Macbeth Questions and Answers

Macbeth Questions and Answers


1. Why did Macbeth want to murder Banquo and his son? How was Banquo murdered?[2+3=5]


The witches  predicted that Banquo would beget a line of Scotish king, although Banquo would never be king himself. Fearful of the witches’ prophecy Macbeth wanted to murder Banquo and his sons and hired killers for the purpose.

Macbeth could not reign in peace. Macbeth and his wife arranged a banquet. All the chief thanes alongwith Banquo and Fleance were invited. At the same time Macbeth had appointed some hired assassins to kill Banquo and his son on their way. They pounced on them and Banquo was killed but his son Fleance escaped.

2 .Bring out the significance of the opening scene of ‘Macbeth.’


Ans. The opening scene of a play is very important to set up a mood and atmosphere. Three witches appear in a hostile weather. They sing

“Fair is foul, and foul is fair

Hover through the fog and filthy air”

It clearly states that they are invoking ‘foul’ to reign. They greet Macbeth in riddling terms. Then, riddles create a world of darkness and foulness. They incite Macbeth with their prophecies. At once Macbeth is engrossed with them. As if he is possessed by a spirit now. He then just carries out the wishes by doing harms to others. In this way, the scene determines the course of action in the play.


3. How did the three witches look like? What role do they play in the play? [2 + 3 = 5]


Ans. The three witches had ‘strange appearance’. Though they looked like women, they had beard, and pale skin. They put on wild dresses. They seemed to be creatures not from our earth.

The witches create an atmosphere of complete moral disorder. At the very outset of the play they clearly reveal their intention-‘Fair is foul and foul is fair.’ While returning from the great battle they hailed Macbeth and Banquo, and made a number of predictions in equivocal terms. So, from the very beginning fairness and foulness are mingled and overlapped. Macbeth and his wife are excessively incited by these supernatural agents of evil and were stirred to murder one after another. Being influenced by the prophecies of these ‘ministers of darkness’, Macbeth killed Duncan, Banquo, Macduff’s wife and children. Though they only foretell, never suggest to murder. They tempt with great subtlety. The theme of equivocation operates most obviously through the witches.



4 . Why did Lady Macbeth plot to kill the king? What did Macbeth say to oppose her?

[2 + 3 = 5]


Ans. Lady Macbeth came to know about the prediction of the witches. She was also encouraged to learn that the prophecies had been partially fulfilled already. Lady Macbeth was an extremely ambitious woman. She argued with her husband that the only way to ascend on the throne for Macbeth was to kill the king. So, this deed of one night would ensure their years of future. Macbeth was not initially convinced by the arguments of his wife. He argued that as a host and close relative it was his duty to guard the king from the enemies and killers and not to kill him. He also added that all the honours and positions, that he enjoyed in the country were for the kindness and favour of this good king. So he should not kill him. Finally, he argued that if he killed the king, his subjects would strive to take revenge of his death as a good and benevolent king Duncan was loved by all. If the king was killed his subjects would strive to take revenge of his death.

5 Give a brief account of the ‘Banquet Scene’ in ‘Macbeth’. (Annual Exam. XI 2016 )


Ans. The ‘Banquet Scene’ in ‘Macbeth’ shows Macbeth’s desperate attempt to present himself friendly and social among the noblemen. Little before he had killed Banquo but his son Fleance escaped. Macbeth and his wife welcomed everyone with due courtesy. Macbeth lamented for his dear friend Banquo who was also invited. At once he noticed the ghost of Banquo occupying the seat reserved for him. Macbeth became pale in fear and began to behave strangely. Lady Macbeth, fearing of the secret to be disclosed, brought the feast to a quick end.

Through Banquo’s ghost, a supernatural element is introduced in the scene that helps to spread an atmosphere of terror. Here Banquo’s ghost is the product of Macbeth’s increasing sense of guilt and fear of being caught. Macbeth wanted to hide his guilt before everyone but it became more public.


