In Act 3 of Macbeth, what is revealed about conditions in Scotland?

3 Answers | Add Yours

perfectsilence's profile pic

perfectsilence | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Assistant Educator

Posted on

In Act III of Macbeth, a number of things are revealed about conditions in Scotland, and how the conditions came to be.  Banquo's words from Act III, Scene I set the the mood from the very start.  He enters by himself, and begins to speak,

Thou hast it now: king, Cawdor, Glamis, all,
As the weird women promised, and I fear
Thou played’st most foully for ’t. (1-3)
He cites the prophecies of the witches, saying they have come true, but also saying that he believes they were achieved through nefarious means.  First and foremost, Macbeth is a deceitful ruler.

In Act III, Scene II Macbeth reflects upon the terrible acts he has already committed and shows that he remains paranoid, 
We have scorched the snake, not killed it.
She’ll close and be herself whilst our poor malice
Remains in danger of her former tooth.
But let the frame of things disjoint, both the worlds suffer,
Ere we will eat our meal in fear, and sleep
In the affliction of these terrible dreams
That shake us nightly. Better be with the dead,
Whom we, to gain our peace, have sent to peace, (15-23)
Due to his paranoia, things will continue to get worse.  He orders the murder of Banquo and Fleance.  When Macbeth finds out that Fleance has escaped, he begins to grow even more worried.  This is followed by the appearance of Banquo's ghost, which drives Macbeth even further over the edge.  At the end of Act III, Scene IV Macbeth says he will again go consult the Weird Sisters.  He is now nearly out of control, and his top "advisors" are evil witches.
 
Finally, in Act III, Scene V, the conversation between Lennox and the Lord reveals just how bad things have gotten in Scotland.  Lennox speaks of rumors and Macbeth's manner saying "[t]hings have been strangely borne," meaning that strange things have been happening.  Also, he states that Macbeth showed pity to Duncan, but only after Duncan was dead.  Lines 6-17 reveal a myriad of other allegations:
And the right-valiant Banquo walked too late,
Whom, you may say, if ’t please you, Fleance killed,
For Fleance fled. Men must not walk too late.
Who cannot want the thought how monstrous
It was for Malcolm and for Donalbain
To kill their gracious father? Damnèd fact!
How it did grieve Macbeth! Did he not straight
In pious rage the two delinquents tear
That were the slaves of drink and thralls of sleep?
Was not that nobly done? Ay, and wisely too,
For ’twould have angered any heart alive
To hear the men deny ’t. 
Here Lennox speculates that they "may say" that Fleance killed his father, showing that he doesn't believe that is what happened.  Neither does he believe that Malcolm and Donalbain killed their father.  He facetiously cites Macbeth's "grief" which led to Macbeth killing the guards out of "pious rage."  Again, Lennox no longer believes this is what actually happened.  Nor does he believe that any of Macbeth's actions, since the quelling of the rebellion, were done nobly.  

The Lord then clarifies both the forces that are mustering against Macbeth as well as the reason why the opposition is growing:
Thither Macduff
Is gone to pray the holy king upon his aid
To wake Northumberland and warlike Siward,
That by the help of these—with Him above
To ratify the work—we may again
Give to our tables meat, sleep to our nights,
Free from our feasts and banquets bloody knives, (29-35)
Macduff has gone to England to seek help, so that the people of Scotland may again have food, restful sleep, and be free of treachery.  Since Macbeth has taken over, conditions have gotten worse and worse for the people of Scotland, and they are finally taking measures to begin to set things right.





pmiranda2857's profile pic

pmiranda2857 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

In Act III, Scene VI, a discussion takes place between  Lennox and another Lord.  They are discussing the fact that Scotland, under Macbeth's rule is suffering.  The country is ruled by a tyrant, and Lennox is hopeful, as he says in this passage, that  Malcolm, with the help of the English King, can take the throne away from Macbeth reclaiming it for the rightful heir, Malcolm.

Lennox: ...that well might
Advise him to a caution to hold what distance
His wisdom can provide. Some holy angel
Fly to the court of England and unfold
His message ere he come, that a swift blessing
May soon return to this our suffering country
Under a hand accurs'd!(Act III.VI)

denae-bozz's profile pic

denae-bozz | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted on

Complete turmoil, the English with Malcolm were invading and lots of Macbeth's support had flown.

We’ve answered 334,119 questions. We can answer yours, too.

Ask a question