403 MACBETH QUESTIONS

Act 1 Questions

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1. What predictions do the witches make about Macbeth’s future? about Banquo’s?

How does Macbeth’s reaction diff from Banquo’s?

 

2. What conflict arises in Macbeth after the first prediction proves true?

What does the inner conflict reveal about his character?

 

3. What personality trait of her husband’s does lady Macbeth fear?

What does this fear tell you about her character?

 

4. Summarize the arguments Lady Macbeth uses to convince her husband to murder Duncan. Do these arguments appeal to Macbeth’s reason, his emotions, or both? Explain.

 

5. Look at the scenes in act 1 where the witches appear. Why do you think they

are included? What night they symbolize?

 

6. In your opinion, who is more responsible for the plot against Duncan – Macbeth or Lady Macbeth? Support your opinion with evidence from the play.

 

7. How would you describe the relationship between Macbeth and Lady Macbeth?

What advice might a marriage counselor give them?

 

8. What major actions take place offstage during act 1? If you were directing a movie versions of Macbeth for today’s audiences, would you show these actions? Explain why or why not.

 

Act 2 Questions

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1. In scene 1, what reasons does Banquo give for being unable to sleep? How do Banquo’s thoughts and actions compare with Macbeth?

 

2.  After the murder, what does Macbeth imagine he hears someone say about him?

What do his imaginings tell you about his emotional state?

 

3. How does Lady Macbeth get blood on her hands? What does her reaction to the blood reveal about her character?

 

4. Why do Duncan’s sons decide to leave Scotland after their father’s murder?

what conflicts might they cause for Macbeth in the future?

 

5. Theme Connections  Macbeth’s motive for killing Duncan is “vaulting ambition.” in your opinion, what can people do to keep their ambitions from getting out of hand? What could Macbeth have done?

 

6. Shakespeare often used comic relief, or humor meant to provide relief from emotional insensity. How do you think Porter’s speech in scene 3 serves as comic relief?

 

7. In scene 3, lines 95-105, Macbeth’s explains why he killed Duncan’s attendants. In your opinion, is Macbeth explanation convincing? Why might modern-day detectives want to question Macbeth further?

 

8. In scene 4, Ross and the Old Man discuss many unnatural events that they believe occur as a result of the political turmoil. What superstitions or “urban legends” do people create today to explain modern events?

 

Act 3 Questions

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1. Describe the murder plot Macbeth devisesin scene 1. How is it different from the plot against Duncan? What do these differences signal?

 

2. What intended victim of Macbeth’s plot manages to escape? What conflicts might this character cause for Macbeth in the future?

 

3. Describe Macbeth’s behavior during the feast in scene 4. How might his guests’ opinion of him have been affected by his behavior?

 

4. What does Macbeth do when he learns of MacDuff’s mission to England? What importance might MacDuff have in acts 4 and 5?

 

5. In scene 3, a mysterious third murderer joins Macbeth’s two henchmen. Why might Shakespeare have chosen to hide the man’s identity?

 

6. Many critics believe that another author wrote and added scene 5 after Shakespeare’s death. In your opinion, does the scene enhance act 3? Explain why or why not.

 

7. What does Lennox’s sarcastic tone in scene 6, lines 1-24, suggest about Macbeth’s future as king? Does his tone seem realistic here?

 

8. Would you say that Macbeth has conscience? Explain why or why not.

 

Act 4 Questions

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1. What information does Macbeth gather from the witches’ apparitions?

How does this information spur Macbeth to commit more murders?

 

2. Describe Lady MacDuff and her son. How might their fate affect an audience’s opinion of Macbeth?

 

3. Lady MacDuff calls her husband  traitor and tells her son, “…your father’s dead.” What does she mean by these statements? Why might she have felt this way?

 

4. In scene 3, Malcolm tests Macduff’s loyalty by pretending to be more evil than Macbeth. What does this test tell you abou7t Macduff and Malcolm?

 

5. In your opinion, to what extent are the witches responsible for Macbeth’s moral decay? How much of the responsibility falls on Macbeth himself? Explain.

 

6. Do you think the murder of Macduff’s son should take place offstage?

Explain why or why not.

 

7. As Malcolm points out, King Edward was believed to have “healing hands.” Why might Shakespeare have focused upon Edward as a healer?

 

8. If the events in Macbeth were taking place today, would you want the president to send troops to Scotland to help Macduff and Malcolm? Explain why or why not.

 

Act 5 Questions

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1.Summarize Lady Macbeth’s statements make while sleepwalking. What does

she say that incriminates her and Macbeth in the murders?

 

2. What does Lady Macbeth do with her hands while sleepwalking?

 

3. How do Caithness and Angus describe Macbeth’s state of mind?

 

4. How does Macbeth react when he is told that his wife is dead?

 

5. describe how the apparitions’ prophecies are fulfilled in act 5?

 

6. What does the sleepwalking scene reveal about Lady Macbeth’s state of mind?

In your opinion, why does the gentlewoman-in-waiting refuse to disclose what she has overheard Lady Macbeth say?

 

7. What might Lady Macbeth hand movements in scene 1 symbolize?

 

8. What does Macbeth say and so in act 5 that confirms the description of him

given by Caithness and Angus in scene 2?

 

9. What metaphors does Shakespeare use to convey Macbeth’s attitude toward life after Lady Macbeth’s death. What do these metaphors reveal about Macbeth’s state of mind?

 

10. What dramatic function do the apparitions’ prophecies serve in act 4 and act 5?

How would the acts change if the prophecies were omitted?

 

11. Read over the Focus Activity on page 269. How does the quote from the Talmud apply to Macbeth? Explain.

 

12. Protagonist should arouse some pity in the audience. Were you able to feel pity for Macbeth? Why or why not.

 

13. Do Macbeth and Lady Macbeth exchange personalities as they play progresses? Use evidence from the play to support your opinion.

 

14. Can you think of a political leader in recent history who was led by ambition to betray close friends, political opponents, or the people of his or her country? How does this person compare to Macbeth?

 

15. Poet and playwright Ben Jonson, a contemporary of Shakespeare’s, once said that Shakespeare is “not of an age, but for all time.” In your opinion, what does Macbeth have to offer today’s audiences? Explain.

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