Get notes, workbook solutions, summary, questions and answers, and pdf of the drama/play Macbeth (Act 1 Scene 7) 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 7 of Macbeth takes place at Macbeth’s castle, where a feast is being held to honor King Duncan. Macbeth steps aside, contemplating the plan to assassinate the King. He is conflicted about the murder, considering it unholy and fearing the consequences. He acknowledges that the King has been good to him, and he worries about the moral implications of his actions.
However, Lady Macbeth enters and challenges his hesitation. She questions his courage and commitment to their plan, reminding him of his promise. She uses various tactics to persuade him, appealing to his sense of honor, ambition, and love for her. She even states that she would have killed her own child if she had made such a promise.
Macbeth is concerned about the possibility of their plan failing, but Lady Macbeth assures him that they will succeed. She outlines her plan to get Duncan’s chamberlains drunk so they can murder the King undetected and then blame the chamberlains.
By the end of the scene, Macbeth seems resolved to go through with the murder, influenced by Lady Macbeth’s persuasive arguments and taunts. He decides to put on a pleasant facade to hide his sinister intentions. The scene ends with them leaving to prepare for the act.
Multiple Choice Questions (MCQs)
Select the correct option for each of the following questions:
1. Macbeth hesitates to murder the King because Duncan is
Answer: a. his relative and guest
2. Lady Macbeth tells Macbeth that she considers him to be under the influence of
Answer: a. wine when he considered murder
3. Lady Macbeth tells Macbeth that she would never break a pledge even if she had to
Answer: a. dash the brains of her suckling baby
4. The blame would be put on the
Answer: a. chamberlains
5. Lady Macbeth tells Macbeth to go and deceive the world by
Answer: d. fairest show and a false face
Read the extracts given below and answer the questions that follow:
1. If it were done When ’tis done, then’ twere well,
If it were done quickly; if th’ assassination
Could trammel up the consequence, and catch
With his surcease success; that but this blow
Might be the be-all and the end all- here
But here, upon this bank and shoal of time
We’d jump the life to come
But in these cases, we still have judgement here;
That we but teach bloody instructions, which, being taught, return to
this even handed
plague th’ inventor;
Justice commends the ‘ingredients of our poison’d chalice to our own lips
a. What is the main theme of Macbeth’s soliloquy?
Answer: The main theme of Macbeth’s soliloquy is the contemplation of murder and the consequences of such an act. He is considering the assassination of King Duncan and the potential repercussions, both earthly and supernatural. Macbeth is aware that his actions will have consequences and that he might be setting a violent example that could come back to haunt him. He also contemplates the moral implications of his intended act, as he is Duncan’s kinsman and host. His soliloquy reveals his inner conflict and the moral and ethical dilemma he is facing.
b. What conclusion does Macbeth come to at the end of his soliloquy?
Answer: At the end of his soliloquy, Macbeth concludes that the only thing motivating him to commit the murder is his own ambition, which he recognizes as a dangerous force that could lead to his own downfall. He acknowledges that his ambition might cause him to rush ahead of himself towards disaster.
C. What does Macbeth’s willingness to face the prospect of damnation portray about his character?
Answer: Macbeth’s willingness to face the prospect of damnation portrays his character as deeply conflicted. He is ambitious and desires power, but he also recognizes the moral and spiritual consequences of his actions. His contemplation of damnation shows his understanding of the gravity of the crime he is considering, indicating a deep internal struggle between his ambition and his conscience.
d. What is the meaning of ‘poison’d chalice’?
Answer: The ‘poison’d chalice’ is a metaphor for the consequences of one’s actions. Macbeth uses this metaphor to express the idea that when one commits harmful actions, they are likely to suffer the consequences of those actions themselves. In other words, the poison one prepares for others might end up being consumed by oneself.
e. What are the strong reasons that Macbeth considers against the murder?
Answer: Macbeth considers several strong reasons against the murder of King Duncan. Firstly, he recognizes that he is Duncan’s kinsman and subject, and as such, he should be protecting the King, not plotting his murder. Secondly, as Duncan’s host, he should be shutting the door on the murderer, not bearing the knife himself. Thirdly, he acknowledges that Duncan has been a humble and virtuous leader, and his murder would provoke a strong outcry. Lastly, Macbeth admits that he lacks any motivation to commit the crime beyond his own unchecked ambition.
2. Macbeth: And pity, like a naked new born babe,
Striding, the blast or heaven’s cherubin, hors’d
Upon the sightless couriers of the air,
Shall blow the horrid deed in every eye,
That tears shall drown the wind.
a. What are Macbeth’s feelings and reservations against the killing of Duncan?