6 . What was the mystery behind the moving of Birnam woods? (Annual Exam. XI 2015 )


Ans. During Macbeth’s wait for Malcolm in his castle, one day, a messenger informed that he had seen the woods of Birnam, moving towards Dunsinane Hill. He hardly could believe that. But soon he too perceived the mysterious sight. At once Macbeth realized that his doom was near.

The wood, in fact, was not moving. It was Malcolm’s plan. When Malcolm’s army advanced towards Macbeth’s castle through the woods, each soldier cut branch of tree and held it before him. It appeared that only the wood was moving and it could hide the actual number of invaders to Macbeth. The sight had led Macbeth one step ahead to his doom. 


7 What did each of the three witches predict to Macbeth when he first met them? What did they say to Banquo? [3 + 2 = 5]


Ans. After being victorious in a great battle, Macbeth and Banquo were returning. On a desolate heath, three strange figures hailed them. The first witch saluted Macbeth as ‘the thane of Glamis’. But the second witch strangely referred Macbeth as the thane of Cawdor’, which he was yet to be. The prophecy of the third witch was the most striking. Macbeth was called ‘the future king of Scotland’. The inordinate evil desire was taken out from the core of his heart.

Banquo was also curious if the witches had anything to predict about him. He was told in riddling term that he was ‘to be lesser than Macbeth and greater, not so happy but much happier.’ They also said that Banquo would never reign as a king but his successors would succeed the throne.



8 How was the ambition of Macbeth spurred by the three witches ?


Ans. Macbeth confronted the witches in a desolate heath. They began to tempt himself with their strange prophecies. They hailed Macbeth as ‘the thane of Glamis’, ‘the thane of Cawdor’ and then the future king of Scotland’. Instantly the prophecies kindled in his heart the soaring greed to be the king. Soon a messenger came and conferred upon Macbeth the title of ‘the thane of Cawdor’. This fanned the flame of his secret desire. The predictions and their partial fulfilment at once engross him in the thought of kingship. With this was his wife’s provocations that made him unscrupulous. Now he convinced himself by arguing that if the witches’ prediction would come true then he could become the king also.


9 ‘Her husband had resolved to proceed no further.’—Who is ‘her husband’ here? Why had he resolved to proceed no further? [1 + 4 = 5]


Ans. Here ‘her husband’ refers to Macbeth, who had just decided not to perform a heinous act like killing Duncan.

There must be a number of reasons for Macbeth’s retreat. First of all Macbeth, though a valiant soldier, was a soft hearted, reasonable person. To murder an innocent was contrary to his nature. Secondly, he was a close relative to king Duncan who had given him high esteem and rewarded profusely. Thirdly, he himself was the host to the king. So Macbeth should be responsible for his safety and comfort rather than his assassination. Fourthly, had he been killed, the treachery would be revealed easily. So he refused to proceed.



10 Describe the hallucination seen and heard by Macbeth when he went to kill king Duncan.

Ans. Just before committing the murder of Duncan, Macbeth had a frightful hallucination. Taking a dagger in his hand, as he crept up, Macbeth visualized another dagger hanging in the air. Its handle was towards his hand. There were drops of blood on the tip and blade of the dagger. This ominous vision compelled Macbeth to grasp it; but it disappeared.

imaginary The vision of the dagger was just an creation produced by Macbeth’s hot and oppressed brain with abnormal fancies.

It is nothing but a symbolic instigator of crime and thus a phantasm. Macbeth had seen this because he was not a habitual criminal but was imaginative, ambitious and troubled by a sense of guilt.



11 Describe the character of Macbeth.


Ans. Macbeth appears in the play as a brave general, a bold and resolute man, the thane of Glamis and a kinsman of Duncan, the old king of Scotland. His character is led by unscrupulous ambition. This is a contemptible flaw in his character. The prophecy of the three witches takes out the tremendous evil force from within and he is instigated to seize the crown. But Macbeth, in reality is a kind-hearted man of good nature. That is why we observe a swaying conflict in his mind between his ambition and conscience. But soon this frustrated conscience is engulfed by vaulting ambition and he goes on murdering one after anotherDuncan, Banquo, Macduff’s wife and children. In this procession of murders he is strengthened by his wife’s dominating influence. He forgets sleep and his agony is increased. From a brave General of high esteem he reduces to a ruthless tyrant. When he is defeated by Macduff, like a tragic hero, he refuses to surrender, but ultimately killed. The steady moral degeneration, due to inordinate ambition, brings his downfall. So this character, a potential criminal begins like a hero but ends like a villain.

