Macbeth Act I

This rhymed couplet is the witches’ most famous utterance. “fair is foul and foul is fair hover through the fog and filthy air”what theme does it introduce? what do these lines suggest about the world of this play? appearances are deceiving, good and evil become blurred. The witches reverse the values of fair and foul, or good and bad. Evil may be perceived as good in this dark and murky atmosphere
Explain the captain’s simile”As two spent swimmers that do cling together and choke (render useless) their art.” It compares the fighters to two weary, struggling swimmers clinging to each other in exhaustion.
What is the fortune personified as?”And fortune, on his darned quarrel smiling, showed like a rebel’s slut.” As a prostitute, a woman who sells her favors. A rebel’s slut would be a camp follower. Note that Fortune appeared to be favoring the rebel Macdonwald.
A paradox is an apparent contradiction that on closer inspection is actually true. How does this paradox relate to the witches statement “Fair is foul, and foul is fair””Shipwrecking storms and direful thunders break, so that from spring whence comfort seemed to come discomfort swells.” The witches’ statement is also a paradox. What is seemingly good turns out to be bad. The paradox indicates that a place of comfort actually breeds discomfort.
Based on what you know about Macbeth so far, how do you think he will react to the new assault (Norway is attacking and they have fresh men)? He will be unfazed or he may be hesitant but will fight anyway
What are your first impressions of Macbeth? He is a brave and intimidating soldier who is defending Scotland from rebellion and invasion; or, he is a barbaric soldier whose vicious tactics are disturbing.
In what way does the word choice in these lines highlight the mood? “Norway himself, with terrible numbers, assisted by that most disloyal traitor the Thane of Cawdor, began a dismal conflict.” Each of the lines ends with a forbidding phrase: terrible numbers, disloyal traitor, dismal conflict..that serves to increase ominous mood in this scene
How has the king fulfilled part of the witches’ prophecy, though he is unaware of it? He has given Macbeth the second title by which the witches hailed him. probably sound delighted at the fine thing he is doing for Macbeth.
A “bark” is a word for a ship. However, a bark in a tempest is often used as a metaphor for a soul in turmoil. What does “his bark cannot be lost” suggest about the witches’ powers? The metaphor suggests that the witches do not have ultimate control over people’s lives or decisions. They cannot take the sailor’s life and soul unless he surrenders to evil.
What words is Macbeth echoing here? Why, given the weather does Macbeth think the day is “fair””so foul and fair a day I have not seen” he is echoing the words of the witch and since there is a victory the day seems “fair”
What do you think this first prophecy could mean? Macbeth will be king
Predict all the different situations that could fulfill these paradoxical prophesies (one’s given to macbeth and banquo) Macbeth will have power but Banquo will be happier and his descendants will be kings
What do we know that Macbeth does not? Duncan has ordered Cawdor’s execution and given his title to Macbeth
Compare and contrast Banquo’s and Macbeth’s reactions to the witches Both men are serious. Banquo, however, tries to explain their presence, wondering if he and Macbeth were hallucinating. Macbeth seems to accept their authority and wants them to explain their prophesies.
Rephrase the metaphor in these lines”The thane of Cawdor lives, why do yo dress me on borrowed robes?” Why are you calling me by someone else’s name or title?
What are the two ways Macbeth imagines he could become king? murdering duncan or by waiting to see if chance brings him to the throne.
Relate “Fair is foul and foul is fair” to these lines. How do these lines reflect a major theme in Macbeth?”There’s no art to find the mind’s construction in the face. He was a gentleman on whom I built an absolute trust” Duncan is unable to distinguish appearance from reality; cannot read people’s characters.
What might Macbeth make of these words?”Might have been mine! Only I have left to say, More is thy due than more than all can pay” With his imagination so worked up, he might construe this as a promise of the throne; or, he might appreciate Duncan’s deep gratitude
These lines reveal Macbeth’s true reaction to Duncan’s news about his son. How does the contrast between the two speeches again illustrate that “fair is foul, and foul is fair” Which view of Macbeth does Duncan take as true?” [Aside] The Prince of Cumberland! That is a step on which I must fall down, or else o’earleap, For in my way it lies. Stars, hide your fires, Let not light see my black and deep desires, the eye wink at the hand, yet that be which the eye fears, when it is done, to see.” Macbeth appears to be loyal to Duncan but he is not. Duncan trusts Macbeth believing him to be good and true
How does Macbeth feel about the prophecy that he will be king? He is delighted and cannot wait to tell his wife, whom he calls his “dearest partner of greatness.” He seems to believe the prophecy will become true.
Do you agree with Lady Macbeth’s interpretation of Macbeth’s character? What does Lady Macbeth do with the letter? Whom is she addressing here with thou and thy? How would you explain the “milk of human kindness”? Her characterization of him as too kind does not seem to fit the man who slit in half and beheaded Macdownwald and now plots to murder to become king. Lady Macbeth may literally “lay the letter to her heart” by clutching it to her chest. Thou and Thy address the absent Macbeth. Perhaps it is the tenderness associated with mother’s milk.
Why is Lady Macbeth so shocked by the messenger’s statement? “So please you, it is true; our Thane is coming. One of my fellows had the speed of him. Who, almost dead for breath, ad scarcely more than would make up his message.” Duncan’s arrival has come upon her suddenly; she fears she may not have time to prepare. The messengers reference to Duncan may seem to echo her thoughts, making her think he could read her mind; or she has been imagining Macbeth as king and thinks the messenger is referring to him.
Why does Lady Macbeth asks the spirits to “unsex her”? her feminine nature would not allow her to accomplish hat she is set to do. She will no longer create and nurture life; she will destroy it.
What role do you think Lady Macbeth will play in Macbeth’s downfall? How has the Lady Macbeth reinforced the witches’ statement: “Fair is foul, and foul is fair”? She is getting ready to participate in Duncan’s murder. Like the witches, she will provoke Macbeth into doing the evil deed that will lead to his tragic downfall. She has prayed that he finest qualities be made foul.
How does this line relate to Duncan’s statement, “there’s no art, to find the mind’s construction in the face””May read strange matters. To beguile the time, Look like the time, bear welcome in your eye, your hand, your tongue. Look like the innocent flower but be the serpent under’t. He that’s coming must be provided for. And you shall put This night’s great business into my dispatch, which shall to ll our nights and days to come give solely sovereign sway and masterdom” It supports Duncan’s comment by suggesting that the face can be used as a mask to conceal evil thoughts.
How is Macbeth feeling? He may be astonished but curios at her passion and intent
This scene contrasts strongly with the previous one. Again, what irony do you feel as Duncan admires the castle? How do you imagine Lady Macbeth acts as she enters to greet her guests? The dramatic irony illustrates the paradox “fair is foul and foul is fair” lady Macbeth probably pretends to be pleased and flattered by the royal visit.
What does Duncan say spurred Macbeth homeward? What is Duncan’s tone? What irony is the audience aware of?”Where’s the Thane of Cawdor? We coursed him at the heels, and had a purpose to be his purveyor. But he rides well, and his great love, sharp as his spur, hath helped him to his home before us. Fair and noble hostess we are your guest tonight” Macbeth’s love for his wife. Duncan is probably speaking affectionately, unaware that Lady Macbeth plans to urge Macbeth to murder him
What comparison is Macbeth making in these lines? He compares his intent to commit murder to a horse; his ambition to spur. But like an inexperienced rider, he may over leap or vault over the horse and fall to the other side.