Macbeth Act 2 and 3

Understatement A statement that is weaker than what is warranted by the situation- often ironic
Paraphrase To restore a phrase in terms that can be easily understood
Rising action Series of events leading up to the climax, usually covers more than one act
Prose Regular writing that is not in rhyme or poetic form
Folio The term used of a particular paper size – a large sheet folded in two leaves of a a book
Comic relief A scene that provides a humorous break in a serious play
Imagery Descriptive writing that creates vivid mental pictures, using sensory details
Exciting force Something that happens to get the action moving moving, usually in the first act
Dramatic irony When the audience knows something that all or some of the characters don’t
Allusion an indirect reference to something – a casual mention
Banquo and his son, Fleance, are at Macbeth’s inner court at Glamis. They’re both feeling a little twitchy.Macbeth then enters with a servant, and Banquo notes that the new Thane of Cawdor (Macbeth) should be resting peacefully considering the good news he got today.They reminisce about those wacky witches they met the other day, and then everyone leaves Macbeth alone on stage.Just in time, too, because things are about to get real: Macbeth has a vision of a dagger that points him toward the room where Duncan sleeps. The dagger turns bloody and Macbeth says the bloody image is a natural result of his bloody thoughts.A bell rings, which is Lady Macbeth’s signal that it’s time to rock and roll. Shmoop Macbeth Summary for Act 2 Scene 1 (for who said + did it/matching/true + false questions)
Lady Macbeth is alone on stage. She tells us that she drugged the King’s guards and would’ve even killed Duncan herself, if he hadn’t looked so much like her father in his sleep. Apparently, she’s all family values now.Macbeth enters with bloody hands and a weird story: two separate people staying in the castle woke up while he was in the act. One cried, “Murder!” but they both went back to sleep after saying their prayers.Macbeth is disturbed that he couldn’t say “Amen” when they said, “God bless us.” He could have used the blessing, given how he recently damned his soul by killing the King.Lady Macbeth is of the “If you don’t think about, it will go away” school of thought, but Macbeth is still clearly disturbed at having killed a sleeping old man for his own selfish gain.There’s also a little problem where he heard voices saying things like “Macbeth does murder sleep!”Lady Macbeth tries to get her husband to focus on the matter at hand, which is framing the King’s attendants.He won’t do it himself, so she takes the daggers from him, smears the attendants with Duncan’s blood, and plants the weapons. Come on. That would never fool CSI: Cawdor.As Macbeth philosophizes about his guilty hands, Lady Macbeth comes back, having done her part.She hears a knock at the door, and hurries Macbeth to bed so that (1) they don’t look suspicious, and (2) they can do a little washing up before all the “Oh no! The king is dead” morning hullabaloo.Macbeth regrets killing Duncan —he says he wishes that all the knocking at the door would “wake Duncan” from his eternal sleep.Sorry, dude. No take-backsies with murder. Shmoop Macbeth Summary for Act 2 Scene 2 (for who said + did it/matching/true + false questions)
Now that Shakespeare’s given us a murder and a lot of spooky crazy talk from Macbeth, we’re obviously ready for a brief, comedic interlude.There’s a ton of knocking and the Porter (the guy who’s supposed to answer the door) does a lot of joking around about what it would be like to be a porter of “hellgate.”Apparently, a porter in hell would be a busy guy since there are so many evil and corrupt people in the world.The Porter runs through a bunch of scenarios for who could be at the door (a farmer, a con-man, a tailor) and he has witty remarks for all of them. Things like: “I hope you brought a handkerchief—you’re going to get sweaty!” and “You can heat up your iron in here!” (Ba-DUM-bum.)It’s Macduff and Lennox, who have come to fetch the king.The laugh-a-minute Porter makes a bunch of jokes about how drinking an excessive amount of alcohol, like he’s been doing, makes a man frisky —but it also detracts from his “performance” in the sack, not to mention turning his nose red and making him have to pee.Enter Macbeth, the picture of sleepy innocence while he makes small talk with Lennox and sends Macduff to wake Duncan.Lennox notes that some spooky things have been happening all night —he heard a bunch of screams, there was a little earthquake, and the fire in his chimney blew out.Yep, says Macbeth, it was a pretty rough night. But not as rough as it was for