12.Sketch the character of Lady Macbeth.


 The evil in Macbeth’s blood was, in fact, thrived in the heart of Lady Macbeth. She is extremely ambitious and cruel. As soon as she comes to know about the witches’ prophecies she persuades her husband to attain kingship by murdering Duncan. She knows her husband well, a soft hearted man without spirit, though is not devoid of ambition. The golden opportunity of grasping the crown may remain unsuccessful. So she begins to instigate Macbeth and pours her own spirit very his mind. Like a shrewd politician she incites her husband by saying ‘how the action of one night would give them all the coming days and nights to become sovereign power and royalty.’ Aware of her husband’s weakness she wishes to take control of the situation. Her dominance is so deep that she scolds, reproves him and brings back to his original decision. With utmost effort she got her plan accomplished. She also manages tactfully in the banquet scene.

But her influence is declined when her target is fulfilled-Duncan’s assassination and Macbeth’s ascension. She was then overcome by a growing sense of guilt and committed suicide after suffering from somnambulism. But since beginning her role as an instigator is no less than the witches. So she is often called the ‘fourth witch’ of the play.

13 Why did Macbeth meet the witches again? What did they tell Macbeth? [2+3=5]


Ans. As Macbeth could not get rid of Banquo’s successor he was in a terrible state of mind, without peace and sleep. To know his final outcome he could rely only upon the witches and met them in a cave near the heath. He was desperately eager to know about his impending future.

The witches called three spirits. The first spirit, an armed head, welcomed Macbeth, and made him aware of Macduff, the thane of Fife. The second spirit, in the form of a bloody child, told him that no man naturally born of a woman could kill him. The third spirit, a crowned child with a branch of tree in hand, assured Macbeth that he could never be defeated until the Birnam wood moved to Dunsinane Hill.

14 .Show how Macbeth gradually became a villain.


Ans. Macbeth sets out as a hero at the outset of the play but ends as a villain. He is a valiant General and a man of high esteem. We cannot but like this character and regard him. But soon his inordinate ambition leads him to the path of damnation. Tempted by the witches and instigated by his wife Macbeth kills Duncan, his relative and the king of Scotland. Then to protect his kingship Macbeth murders Banquo. It is an irony that a brave warrior has completely been guided by the witches’ prophecies, defying his own ability. Again in a fit of rage Macbeth brutally kills Macduff’s wife and children. From a man of great valour he is transformed into a hell-hound, a beast. He gets alienated from everyone and existed just like a vicious villain.


15 Sleep no more, Macbeth murders sleep.’ – Who is the speaker? Why does the speaker say so? [1 + 4 = 5]


Ans. Just after the assassination of Duncan, when Macbeth was about to leave the room, he heard anuncertain voice telling this. Macbeth thinks that by assassinating sleeping Duncan he has actually murdered sleep. As a result he himself would never be able to sleep in peace all his life. Sleep is possible to an undisturbed innocent mind. Now his conscience will trouble him, with the sense of remorse and guilt. In fact his mind is haunted by the horrible sight of blood. His disturbed mind wanders in the realm of evil.



16 .Comment on the last scene of ‘Macbeth’.


Ans. The terrific disorder that Macbeth brought has come to an end. But Macbeth is a ‘man of valour’, never ready to yield. He is dejected when he comes to know that Macduff is not a man naturally born of a woman. He was untimely taken out from mother’s womb. He bids to surrender. Again he puts up a fight as Macduff wishes to exhibit Macbeth in a cage, like a monster. This is a great humiliation for Macbeth as once he was a valiant General. This reminds us the trait of a tragic hero and we feel pity for him. His head is cut off and peace is restored in Scotland. We still recall the roars of Macbeth. Inspite of his wickedness, we feel for him.


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