Macbeth: Study Guide Questions, Act II

What reason does Banquo give as to why he can’t sleep? He fears the cursed thoughts that disturb his slumber
How do Banquo’s thoughts/actions compare with Macbeth’s? Banquo tries to resist the temptation to do evil, but Macbeth is plotting murder
What is Lady Macbeth feeling as she waits for her husband to return after killing the king? Jumpy and superstitious
After he murders the king, Macbeth imagines a voice saying that Macbeth “has murdered sleep” and he “shall sleep no more”–what does the voice mean? The voice means that Macbeth will never again rest with a clear conscience
What do you think that Macbeth’s imaginings suggest about his emotional state? His guilty conscience is beginning to cause him anguish
Why couldn’t Macbeth join in the prayer of Malcolm and Donalbain that he overheard? He was overcome with guilt and horror
Shakespeare often made use of “comic relief”–how does the Porter’s speech in scene 3 serve as comic relief? The tone of his speech is humorous, and provides comic relief through imagery and dramatic irony
How does Lady Macbeth get blood on her hands? She smears the grooms with Duncan’s blood
What does Lady Macbeth’s reaction to the blood reveal about her character? She is ruthless and capable of controlling her nervousness despite the strain
When Macbeth explains why he killed Duncan’s attendants, is everyone convinced that he’s being truthful? His actions in Act I make it sound convincing to some, but some of the nobles find it unpersuasive
Why does Macbeth murder the grooms? So they can’t claim they were framed for the murder of the king
Why do Duncan’s sons decide to leave Scotland after their father’s murder? They suspect treachery, and fear for their safety, and that their father’s killer will try to murder them, too
What conflicts could the surviving sons of Duncan cause for Macbeth in the future? Malcolm has a legitimate claim to the throne, and could rally the nobles to his cause
What does Macbeth see in the air in front of him before he kills Duncan? A bloody dagger
What does Macbeth bring back with him after he murders Duncan? The bloody daggers belonging to the grooms
What is a dramatic foil? A minor character whose attitudes, beliefs, and behavior differ significantly from those of a main character, highlighting flaws or suggesting what might have been
Who has been Macbeth’s dramatic foil so far in the play (until the end of Act II)? Banquo
Why does Macbeth refuse to do as Lady Macbeth commands, and not take the bloody daggers back to the sleeping quarters of the grooms? He can’t bear to return to the scene of the crime

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