William Shakespeare's Macbeth :Important Short Questions & Answers from Act I

Act – I
Scene – I

  •  How do the witches appear?

            The witches appear in thunder, lightning and rain on a deserted place.

  •  What is meant by ‘hurlyburly’?

            Hurlyburly means confused noise, din of battle.

  • Which are the familiars of the three witches?

            The first witch has as her familiar a small gray cat, the second a paddock i.e. a toad, and the third a Harpier.

Try To Answer these Questions: Does the scene accomplish anything, either in starting the story or in throwing light on any of the characters? Had the rest of the play been lost, what conclusion might have been drawn in regard to the nature of the entire drama?

Scene – II
Heath Scene @ Polanski's Macbeth

  •  How does Malcolm recognize the bleeding captain?

            Malcolm recognizes the bleeding captain as the sergeant who fought against his captivity in the battle.

  • Give the meaning of ‘kerns’ and ‘gallow glasses’?

            ‘Kerns’ means light armed Irish infantry. ‘Gallow glasses’ means heavy armed Irish infantry.

  • How did Macbeth kill Macdonwald?

            Macbeth ripped open his body from navel to face.

  •  How led the second battle and with whose help?

            The second battle was led by Norwegian lord Sweno with the help of  the Thane of Cawdor.

  •  What is meant by ‘Golgotha’?

            ‘Golgotha’ means a place of skulls. It is the name of a place near Jerusalem where public executions took place.

  •  What do you understand by Bellona’s bride groom?

            Bellona’s bridegroom refers to Macbeth Bellona is the Roman goddess of War, here Macbeth is called the husband of the goddess of war.

Try To Answer these Questions: How old is Duncan and how costumed? What impression does S. wish him to make? What is the purpose of scene? Did scene 1 give any idea of Macbeth's character? Had the rest of the play been lost, should you have concluded from scene 2 that Macbeth was a noble man? Why not have the battle represented on the stage?

Scene III

  •  What are Macbeth’s first words in the play?

            Macbeth’s first words are ‘so foul and fair a day I have not sun’.

  •  Who first saw the witches and where?

            It was Banquo who first saw the witches on a heath near Forres.

  •  Why could the witches not be interpreted as women?

            The witches looked like women but they could not be interpreted as women as they were bearded.

  •  What is the name of the rebellious general?


  •  How did the third witch greet Macbeth on the heath?

            The third witch greeted Macbeth as that he should be king thereafter.

  • “Macbeth: Stay, you imperfect speakers, tell me more:”- Who are the ‘imperfect speakers’? Why are they termed ‘imperfect’?

The ‘imperfect speakers’ are the three witches.
They are termed ‘imperfect’ because what they say are unintelligible. Macbeth wonders how he can be the Thane of Cawdor because he does not yet know of the Thane’s treachery. As for kingship, that is simply incredible and hence, this reaction.

  • What was the witches’ prodhecy to Banquo?

            The third witch made the prophecy that Banquo would be the father of king, though he would be none.

  • How did Banquo warn Macbeth against the fulfillment of a part of the prophecy to him?

            Banquo warned that the witches tell trifling truth to ultimately harm them.

  •  How did Banquo explain Macbeth’s absorption in thought?

            Banquo explained that Macbeth had got the newhonour, the Thaneship of Cawdor, which like new garments did not fit body.

  •  What did Banquo say when a part of the prophecy to Macbeth is fulfil.

            Banquo wondered, ‘what, can the Devil speak true’?

Try To Answer these Questions: What is the dramatic purpose of Macbeth's first words: So foul and fair? What is the purpose of asides and soliloquies?

Scene- IV

  •  “Let not light see my black and deep desires’ - 

            What are the ‘black’ and deep desires?

            The black desires of Macbeth are his sinful thoughts of murdering King Duncan.

  • Who is declared the prince of Cumberland?

            Malcolm Duncan’s eldest son was declared the prince of Cumberland by the king.

Try To Answer these Questions: Is a man ever guilty of a crime before he has actually committed it in deed?

Scene – V

  •  ‘It is two full of the milk of human kindness. / To catch the nearest way’ – What is the nearest way?

            The nearest way referred to here is murdering the king.

  • Comment on Macbeth’s letter and Lady Macbeth’s reply?

Macbeth has written in a clear and ordered manner and has kept his excitement in check. The letter is in prose and Lady Macbeth’s response to it is in blank verse .His language is largely non-figurative (literal).  Lady Macbeth’s speech is strong in both rhythms and imagery. She is immediately more passionate about the prospect before them than Macbeth has so far been.

  •  Whom did Lady Macbeth invoke to help her on reading Macbeth’s letter?

            Lady Macbeth invoked The murdering ministers to help her.

  •  Explain the lines:

I fear thy nature;
It is too full o' the milk of human kindness

To catch the nearest way:

Rather than the simple meaning of ‘Lady Macbeth thinks Macbeth is too kind to kill Duncan,’, it can be a general reflection human nature .Lady Macbeth fears Macbeth’s ‘nature’, she says. But she doesn’t simply mean that he’s too weak for the job. It is his human nature which is at fault. According to her speech , it can be said that To become truly great we must be prepared to deny our inheritance and act ruthlessly in our own self-interest. So Lady Macbeth, in other words, wants Mankind to take a different path in his evolution.

  •  Who first gave the news of the king’s coming in the castle?

            A messenger told Lady Macbeth that the king was coming that night.

Try To Answer these Questions: Had he and his wife thought, previous to the battle, of killing the king?

Scene VI       
  •  How does Duncan praise Macbeth’s castle?

            Duncan praised the castle as a pleasant at appealing deliciously to his senses.

  • Which is the guest of summer?

            The guest of summer is martlet, a kind of bird, house martin.

  •  What is meant by ‘coign of vantage’.

            Coign of vantage means convenient corner, corner of vantage.

  •  Who says ‘we rest your hermits’ and what did she mean?

            Lady Macbeth said this to Duncan when she arrived to Macbeth’s castle. She meant to say that they were his beads men, bound to pray for the king’s long life.

Try To Answer these Questions: Explain: temple-haunting, loved mansionry, coign of vantage, we rest your hermits, purveyor, By your leave, hostess .

Scene – VII

  •  “He is here in double trust” – Who is referred to here? What is the “double trust”?

            Here Duncan is referred to by ‘he’. The double trust means, first, Macbeth’s being Duncan’s kinsman and his subject, and second, he is the host that might and Duncan is his guest.

  •  With which ‘pity’ is compared by Macbeth?

            Pity is very like a nacked ‘new born babe’, a picture of helpless innocence.

  •  What is meant by ‘cat in the adage’?

            It is proverbial cat that would eat fish but not wet her feet.

  • How do you know that Lady Macbeth is essentially a women of motherly instinct?

            The lady said that she had been a mother to a child and she knows how tender it is to love the suckling child.

  • Why would Macbeth not proceed to murder the king?

            Macbeth argues that the king has honoured him recently and he has received golden opinion from a people, and he would enjoy them.

Try To Answer these Questions:  Is the audience sure, at the close of the scene, that the murder will be committed?

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