The Tragedy of Macbeth (Act Two) – Kelley

Macbeth comes upon Banquo and Banquo’s son Fleance after midnight as they make their way to bed. Macbeth and Banquo talk of the witches’ predictions, and Macbeth again suggests a private talk with Banquo. After they leave, Macbeth imagines a blood-covered dagger before him. When the bell sounds, Macbeth steals away to commit the murder. What happens in Act II, Scene 1?
Earlier, the witches told Banquo that he would beget kings – perhaps this son. When we think of Banquo’s son, Fleance, what comes to mind?
There is no indication that Macbeth and Lady Macbeth have children other than Lady Macbeth’s reference to having nursed a baby. Do we know if Macbeth and his wife have any children?
Yes – having taken matters into his own hands, he is concentrating less on the prophecyNo – he is trying not to arouse Banquo’s suspicions When Banquo mentions that he dreamed about the witches, Macbeth says that he has not thought of them. Do you think Macbeth is telling the truth?
Banquo deliberately stays awake to avoid bad dreams; Macbeth seems to revel in them. How does Macbeth’s attitude toward ‘wicked dreams’ differ from Banquo’s?
He may wish to find out if Banquo would support his claim if Duncan died naturally, to feel Banquo out as a possible accessory, or to find out in general what Banquo is thinking. Macbeth’s motives are self-serving. Macbeth wants to talk to Banquo again about the witches’ prophecies. Do you think he might want to confide in Banquo? Does he want to get Banquo on his side? How would you characterize his motives?
The bell signals the murder of Duncan. What is to happen upon the ringing of the bell?
His anxiety about the murder he plans to commit is making him unbalanced. In Macbeth’s soliloquy in Scene 1, what is Macbeth’s state of mind?
Macbeth’s hallucination shows how appearance and reality have become interchangeable in his disturbed condition. The two states have become blurred. In what way does this soliloquy reflect the theme of appearance versus reality?
a bloody dagger with its handle towards himthe murder of Duncan What does Macbeth imagine that he sees?What does the bloody dagger foreshadow?
a vision, a call to action, and a leave-taking In Macbeth’s soliloquy, three things were present, what were they?
He rejects his good reasons for not killing Duncan. As he approaches Duncan’s chamber; Macbeth imitates Tarquin’s stealth and knowingly embraces evil. How does Macbeth reject grace and turn himself over to the powers of evil?
a Roman tyrant who raped a woman named Lucrece Who was Tarquin?
The bell that summons the king to heaven or hell also announces Macbeth’s journey to damnation. In what way does the bell toll not only for Duncan but also for the tragic hero?
Lady Macbeth has drugged Duncan’s guards but has been unable to murder Duncan because of his resemblance to her father. Macbeth murders Duncan offstage and reenters, deeply troubled and dazed. Lady Macbeth scolds him and places the bloody daggers beside the sleeping grooms, whom she smears with blood. What happens in Act II, Scene 2?
Lady Macbeth is not as detached as she would like to be or appear to be. Lady Macbeth is unable to wield her dagger. What do her actions and explanation reveal about her character?
The grooms are “them” and Macbeth is “He.” In Lady Macbeth’s soliloquy, who are the “them” and who is “He”?
Lady Macbeth hears an owl scream and crickets cry.Macbeth hears Malcolm and Donalbain cry out “Murder,” “God bless us,” and “Amen.” He hears a voice saying he has murdered sleep. As Macbeth kills Duncan, what does Lady Macbeth hear? What does Macbeth hear?
that death is going to happen In Lady Macbeth’s soliloquy, what is the owl’s call supposed to be a sign for?
a person who rang a bell outside a condemned person’s cell the night before his execution, to warn him to confess his sins At this period in time, what is the job of a bellman?
If she is not feeling remorse, she at least shows a more vulnerable side of her character. How does Lady Macbeth seem after the deed is done?
Killing on the battlefield to defend one’s country against a traitor is acceptable, whereas the assassination of a king for personal, selfish gain, is not. Although, the brutal way in which Macbeth kills Macdonwald shows a side of Macbeth’s nature that will emerge more fully in the murder of Duncan. Macbeth believes he is justified in committing both murders. How is killing Duncan different from killing Macdonwald? How are the two killings similar?
It is ironic that he desires a blessing when he has just broken a religious commandment by committing murder. What is ironic about Macbeth’s desire for a blessing?
Yes – the words “must not” and “make us mad” suggest that she is fighting to control a troubled soulNo – she is just trying to calm Macbeth down Lady Macbeth says, “These deeds must not be thought after these ways; so, it will make us mad.”Is Lady Macbeth fighting for control here?
– a knitter who untangles the threads of care- the death of the life of each day- a bath that soothes a laborer- an ointment that heals the mind- the body’s greatest need after foodSleep comforts, heals, and nourishes them. What are some metaphors that describe sleep?What effect do these metaphors suggest that sleep has on people?