Duncan, who Macduff has just found murdered.Macduff tells Macbeth and Lennox to go see Duncan’s body for themselves. It’s too gruesome for him to describe, except to say that viewing the scene is like looking at a Gorgon. (Medusa was a Gorgon, and when men looked at her they turned to stone, Chamber of Secrets style.) Macduff sounds the alarm to wake the whole castle, both by yelling his head off and calling for a bell to be rung.Everyone starts running around, Lady Macbeth and Banquo show up, and then Macbeth starts a way-too-eager eulogy about the King’s great virtues.So, who murdered the king? Lennox thinks that the drunken guards covered in the King’s blood and holding their daggers are a good bet.Macbeth casually announces that he killed both of the guards in a fit of pious rage, out of his love for the King.Apparently, no one thinks it’s weird that the guards went to sleep with the bloody daggers in hand.Lady Macbeth, upon hearing that Macbeth has done this, wisely stages a diversion—or maybe she really does nearly faint in response to her husband’s stupidity. In either case, she needs to be escorted out. (Taking credit for the killing of the guards was not part of her plan).Donalbain and Malcolm privately decide that they probably shouldn’t stay in the house where their dad was killed. Good thinking. A+ for self-preservation. The rest of the men say they suspect treason and agree to meet in the hall to discuss the situation, pronto.Malcolm will go to England and Donalbain to Ireland, making it more difficult to murder them both.The dead king’s sons slip out, unnoticed, while everyone else gets dressed and prepares to talk this thing through. Shmoop Macbeth Summary for Act 2 Scene 3 (for who said + did it/matching/true + false questions)
Ross chats with a conveniently placed wise old man, who is disturbed by the night’s strange events—both the King’s murder and the weird things going on in nature.Ross says the heavens are clearly troubled by the unnatural regicide: even though it’s the middle of the day, it’s completely dark outside; an owl murdered a hawk; Duncan’s horses ate each other. Okay, that seriously sounds like something out of The Exorcist.Macduff, yet another Scottish nobleman, offers some exposition, too: he says the dead guards “were bribed” to murder the king (wrong); that Malcolm and Donalbain look pretty suspicious, having left town so quickly and all (can’t argue with that, even though we know better); that Macbeth is on his way to Scone to be crowned King; and that Duncan is being put in a freshly dug grave.Time for a new act. Shmoop Macbeth Summary for Act 2 Scene 4 (for who said + did it/matching/true + false questions)
At Macbeth’s new palace in Forres, Banquo, alone on stage, delivers a soliloquy: he’s totally suspicious of Macbeth. But he does take the time to note that his part of the prophecy, regarding his royal seed, will also probably come true.Banquo pipes down when the newly crowned Macbeth, his lovely Queen, and a posse of noblemen enter the room.Macbeth sweet talks Banquo, calling him his honored guest and requesting his presence at a fancy banquet to be held that night. Banquo says he will, of course, do whatever Macbeth asks. However, he won’t be around to offer any advice this afternoon as he has errands to run. Macbeth oh-so-casually asks what Banquo will be up to, and finds out that he’ll be riding off somewhere before the dinner, but that he’ll definitely be back in time for the feast.Having obtained the information he needs, Macbeth changes the subject to the fact that the “bloody” Malcolm and Donalbain are suspiciously missing, and respectively hiding out with new friends in Ireland and England. Plus, it seems that Duncan’s sons are busy “not confessing” to Duncan’s murder —instead, they’re spreading nasty rumors about their father’s death.Macbeth adds a little BTW as Banquo leaves, asking if his son, Fleance, will be riding along with him that evening. Fleance will indeed be going, and upon hearing this, Macbeth bids them farewell.Everyone except for Macbeth and a servant leave the room.Macbeth has the servant call in the men he has waiting at the gate.Left to himself, Macbeth launches into a long speech about why it’s necessary and good to kill his friend, Banquo. Uh, okay.Macbeth is worried about Banquo’s noble nature, wisdom, and valor. Plus, if the rest of the witches’ prophecy comes true, Macbeth figures that he’ll have sold his soul to the devil (by killing Duncan) only for Banquo’s kids to take his crown.He concludes his speech by inviting fate to wrestle with him, and says he won’t give up until he’s won or dead. Hm. It seems like it’s getting a whole lot easier for Macbeth to think about