Get notes, workbook solutions, summary, questions and answers, and pdf of the drama/play Macbeth (Act 1 Scene 5) by William Shakespeare which is part of ISC Class 11 English. However, the notes should only be treated for references and changes should be made according to the needs of the students.
Act 1 Scene 5 of Macbeth begins with Lady Macbeth reading a letter from her husband. In the letter, Macbeth tells her about the witches’ prophecies and how they have already started to come true. This excites Lady Macbeth and she immediately starts planning for Macbeth to become king, as the witches predicted.
However, Lady Macbeth worries that her husband is too kind and gentle to take the throne by force. She calls upon spirits to fill her with cruelty and to stop any feelings of remorse she might have. She wants to be filled with the ruthlessness necessary to seize power.
A servant then enters and informs Lady Macbeth that King Duncan is coming to their castle that night. Lady Macbeth sees this as the perfect opportunity to kill the king and fulfill the witches’ prophecy. She tells Macbeth to look innocent while she prepares for the murder.
When Macbeth enters, Lady Macbeth tells him about her plan. Macbeth is hesitant, but Lady Macbeth convinces him to go along with the plan. She tells him to leave everything to her and to maintain a peaceful appearance to avoid arousing suspicion. The scene ends with them preparing for King Duncan’s arrival and the subsequent murder.
Multiple Choice Questions (MCQs)
Select the correct option for each of the following questions:
1. Macbeth sent the news to Lady Macbeth about the partial fulfillment of the prophecies of the witches by way of a
Answer: a. letter
2. The messenger’s voice announcing the arrival of Duncan to Inverness was as hoarse as a
Answer: b. Raven
3. Lady Macbeth calls upon the spirits to fill her from top to toe with
Answer: C. direst cruelty
4. Fill in the blanks in the following extract.
Come, thick Night, And …….thee in the ………of ….………. That my ……… knife would not see the wound it makes, Nor ………peep through the blanket of the dark, To cry, ‘……………..
Answer: Come, thick Night, And pall thee in the dunnest smoke of hell, That my keen knife would not see the wound it makes, Nor heaven peep through the blanket of the dark, To cry, ‘Hold, hold!’.
5. Lady Macbeth tells Macbeth to look like the
Answer: d. the innocent flower with the serpant under it
Read the extracts given below and answer the questions that follow:
1. Lady Macbeth: Yet I do fear thy nature;
It is too full of human kindness
To catch the nearest way.
a. Which three characteristics of Macbeth have been highlighted by Lady Macbeth just before this extract?
Answer: The three characteristics of Macbeth highlighted by Lady Macbeth just before this extract are:
- He is full of the milk of human kindness.
- He has ambition but lacks the ruthlessness to achieve his ambitions.
- He would prefer to achieve his goals honestly rather than deceitfully
b. What information about the ‘weird sisters’ did Macbeth’s letter contain?
Answer: Macbeth’s letter contained the following information about the ‘weird sisters’:
- They had supernatural knowledge.
- They vanished into thin air when Macbeth tried to question them further.
- They greeted Macbeth as the Thane of Cawdor before calling him ‘the future king’.
- They referred to Macbeth as ‘Thane of Cawdor’ and ‘Hail, king that shalt be!’
c. What is Lady Macbeth’s assessment of her husband’s character? How far is she correct in her assessment?
Answer: Lady Macbeth’s assessment of her husband’s character is as follows:
- She believes that Macbeth is too kind and lacks the ruthlessness to seize the crown.
- She thinks that he has ambition but lacks the ‘illness’ or wickedness that should accompany it.
- She perceives that Macbeth wants to achieve his goals honestly and would not play false to win.
- She also notes that Macbeth desires things that he is afraid to do what is necessary to achieve.
As for the accuracy of her assessment, it’s largely correct at the beginning of the play. Macbeth is initially reluctant to murder Duncan to become king. However, under Lady Macbeth’s influence and his own growing ambition, he eventually succumbs to his darker desires and commits regicide. This shows that Lady Macbeth’s assessment was correct to some extent, but she underestimated the potential for Macbeth’s ambition to drive him to extreme actions.
d. How does she intend to instill that courage in her husband?
Answer: Lady Macbeth intends to instill courage in her husband by:
- Pouring her spirits into his ear, meaning she will influence him with her own ambition and determination.
- Chastising with the valour of her tongue all that impedes him from the golden round, or the crown. She plans to use her persuasive skills to eliminate any doubts or fears he might have.
- She is ready to take charge of the night’s great business, implying she will plan and manage the murder of Duncan.
e. What can you conclude about the courage and determination of Lady Macbeth?
Answer: Lady Macbeth is extremely courageous and determined. She is ready to go to any lengths to achieve her ambitions. Here are some points that highlight her courage and determination:
- She calls upon the spirits to unsex her and fill her with cruelty, showing her readiness to abandon her feminine qualities and embrace harshness and cruelty to achieve her goals.
- She wishes to have her blood thickened and her remorse blocked, indicating her determination to carry out her plans without any guilt or regret.
- She is ready to take charge of the night’s great business, implying she will plan and manage the murder of Duncan.
- She tells Macbeth to leave all the rest to her, showing her willingness to take responsibility for their actions.
These instances clearly show Lady Macbeth’s courage and determination to seize the throne for Macbeth, regardless of the moral implications.
2. Thou ‘ldst have, great Glamis,
That which cries, Thus thou must do, ‘if thou have it;
And that which rather thou dost fear to do,
Than wishes should be undone. Hie thee hither,
That I may pour my spirits in thine ear
And chastise with the valour of my tongue,
All that impedes thee from the golden round
Which fate and metaphysical aid doth seem
To have thee crown’d withal.
a. Explain the first four lines of the extract in your own words.
