Macbeth Questions Answers Analysis

Macbeth Analysis Notes Overview

Questions Answers from Macbeth


The article contains some important questions answers  from Shakespeare's tragic play Macbeth --

■ Macbeth character analysis

■ Lady Macbeth character analysis

■ Significance of the Banquet Scene and Sleep Walking Scene 

■ Role of the witches in Macbeth 

■ Macbeth as tragic hero 

■ Significance of the sleep walking scene 


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Descriptive Questions Answers from Macbeth 

(1) "Fair is foul and foul is fair.

Hover through the fog and filthy air."

- What is the significance of the line? 

Or, Bring out the significance of the song of the witches. 

Ans: The quoted line occurs in the first scene of Shakespeare's tragic play "Macbeth". The line was uttered by the three witches who looked like women but they had beard, withered skin and wild dresses. The song of the witches indicates that a strange and unusual action is going to happen in the life of Macbeth and Banquo who were greeted by the witches when Macbeth and Banquo were coming back after winning a great battle. The song of the witches indicates that what is fair to the others is foul to the witches or vice-versa. The ambiguous comment turns up the spirit of the play where everything has gone topsy-turvy and moral  values are perverted. Actually the witches levelled down all moral qualities. The witches appeared in the fog and filthy weather which also suited to their ambiguous comment. This comment tunes up the action of the play hereafter.


(2) Describe the prophesies made by the witches in the first meeting of the play Macbeth. 

Ans: The witches who played a vital role in Shakespeare's tragic play "Macbeth" met Macbeth and Banquo, the two generals of the king of Scotland, Duncan for the first time when they were coming back after winning over a great battle against a rebellion assisted by the king of Norway. The witches appeared in a fog and filthy weather and made ambiguous prophecies for both Macbeth and Banquo. The first witch hailed Macbeth as the "Thane of Glamis". The second witch greeted Macbeth as the "Thane of Cawdor". The third witch hailed him as the future king of Scotland. Then turning to Banquo, the witches prophesied that Banquo would be blessed lesser than Macbeth yet greater, not so happy yet much happier. These prophecies of the witches affected Macbeth and instigated the burning desire which remained dormant in the heart of Macbeth. He was amazed and puzzled at the prophesies which took a vital role in the action of the play hereafter. 


(3) Consider Macbeth as a tragic hero. 

Or, Sketch the character of Macbeth in Shakespeare's play "Macbeth".

Ans: Macbeth is a typical Shakespearean tragic hero who is introduced as the Thane of Glamis and an excellent warrior known and respected for his valour. He meets the witches at the time of returning after winning a great battle. He is moved by the prophetic vision of becoming the king of Scotland, which stirs the evil inside him to action. Macbeth is a tragic hero who is partially responsible for his own downfall. There is already an inclination towards evil in his mind. Allured by the prophecies of the witches and goaded by his wife he commits the abominable regicide. But as he is basically a good person, the murder of the king makes him restive and robs him of his mental strength and ultimately resulting in his death. His indomitable courage and valour makes him a hero whose death creates a tragic feeling in the minds of the audience. 


(4) Describe the role of the witches in the play Macbeth.

Ans: In Shakespeare's play "Macbeth", the witches play a very important role. The witches, the three weird sisters are the embodiments of evil; but they do not supplant it directly in Macbeth's heart, they only water it. They have no power over the virtuous. But there is no doubt about their role in Macbeth's tragedy. Their forecasts lead Macbeth to plunge into criminality to realise his dream. Their forecasts lead Macbeth to the murder of Duncan, Banquo and Macduff's family. Again their prophecies create a false sense of security in the mind of Macbeth. But the witches can not be held absolutely responsible for Macbeth's downfall. There is already an inclination towards evil in the mind of Macbeth. Unlike Banquo, Macbeth did not show the inner strength of the character and ultimately fell victim to the ambiguous forecasts of the witches. 


(5) Describe the significance  of the Banquet Scene in the play Macbeth.

Ans: The Banquet Scene in the play "Macbeth" is dramatically significant and psychologically suggestive. It reveals the inner mind of Macbeth and exhibits the retributive justice in action. Banquet Scene was arranged to hush up the effects of Macbeth's bloodshed and treachery. Macbeth engaged hired assassins to kill Banquo and his son Fleance. But the murderer secretly informed Macbeth that Banquo was killed and his son Fleance fled away. Then Macbeth greeted all the guests in the banquet. But as soon as Macbeth wished that Banquo should be at the banquet, the ghost of Banquo appeared before him. Macbeth was then terribly shaken and uttered many untoward words. Lady Macbeth rose to the occasion and dismissed the guests by telling them that her husband was unwell. Thus, the Banquet Scene suggests that Macbeth is almost defeated in the struggle with supernatural powers and his doom is near at hand.


