Macbeth: Questions to Consider
1. Why do you think Shakespeare begins this play with the witches?
2. What does this scene tell you about the play that is to follow? What sort of play are you expecting?
1. We have not seen Macbeth yet, but what impression do you have of him so far?
1. What in this scene could you describe as "foul"?
Macbeth’s thought on murdering kind Duncan to get his throne.
2. What in this scene could you describe as "fair"?
3. How do you think Macbeth feels at the end of this scene?
4. And oftentimes, to win us to our harm,
The instruments of darkness tell us truths.
Banquo says this after the witches have been proved right- what advice do you think he is ?
1. Most of the speeches in this scene are very formal, but Macbeth's speech at the end is very different. Can you explain the difference in style?
1. Lady Macbeth immediately calls for help from evil spirits. Why does she need their help?
2. How much do you find out about the relationship between Macbeth and Lady Macbeth in this scene?
l. How does what you know about Macbeth and Lady Macbeth's plans affect the way you read this scene?
1. What is troubling Macbeth's conscience at this stage?
2. How does Lady Macbeth put the pressure on? What do you think is the argument which finally convinces Macbeth?\
1. Banquo cannot sleep. Can you explain why he is so uneasy?
2. After you have heard Macbeth's soliloquy, do you think that Macbeth will find it easy to murder Duncan?
1. Macbeth is a famous warrior and is used to killing people in battle. Why is he so frightened and distracted now?
2. Are there any small signs that Lady Macbeth, although appearing so calm and in control, is troubled too?
3. We do not see the murder. Would it have been more horrifying if we could see the murder on stage? Would we have lost any of the horror that is in the scene as it is?
1. Why do you think Shakespeare included a humorous scene at this point in the play?
2. Why are we told about the strange events during the night?
3. Macbeth has to act as if he is shocked and appalled. How does he do this? Would you have been convinced by him?
4. Is Lady Macbeth any more believable?
5. How do you think the rest of the court will react to Malcolm and Donalbain running away?
1. If you were Shakespeare and you had got this far, how would you continue the play?
2. Would it be a good play if it ended here?
Scene i :
1. How can you tell from the way he behaves in the first part of the scene that Macbeth is now king?
2. Why is he so concerned to have Fleance killed?
3. What tactic does he use to persuade his henchmen to murder Banquo?
1. Why is Macbeth feeling so uneasy now that he is king?
2. Why does he not tell Lady Macbeth about his plans for Banquo?
3. Recall any other mention of sleep and bad dreams in the play so far?
1. Why do you think Shakespeare brought in the third murderer?
2. Why did Shakespeare have the light failing and going out?
1. Why is this banquet so important to Macbeth and Lady Macbeth?
2. Why do you think Shakespeare decided to haunt Macbeth with the ghost of Banquo rather than the ghost of Duncan?
3. How does Lady Macbeth react to (a) Macbeth? (b) the rest of the guests?
4. What does this scene tell us about Macbeth's state of mind at this part in the play?
1. Why is Lennox so careful in the way he describes what has happened?
Scene i :
1. What do you think Macbeth expects to hear from.the Witches? Inwhat
ways is Macbeth encouraged by what he learns?
2. What causes him to be fearful?
3. How does Lennox's news fit in with the witches' predictions?
1. We have not met Lady Macduff before and yet we are horrified by her death. How much do we know about her by the time she dies?
2. What makes the murder so horrible?
1. Why do you think Shakespeare gives so much time to a scene in which good and bad kings are discussed?
2. How does Shakespeare make us feel Macduff s shock at hearing the news of his
family ' s murder?
Act V, Scene 1
1. Which of Lady Macbeth's strange words and actions do you understand, even though
the doctor and the gentlewoman do not?
2. How does Lady Macbeth compare now with the way she was when we last saw her, at the feast where Macbeth saw Banquo's ghost?
1 . Why do we particularly notice when the lords say they will meet the English at Birnam
1. Not everything Macbeth says in this scene is brave and defiant.What else is running through his mind?
2. Why can't the doctor help Lady Macbeth?
1. From the evidence you have heard in this scene and the impression you had of
Macbeth's castle in the one before, which side is most likely to win the battle? Why?
1. How does Macbeth take the news of his wife' s death (perhaps even suicide)?
1. How does Shakespeare, using only a few actors and a small stage, convey the idea of a battle with many soldiers?
1. How does Macbeth behave when he realises the witches have tricked him fatally?
2. Old Siward is glad his son died fighting bravely. Who else was praised as a good soldier earlier in the play?
3. Malcolm calls Macbeth and Lady Macbeth "this dead butcher and his fiend-like queen".
Do you agree with this description?