1. Pick one or two of the following characters from the play and describe their qualities, using examples from Act I. What kind of people are they? What are their strengths and weaknesses?
MacBeth Lady MacBeth
Lady MacBeth: A strong headed individual who goes for what she wants, also a motherly figure who wants the best for her husband. Strength: She is Strong headed and motherly, she is determined and knows what she wants. Weakness: She is short sighted, and does not think of the possible consequences of her actions Ex. In pushing her husband to commit regicide, he was later killed.
2. An aside is when a sentence or two is spoken in an undertone by one character to the audience or to another character. It is understood that the other characters on stage do not hear the aside. Asides help the audience know a character better by allowing that character to privately express feelings, opinions, and reactions. In all of Act I, who is the only character to speak in asides or to instigate aside exchanges between two characters? Act I, scene iii, has more asides than the rest of the play combined. Considering that asides are, in essence, secrets or whispers kept from the rest of the characters, and considering who is speaking the asides, what does this imply about that character?
In Act I, the only character to speak in asides is MacBeth. When MacBeth is speaking in asides in Act I Scene III, it is implied that MacBeth is being secretive, and that he believes he is already a murder. It also shows us that he has things to hide.
3. Foreshadowing is a literary device by which the author hints at events to come later in the play. At the end of scene i, the three witches chant together “Fair is foul, and foul is fair.” As you look at Act I, what are the witches foreshadowing? What do you think this foreshadows for the rest of the play?
I believe that the witches are foreshadowing what is to come of MacBeth as they state that “Fair is foul, and foul is fair” meaning that good things become bad, or bad things soon become good. This is shown in MacBeth because in Act II Scene I Duncan dies and MacBeth becomes king, though later on, as a result of his act of regicide, MacBeth dies in a fight against MacDuff.
4. The pacing of MacBeth is rapid-fire—there are many drastic scene changes, and events move very quickly. How do you think this rapid change of circumstances affects MacBeth’s ability to sort through events and come to decisions?
With MacBeth being a rather fast paced play, the character MacBeth has little to no time to think thoroughly about his actions. This then leads him to follow what other characters are telling him without fully thinking through the possible consequences.
5. A soliloquy is a speech a character makes when alone on stage, generally to provide background information or express what she is thinking. In Lady Ma c b e t h’s soliloquy at the start of scene v, from what “we a k n e s s e s” does she say Ma c b e t h suffers? To what “illness” do you think Lady MacBeth refers when she says MacBeth is “not without ambition, but without/ The illness should attend it”?
I believe that Lady MacBeth is stating that MacBeth’s weakness is being overly honest. When Lady MacBeth says “not without ambition, but without/ The illness should attend it” I believe that she is referring to the fact that MacBeth does have a plan to become king, but being as honest as he is, and knowing it is wrong to kill Duncan, he will not proceed with his plan.
6. When does MacBeth first consider murdering the king? What does this tell us about MacBeth?
MacBeth first considers killing King Duncan shortly after he hears the prophecy from the witches.
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