Banquo said that he tried not to sleep in order to avoid evil dreams.Since first imagining Duncan’s murder, Macbeth has been stuck in time, at the moment of the murder; the murder has put an end to sleep and an end to the passage of time for Macbeth. Who else complained about sleep? In what way has Glamis “murdered sleep”?
One of the witches knew how to torture sailors by keeping sleep from their penthouse lids. In Shakespeare’s plays, sleep “is ever the privilege of the good and the reward of the innocent; if it has been put to death, there is no goodness left.” In the first act, what did one of the witches do regarding sleep?
The loss of sleep is the loss of hope; Macbeth’s world is beginning to disintegrate.-hallucinations, illness, irrationality, and depression Macbeth “murders sleep”. What does the loss of sleep signify?What often results from an inability to sleep?
It is Duncan’s blood.They are cleaning up after the murder.She is probably shocked that Macbeth removed the murder weapons, which could implicate him.They may have been in his belt or sleeve. What is the “filthy witness” that Lady Macbeth refers to? What actions are the couple engaged in here? In the next line, Lady Macbeth discovers the daggers. Why is she so alarmed at seeing them in her husband’s hands? How could Macbeth have been carrying them so they weren’t visible before?
Macbeth says it will never wash off – it will stain all the waters of the world. How does Macbeth respond to Lady Macbeth’s suggestion that he go wash the “filthy witness” from his hands?
She will smear the blood on their faces. Lady Macbeth is forced to place the daggers with the grooms. What will Lady Macbeth do to the grooms if Duncan bleeds enough?
Macbeth believes that “all great Neptune’s ocean” could not clean his hands, while she claims “a little water clears us of this deed.”Lady Macbeth is practical – water washes away blood; Macbeth is speaking on a metaphorical level; he believes his sin will contaminate the oceans of the world. How does the imagery concerning blood and water in Macbeth’s speech contrast with that in Lady Macbeth’s speech?What is the significance of this difference?
She ends up with bloody hands too.She appears confident. How does Lady Macbeth end up looking like Macbeth?But how is she different from Macbeth?
He is acting lost and dazed. They keep hearing knocking.What is Macbeth acting like?
If he fully acknowledges the horror of his deed, he will be unable to bear knowing he committed it. In what way does this line (“To know my deed, ’twere best not know myself”) convey the message that Macbeth knows the depth of evil to which he has sunk?
He might wish it could awaken his soul or conscience; or, he might wish he could awaken to a state of grace. With all the knocking, Macbeth wishes the knocking would wake up Duncan. What might Macbeth wish the knocking could awake in himself?
A drunken porter responds to Macduff’s and Lennox’s knocking at the gate. Lennox describes strange upheavals in nature the previous night as Macduff discovers Duncan’s body. When Macbeth says that he has killed Duncan’s grooms because they murdered Duncan, Lady Macbeth faints. Fearing for their lives, Duncan’s sons Malcolm and Donalbain flee the country. What happens in Act II, Scene 3?
references to the Jesuit priest, Father Henry Garnett, who was implicated in the Gunpowder Plot in November 1605 and hanged as a traitor What fills the porter’s speech?
his mention of ‘Beelzebub’, the porter of hell’s gate What explicit details in the porter’s speech, might support the idea that the castle is hell?
The porter provides comic relief, lessening the tension created by the act’s main events; his comparison of Macbeth’s castle to hell underscores the horrible deed that has taken place there and builds suspense about its consequences. Why do you think the porter appears in this act?
the king’s men Who are Lennox and Macduff?
Macduff has come to wake the king. Why has Macduff come?
They are about to discover the body of Duncan and the bloodied grooms. All the time this humorous bantering is going on, what do we know these king’s men are about to discover?
Far from being timely, Macduff’s arrival is too late to save the king. What is ironic about Macduff’s use of the word timely?
Macbeth must be sick with anxiety. As he says the first two words, he realizes they are a lie, so he amends his statement. His correction could make him appear nervous. How must Macbeth be feeling?
Unnatural winds and voices, screeching owls, and earthquakes parallel the unnatural death of Duncan. The Elizabethans thought the universe extended in a great chain beginning with God and extending down to the lowliest insects and worms. Everything in this chain had a place, reflecting a natural order. Harmony in heaven mirrored harmony in nature and in the political and social world. When this order was disrupted, the structure of the universe broke down. Therefore, it is not surprising that Duncan’s killing led to disturbances in nature.How did this weather mirror what was happening to the king in Macbeth’s castle?
Macduff speaks of the king as if he were a sacred building or temple, that is a sacrilege to attack. This image reflects the Elizabethan belief that kings were divinely anointed. How would you explain Macduff’s metaphors?
Here, it rings to announce that murder. The bell was used earlier to signal the time for Macbeth to commit murder. How was it used at this time?
Macbeth speaks in metaphors; Macduff is straightforward. How do Macbeth’s and Macduff’s styles announcing Duncan’s death to the king’s sons differ?
