Macbeth: Study Guide Questions, Act I

What predictions do the witches make about Macbeth’s future? Macbeth, the Thane of Glamis, will be the Thane of Cawdor, and also the king
What happens to the Thane of Cawdor after the battle in Act I? He is executed as a traitor
How does Macbeth react to the predictions of the three witches–does he believe them? He is fearful and desires more details, but he does believe them, and quickly his thoughts turn dark
How would you describe the atmosphere of scene 1? Uneasiness and gloom.
What predictions do the witches make about Banquo’s future? Banquo’s descendants will be kings
Why do you think Shakespeare included the scenes in Act I where the witches appear? They help create an atmosphere of evil, and could symbolize the dark impulses of Macbeth
Macbeth’s actions on the battlefield lead one to think that he is loyal to the king and capable of great violence, but is he a superstitious man at that point? No, he seems to be a brave and solid officer of the king, and the appearance of the witches seems to unnerve him
What do the witches predict in Act 1, Scene 3 for Macbeth? For Banquo? Macbeth will be the Thane of Cawdor, and king; Banquo is lesser than Macbeth yet greater–he won’t be king but his sons will
Why is the king contemptuous of the Thane of Cawdor? The Thane of Cawdor has been disloyal and traitorous
What news does Ross bring Macbeth? The battle is over and Duncan has bestowed on him the title of the Thane of Cawdor in addition to being the Thane of Glamis
What does Banquo say about the “instrument of darkness”? Tell us truth to win us over, and give us little victories/rewards to lead us to greater destruction
What is causing Macbeth fearfulness and nervousness in this act? His temptation to commit murder in order to become king
After Lady Macbeth reads his letter, what does she doubt about her husband, and how does she plan to “help” him? That he does not have the strength of will to take control of what he wants; and she will talk him into it
What is Lady Macbeth’s prayer to the spirits after she learns Duncan is coming? For the spirits to take away her female gender, and make her as cruel and ruthless as a man, as she needs to be
Lady Macbeth would rather kill her own baby than…? Go back on an oath
What are Macbeth’s reasons for why he should not kill Duncan? There is a double trust: Duncan is Macbeth’s king and guest
What arguments does Lady Macbeth use to convince Macbeth to commit the murder? She questions Macbeth’s manhood: man or mouse? And there is no way they can fail
What is Lady Macbeth’s plan? Frame the grooms by using their daggers for the crime, and smearing them with Duncan’s blood

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