murder, don’t you think?The two men at the gate are brought in, and we discover that Macbeth intends for them to murder Banquo and his son while on their ride.Macbeth speechifies to the two murderers about how Banquo is their enemy and anything bad that has ever happened to them is surely Banquo’s fault. Macbeth says that no turn-the-other-cheek Christianity is necessary here.The murderers respond by saying that they are only “men,” and then Macbeth uses the technique he learned while being berated by his own wife: he claims they’re not real men if they’re not brave enough to murder a man for their own good. Um…okay, say the henchmen. We’ll do it. Their lives are pretty bad anyway. They’re fine with taking a chance on eternal damnation.Macbeth says that Banquo is his enemy, too, and he’d do the kingly thing and just have him publicly killed, except that they have a lot of mutual friends, which might make things a little awkward at parties. The murderers again say they’ll do it, and Macbeth says he’ll tell them where they need to be and when. Oh, and they’ll have to kill the Fleance, too. Macbeth will be in touch shortly, but right now he has to go get ready for a dinner party. After they leave, Macbeth delivers a nice rhyming couplet indicating that if Banquo’s soul is headed to heaven, it will arrive there tonight. Shmoop Macbeth Summary for Act 3 Scene 1 (for who said + did it/matching/true + false questions)
Lady Macbeth asks a servant if Banquo is already gone. When she realizes he has, she asks the servant to get Macbeth for a little chat.Macbeth comes along, and Lady Macbeth tells him to look more chipper and not dwell on dark thoughts, as “what’s done is done.”Macbeth points out they’ve merely scorched the snake, not killed it. Macbeth compares dead Duncan’s death as a state preferable to his; at least Duncan doesn’t have to worry about loose ends.All right, Debbie Downer, says Lady Macbeth; just chill out there.Macbeth says he will. And he tells his wife she should say a lot of really nice things about Banquo, flatter him, and maybe even flirt with him a little. That will help hide their guilt. Lady Macbeth tells him he has to stop talking about what they’ve done. But Macbeth says that as long as Banquo and Fleance are alive, he’s going to be paranoid. He can’t stop these dark thoughts and his fear of being found out, and his worries about Banquo’s son getting his crown.Lady Macbeth says they won’t live forever, which leads Macbeth to say, “Hmm. That’s true. In fact…”In fact, what? Lady Macbeth wants to know what her husband is plotting. Macbeth dodges her question, saying it’s better for her to “be innocent” and not know his plans until they’re accomplished and she can applaud him for it. Gee. It seems like Lady Macbeth no longer gets any say in her husband’s affairs.Macbeth appeals to nature to let night’s black agents do their thing, and then he exits with Lady Macbeth. Shmoop Macbeth Summary for Act 3 Scene 2 (for who said + did it/matching/true + false questions)
At a park near the palace, the two murderers are joined by a third, which is a little fishy. He says Macbeth sent him, but the First and Second Murderers didn’t seem to be expecting anyone else. Check out this fun blog post for some theories about who the Third Murderer may (and may not) be. Banquo and Fleance approach on horseback and dismount to walk the mile to the palace, as usual. Conveniently, they have a torch—good for seeing by.Banquo starts up with a friendly “it looks like rain” conversation and is promptly stabbed.While being stabbed, he denounces the treachery and encourages Fleance to run away and eventually take revenge.In the meantime, the torch has gone out, and Fleance takes advantage of the darkness to escape.With Banquo dead and Fleance on the run, the murderers head off to the dinner party to report the half of the job they’ve done. Shmoop Macbeth Summary for Act 3 Scene 3 (for who said + did it/matching/true + false questions)
Meanwhile, back at the dinner party, the Macbeths make a big show of welcoming their guests.The first murderer enters as everyone is being seated. Macbeth darts off to see the first murderer, who informs him that they’ve slit Banquo’s throat, but that Fleance has escaped.Ooh. Not good. Macbeth is pretty sure that this is really going to tick Fleance off.And now the fun begins: Banquo’s ghost shows up. Because the ghost is silent, he gets to creep around quite a bit before anyone notices.While everyone is busy not noticing, Macbeth raises a toast and calls special attention to Banquo’s absence. He hopes Banquo is just running late or being rude and that nothing horrible has happened to him. What a thoughtful guy.This is particularly