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Macbeth – Study Guide – Act I Essay

1.Why is Scotland at war at the opening of the play?

Scotland is at war at the opening of the play because Mackdonwald, a rebel, was trying to overthrow Duncan and make a deal with the King of Norway.

2.What three predictions do the witches make in Scene 3?

-Macbeth will be Thane of Glamis

-He will be Thane of Cawdor

-He will be King of Scotland.

3.Who is named heir to the Scottish throne?

Malcom is named heir to the Scottish throne since he is King Duncan’s oldest son.

4.What is the “double trust” that makes Macbeth hesitate to kill Duncan?

In Macbeth’s first soliloquy, he expresses his doubts about murdering the king. Among the reasons he should not kill the king are his “double bond” as kinsman (countryman) and subject, which should make him oppose the deed he is contemplating.

5.How do the murderers plan to implicate Duncan’s grooms?

They will smear the blood of Duncan on the sleeping chamberlains to cast the guilt upon them.

6.What atmosphere and tone are created in the short opening scene?

Macbeth opens with a scene which creates an atmosphere of foreboding and introduces the evil powers which are about to tempt Macbeth to his ruin. The tone of this scene is evil and intimidating.

7.When we are first introduced to Macbeth by the nobleman to Duncan, what is the reader’s initial impression?

The reader’s initial impression when we are first introduced to Macbeth by the nobleman to Duncan, is a good one regarding Macbeth. Duncan and the nobleman make us picture Macbeth as a brave, victorious general who knew what to do and who saved Scotland from losing the battle. Macbeth seems loyal to his King, Duncan!

8.In what ways is Banquo “lesser than Macbeth, and greater”?

Banquo is lesser than Macbeth meaning potentially since Macbeth is the King and has more power, but he (Banquo) is greater than Macbeth, not as happy as him, yet happier!

9.What impression do you form of Lady Macbeth Act I?

Lady Macbeth has a passion of ambition. Her disposition is high, proud, and commanding. We observe in her no love of country, and no interest in the welfare of anyone outside her family. Her habitual thoughts and aims are, and, we imagine, long have been, all of station and power. She supports and loves Macbeth but does not overshadow her husband.

10.How is Macbeth feeling in his soliloquy in the beginning of Scene 7? What is his state of mind?

Macbeth’s soliloquy shows that he shrinks from the murder of Duncan; his wife, however, forces him into action with her taunt that he is a coward. His fear foreshadows the way that his deeds will eventually come back to haunt him.

11.Shakespeare ends Act One with Macbeth and Lady Macbeth plotting the murder of Duncan.

a.How exactly do they plan to kill him?

While Duncan sleeps, she will give his chamberlains wine to make them drunk, and then she and Macbeth can slip in and murder Duncan.

b.What is the dramatic effect of concluding the act by letting us see the murder plot as it crystallizes?

Will he or won’t he? Audience is kept in a state of dramatic tension and suspense…

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