Act I Questions and Answers

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Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 560

Study Questions
1. What atmosphere is established in Scene 1?

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2. How does Banquo describe the Witches when he first sees them upon the heath?

3. Macbeth is reported to be a valiant soldier in Act I. The line, “Till he unseamed him from the nave to th’chops And fixed his head upon our battlements”, paints a different Macbeth. What can you infer from that line?

4. In Scene 1 the Witches say, “Foul is fair and fair is foul.” Which characters do you consider fair or foul?

5. Why do you think Shakespeare opened Scene 3 with the Witches discussing an evil deed they have committed?

6. What prophesies do the Witches make for Macbeth and Banquo?

7. What does Lady Macbeth mean when she says of Macbeth, “Yet do I fear thy nature. It is too full o’ the milk of human kindness To catch the nearest way”?

8. Macbeth is having second thoughts about killing Duncan. What are the reasons he gives? Based on these reasons what does he decide?

9. What does Lady Macbeth mean when she says, “Was hope drunk Wherein you dressed yourself? Hath it slept since? And wakes it now to look so green and pale”?

10. What decision does Macbeth make at the end of Act I? What has Lady Macbeth said to influence his decision?

Answers
1. The scene is filled with Witches, thunder and lightning, which creates a dark and sinister atmosphere.

2. He calls them “withered” and “wild” in their attire; “That they look not like the inhabitants o’ the’ earth;” and that they “should be women...yet [their] beards forbid [him] to interpret that [they] are so.”

3. Macbeth is a cold-blooded killer on the battlefield.

4. The Witches are foul because they are evil. Macbeth and Banquo seem to be fair because of their loyalty and bravery. However, Macbeth reveals his plan to murder Duncan and his character is viewed differently. Lady Macbeth is foul. Macdonwald is foul because he is a traitor. The Captain and Duncan are fair because the Captain fought bravely and the King supports him and is compassionate regarding the Captain’s injury.

5. The Witches are capable of creating situations that are evil and destructive. However, their powers are limited as they cannot destroy, but they have the power to create an atmosphere where destruction can easily occur.

6. The Witches state that Macbeth will be Thane of Cawdor and King. They go on to tell Banquo that his son’s will be kings.

7. Lady Macbeth feels that Macbeth is kind and he may not be able to overcome his fears to kill Duncan. She fears his conscience will override his ambition to be King.

8. Macbeth is torn between his ambition and his conscience. He gives several reasons why he should not kill Duncan: 1) Duncan is his cousin; 2) He is a loyal subject to the King; 3) Duncan is his friend; 4) Duncan has never abused his royal power; and 5) Duncan is a guest in his home. Based on these reasons, Macbeth decides not to follow through with the murder of Duncan.

9. Lady Macbeth is questioning Macbeth why he has changed his mind about killing Duncan. She is asking him what has happened to his ambition.

10. Lady Macbeth persuades Macbeth to follow through with the plan to murder Duncan. She calls him a coward and less than a man, prodding Macbeth to follow her plan. Macbeth agrees to murder Duncan that night.

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Act II Questions and Answers

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