Central Theme in the First Act Betrayal
Character Flaw in MacBeth He is drawn to power.
What role do the witches play in the first act? They hint about what is to come in the future.
How would you characterize Duncan? He is a good king, honest and virtuous. He values loyalty and bravery.
Why does Lady MacBeth worry about her husband’s ability to take the throne? He is not cold-hearted enough; he has the desire but is too ‘good’ to follow through.
In Act I, what is the primary motivator for MacBeth’s behavior? His wife.
How does Lady MacBeth show she is stronger than her husband in the first Act? She does not show the same ambivalence as MacBeth.
In the Act II, what is the primary theme Shakespeare explores? There are consequences to one’s actions, even if they’re not external.
In Act II, why are the servants drugged? So they will not wake up and catch the murder in progress.
When MacBeth says the blood of his hands will redden the seas, what does he mean? It means that he won’t be able to get rid of the guilt.
When Lady MacBeth says to MacBeth “I shame to wear a heart so white”, what does she mean? She’s not afraid like MacBeth is.
Why is Banquo the last person MacBeth sees before he kills Duncan? It’s a reminder to him that he can still do what’s right and honest and call off the plan.
Why doesn’t Lady MacBeth just kill Duncan herself? He looks like her dad while he’s sleeping.
How does MacBeth convince the murderers to kill Banquo? He tells them that Banquo has caused their terrible lot in life.
Why does MacBeth seem so irrational at the celebration banquet? He’s feeling guilty, so he’s hallucinating.
What does MacBeth mean when he says, “We are but young in deed”? Their crime spree is only just beginning.
By Act III, MacBeth has experienced a fundamental change. What is it? At the beginning, he was hesitant to commit immoral acts; by the Act III, he does whatever it takes to maintain his power.
Why is MacBeth glad that Banquo won’t return until after dark to join the party. It will be easier to kill him without being caught/stopped after nightfall.
What makes MacBeth worry about Banquo, the man who used to be his best friend? He knows Banquo is a good and loyal man, and wouldn’t approve of MacBeth’s actions.
In Act IV, several lines serve to foreshadow what? They foreshadow that MacBeth is not unstoppable.
How does Malcolm become convinced that MacDuff is not a traitor trying to lay a trap for him? MacDuff says that no matter what kind of bad or evil person Malcolm is, he’s still the true and rightful king.
What does Lady MacBeth’s sleepwalking scene in Act V indicate about her? It indicates that although she didn’t realize it would happen, she’s plagued by a guilty conscience and it’s driving her insane.
In Act V, how has MacBeth’s attitude and character changed? He is cold-hearted, brutal–the opposite of how Lady MacBeth characterized him at the beginning of the play.
When does MacBeth first begin to realize he might have been tricked by the witches? He realizes it when he hears that Birnham Wood appears to be moving toward the castle.
In what way does the MacBeth of Act V resemble the MacBeth of Act I? He fights fearlessly and valiantly.
Why does Shakespeare have MacBeth display some admirable qualities at the end of the play? It shows that he once was a good man, but that he had a tragic flaw which was his undoing.
What is the resolution of the play? The resolution occurs when MacDuff kills MacBeth.
In a textbook, what is the purpose of the side-line annotations? To clarify unfamiliar ideas and/or language.
What is the purpose of stage directions in a play? To ‘show’ the reader what is happening on stage.
Shakespeare writes in ‘blank verse”. In order for blank verse to make sense, how should it be read? Read the sentence as a whole, no matter where the punctuation falls (rather than stopping at the end of each line).
What is imagery? Language that helps paint a picture for the reader.

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