Answer: The first four lines of the extract can be explained as follows:
- “Thou ‘ldst have, great Glamis, That which cries, Thus thou must do, ‘if thou have it”: Lady Macbeth is saying that Macbeth, who is the Thane of Glamis, desires something (the crown) that demands certain actions (murder) if he wants to possess it.
- “And that which rather thou dost fear to do, Than wishes should be undone”: She is suggesting that Macbeth is more afraid of doing what needs to be done (committing murder) than he is desirous of having his wish (to be king) unfulfilled.
b. What is the message Lady Macbeth receives for her to utter these words?
Answer: The message Lady Macbeth receives that prompts her to utter these words is a letter from Macbeth. In this letter, Macbeth tells her about his encounter with the witches who prophesied that he would become Thane of Cawdor and eventually king. This news excites Lady Macbeth and she begins to contemplate the possibility of her husband becoming king and what they would need to do to ensure this prophecy comes true.
c. Give three arguments that Lady Macbeth uses to compel her husband to act as she wishes.
Answer: Three arguments that Lady Macbeth uses to compel her husband to act as she wishes are:
- She questions his manhood and courage, implying that if he doesn’t act on the witches’ prophecy, he is a coward.
- She assures him that they will not fail if they are bold and decisive in their actions.
- She presents the plan to murder Duncan, making it seem feasible and straightforward, thus reducing Macbeth’s fears and objections.
d. What do the following words mean?
Answer: The word “chastise” typically means to reprimand or punish someone. In the context of this passage, when Lady Macbeth says she will “chastise with the valor of my tongue,” she means she will use her persuasive and forceful words to reprimand or correct any doubts or fears Macbeth might have about their plan.
ii. metaphysical aid.
Answer: The term “metaphysical aid” refers to supernatural or beyond physical help. In the context of this passage, Lady Macbeth is referring to the witches’ prophecies as a form of metaphysical aid that seems to be helping Macbeth towards becoming king.
e. Do you agree that Lady Macbeth inspite of being callous is impressive in her ways?
Answer: Lady Macbeth’s determination, ambition, and ability to manipulate situations and people to achieve her goals can be seen as impressive. She is a strong character who is not afraid to challenge societal norms and expectations. However, her methods, which include manipulation, deceit, and incitement to murder, are morally reprehensible. Therefore, while she may be seen as impressive in terms of her strength and determination, her callousness and lack of moral integrity make her a deeply flawed character.
3. Lady Macbeth: The raven himself is hoarse, That cloaks the entrance of Duncan
Under my battlements, Come you spirits
That tend on mortal thoughts, unsex me here,
And fill me, from the crown to the toe, top-full Of direst cruelty!
Make thick my blood; Stop up th’ access and passage to remorse,
That no compunctious visiting of Nature’
Shake my fell purpose, nor keep peace between
Th’ effect and it.
a. Who is the ‘raven’ referred to?
Answer: The ‘raven’ referred to in this context is a metaphorical reference to a messenger. Lady Macbeth says, “The raven himself is hoarse that croaks the fatal entrance of Duncan under my battlements.” Here, the raven is symbolically announcing the arrival of King Duncan, who is to be murdered under Lady Macbeth’s plan.
b. What does the croaking of the Raven symbolize?
Answer: The croaking of the raven in this context symbolizes the impending doom or death. Lady Macbeth uses the raven, a bird often associated with death and bad omens, to signify King Duncan’s impending demise.
c. Why does Lady Macbeth want her blood to be made thick?
Answer: Lady Macbeth wants her blood to be made thick to suppress any feelings of remorse or guilt that might prevent her from carrying out her plan to murder King Duncan. She is essentially asking for her human emotions and potential for compassion to be blocked so that she can proceed with the murder without any moral qualms.
d. How could the “compunctious visitings of nature” shake Lady Macbeth from here “fell purpose”?
Answer: The “compunctious visitings of nature” could shake Lady Macbeth from her “fell purpose” by stirring feelings of guilt, remorse, or compassion within her. These natural feelings could potentially deter her from her murderous intent and disrupt her resolve to see through the plan of killing King Duncan.
e. Give the meanings of
i. direst cruelty
Answer: The term “direst cruelty” refers to the most extreme form of cruelty or harshness. Lady Macbeth is asking the spirits to fill her with the utmost level of cruelty, indicating her willingness to be ruthless and merciless in order to achieve her ambitions.
ii. fatal entrance
Answer: The term “fatal entrance” refers to the impending arrival of King Duncan at Macbeth’s castle, which is destined to result in his death. Lady Macbeth uses this term to denote the deadly consequences that Duncan’s visit will have, as per her plan to murder him.
Essay type questions
Q. Summarize the estimate of her husband’s character given by Lady Macbeth on receiving the letter. How far is the estimate justified?
Answer: Upon receiving a letter from her husband about the witches’ prophecies and how some of them have already come true, Lady Macbeth becomes very determined. She decides that they must do whatever it takes to make the third prophecy – that Macbeth will become king – come true.
However, Lady Macbeth worries about her husband’s ability to commit the terrible act of killing the King. She believes that Macbeth is too kind and fearful to take the quickest path to the throne. She thinks he desires the throne but would only use honest means to get it. Lady Macbeth is ambitious and brave and wants her husband to become king. She believes that Macbeth has already considered murder but is conflicted inside.
Lady Macbeth, despite being Macbeth’s loving wife, fails to truly understand her husband’s character. Macbeth is not a coward and is not afraid to take on the risky act of murder. What holds him back is his conscience, which Lady Macbeth mistakes for fear. Macbeth’s hesitation is not due to fear or nervousness, but rather his moral considerations, something that Lady Macbeth, with her limited understanding, fails to comprehend.
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