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Flashcards in Macbeth ACT 1 Deck (23)
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1. What is the point of the first scene literally and in reference to the whole play?

Literally, the witches are deciding when they shall meet again. As the beginning of the EXPOSITION, this scene sets the mood for the entire play, and introduces several major motifs: the witches (supernatural influences in the play), the idea of fair being foul, and the stormy fate of Scotland. The main character, Macbeth, is also introduced by name, linking him to the witches.


2. What does Duncan call Macbeth when he hears Macbeth has defeated Macdonwald?

He calls him "valiant Cousin! Worthy gentleman!" (Later, we find this was quite ironic, being said to the man who will be his murderer.)


Who is sentenced to death?

The Thane of Cawdor is sentenced to death as a traitor.


What do the witches predict in I.iii for Macbeth? For Banquo?

They predict Macbeth will be Thane of Cawdor and eventually the king. They predict that Banquo will be "lesser than Macbeth, and greater, Not so happy, and yet happier" and that his descendants will be kings although he will not be one.


What news does Ross bring Macbeth?

Ross tells Macbeth that Macbeth now holds the title of the Thane of Cawdor.


Banquo, like Macbeth, is surprised that the witches have predicted Macbeth's new title. He is, however, leery. What does he say about the motives of the "instruments of darkness"?

He says they often tell of good things which may happen without telling the bad consequences.


Malcolm describes Cawdor's last moments before execution. What is Duncan's reply?

You can't tell what is in a person's heart by looking at his face. (Things are not what they seem!)


Macbeth says, "Stars, hide your fires, Let not light see my black and deep desires." What are Macbeth's desires?

He now desires to be the king, and he realizes that something will have to be done with the present king (and his sons) before his desires can become reality.


After Lady Macbeth reads the letter, what does she tell us is her opinion of Macbeth, and how does she plan to help him?

In short, Lady Macbeth thinks Macbeth could be a good king, but he lacks the hardheartedness which would allow him to get to the position. She'll talk him into it.


What is Lady Macbeth's "prayer" to the spirits after she learns Duncan is coming?

She wants to be filled with cruelty, given a hard heart and the thick blood necessary to do what has to be done in order to make Macbeth king.


What advice does Lady Macbeth give Macbeth when he arrives home?

She tells him he must learn to look innocent even when his heart is full of evil. He has to learn to hide his true feelings. (Things not being as they seem!)


What are Macbeth's arguments to himself against killing Duncan?

If Macbeth kills Duncan, then he is setting a precedent that subjects can kill kings and be rewarded with the kingship (around 8-10). Macbeth is Duncan's kinsman and his subject, as well as his host. (12-16). Duncan is a good king and virtuous man; he has done no particular evil. Duncan is a popular king, and his death would bring sorrow and unrest upon Scotland (16-20 and to end).


What arguments does Lady Macbeth use to convince Macbeth to commit the murder?

She tells him not to be a coward, not to say later that he "could have been" when he could now "be" king. She tells him to be a man and go get what he wants. She says if she had made the promise to do so, that she would have killed her own baby to carry out that promise.


What is Lady Macbeth's plan?

She will drug the kings grooms (guards) with their drink. Macbeth will then go into the king's room and murder him in his sleep. They will plant the weapons on the guards to make them appear guilty.


What atmosphere is established in Scene 1?

The scene is filled with Witches, thunder and lightning, which creates a dark and sinister atmosphere


How does Banquo describe the Witches when he first sees them upon the heath?

He calls them “withered” and “wild” in their attire; “That they look not like the inhabitants o’ the’ earth;” and that they “should be women...yet [their] beards forbid [him] to interpret that [they] are so.”


In Scene 1 the Witches say, “Foul is fair and fair is foul.” Which characters do you consider fair or foul?

The Witches are foul because they are evil. Macbeth and Banquo seem to be fair because of their loyalty and bravery. However, Macbeth reveals his plan to murder Duncan and his character is viewed differently. Lady Macbeth is foul. Macdonwald is foul because he is a traitor. The Captain and Duncan are fair because the Captain fought bravely and the King supports him and is compassionate regarding the Captain’s injury.


Why do you think Shakespeare opened Scene 3 with the Witches discussing an evil deed they have committed?

The Witches are capable of creating situations that are evil and destructive. However, their powers are limited as they cannot destroy, but they have the power to create an atmosphere where destruction can easily occur.


What prophesies do the Witches make for Macbeth and Banquo?

The Witches state that Macbeth will be Thane of Cawdor and King. They go on to tell Banquo that his son’s will be kings


What does Lady Macbeth mean when she says of Macbeth, “Yet do I fear they nature. It is too full o’ the milk of human kindness. To catch the nearest way”?

Lady Macbeth feels that Macbeth is kind and he may not be able to overcome his fears to kill Duncan. She fears his conscience will override his ambition to be King.


Macbeth is having second thoughts about killing Duncan. What are the reasons he gives? Based on these reasons what does he decide?

Macbeth is torn between his ambition and his conscience. He gives several reasons why he should not kill Duncan: 1) Duncan is his cousin; 2) He is a loyal subject to the King; 3) Duncan is his friend; 4) Duncan has never abused his royal power; and 5) Duncan is a guest in his home. Based on these reasons, Macbeth decides not to follow through with the murder of Duncan.


What does Lady Macbeth mean when she says, “Was hope drunk Wherein you dress yourself? Hath it slept since? And wakes it now to look so green and pale”?

Lady Macbeth is questioning Macbeth why he has changed his mind about killing Duncan. She is asking him what has happened to his ambition.


What decision does Macbeth make at the end of Act I? What has Lady Macbeth said to influence his decision?

Lady Macbeth persuades Macbeth to follow through with the plan to murder Duncan. She calls him a coward and less than a man, prodding Macbeth to follow her plan. Macbeth agrees to murder Duncan that night.