(6) What are the three apparitions? What did they tell Macbeth? What do they symbolize?

Ans: The three apparitions are an armed Head, a bloody Child and a Child crowned with a tree in his hand.

         The first apparition warns Macbeth to be cautious of Macduff. The second apparition advises him to be bloody, bold and resolute and assures him that no one issued from the mother's womb can harm Macbeth. The third apparition advises him to be as spirited as a lion and assures him that unless the great Birnam Wood ascends the high Dunsinane hill, Macbeth will never be defeated and destroyed. 

         The first apparition is Macbeth's own head cut off by Macduff. The second apparition symbolizes Macduff as he was taken out from his mother's womb untimely. The third apparition symbolizes Malcom and the tree in his hand indicates the boughs of Birnam.


(7) Describe  the role of Banquo in the play Macbeth. 

Or, Compare the contrast the character of Banquo and Macbeth in the play Macbeth. 

Ans: Banquo was Macbeth's co-general under the Scottish King Duncan. He fought by the side of Macbeth with equal valour to win the battle for the King. In the play, Banquo was presented as a foil to Macbeth. He is in the play to suggest the contrast with Macbeth. Both Banquo and Macbeth were called 'Our Captain'. Both were greeted by the witches but Macbeth was moved by the prophecies of the witches and turned into criminal, while Banquo remained innocent and could resist the temptation to a great extent. That is why, while Macbeth easily inclined to the witches, Banquo invoked the 'merciful powers' to restrain in him the 'cursed thoughts'. Indeed the most distinct trait in Banquo probably was his honesty. Though at last Banquo became the victim of Macbeth's criminal ambition. In fact the character of Banquo was less glorified in the play in the interest of Macbeth to make him a tragic hero. 


(8) Sketch the character of Lady Macbeth in the play Macbeth. 

Or, How much was Lady Macbeth responsible for Macbeth's downfall?

Ans: Lady Macbeth, the wife of Macbeth plays an important role of an instigator who provokes her husband to the deed of Duncan's murder with her passionate courage and imperious will. Without her, the murder would have remained fantastical for Macbeth. But after Duncan's murder, Lady Macbeth gradually fades out of the play. At the very beginning she was firm, ambitious and also had a passionate love for her husband. She was practical and efficient enough to hide the treacherous purpose of her mind and overcome the difficult situation. At last, she became aware of her womanly qualities and suffered from prick of conscience and committed suicide in depression. 


(9) "Macbeth is more guided by his wife and less by his ambition" - Do you support this statement? Give reasons. 

Ans: Though this is the general perception that Macbeth is more guided by his wife and less by his ambition, we think this statement is far away from the truth. If Macbeth did not have strong ambition within, his wife could not have instigated him to commit the murder of Duncan. Lady Macbeth who appears as practicable woman at the beginning only supplanted  water in Macbeth's ambition which remained dormant within. Infact, the prophesies of the witches instigated Macbeth to materialize his dream. Later in the play, Macbeth killed Banquo, Macduff's family and others without any instigation from Lady Macbeth. Therefore, though Lady Macbeth was responsible to provoke him to execute the bloody deed at first but it was Macbeth's ambition which guided him throughout. 


(10) Describe the dramatic  significance  of the Sleep-walking Scene in the play Macbeth.

Ans: In Macbeth, Shakespeare has presented the 'sleep-walking scene' to show an unavoidable punishment for wrong-doing. It shows the working of Nemesis. Lady Macbeth who incited Macbeth to commit the abominable regicide is now completely broken by violence she did to her own feminine nature.  After the murder we see her nerves totally wrecked and the smouldering fire of inward hell now bursts into the flames of somnambulism and insanity. 


(11) Describe in details the experience of Macbeth when he went to murder Duncan.

Ans: When Macbeth went to murder the king Duncan, he experienced some of the most miserable moments of his life. He hallucinated and saw a dagger hanging in the air with its handle pointing towards him. He tried to get hold of the dagger, but it vanished in the air. Then as he murdered Duncan, one of the grooms cried out 'murder' and both the grooms woke up and prayed and said 'Amen'. Macbeth also tried to say 'Amen', but the word did not come out from his throat. Then Macbeth heard someone saying Macbeth had murdered sleep and he would not sleep no more. Facing all the nightmares, Macbeth returned to his wife in a desolate state of mind.


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