st statement in this scene. 14) Was Lady Macbeth effective in wearing a mask of kindness for the king? Explain with reference. Act I, Scene 7 15) About what is Macbeth worried in his soliloquy at the beginning of this scene? 16) How would the murder of Duncan be a betrayal of a man “here in double trust.” 17) Does Macbeth think he can go through with the murder? Explain. 18) What extreme comment does Lady Macbeth make to persuade Macbeth to follow through with his plans in lines 47-59? 19) Overall, throughout scene 7, how does Lady
Macbeth convince Macbeth to follow through with the murder? 20) Explain, “False face must hide what the false heart doth know” (line 82). Macbeth Study guideAct II Act II, Scene 1 1) Who is Fleance? How might he be important in the plot of this story? 2) What tone is set at the beginning of the scene? How? 3) How does Macbeth respond to Banquo when Banquo brings up the witches? Is he genuine? Explain. 4) Summarize Macbeth’s soliloquy in lines 33-64. What does it say about his mentality? 5) Where is Macbeth going at the end of the scene? Act II, Scene 2 6) What is Lady Macbeth’s role in the murder of Duncan? Macbeth’s? 7) What spiritual conflict does Macbeth have right as he leaves Duncan’s room? What might this say about his character? How might this affect his motivation? 8) What simile does Lady Macbeth use in lines 52-56? What two things are compared? According to the simile, what does Lady Macbeth think of Macbeth? 9) What hyperbole does Macbeth present in lines 57-62?
How does Lady Macbeth react to the blood on their hands? Who has a guilty conscience? 10) Explain the quote said by Macbeth at the end of scene 2, “Wake Duncan with thy knocking! I would thou coulds’t!” Act II, Scene 3 11) What does the porter compare the castle to at the beginning of this scene? Purpose of the comparison? 12) What is the purpose of the porter’s crude humor in lines 24-31? 13) What strange occurrences does Lennox describe in lines 48-55? How does this parallel the events of the evening? 14) Explain the dramatic irony of Macduff’s description of Lady Macbeth in lines 77-79. 15) Was it a good idea for Macbeth to kill the two guards of Duncan? Explain. 16) How might Lday Macbeth’s cries and fainting have been purposefully planned by her? What is their effect? 17) What words spoken by Banquo show that he is suspicious that the guards did not kill Duncan (lines 120126)? 18) Where will Malcolm and Donalbain go? Why? 19) Explain the quote by Donalbain,
“There’s daggers in men’s smiles, the near in blood, the nearer bloody.” Act II, Scene 4 20) What 3 events do Ross and Old Man parallel the mood of the previous scenes? 21) What news of the murder does Macduff bring concerning the conspiracy? 22) Who is the new king? Does Macduff support the new king? Explain. Macbeth Study GuideAct III Act III, Scene 1 1) Explain the first 10 lines of the scene spoken by Banquo. 2) How does Banquo greet Macbeth? Is he being genuine? Do you think Macbeth thinks Banquo is genuine? Explain. 3) Why is Macbeth so concerned with Banquo and Fleance’s plans (lines 19-35)? 4) Summarize Macbeth’s soliloquy in lines 48-72. 5) What 3 points does Macbeth bring up to convince the murderers to kill Banquo? 6) What reason does Macbeth give for not killing Banquo himself? 7) Compare Macbeth’s character from Act II to now. Has his character changed? How? What might be the cause of his change? 8) What are the plans Macbeth sets for Banquo and Fleance’s
murder? Act III, Scene 2 9) Explain what Lady Macbeth says in lines 4-7. Compare Macbeth and Lady Macbeth’s character 10) What metaphor does Macbeth use to explain his present uneasiness? How does this relate to Macbeth “murdering sleep?” 11) What imagery does Macbeth create in lines 36-56? What mood is created by the imagery? Act III, Scene 3 12) Summarize this scene. 13) How might this scene be viewed as the turning point of Macbeth’s fortunes? Act III, Scene 4 14) What is going on at the beginning of this scene? 15) Explain the irony in Macbeth’s question of Banquo’s safety in line 25. 16) To what does Macbeth compare Fleance? Explain. 17) How does Macbeth react when he sees Banquo’s ghost? How does Lady Macbeth react when she finds out the reason for Macbeth’s actions? 18) Compare how Macbeth behaves when the ghost is present and when it is gone. What effect will this eventually have on his mentality? 19) Explain the purpose of Shakespeare in having the lords
