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Macbeth: Q & A

 How do you reconcile Macbeth's prompt murder of the grooms with his horror at the mere thought of killing Duncan, and his refusal to carry the bloody daggers back to the chamber?

 Is Lady Macbeth's swoon, on hearing of the murder of the grooms, real or feigned - and the grounds of your opinion?

 Describe the character of Macbeth in brief and compare Macbeth to Hamlet.

 What do you understand the Weird Sisters in Macbeth to be?

 Why are the Witches referred to as the Weird Sisters?

 Who is Hecate?

 Are the Witches' lines in iambic pentameter?

 Which three apparitions do the Witches show Macbeth?

 Why is Macbeth unlucky?

 Did Shakespeare write Macbeth for James I?

 Can you describe the relationship between Macbeth and the Witches?

 How did Shakespeare link symbolism and mysticism in Macbeth?

 How do you explain the difference in Lady Macbeth's manner towards Macbeth after the Banquo ghost scene (III.iv), as compared with her bearing after the murder of Duncan (II.ii) ?

 Why is Lady Macbeth's reading of the letter in prose?

 Do you regard Lady Macbeth as a suicide? And what do you consider the causes of her death?

 What effect does Lady Macbeth's death have upon Macbeth, and upon our feelings toward him?

 What is the significance of the line Bellona's bridegroom, lapp'd in proof (1.2)?

 What is the theme of Macbeth?

 How do Macbeth and Lady Macbeth act differently after Duncan's murder?

 Is Macbeth the Third Murderer?

 Why do we study an evil or failing character?

 What are Aristotle's rules of tragedy?

 Over what period of time does Macbeth take place?

 Did the historical Macbeth have children?


Even More

 A Comparison of Macbeth and Hamlet
 The Effect of Lady Macbeth's Death on Macbeth
 The Curse of Macbeth
 On the Knocking at the Gate in Macbeth

 Macbeth Q & A
 Essay Topics on Macbeth
 Aesthetic Examination Questions on Macbeth
 What is Tragic Irony?

 Stages of Plot Development in Macbeth
 Time Analysis of the Action in Macbeth
 Macbeth Study Quiz (with detailed answers)
 Quotations from Macbeth (Full)
 Top 10 Quotations from Macbeth

 Shakespeare's Workmanship: Crafting a Sympathetic Macbeth
 Origin of the Weird Sisters
 Temptation, Sin, Retribution: Lecture Notes on Macbeth
 Alchemy and Astrology in Shakespeare's Day

 Characteristics of Elizabethan Tragedy
 Why Shakespeare is so Important
 Shakespeare's Language
 Shakespeare's Influence on Other Writers

 Daily Life in Shakespeare's London
 Life in Stratford (structures and guilds)
 Life in Stratford (trades, laws, furniture, hygiene)
 Stratford School Days: What Did Shakespeare Read?

 Games in Shakespeare's England [A-L]
 Games in Shakespeare's England [M-Z]
 An Elizabethan Christmas
 Clothing in Elizabethan England

 Queen Elizabeth: Shakespeare's Patron
 King James I of England: Shakespeare's Patron
 The Earl of Southampton: Shakespeare's Patron
 Going to a Play in Elizabethan London

 Ben Jonson and the Decline of the Drama
 Publishing in Elizabethan England
 Shakespeare's Audience
 Religion in Shakespeare's England

 Entertainment in Elizabethan England
 London's First Public Playhouse
 Shakespeare Hits the Big Time

Quote in Context

Hold, take my sword. There's husbandry in heaven;
Their candles are all out. Take thee that too.
A heavy summons lies like lead upon me,
And yet I would not sleep: merciful powers,
Restrain in me the cursed thoughts that nature
Gives way to in repose!
                                                       Macbeth (2.1), Banquo

The stars (heaven's candles) are dark because the angels in heaven are trying to economize. The "that" in the above passage could be a number of things, and on stage you will see many different interpretations. Some think "that" here refers to Banquo's helmet or shield. Others think Banquo might be handing Fleance his cloak. Langford (Swan Shakespeare) believes it might be the diamond mentioned in line 15. Read on...

More to Explore

 Macbeth: The Complete Play with Commentary
 The Metre of Macbeth: Blank Verse and Rhymed Lines
 Macbeth Character Introduction
 Metaphors in Macbeth (Biblical)
 Figures of Speech in Macbeth

 Supernatural Solicitings in Shakespeare
 Shakespeare on Omens
 The Three Apparitions in Macbeth


Did You Know? ... The German scholar, Gervinus, has contrasted the characters of Hamlet and Macbeth. There are seven main differences:

1. Hamlet is called upon by the "honest ghost" of his father to do a righteous deed. Macbeth is tempted by doubtful riddles, by the powers of evil, to do an unjust and unnatural deed.

2. Nature and reason spur Hamlet on. Nature and reason restrain Macbeth.

3. Hamlet, though urged to action, lingers, in the hope that the result may arise of itself. Macbeth, who is advised to wait, snatches at the result beforehand.

Read all seven...


 Macbeth, Duncan and Shakespeare's Changes
 Contemporary References to King James I in Macbeth
 The Royal Patent that Changed Shakespeare's Life

 Soliloquy Analysis: If it were done when 'tis done (1.7.1-29)
 Soliloquy Analysis: Is this a dagger (2.1.33-61)
 Soliloquy Analysis: To be thus is nothing (3.1.47-71)
 Soliloquy Analysis: She should have died hereafter (5.5.17-28)

 Explanatory Notes for Lady Macbeth's Soliloquy (1.5)
 The Psychoanalysis of Lady Macbeth (Sleepwalking Scene)
 Is Lady Macbeth's Swoon Real?

 Explanatory Notes for the Witches' Chants (4.1)
 Macbeth Plot Summary (Acts 1 and 2)
 Macbeth Plot Summary (Acts 3, 4 and 5)
 How to Stage a Production of Macbeth (Scene Suggestions)