hilarious given the presence…Banquo’s ghost.Again Macbeth is invited to sit, and in the spot they’ve reserved for him sits…Banquo’s ghost. Naturally, Macbeth goes into a fit, and the lords all take notice. Lady Macbeth, always a quick thinker, excuses her husband for these “momentary” fits he has had since childhood.She urges them to keep eating, and then corners Macbeth, who is still hysterical.Lady Macbeth asks if Macbeth is a man, because he’s not acting like one so much as he is acting like a sissy. She tells him to get it together—there’s nothing but a stool in front of him. This “ghost” business is all in his head.Meanwhile, Macbeth is discoursing with the ghost that only he sees, and then it disappears. He swears to Lady Macbeth that the ghost was there, and then laments that it used to be that when you dashed a man’s brains out he would die. Now, apparently, instead of dying people come back and steal your seat at the table. Sheesh. The nerve!Everything is just getting back to normal when the ghost reappears. Again Macbeth calls out a toast to the missing Banquo (he’s just asking for it now). When he sees that the ghost has returned, Macbeth screams at him for being so spooky. He says if Banquo were to appear in any physical form—even a Russian bear—Macbeth would take him on, no problem. The ghost leaves again and Macbeth tells everyone to stay put. Lady Macbeth lets him know that he’s killed the mood. It’s pretty clear the party’s over. Macbeth tries to recover, and he even questions everyone else asking how they can be so calm in the face of such horrible sights. Um…what sights? they want to know.Lady Macbeth tells the concerned lords to leave immediately. Pronto. NOW.After they exit, Macbeth philosophizes that blood will have blood. In other words, this ain’t over yet.Morning is now approaching, and Macbeth points out that Macduff never showed at the party. He lets out that he has had a spy in Macduff’s house. He promises to go to the witches the next day, and says that he’s so far into this bloody business that there’s no turning back now. Lady Macbeth suggests that maybe he just needs a good night’s sleep, and so they go off to bed. Sweet dreams, you crazy kids! Shmoop Macbeth Summary for Act 3 Scene 4 (for who said + did it/matching/true + false questions)
The witches again meet at an open place, this time with Hecate, the goddess of witches, who looks pretty angry.Hecate lays into the weird sisters in a lengthy, rhyming speech that sounds a bit like a nursery rhyme.She’s super irritated that they were meddling in the affairs of Macbeth without consulting her first, as she could’ve done a better job. Also, she points out, Macbeth isn’t devoted to them, only to himself.But, fine, Hecate will clean up this mess. She tells them to all meet in the morning, when Macbeth will come to know his destiny, whatever that means.Then there’s a catchy witch song and dance, and everyone exits after Hecate.FYI: Some literary critics believe that these scene is way too hokey to be Shakespeare’s work, so it must have been added to the play some time between the time the play was first written (1606) and its publication in the first folio (1623), which was after Shakespeare’s death (1616). A fellow playwright, Thomas Middleton, may have written the snazzy songs in this scene. Shmoop Macbeth Summary for Act 3 Scene 5 (for who said + did it/matching/true + false questions)
Meanwhile, elsewhere in Scotland:The nobleman Lennox discusses Scotland’s plight with another lord. Isn’t it weird that Duncan was murdered, that his run-away sons were blamed, that Banquo has now been murdered, that his run-away son (Fleance) is being blamed, and that everyone has a major case of déjà vu? Plus, the murders of Banquo and Duncan were too conveniently grieved by Macbeth, who had the most to gain from the deaths.Lennox refers to Macbeth as a “tyrant,” and then asks the other Lord if he knows where Macduff has gone off to. Turns out Macduff has joined Malcolm in England.Malcolm and Macduff are doing a pretty good job of convincing the oh-so gracious and “pious” King Edward of England, along with some English noblemen, to help them in the fight against Macbeth, the tyrant.FYI: Shakespeare’s giving England and King Edward the Confessor (1042-1066) some serious props here.The two noblemen pray that Malcolm and Macduff might be successful and restore some order to the kingdom, even though news of the planned rebellion has reached Macbeth and he’s preparing for war.Sorry to say, it’s not looking too good for Macbeth at this point. Shmoop Macbeth Summary for Act 3 Scene 6 (for who said + did it/matching/true + false questions)

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