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Macbeth – Study Notes – Act II Essay

1.Who accompanies Banquo at the opening of Act 2? What is his relation to Banquo?

Fleance is the one who accompanies Banquo. He is his son.

2.What is Macbeth’s hallucination before he murders Duncan? What does this mean?

Macbeth’s hallucination is a dagger which he wants to grasp but of course he can’t, and he realizes that he is seeing the dagger that he plans to use in the murder, a dagger which beckons him toward King Duncan’s door, and a dagger upon which appear thick drops of blood. He understands that “It is the bloody business which informs / Thus to mine eyes” (2.1.48-49), but he is not horrified. Rather, he wants to be as deadly as that dagger.

3.What reason does Lady Macbeth give for not committing the murder herself?

Duncan looks like a father and that is why Lady Macbeth does not want to commit the murder herself.

4.Why do Duncan’s sons decide to leave Scotland?

They doubted something and by leaving Scotland, they’ll have a little additional safety, because no one will be able to kill them both at once.

5.In Scene 2, why couldn’t Macbeth say “Amen” when a voice said “God Bless Us”?

In Scene 2, Macbeth could not say “Amen” when a voice said “God Bless US” because it was part of his hallucinations.

6.The images of blood and water are interwoven in lines 55-68 of Scene 2. What does each suggest?

It is the blood on his hands that causes this horrible fascination, and heĀ feels that the blood can never be washed away. Before his hands are clean, they will make all the seas of the world turn red. The water usually represents being free of something, wiping away the guilt, and bringing back innocence even though just metaphorically. By washing his hands with water Macbeth thought he would erase the guilt that was behind it.

7.How do the difficult attitudes of Macbeth and his wife to their bloodstained hands serve to point up the basic difference in their characters?

Both Macbeth and his wife want to clean their hands by using water, but Macbeth feels as if the blood will never go away because he is really feeling guilty for the crime he committed. While his wife, Lady Macbeth thinks that the water will clean the blood, and everything will be as before.

8.What is ironic about Macduff’s replying to Ross’ question, “Those that Macbeth hath slain” (Line 23)?

Macbeth told them already what went on, but they were still discussing it because apparently Macbeth didn’t convince them much. It is ironic because Macbeth was the one who killed both King Duncan and the grooms.


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