Macbeth Study Guide (Acts 1 Scenes 1-7)

How can a battle be “lost and won”? What might this set up foreshadow? What is the real battle in this play? A battle can be both lost and won in multiple ways. The side of the battle that wins can also suffer from losses, while the side that loses can also have some of their own victories. In war or a battle, there may not be a clear winner because both sides can easily suffer through hardships. In the beginning of the play, the witches say that they will meet again once “the battle’s lost and won”(Act I, scene I). This foreshadows a battle of some sort in the play where people will both win and lose. The real battle in this play isn’t a real battle even if there are losses, but instead it is a battle between doing what is morally right and giving into temptations and luxuries.
Graymalkin and Paddock are familiars (a cat and a toad). What does this suggest about the action of the play? What might they symbolize? That the witches can mysteriously talk to animals which may symbolize that they are not normal like other people.
What does the bloody man report? The bloody man reports that Macbeth killed Macdonwald “which smoked with bloody execution, Like valor’s minion carved out his passage” and split him down the middle (Act 1, Scene ii).
Why is Macdonwald a worthy rebel? Macdonwald is a worthy rebel because he did not give up during the battle also when Captain was talking about Macdonwald he said, “The merciless Macdonwald—Worthy to be a rebel…” Also during the battle he was very courageous and pushed Macbeth to the hardest and made him really have to fight to win the battle.
What similes or metaphors does the captain (the bloody man) use to describe Macbeth and Banquo? What is significant about these descriptions? Some similes and metaphors used to describe Banquo and Macbeth by the captain were, ” Doubtful it stood, As two spent swimmers that do cling together And choke their art.,”(Act 1, scene II, 7-9). What this means is that they both were very strong men not willing to back down in a fight. They were willing to fight until the end so long as they are gaining ground.The captain also says that,” as sparrows eagles, or the hare the lion” this shows how the enemy is really helpless.
What do the witches predict for Macbeth? What is the dramatic irony involved? The witches predict that Macbeth will be Thane of Cawdor who is still alive. During the confrontation between Macbeth and the witches, the second witch praised Macbeth by saying, “All hail, Macbeth! Hail to thee, thane of Cawdor!”(Act i scene iii, 50). Macbeth goes on to say that he knows that he is already a king but not the king of Cawdor, what makes this statement ironic is that there is already a king of Cawdor, Macbeth expresses this in his response to the witches hailing him as he walks by, “But how of Cawdor? The thane of Cawdor lives, A prosperous gentleman, and to be king Stands not within the prospect of belief, No more than to be Cawdor.”(Act i scene iii, 73-76). Macbeth is very surprised by this prediction and tries to gain more knowledge on the subject but the witches leave before the true irony is revealed. The true irony was that Macbeth would kill the king of Cawdor in his own home and then resume his position as king.
What do the witches predict for Banquo? What irony is involved in this promise? The witches predict that Banquo’s “descendants will be kings” (Act I, Scene iii) but Banquo himself will not be a king, because he is not currently in line for the throne. They also say that Banquo will be “not so happy, yet so much happier”(Act I, scene iii) .
How do Macbeth and Banquo differ in their reactions to the witches predictions? What does this tell us about their characters? Macbeth and Banquo differ in their reactions to the prophecies from the three witches. Macbeth says, “If chance will have me king, why, chance may crown me /Without my stir” and “Come what come may / Time and the hour runs through the roughest day” after hearing the prophecy that says he will become king” (Act I Scene iii). He is more open to the outcome of the prophecy and does not exactly protest the idea of becoming king. Macbeth knows that his prophecy seems more realistic than the outcome of Banquo’s prophecy. Banquo’s reaction to the prophecy is drastically different, as he says “But ’tis strange /And oftentimes, to win us to our harm / The instruments of darkness tell us truths,Win us with honest trifles” (Act I Scene iii). He is openly cautious and skeptical about his fate dictated by the prophecy and questions the witches’ alignment and motives (good or evil). He also regards his outcome of the prophecy as more far-fetched than Macbeth’s.
What message does Ross bring? Ross brings a message to Macbeth saying that the king of Cawdor was sentenced to death and very impressed with Macbeth’s actions and wanted to give the throne to him. He came in told Macbeth that the king was so amazed it made his speechless and how ¨he told me to call you thane of Cawdor” (Act 1, scene iii).
What do the witches predict in Act 1, Scene 3 for Macbeth? For Banquo? The witches predict three things for Macbeth and Banquo. The first prediction is actually a statement, that people will “hail to thee [as] thane of Cawdor”. The second prediction is that “Macbeth shalt be king hereafter”, or the future king. The final prediction is that “[Banquo] shalt get kings, though thou be none”, meaning that Banquo will not be king, but his children will be. (Act I, scene iii)
What news does Ross bring Macbeth? Ross bring the news that the current Thane of Cawdor had committed treason and “[Duncan] bade [Ross] to call thee Thane of Cawdor” because of his brave and noble fighting and because “nothing afeard [him] of what thyself didst make” (Act I, scene iii).
Macbeth says, ‘Stars hide your fires. Let not light see my black and deep desires.” What are Macbeth’s desires? Macbeth’s desires are to kill Duncan and become king. He says that stars hide the terrible desires within you. But in the end he wants to be king and is ¨still going to do the thing [he’d] be horrified to see¨ which means to kill Duncan (Act 1, scene iv).
After Lady Macbeth reads the letter, what does she tell us is her opinion of Macbeth, and how does she plan to help him? After Lady Macbeth reads the letter she tells us about how Macbeth is too full of kindness to seize the crown. He won’t take his first opportunity to take what he wants. She plans to help him by persuading him and talking him out of whatever is keeping him from going after the crown. Lady Macbeth also bring up how ¨fate and witchcraft both seem to want [him] to be king¨ (Act 1, scene v).
What are Macbeth’s arguments to himself against killing Duncan? He is concerned about killing Duncan because he is his kinsman and his subject. He should be loyal to Duncan. MacBeth says that he is also Duncans host and it is his responsibility to “shut the door”again and should be protecting Duncan and not murdering him (Act 7, scene vii).
What arguments does Lady Macbeth use to convince Macbeth to commit murder? She tells him not to be a coward and to be a man and go get what he wants. She says she had made the promise to do so that she would “have plucked my nipple from his boneless gums… dashed the brains out” to carry out that promise and expect MacBeth to keep a promise as she would (Act 1, scene vii).
What is Lady Macbeth’s plan? She and Macbeth will sneak into the king’s room and murder him in his sleep, but only after “his two chamberlains will I with wine”. After they finish the job they will ¨lay all the blame on the drunken servants¨ they will place the weapons on the guards and also smudge the blood on them so they look guilty (Act 1, scene vii).

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