Short Answers Study Guide Questions – Macbeth Act 1

1. What is the point of the first scene literally and in reference to the whole play? The first scene details the three witches meeting to discuss their impending plans. They were called together seemingly by some greater force to plan to meet again once the turmoil is done, they intend and plan to meet with Macbeth, where they will set into motion and ambition that will lead to his downfall.
2. What does Duncan call Macbeth when he hears Macbeth has defended Macdonwald? Duncan calls Macbeth, “Valiant Cousin”, “Worthy Gentleman!” This is ironic, being said to the man who will be his murderer.
3. Who is sentenced to death? The Thane of Cawdor is sentenced to death.
4. What do the witches predict in Act 1: Scene 3 for Macbeth? For Banquo? They predict Macbeth will be Thane of Cawdor and eventually the king. They predict that Banquo will be “lesser than Macbeth, and greater, not so happy, and yet happier” and that his descendants will be kings although he will not be one.
5. What news does Ross bring Macbeth? Ross tells Macbeth that he now holds the title of the Thane of Cawdor.
6. Banquo, like Macbeth, is surprised that the witches have predicted Macbeth’s new title. He is, however, leery. What does he say about the motives of the “instruments of darkness”? He says they often tell of good things which may happen without telling the bad consequences.
7. Malcolm describes Cawdor’s last moments before execution. What is Duncan’s reply? You can’t tell what is in a person’s heart by looking at his/her face.
8. Macbeth says, “Stars, hide your fires, Let not light see my black and deep desires.” What are Macbeth’s desires? He now desires to be the king, and he realizes something will have to be done with the present king before his desires can become reality.
9. After Lady Macbeth reads the letter, what does she tell us is her opinion of Macbeth, and how does she plan to help him? Lady Macbeth thinks Macbeth could be a good king, but he lacks the hardheartedness which would allow him to get to the position. She’ll talk to him.
10. What is Lady’s Macbeth “prayer” to the spirits after she learns Duncan is coming? She wants to be filled with cruelty, given a hard heart and the thick blood necessary to do what has to be done in order to make Macbeth king.
11. What advice does Lady Macbeth give Macbeth when he arrives home? She tell him he must learn to look innocent even when his heart is full of evil. He has to learn to hide his true feelings.
12. What are Macbeth’s arguments to himself against killing Duncan? Macbeth is Duncan’s kinsman and his subject. Duncan is a good king and virtuous man, he has done no particular evil. Duncan is a popular king, and his death would bring sorrow and unrest upon Scotland.
13. What arguments does Lady Macbeth use to convince Macbeth to commit the murder? She tells him not to be a coward, not to say later that he could have been when he could be king. She tells him to be a man and go get what he wants. She says If she had made the promise to do this, that she would have killed her own baby to carry forth with her promise.
14. What is Lady Macbeth’s plan? She will drag the kings rooms. Macbeth will then go into the king’s room and murder him in his sleep.