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fatal; deadly


showing good judgement


various; miscellaneous


lack of restraint




tending to believe too readily

What ingredients go into the witches brew? What symbolic purpose does this vile concoction have?

Liver of a blasphemous Jew, nose of a turk, the finger of a bay strangled at birth after being born in a ditch to a prostitute, helps to show how evil the witches really are

What has Macbeth come to ask the witches, and how do they answer?

He wants to know if he will remain in power and if Banquo's heirs will rule. The witches let the apparitions answer for them

Briefly describe the three apparitions. What does each tell Macbeth?

1st apparition-an armored head-Beware Macduff. 2nd apparition-a bloody child- no man born of woman can harm Macbeth. 3rd apparition- a crowned child- Macbeth will not be conquered until Birnam Wood comes to Duncinane (Macbeth's castle)

Which nobleman does Macbeth plan to murder after talking with the witches? How is his plan foiled?

He plans to murder Macduff, but Macduff has fled to England

At the end of scene 1, what does Macbeth vow? How is his vow carried out in scene 2 ?

He plans to kill Macduff's family. Lady Macduff and her son are murdered along with all of the servants of the house

According to the conversation between Malcolm and Macduff in scene 3, what has happened to Scotland during Macbeth's reign?

Scotland has fallen on hard times, with many widows, orphans, and sorrows

In this act, Macbeth seeks out the witches, just as they initiated the encounter in Act 1. How has his moral character deteriorated?

When the witches met Macbeth in Act1, he was a hero returning from battle, having saved his nation from a traitor. Now, the first prophecies have been fulfilled, but he has become a murderer and a traitor himself, he has betrayed his country and his honor

Do you think the witches have caused any of the changes in Macbeth's character, either directly or indirectly? Explain.

Yes, the witches set in motion a chain of events. Macbeth resists as best as he can but fate overcomes him. No, Macbeth chooses to act of his own free will

In scene 1, eight kings appear in what was called in Shakespeare's time a dumb show- an interpolated belief scene in which nothing is said. What is the point of this particular dumb show?

If shows Macbeth that Banquo's descendants will provide the country with a succession of kings

In scene 2, the lines spoken by Macduff's wife and son illustrate Shakespeare's great skill at characterization. Using only a few words, he brings the woman and the child to life. How would you describe Lady Macduff? How would you describe the boy?

Lady Macduff thinks her husband is a traitor and has abandoned his family. She is quick to judge and comes to the wrong conclusion. The boy is loyal, clever, and brave

Both the murderer and Lady Macduff herself call Macduff a traitor. In what scene does each mean it? Do you think Macduff is a traitor, in either sense?

The murderer sees Macduff as a traitor to Macbeth. Lady Macduff thinks Macduff is a traitor to his family and has abandoned them

In scene 3, Malcolm deliberately lies to Macduff. What does this behavior, and the reason for it, reveal about Malcolm?

Malcolm tests Macduff's loyalty because he is prudent and suspicious, not naive as his father was

The murder of Macduff's small son is one of the most pitiful and shocking scenes in Shakespeare. Do you think reporting the murder after the fact might have been better than showing the carnage onstage? What would be lost and what would be gained by this change?

No, this murder puts Macbeth beyond redemption. It should be seen and acknowledged. Yes, it should be left to the audience's imagination because imagination sometimes visualizes the act more shockingly

In scene 3, Malcolm and Macduff decry the chaos that Macbeth's rule has brought to Scotland, as if Macbeth's disorder has become Scotland's. Does that happen today- does the weakness or the evil of a nation's leader become that of a nation itself? Explain.


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