Macbeth Study Guide Comprehension Questions: Acts 1-3

What is the point of the first scene in reference to the whole play? It sets an evil over the whole play; they are going to bring about Macbeth’s destruction
What does Duncan call Macbeth when he hears that Macbeth has defeated Macdonwald? A valiant cousin, worthy gentleman
Who is sentenced to death? Thane of Cawdor
What do the witches predict in Act 1, Scene 3 for Macbeth? For Banquo? Macbeth as Thane of Cawdor, and king. Banquo is lesser than Macbeth yet greater, he won’t be king but his sons will.
What news does Ross bring Macbeth? The battle is over and Duncan bestowed him the Thane of Cawdor in addition to having the Thane of Glamis
What does Banquo say about the “instrument of darkness”? tell us truth to win us over, and give us little victories/rewards to lead us to greater destruction
Macbeth says “Stars hide your fires/ Let light see my black desires” what desires is he talking about? his desire to take over, be king, and get more power
After Lady Macbeth reads his letter, what does she say about her husband and how does she plan to “help” him? that he is not ruthless enough to take control of what he wants; and she will talk him into it
What is Lady Macbeth’s prayer to the spirits after she learns Duncan is coming? for the spirits to make her as cruel and ruthless as she can be
What advice does Lady Macbeth give Macbeth when he arrives home? be the perfect host and act innocent but be ready to strike when needed
What are Macbeth’s reasons for why he should not kill Duncan? Duncan is Macbeth’s king, relative, and guest
What arguments does Lady Macbeth use to convince Macbeth to commit the murder? she questions Macbeth’s manhood: man or mouse? And there is no way they can fail
What is Lady Macbeth’s plan? drug the guards, kill Duncan, and frame the guards by using their daggers and put Duncan’s blood on them
What is Macbeth’s lie to Banquo about the witches’ prediction? He hasn’t thought about it
What is the signal Lady Macbeth is to give Macbeth to let him know that she has taken care of the guards? Ringing a Bell
What excuse does Lady Macbeth give for not killing Duncan herself? He looked to much like her Father
Why is Macbeth unable to say “Amen” at the end of a prayer he hears? He has a guilty conscience that won’t let him say it
Why won’t Macbeth take the daggers back to the scene of the crime? He can’t look at what he has done
Who was knocking on the palace door? Macduff and Lennox
How does Lennox describe the night? Unruly, and Strange events: Chimney blown down; Owl screeched; earthquake; and ghostly voices were heard
What is Macbeth’s response to Lennox’s description of the night? Twas a rough night
What does Macduff discover? Duncan is dead
Macduff says to Lady Macbeth, “O gentle lady, ‘Tis not for you to hear what i can speak. The repetition, in a woman’s ear, Would murder as it fell.” What is ironic about this? She already knew he was dead, because she planned it
What excuse does Macbeth give for killing the guards? Because he was in a grief stricken rage
What is the real reason Macbeth killed the guards? To keep them from talking
Why do Malcolm and Donalbain flee? So that no one has accusations. Malcolm is next in line for the throne; and they suspect Macbeth murdered the King and feared they might be next to be killed or next to be blamed for the murder
Why does Ross not believe that Malcolm and Donalbain are responsible for Duncan’s murder? It made no sense that they would kill their father because they loved him very much
Why does Macbeth want Banquo and Fleance dead? Because the witches fortune could come true for Banquo (his sons to become kings) and Macbeth doesn’t want them to have power because it is a threat to Macbeth’s power (he doesn’t want rivals.)
What is Macbeth’s plan for killing Banquo and Fleance? He hires two murderers to ambush them on the way back home from the journey
Does Macbeth’s plan for killing Banquo and Fleance work? Explain. No, they kill Banquo but Fleance escapes
Macbeth says “The worm that’s fled/ Hath nature that in time will venom breed, / No teeth for the present.” What does he mean? Fleance that escaped, but will be trouble later
Who or What does Macbeth see at the banquet table? A ghost of Banquo
How does Lady Macbeth cover for Macbeth at the banquet? she said that he has had an illness for a long time which makes him hallucinate– and it gets worse when he’s tired
Who else is missing from the banquet, besides Banquo? Macduff