Answer: Macbeth’s feelings and reservations against the killing of Duncan are complex. He is torn between his ambition and his sense of morality and loyalty. Macbeth recognizes that Duncan is a good and just king who has done nothing to deserve being murdered. He also acknowledges that he is Duncan’s kinsman and his subject, which makes the idea of murdering him even more abhorrent. Moreover, as Duncan’s host, he should be protecting Duncan, not plotting his death. Macbeth also fears the consequences of such a violent act, understanding that “bloody instructions…return to plague th’ inventor”.
b. Why will pity plead for Duncan’s murder? What does this portray about the traits of Duncan as a king?
Answer: Pity will plead for Duncan’s murder because Duncan is portrayed as a virtuous and humble leader. His qualities are so admirable that his virtues will “plead like angels, trumpet-tongued, against the deep damnation of his taking-off.”
This portrays Duncan as a king who is not only fair and just but also loved and respected by his subjects. His murder would be seen as a heinous act, provoking a strong emotional response and a demand for justice.
c. What spurs Macbeth to do what he would rather not? Which figure of speech does Macbeth use in the extract? Explain.
Answer: Macbeth is spurred to commit the murder by his ambition, which he describes as “vaulting ambition, which o’erleaps itself and falls on th’ other”.
This is a metaphor where Macbeth compares his ambition to a horse that jumps too high and falls on the other side. This figure of speech suggests that his ambition is so strong that it could lead to his downfall.
d. Who enters the scene after the extract? What important role does the person play in motivating Macbeth to commit the murder?
Answer: After Macbeth’s soliloquy, Lady Macbeth enters the scene.
She plays a crucial role in motivating Macbeth to commit the murder. She questions his manhood and courage, and presents a detailed plan to murder King Duncan, which involves getting Duncan’s chamberlains drunk and blaming the murder on them. She assures Macbeth that if he can muster the courage, they will not fail in their plan.
e. Do you consider the person to be the Fourth Witch in the play’? Give reasons for your answer.
Answer: The person referred to here is Lady Macbeth and I consider her to be the “Fourth Witch”.
I think so due to her manipulative and malevolent nature, which is similar to that of the witches. She is the one who persuades Macbeth to murder Duncan and seize the throne, and she even calls on supernatural forces to “unsex” her and fill her with cruelty. However, unlike the witches who seem to have actual supernatural powers, Lady Macbeth’s influence is purely psychological. Her role as the “Fourth Witch” is therefore metaphorical, highlighting her manipulative and destructive influence on Macbeth.
3. Lady Macbeth: Was the hope drunk,
Wherein you dress’d yourself? hath it slept since,
And wakes it now to look so green and pale
At what it did so freely? From this time
Such I account thy love. Art thou afraid
To be the same in thine own act and valour
As thou art in desire?
a. What has Macbeth said for Lady Macbeth to utter these words?
Answer: Macbeth has expressed his reservations about going ahead with the plan to murder King Duncan. He tells Lady Macbeth, “We will proceed no further in this business. He hath honoured me of late, and I have bought golden opinions from all sorts of people, which would be worn now in their newest gloss, not cast aside so soon”.
b. How does Lady Macbeth try goad to play on the emotions of Macbeth to him to commit the murder?
Answer: Lady Macbeth tries to goad Macbeth into committing the murder by questioning his manhood and courage. She asks him if he was drunk when he seemed so hopeful before and if he is afraid to act the way he desires. She also suggests that if he doesn’t go through with the murder, he will be living as a coward, always saying “I can’t” after saying “I want to”.
c. What examples does she cite to show her resoluteness? What does she say about the “ornament of life?
Answer: Lady Macbeth cites a gruesome example to show her resoluteness. She says that she would have plucked her nipple from a nursing baby’s mouth and dashed its brains out if she had sworn to do so the same way Macbeth has sworn to murder Duncan.
Lady Macbeth refers to the “ornament of life” in her conversation with Macbeth, where she is trying to convince him to go ahead with their plan to murder King Duncan. In this context, the “ornament of life” refers to the crown, the symbol of kingship. Lady Macbeth asks Macbeth if he is afraid to take the crown that he desires so much, and if he would rather live as a coward, always saying “I can’t” after saying “I want to”.
d. What three questions does she ask her husband?
Answer: The three questions that Lady Macbeth asks her husband are: “Were you drunk when you seemed so hopeful before? Have you gone to sleep and woken up green and pale in fear of this idea? Are you afraid to act the way you desire?”
e. Does Lady Macbeth truly lack feminine traits? Give reasons to support your answer.
