Macbeth Study Guide 2010 completed

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Brit. Lit. 12, 4.0
Macbeth Study Guide
Discussion Questions: Act One
1. How does the director Polanski set the mood for the film? Opens in silence –
beach @ sunset, sounds of seagulls, beach scene turns blue.
2. How are the witches shown? One young, two old – dressed in rags. Oldest
one appears to be blind.
3. What do the witches bury? Noose, hand with dagger in it, herbs. Pour blood
over it and spit on the covered items.
4. How does Duncan receive the news of Macbeth and Banquo’s success in
battle? He is met by a bloody messenger; he later sees Cawdor, takes the
chain which indicates the thane title from Cawdor’s neck and sends it to
Macbeth to reward him with this new title and its accompanying lands and
5. How are we introduced to Macbeth and Banquo? They are executing soldiers
(in the background); then they ride off into fog and a heavy rain.
6. How do the witches deliver their predictions? Macbeth and Banquo are by
some rocks where they talk to the witches who leave and go into a rocky
building. Macbeth and Banquo ride away laughing at the witches and their
predictions that Macbeth will be thane of Cawdor and king, and Banquo’s
descendents will be kings.
7. How does Macbeth become the Thane of Cawdor? Two men arrive at
Macbeth’s camp and give him the thane of Cawdor’s chain. Macbeth starts
to believe the witches.
8. How is the death of Cawdor shown? He is led to a ledge in the castle; he
jumps off and the chains around his neck strangle him.
9. How does Lady Macbeth react to Macbeth’s letter? She says to herself that
Macbeth will be what has been promised to him by the witches, but she
thinks he lacks the ruthlessness to seize the kingship.
10. What threatens Macbeth’s hope in the witches’ predictions for him? King
Duncan announces his eldest son Malcolm will be his heir to the throne
(Prince of Cumberland).
11. How is Lady Macbeth shown or portrayed? She is young and beautiful; she
and Macbeth seem to be in love.
12. What does Lady Macbeth tell Macbeth when he tells her Duncan is coming?
She tells him to leave the preparation for the murder of Duncan to her.
13. As Duncan arrives, what does Lady Macbeth pray? She prays for the evil
spirits to take away her feminine traits (“unsex me”) that might prevent her
from going through with the murder of Duncan.
14. What happens when Duncan arrives at Inverness (Macbeth’s castle)? A
thunderstorm breaks out; Lady Macbeth greets him as the perfect hostess.
15. What does Macbeth do at dinner? He spends time thinking about the
murder; he leaves the banquet table to do so.
16. What reasons does Macbeth have for not murdering Duncan? 1). Duncan is
a relative and the king’s subject, 2). Macbeth is Duncan’s host; he should
protect him, 3). Duncan is a good king and a good man.
17. What does Lady Macbeth get angry about when Macbeth says he is not going
through with the murder? She tells him that he is not a man, that he does
not love her, that he is a coward, and that he should not have involved her if
he wasn’t going to go through with it.
18. What is Lady Macbeth’s plan? She will get the guards drunk and add drugs
also to the drink; they will then kill Duncan; and they will use the guards’
daggers (knives) to commit the murder so it will look like the guards did it.
19. How does Macbeth react? He tells her to have “men children” only so they
will inherit her strong will.
20. How are Macbeth’s visions of the dagger shown? First it is shown floating in
front of him, leading him to Duncan’s chamber; then it is shown the same
but covered in blood.
21. How is the murder of Duncan treated in the film? Macbeth enters, hesitates
as Duncan awakes. Macbeth jumps on him and stabs him repeatedly. The
crown falls on the floor. Then Macbeth finishes him by stabbing him in the
22. What happens when Macbeth returns to Lady Macbeth? He is covered in
blood, especially his hands. He accidentally brings the bloody daggers but
refuses to take them back (he does not want to look again on what he has
done). She takes them back and smears the guards with Duncan’s blood.
23. What happens when Lady Macbeth returns from Duncan’s chamber
(room)? She tells Macbeth to wash the blood off, that it will wash the murder
away. Both change into their nightgowns so it won’t look like they have been
up all night.
Discussion Questions: Act Two
1. What is Macbeth’s lie to Banquo about the witches’ predictions? When they
both have time, they should take time to talk about the predictions. It’s a lie
b/c he has already acted on the prediction that he should be king.
2. When Macbeth hears a voice saying, “Macbeth doth murder sleep,” what
does Lady Macbeth tell him to do? Do not think about it.
3. How does Lennox describe the night, and what is Macbeth’s response?
“night was unruly with strange screams” and Macbeth replies that it has
been a rough night
4. What did Macduff discover? Duncan’s murder – he goes immediately to
waken everyone – to ring the alarm bell.
5. Who enters Duncan’s bedroom? Lennox and Macbeth. Lennox picks up the
crown from the floor
6. What happens to the guards? They awake and see themselves smeared with
blood. They are dazed and confused. Macbeth takes Lennox’s sword and
kills them.
7. How does Malcolm react to the news of his father’s murder? He goes to the
scene to see for himself. (remember – Malcolm is the king’s oldest son and he
is supposed to inherit the throne – become king)
8. How does Macduff react? He wants to know why Macbeth killed the guards
so quickly (without investigation).
9. What does Lady Macbeth do? Faints at the sight of the murdered guards
10. What happens in Duncan’s bedroom? Everyone is there. Duncan is placed
on the bed. They clean the body and room of the blood. Prepare him for
11. Why do Malcolm and Donalbain leave? And how do they leave? They fear
they might be next b/c they are not sure who did this murder. They do not
know whom to trust so they leave quickly without telling anyone. Malcolm
flees to England, and Donalbain, the youngest son, flees to Ireland.
