Macbeth Act 4 Study Guide

Compare the witches’ speech pattern with Macbeth’s. (Act 4:1) Macbeth speaks in unrhymed iambic pentameter (blank verse). The witches speak in irregular trochaic tetrameter (rhymed couplets).
What effect is Shakespeare creating by altering the speech patterns like this in Act 4:1? Shakespeare is establishing that the witches are other-worldly and are not to be trusted. The sing-song rhythm of their speech makes them seem almost childlike and silly which emphasizes that they’re going to seduce Macbeth into a false sense of security.
Describe the three apparitions and the significance of each. (Act 4:1) First Apparition:Is a head wearing a helmet warning to beware of Macduff. The helmet indicates that Macduff poses a military threat to Macbeth. And the fact that it is just a head, not a full warrior, might foreshadow Macduff’s beheading Macbeth.Second Apparition:Is a bloody child telling Macbeth to be bold for no one born from a woman will harm him. This prediction is one of destiny stating that he will be harmed, just not by one born of woman.Third Apparition:Is a child wearing a crown with a tree in his hand telling that Macbeth will not be defeated until Birnam Wood comes to Dunsinane Hill. The carrying of a tree foreshadows how a forest could be the place where the crown is moved down to Malcolm or even Fleance.
What, after this, does Macbeth resolve? (Act 4:1) Macbeth resolves that Macduff can not harm him since he was obviously birthed by a woman. Macbeth decides to kill him anyways.
Pleased with the information, what one further thing does Macbeth desire to know and what is the answer he gets? (Act 4:1) Macbeth wants to know if Banquo’s heirs will ever reign Scotland. Eight Kings appear representing Banquo’s heirs. The eighth King has a mirror that reflects a line of Kings. Macbeth notes that some of the kings are carrying three scepters and two orbs. The two orbs indicate that Banquo’s descendants are kings of two countries (Scotland and England). The three scepters indicate that they are kings of three countries (Scotland, England, and Ireland).
What is the significance of Act 4:1? Act 4:1 showcases Macbeth’s future destruction and how Banquo’s heirs will gain the throne of Scotland.
What news does Lennox give to Macbeth in Act 4:1? Lennox tells Macbeth that Macduff has definitely fled to England.
What is Macbeth’s response? (Act 4:1) Macbeth says that he will now act upon whatever thought enters his mind without contemplating about it.
What is his resolve at the end of this Act 4:1? How is this different from his previous actions? Macbeth resolves to murder Macduff’s whole family. Previously, Duncan’s murder had been driven by ambition and envy. While, Macduff’s family assassination plan is driven by pure evil and anger.
What does Shakespeare achieve with the conversation between Ross and Lady Macduff in Act 4:2? Shakespeare shows the strong difference between Lady Macbeth and Lady Macduff. Unlike Lady Macbeth in the first two act, Lady Macduff has no idea of why her husband has run away. Shakespeare also emphasizes how bad the situation is in Scotland under Macbeth’s reign. It seems like there is even uncertainty of whom or what to fear.
What is the purpose of the exchange between Lady Macduff and her son? (Act 4:2) The exchange between Lady Macduff and her son provides comic relief in the scene.
What effect is created by the Messenger’s entering to warn Lady Macduff? (Act 4:2) It intensifies the suspense and anticipation of impending horror.
Why does Shakespeare show the son’s murder onstage in Act 4:2? The image of Macduff’s dying, bleeding son represents the bloody child in the second apparition. Also, the “son” has been a recurrent issue throughout the play. For ex:-Witches prediction for Banquo-Macbeth has no sons-Duncan named his son heir to throne instead of Macbeth-Macbeth was able to kill Banquo but not his son, Fleance
What additional evidence does Shakespeare give his audience that Macbeth is a tyrant? (Act 4:3) Macduff tells Malcolm that “traitorous” men are dying or being killed every day in Scotland.
What suspicion of Macduff does Malcolm voice? (Act 4:3) Malcolm voices that he thinks Macduff might be Macbeth’s agent to lure him back to Scotland and to his death.
How do Malcolm’s comments about Macbeth again bring to mind the “fair is foul” theme? (Act 4:3) It is impossible to tell by a man’s appearance whether he is good or evil. Macbeth was once thought honest – and was loved even by Macduff. Macduff now looks honest, but might not be. But Malcolm admits there are still probably honest men in Scotland even though one thought to be among the most honest turned out to be deceitful.
What literary device is Shakespeare employing when Malcolm says, “Angels are bright still, though the brightest fell”? (Act 4:3) Allusion.In the Old Testament, several books tell the story of Lucifer, one of the most beautiful angels of heaven (whose name meant “bearer of light”) who challenged God’s authority. He and 144,000 of his followers were expelled from Heaven and became Satan and his demons.
What is it that makes Malcolm suspicious of Macduff ‘s motives? (Act 4:3) Macduff left his wife and children behind.
How does Malcolm test Macduff ‘s honesty? (Act 4:3) Malcolm lies saying that there is no end to his sexual desires, extremely greedy, and he possesses none of the traits of a good king.
How does Macduff nearly fail the test? (Act 4:3) He seems too eager to bring Malcolm back to Scotland. Macduff excuses away every sin of which Malcolm accuses himself.
What finally convinces Malcolm? (Act 4:3) Macduff finally announces that he will remain exiled from Scotland if their only choice of rulers is Macbeth or the vile person Malcolm is pretending to be.
What purpose does the brief dialogue about Edward the Confessor’s alleged ability to heal serve? (Act 4:3) Shakespeare is flattering his king.
After receiving word of his family’s slaughter, what does Macduff resolve? (Act 4:3) He vows to kill Macbeth himself.

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