Answer: Whether Lady Macbeth truly lacks feminine traits is subjective and depends on one’s interpretation of what constitutes “feminine traits.” However, in the context of the play, Lady Macbeth does display traits that were traditionally considered “unfeminine” in her time, such as ambition, ruthlessness, and a willingness to use manipulation and deceit to achieve her goals. She even calls on supernatural forces to “unsex” her and fill her with cruelty.
However, she also shows some traditionally “feminine” traits, such as nurturing (in her own twisted way) when she tries to guide and encourage Macbeth. So, while she may lack some stereotypical feminine traits, she does not lack them entirely.
4. Macbeth: If we should fail?
Lady Macbeth: We fail!
But screw your courage to the sticking place
And we’ll not fail. When Duncan is asleep,
Where to the rather shall his day’s hard…….
Soundly invite him, his two…..
Will I with ……… and …… so convince
That memory, the warmer of the brain,
Shall be a fume, and the receipt of reason
A limerick only.
a. When Macbeth wonders if they should fail, what are his fears at that moment?
Answer: When Macbeth wonders if they should fail, his fears at that moment are about the consequences of their actions. He is worried about the potential fallout and the moral implications of their plan to murder King Duncan. He understands that their actions will have consequences and that they could be caught and punished for their crimes.
b. Fill in the blanks in the extract.
Answer: journey, chamberlains, wine, wassail.
c. What are Lady Macbeth’s plans?
Answer: Lady Macbeth’s plans are to get Duncan’s two chamberlains drunk so that they will be unable to remember anything. Once they are unconscious, she and Macbeth will have the opportunity to murder Duncan without being detected. They will then blame the murder on the chamberlains.
d. What are Lady Macbeth’s assumptions about ‘memory’ and brain’?
Answer: Lady Macbeth’s assumptions about ‘memory’ and ‘brain’ are that they can be manipulated. She believes that by getting the chamberlains drunk, their memory will become a “fume,” and their ability to reason will be reduced to a mere distillation apparatus (a “limbeck”). In other words, she thinks that their cognitive functions will be impaired to the point that they will not remember anything.
e. In what way are Lady Macbeth and Macbeth different from each other in their attitude regarding the murder of the King?
Answer: Lady Macbeth and Macbeth are different from each other in their attitude regarding the murder of the King in that Lady Macbeth is more ruthless and determined, while Macbeth is more hesitant and conflicted. Lady Macbeth is ready to go to any lengths to achieve their goal, including manipulating Macbeth and planning the details of the murder. On the other hand, Macbeth, despite his ambition, is plagued by guilt and fear about the moral and divine repercussions of their plan.
Essay type questions
Q. Analyse and critically comment on the arguments by which Lady Macbeth persuades her husband to murder Duncan.
Answer: At the start of the scene, Macbeth is unsure and hesitant about killing the King. He has many reasons for this, but Lady Macbeth scolds him and shows her determination to kill the King. Macbeth sees the murder as ‘unholy’ because the King is well-liked and has been very generous to him. If they go ahead with their plan, they will lose all these benefits. Lady Macbeth reminds Macbeth of his promise and accuses him of being inconsistent and not worthy of a brave soldier. She teases him for being a coward.
In a long speech, Lady Macbeth talks about his promise and all the secrets he has shared with her. She also tells him to follow her example and her readiness to go against her feminine nature to keep a promise. She says that even though she has been a loving mother to her babies, she could have taken a baby from her breast and killed it if she had decided to do so.
Macbeth wisely asks her what they will do if they fail. Lady Macbeth says that their plan is well thought out and well protected against dangers, so there is no chance of failure. Duncan will be sleeping after a long day’s journey. She will drug his guards, and it will be easy to kill Duncan. Lady Macbeth is very determined and does not want to argue anymore. She is set on killing the King.
To convince Macbeth to commit the murder, Lady Macbeth uses persuasive language. She not only uses logical arguments but also appeals to Macbeth’s sense of honour, the importance of keeping a promise, his feelings as a lover, and his courage as a soldier. These are not strictly logical arguments, but they are used to incite Macbeth to commit the terrible act of murder. She makes the act seem heroic, calling it “this night’s great business” or “our great quell”, while ignoring its cruelty and betrayal. She overcomes his resistance by presenting him with a prepared plan that removes the fear and danger of thinking about it. She provokes him to action by calling him a coward, a taunt no man, especially a soldier, can bear. She appeals to his love for her. Her personal appeals are ones that Macbeth cannot ignore, and with the admiration she gets from him, she pushes him to commit the act.
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