12. How does the film director Polanski show the change of power in Scotland?
Macduff leads Duncan’s funeral cortage out of the castle, but he says he is
going home to his castle in Fife. Ross will go to Scone for Macbeth’s
crowning (coronation).
13. How is Macbeth’s coronation shown? He is dressed in white, places bare feet
in prints on the stone of Scone. In a voice over, Banquo tells of his suspicions
that Macbeth killed Duncan. Meanwhile, Macbeth accepts sword and
scepter of the king as they lift him on a shield.
Discussion Questions: Act Three
1. How does Polanski show Macbeth as king? He entertains at his castle;
crowds enjoy being there. Macbeth invites Banquo to a banquet.
2. Why does Macbeth want Banquo and Fleance dead? Because Banquo will
father kings. Macbeth hopes it will make his throne secure for both him and
his descendents.
3. What does Macbeth tell Lady Macbeth? That he won’t be safely king until
there are not threats to his rule.
4. What is Macbeth’s plan for Banquo’s and Fleance’s deaths? He hires two
murderers who will attack them while on their ride.
5. What happens when the murderers leave? Macbeth dreams: Fleance reaches
for the crown. Macbeth reaches, too, but Fleance pushes his hand away.
Fleance in armor puts on the crown and puts an arrow to Macbeth’s neck.
6. Whom does Ross meet in the forest? The two murderers to help attack
Banquo and Fleance
7. Does Macbeth’s plan work? No, Fleance escapes (Banquo is murdered,
8. What does Macbeth do to the murderers? Macbeth has Ross kill them: he
throws them in a deep well. Now we know for sure that Ross is working for
9. Who or what does Macbeth see at the banquet table? Banquo’s ghost –
Macbeth thinks it is real (unlike the floating dagger which he knew was an
10. How is the ghost of Banquo presented? He sits at a table; turns around, is
dead looking and bloody. Then he comes toward Macbeth. In a third view,
he comes again with a falcon on his arm. Then he disappears for good.
11. How does Lady Macbeth cover for Macbeth? She says he has suffered from
this sickness since childhood; she then sends everyone home.
12. What does Macbeth decide to do now? Needs to go see the witches again.
Discussion Questions: Act Four
1. How do the witches appear now? More than 3 now: mixing a potion with
hideous ingredients – forshadowing something bad.
2. What do they tell Macbeth? He takes a drink from the potion, looks into the
cauldron and sees these visions:
a. “Beware Macduff” - he sees himself saying this.
b. Boy tells Macbeth, “Be Bloody, bold and resolute” and then a baby is
delivered by C-section. He then sees MacDuff appear – stabs at him
and we hear “Fear no man of woman born.”
c. Sees Malcolm and Donalbain who tell him that he cannot be defeated
until Birnam Wood “comes to Dunsinane” (which is a castle on a hill).
d. Sees Banquo on a throne in royal robes; he holds up a mirror and we
see his image repeated = his descendents will be kings.
3. Where is Macduff? Gone to the English court to raise support and an army
for Malcolm to come and attack Macbeth.
4. How does Polanski show Lady Macbeth’s madness? She is sleepwalking; she
thinks she sees blood on her hands.
5. How is the murder of the Macduff family shown? Children are playing; Ross
comes to speak w/ Lady Macduff, but as he leaves, he clearly arranges for the
door to the castle to be left open. Murderers come, kill boy, take Lady
Macduff, attack all, set castle on fire.
Discussion Questions: Act Five
1. What do the Doctor and the Nurse see Lady Macbeth doing? Sleepwalking
and talking about the murders of Duncan, Banquo and Macduff’s family.
2. What does Macbeth want the Doctor to do for his wife? Cure her mental
3. What news does Ross bring Macbeth? Malcolm has come with British forces
(10,000 strong).
4. Why is Macbeth unafraid? Not afraid of any man like Malcolm “of woman
5. What news does Ross bring to Macduff? That his entire household is dead –
his wife, his children, his servants – all.
6. What is Macduff’s reaction to this news? Covers his head, sobs, asks Ross to
confirm. Malcolm offers him a sword to direct his anger at Macbeth.
7. What is Macbeth’s reaction to the news about Malcolm? Remains defiant but
to himself privately he knows his reign is over.
8. How does Lady Macbeth die? Presumably jumps from her bedroom window.
9. How does Macbeth react to his wife’s death? Appears to feel nothing; says
she would have died sometime anyway – sees the body and walks away.
10. What is Macbeth’s reaction to the news that Birnam Wood is moving? Feels
afraid – sees the prophecy coming true and begins to believe that the witches
have fooled him.
11. What does Macbeth’s household servants and soldiers do? Flee the castle.
When the steward tries to stop them, he is shot in the head with an arrow.
They leave the gate unlocked as they go.
12. What does Macduff discover? Castle seems empty. Young Seward attacks
Macbeth first and is killed. Macbeth faces the entire army in the courtyard
of the castle.
13. What happens when Macbeth faces Macduff? Macbeth first refuses to fight
him b/c he has already killed too many of Macduff’s family, and he still
thinks he leads a “charmed life” that no one can touch him.
14. What happens when Macbeth hears that Macduff was born by Caesarian
section? He still fights “to the death” and refuses to be taken alive, but
Macduff fights hard b/c he wants to avenge his family’s deaths.
15. How does Macbeth die? He is decapitated by Macduff and his head is put on
a pike for all of the army outside of the castle to see. Ross removes his crown
and gives it to Malcolm.
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