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Macbeth Act II

Notes and Answers to Study Sheet Questions

Act II Scene 1

Look at the questions that are asked on the side of the scene. See if you can answer them. Some are hard, some are easy. If you can’t answer a particular question, e-mail me.

Notice that it is very dark. There is no moon and no stars (There’s husbandry in heaven) A good night for murder.

Banquo is excited by the witches’ prophecy, but he resolves to be loyal to Duncan.

Hallucinations! Yes, I love this scene. Can’t you just picture Macbeth so overwrought that he is seeing a dagger dripping with blood pointing the way? He is so "into" it that in his mind the deed is done. He can not back out now. Notice the last three lines - I go, and it is done; the bell invites me. Hear it not, Duncan; for it is a knell that summons thee to heaven or to hell. Macbeth will say something like this later on in the play. Keep it in mind.

Act II Scene 2

What is Lady Macbeth’s weakness here? (hint - lines 14-15)

Notice how Macbeth and Lady Macbeth interact. For a while, Macbeth is not even aware of Lady Macbeth. He’s rambling. Notice the "sleep" and "blood" images. These will be recurring images throughout the play. Why does Macbeth feel he will not sleep? (oops - there’s the clothing image again. Can you see it?)

What does Lady Macbeth notice that Macbeth has forgotten?

Blood, blood, blood - What hands are here? Ha! They pluck out mine eyes. Will all great Neptune’s ocean wash this blood clean from my hand? No, this my hand will rather the multitudinous seas incarnadine, making the green one red. - Oh what a great scene. I wish I were there with you, or at least be hooked up to the ITV room. It would be great. Can’t you picture Macbeth holding up his hands, despairing over them. Then in comes Lady Macbeth with equally bloody hands, yet she "shames to wear a heart so white." Yeah, right, wait until later in the play. Her line "A little water clears us of this deed" is another ironic line.

Last lines - Macbeth is regretting what he’s done? Again, he will say something like this later in the play.

Act II Scene 3

Porter scene is comic relief - yes, it is on the border of obscene. See if you can pick up the innuendo. Why is comic relief needed here? Of course, it’s to relieve the tension of the previous scene for the audience.

What is Macbeth referring to when he says "’Twas a rough night"?

How do Lennox and Macduff react to the murder?

Why does Macbeth kill the guards? (look - the clothing image again) Why does Lady Macbeth faint? How do each of the guests react at each point during the scene? What do the sons say about the whole mess? What will they do? Why? Again notice Donalbain’s line "There’s daggers in men’s smiles" - "fair is foul"

I would suggest spending time on scenes 2 and 3. There are some heavy duty things in there.

Act II Scene 4

Ah! Look at those unnatural occurrences! Remember the Chain of Being from last year? No, well, I’ll tell you. The Elizabethans believed that the universe had a natural order. Each being had a place in that order - God at the top, the Arch Angels, the angels, the seraphim, etc, pope, kings, etc. , even down to the animal kingdom. When the order was upset, the whole chain would reflect the "disorder." So, we now have regicide in Scotland. How does this scene reflect the "shaking" of the Chain of Being?

What is Macduff’s feelings here?

Notice the last lines again - "…and with those that would make good of bad, and friends of foes!"

Answers to Act II Study Sheet Questions

1. Shakespeare is juxtaposing Banquo’s loyalty with Macbeth’s treachery. It also serves to have a creditably witness seeing Macbeth roaming the halls late at night.

2. Banquo has been thinking of what the witches have said.

3. Macbeth is asking Banquo if he will ally himself with Macbeth in future. Banquo answers that he will in any honorable endeavor. He tells Macbeth that he is loyal to Duncan.

4. Macbeth is hallucinating. He is seeing a dagger and then a dagger with blood in the air. Macbeth knows it is the stress of what he is about to do that is causing this.

5. Lady Macbeth’s weakness is that she couldn’t kill Duncan because he looked like her father. I guess it didn’t do too much good when she prayed to the evil spirits to make her hard.

6. The guilt of killing Duncan will cause Macbeth to lose sleep.

7. The water will wipe off the physical evidence of the murder but nothing will clear the deed with its guilt from their consciences.

8. Comic relief is a funny scene put into a play to break the tension of the previous scene.

9. He is speaking of the murdering of Duncan.

10. Banquo is aghast!

11. Macbeth kills the guards so they can not be questioned about the previous night.

12. If you believe Lady Macbeth fakes the faint - She faints to draw attention off Macbeth and to make it seem that the murder is such a shock for her.

If you believe Lady Macbeth really faints - She is surprised that Macbeth has murdered the guards. That was not part of the plan. Also, it’s possible that everything is catching up to her.

13. Malcolm and Donalbain, the king’s sons, are planning to get out of Scotland. They know that whoever killed their father will be gunning for them next and they are not going to take and chances.

14. Macbeth - feigns horror

Lady Macbeth - also feigns horror and faints

Banquo - is truly horrified, maybe even is suspicious of Macbeth already

Sons - decide to get out of town

Oops! I forgot a number 15

16. The four unnatural occurrences are 1. Day is as dark as night - eclipse 2. Falcon is taken by a mousing owl 3. Duncan’s horses become wild and bite at each other 4. Sons kill their father

17. Shakespeare uses cosmic events to show the severity of the crime of killing the king.

18. The "breeches" in nature are both the unnatural occurrences and the stab wounds on Duncan.

19. Macduff is suspicious of Macbeth.

20. This line means that Macduff hopes the people of Scotland do not wish for the times of Duncan over those of Macbeth. He is hoping that the old robes, Duncan, will not be better than the new robes, Macbeth.

21. Fleance symbolically represents life, hope, the future. As verbal scenery, he serves the purpose of setting the stage. It is through the conversation between his father and him that we learn it is dark out and there are no stars or moon. We also "see" that Banquo is carrying something and he passes it to Fleance. This is "verbal" stage direction.