Drama: Act III – Macbeth – Practice

In Shakespeare’s plays, soliloquies reveal a character’s true thoughts and feelings and often indicate how circumstances are developing for the character. Write an essay in which you explain what the following soliloquy from The Tragedy of MacBeth reveals about Lady Macbeth’s situation and state of mind in Act III, Scene ii.Nought’s had, all’s spent, / Where our desire is got without content: / ‘Tis safer to be that which we destroy / Than be destruction dwell in doubtful joy. Students should explain what this soliloquy reveals about Lady Macbeth’s situation and state of mind. For example, they may say that Lady Macbeth is not as happy about her husband being king as she had expected. She knows they are still in a dangerous situation. Killing Duncan brought them their desire (power), but it did not make them “content” or bring them “safety.” Students may also note that her claim that it is safer to be destroyed than to destroy and feel insecure shows how upset Lady Macbeth is.
Reading between the lines in The Tragedy of Macbeth, Act III, Scene i, explain how Macbeth has apparently managed to claim the Scottish throne even though Malcolm and Donalbain are closer relatives to the slain King Duncan. Sample answer: Because Malcolm and Donalbain fled Scotland, suspicion fell on them as the ones behind the murder of King Duncan. Macbeth, a more distant relative, was then able to claim the throne.
In The Tragedy of Macbeth, Act III, why does Macbeth order the death of Fleance as well as Banquo? Sample answer: The witches’ predictions indicated that Banquo’s descendants will be rulers of Scotland, a situation that Macbeth sees as a threat to his dynasty and the disappointment of all he risked in killing Duncan. By killing Banquo’s son, he hopes to ensure that this prediction will not come true.
In The Tragedy of Macbeth, Act III, Scene i, Macbeth speaks with only two murderers, but later there are three, and the sudden appearance of this third murderer has been a subject of much debate over the centuries. What is your explanation of the third murderer? Write a one- or two-paragraph explanation in which you support your theory with examples and reasons. Among the theories students may offer is that the third character is a new character that the other murderers added to their number in order to carry out the crime; that the third murderer is Macbeth or another character in disguise; or that third murderer is a mistake on Shakespeare’s part or an inconsistency resulting from some carelessly dropped portion of the play. Students should support their ideas with logical reasons, details from the play, and/or examples from outside experience.
Despite centuries of tension, England and Scotland united under one monarchy when Scotland’s James VI became James I of England not long before Shakespeare wrote Macbeth. King James, who became the patron of Shakespeare’s acting company, was also known as the author of a book about witchcraft. Keeping all this in mind, write a few paragraphs about how the play seems to reflect Shakespeare’s efforts to flatter his new patron. Support general statements with details from the first three acts. Students may mention that the play flatters James simply by being about Scotland, bringing something from James’s background to English audiences. They may feel that its portrayal of Scottish heroes like Banquo, Malcolm, and Macduff and, more specifically, of the help that England gave the good heirs of Duncan, is flattering to Scotland and so to James. They may also mention that the elements involving the supernatural catered to a perceived interest of James’s.
In The Tragedy of Macbeth, Act III, which struggle points to an internal conflict? Explain your answer.a. Macbeth’s attempts to have Banquo and Fleance killedb. the witches’ influence on Macbeth’s and Banquo’s livesc. Lady Macbeth’s attempts to convince her husband to behave differentlyd. Macbeth’s guilt causing him to see Banquo’s ghost d, Explanation: This response shows an understanding that an internal conflict is a struggle that takes place in a character’s mind or conscience. Choices a, b, and c are incorrect because they all point to struggles with outside forces, or external conflicts.
Write an essay exploring the role that the supernatural plays in Macbeth thus far. How does it affect the play’s overall atmosphere, or mood? How is it related to the play’s central conflicts? Answer these questions in a brief essay in which you support your ideas by citing details from Acts I-III of Macbeth. Students should recognize that the supernatural elements help establish the play’s eerie atmosphere, where “fair is foul and foul is fair,” or things are not what they seem. They should also recognize the role that the witches’ prophesies play in tempting the Macbeths to commit murder, which is central to the conflicts of the play.
In Act III, Scene ii, Macbeth says that he and his wife must make their faces vizards, or masks, to their hearts. The Tragedy of Macbeth contains many instances in which the characters mask their thoughts, feelings, or desires. Write an essay about the theme of “masks”—betrayal, falsehood, and concealment—in Act III of the play. Which characters use them? What do they conceal and why? Are the masks necessarily evil? Use examples from the text to illustrate your points. Students should point out in their responses examples of characters using masks in Act III. For example, they might mention that characters such as Banquo and Lennox mask their suspicions of Macbeth for good reasons: survival and the hope of freeing their nation from tyranny. Macbeth and his wife wear evil masks: to keep his power, he pretends to be Banquo’s friend, cheerfully welcomes his banquet guests after the murder, and conceals the nature of his upset from them; Lady Macbeth joins her husband in his lies and betrayals and even conceals from him her own feelings about the insecurity of their position.
Write a paragraph or two explaining why Macbeth tries to arrange the murder of Banquo and Banquo’s son, Fleance. Try to cover all his reasons, and back them up with details from The Tragedy of Macbeth, Act III. Student should mention Macbeth’s fear of Banquo’s suspicions about his involvement in Duncan’s murder, his desire to remove someone who was present when the witches’ prophesies were made, and his attempt to prevent the fulfillment of the prophesy about Banquo’s descendants becoming kings. They should cite details from Act III—especially the comments of Macbeth and Banquo—to support their conclusions.
Which person is most dauntless? Explain your answer.a. a fearless soldierb. a loyal subjectc. a hired murdererd. an uneasy king a, Explanation: This choice shows an understanding that dauntless means “fearless.” Choices b, c, and d do not show an understanding of the meaning of dauntless.

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