sit according to their rank at the beginning of the scene but then leaving in no particular order at the end. 20) How does Macbeth’s line 122 compare to his lines in Act I, Scene 7, lines 8-12? 21) What does Macbeth think of Macduff? Why? 22) Where will Macbeth go? Why? Act III, Scene 5 23) Who is Hecate? 24) Why is Hecate mad? 25) How does Hecate describe Macbeth? 26) Hecate says Macbeth will cause his own undoing. How? Act III, Scene 6 27) How do the two lords feel about Macbeth? 28) What are Malcolm and Macduff up to? Macbeth Study Guide – Act IV Act IV Scene 1 1) What are the witches doing at the beginning of this scene? What specific ingredients do they add to their broth? Name at least 3. What mood is set? 2) To whom are the witches referring in line 45? How does this description characterize this person? 3) Paraphrase Macbeth’s lines 50-61. What does this reveal about his character? 4) What might the sow symbolize in lines 64-66? How does it characterize Macbeth? 5) What
are the three new predictions or warnings given to Macbeth? 6) Why does Macbeth decide to kill Macduff despite the 2nd apparition? 7) What final apparition do the witches show Macbeth? 8) Explain the irony of Macbeth’s lines 138-40. 9) What does Macbeth plan to do at the end of the scene? What does this say/reveal about his character? Act IV Scene 2 10) Where does this scene take place? 11) Why is Lady Macduff upset at the beginning of the scene? What does she mean in line 27 when she says of Macduff, “Fathered is he, and yet he’s fatherless?” This is an example of what literary technique? 12) Why does Shakespeare show Lady Macduff and her son speaking to each other about betrayal? 13) What news does the messenger bring in line 61-69? How does this affect the mood? 14) What happens at the end of the scene? Act IV Scene 3 15) Where does scene 3 take place? With whom? 16) Why is Malcolm wary of Macduff? 17) Explain the dramatic irony in Malcolm’s lines 8-17. 18) What is
Macduff’s grief about in lines 31-37? 19) What comparison does Malcolm make between himself and Macbeth? Why does he make such a comparison? How does Macduff react? 20) Compare Malcolm and Duncan. How might Malcolm become a better king than his father was? 21) How does Malcolm describe himself when he is being honest in lines 125-130? 22) What news does Malcolm share with Macduff? 23) Why does Shakespeare include a description of the king of England? 24) What news does Ross bring to Macduff? How does Macduff react? Macbeth Study Guide – Act V Act V Scene 1 1) Who is the “she” of whom the doctor speaks in line 2? What has “she” been doing? Though the Gentlewoman will not reveal to the doctor what “she” is saying in her sleep, what can we as the audience infer “she” is saying? 2) What might Lady Macbeth’s sleepwalking represent? Why might Lady Macbeth be rubbing her hands together? 3) Of what does Lady Macbeth speak in lines 31-39? What does this reveal about
Lady Macbeth’s character? 4) What literary technique is used in lines 40-41? What is the effect? What do these lines parallel from earlier in the play? 5) Paraphrase the doctor’s final lines of the scene (lines 62-70). Act V Scene 2 6) Where does this scene take place? Where will Malcolm’s armies meet? Why might this be relevant? 7) What does Menteith mean in line 11 when he asks, “What does the tyrant?” What is the answer to his question? 8) Where are the thanes going at the end of the scene? Act V Scene 3 9) What is Macbeth’s mood at the beginning of this scene? Why? 10) How does Macbeth treat his servant? What might this reveal about his character? 11) Who is the patient of the doctor? 12) Though Seyton tells Macbeth that Macbeth doesn’t need his armor yet, Macbeth demands it. What might this say about Macbeth’s character? 13) Explain the irony in lines 47-56. Act VScene 4 14) What are Malcolm’s armies directed to do? How will their approach on Dunsinane appear?
15) What do Malcolm’s lines 10-14 reveal about his hopes for victory? Is he confident he will win? Explain. Act V Scene 5 16) What is Macbeth’s strategy for the battle? Why will he not meet his enemy on the battlefield? 17) According to Macbeth’s lines 9-15, is he aware of his change in character? Explain. Does this redeem him in any way? Explain. 18) What news does Seyton bring Macbeth in lines 17-28? How does Macbeth react? What 3 metaphors does Macbeth use for life? Explain what he means. 19) What news does the messenger bring Macbeth in lines 33-35? How does Macbeth react? Act V Scene 6 20) Summarize scene 6. Act V Scene 7 21) What does Macbeth think about his chances for winning at the beginning of the scene? 22) What happens to Young Siward? 23) Compare Macduff’s motivation to fight with Macbeth’s. 24) How difficult was the battle for Malcolm’s armies? Why? Act V Scene 8 25) Explain Macbeth’s first 3 lines of the scene. 26) How does Macbeth feel about running into
Macduff? Why? 27) Explain Macduff’s lines 15-16. What does this mean for Macbeth? 28) Why is it fitting that Macbeth was ultimately tricked by the equivocation of the witches? 29) What is the final outcome of the play?