He has killed the two grooms.No – there was no reason to complicate the situation with more murdersYes – Lennox appears to believe Macbeth’s story, and the grooms cannot protest What has Macbeth done that was not in the plan?Was this wise?
Macbeth says he did it out of love for Duncan. What reason does Macbeth give for killing Duncan’s two guards?
Macbeth’s pretentious eloquence is meant to cover up his insincerity; his anxiety and guilt make him ramble on inappropriately. Macbeth says that Duncan had “silver skin” and “golden blood,” implying Duncan’s royal and saintly qualities. Why does Macbeth use such extravagant imagery to describe Duncan’s death?
Lady Macbeth is following her own suggestion in Act I, Scene 7 and making her “griefs and clamor roar”; she is trying to draw attention away from Macbeth’s absurd and unnatural speech by pretending to faint; or she is shocked by the murder of the grooms and, beginning to fall apart, actually faints. What causes Lady Macbeth to cry out?
Banquo intends to stand on the side of righteousness in fighting the “treasonous malice” that killed Duncan. It also suggests that he does not believe that the murder has been avenged yet – in other words, he suspects that the grooms were not guilty. What does the image of Banquo standing in “the great hand of God” suggest about his intent?
He believes the grooms are guilty. What does Lennox think of the murder evidence?
He is not sure but may be suspicious of Macbeth because of what he knows from Act I. What does Banquo think of the murder evidence?
He appears to agree with Banquo. What does Macduff think of the murder evidence?
She may think that Macbeth reveals too much with the murder of the grooms and his coverup speech, or she may applaud his deception. What does Lady Macbeth think of the murder evidence?
He is starting to act on his own, which may mean that he feels confident that the evidence points away from him. What does Macbeth think of the murder evidence?
They may not suspect anyone in particular – they just fear for their lives and want to flee. What do Malcolm and Donalbain think of the murder evidence?
Those closest to the crown or in line for it are in the most danger of being killed. What does Donalbain’s parting comment mean? (“There’s daggers in men’s smiles; the near in blood, The nearer bloody.”)
Ross and an Old Man speak of wild and unnatural events that were observed during the night and the day following Duncan’s murder. Macduff reveals that Duncan’s sons are suspected of murdering their father and that Macbeth has gone to Scone to be installed as king. Macduff will not attend Macbeth’s coronation, and he voices doubts about the new king’s reign. What happens in Act II, Scene 4?
Like Lennox, Ross and the Old Man present evidence that disorders in nature are mirroring the unnatural death of the king, supporting the Elizabethan idea that the murder is a disruption of natural law. How does the dialogue between the Old Man and Ross compare to Lennox’s speech in Act II, Scene 3?
The Old Man represents wisdom or serves to show that even those who are not part of the royal court sense trouble. Why do you think the Old Man is included in this scene?
Macbeth, too, has been the minion of his race as the savior of his country. He, too, has turned wild, broken out of his rank, and destroyed one of his own. Ross presents an image of Duncan’s horses gone wild and cannibalizing each other. How are the horses a metaphor for Macbeth?
Macduff says that Malcom and Donalbain are suspected, but he skips Macbeth’s coronation, possibly because he suspects Macbeth. Whom does Macduff suspect of Duncan’s murder?
He has the correct motive but the wrong perpetrator. What is ironic about Ross’s comment on the motive for the murder?
Macduff is courteous, dutiful, loyal, sensitive, poetic, discerning, bold, wary, and impulsive. How does Shakespeare characterize Macduff in Act II?
The mood is sinister and violent. It is set by the dagger vision and what follows; the image of Duncan dead; the cannibal horses. What would you say is the mood of Act II? What images and actions help to create this mood?
Blood and water may symbolize death and life or guilt and repentance; they appear here because Macbeth and Lady Macbeth face grave consequences for their actions. Why might images of blood and water appear in Scene 2, and what do they symbolize?
He hints that with Macbeth as king instead of Duncan, their new situations (“robes”) may not suit them as well as their old ones did. What warning does Macduff convey using the clothing metaphor?
The Old Man’s words may foreshadow events or warn that, by attending the coronation, Ross and other Macbeth supporters are opportunistic or hypocritical – trying to “make good of bad , and friends of foes.” The line is appropriate not only because the Old Man is disturbed by recent events but also because it reinforces the theme of reversal, of “fair is foul.” “God’s benison (blessing) go with you, and with those That would make good of bad, and friends of foes!”Is this line an appropriate end for this bloody act?
-the ringing of the bell-the screaming of the owl-the crickets’ crying-the muttered utterances of disturbed sleep-the knocking at the gateThey move the plot forward. In the scenes of Act II, sounds fuel the imagination. What are some of these sounds? In addition to fueling the imagination, what else do these sounds do?
an intelligent guess about his or her personality, feelings and behavior based on evidence in the text Literary Skills:What is an inference (regarding a character)?
the character’s speech, appearance, thoughts, and actions; also, what other characters say and think about the character Literary Skills:When making inferences about a character, what should one pay attention to?

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