Macbeth (Act 2 Scene 2): ISC Class 11 workbook answers

macbeth (act 2 scene 2)
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Get notes, workbook solutions, summary, questions and answers, and pdf of the drama/play Macbeth (Act 2 Scene 2) 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 2 Scene 2 of Macbeth starts with Lady Macbeth waiting anxiously for Macbeth to return from committing the murder. When Macbeth enters with bloody daggers, he confirms that he has killed Duncan. He is shaken by the act and tells Lady Macbeth that he heard a voice saying that he has murdered sleep and will sleep no more.

Lady Macbeth tries to calm him down and tells him not to think too deeply about what they’ve done, as it will drive them mad. She is upset that Macbeth brought the daggers back with him and tells him to return them and smear the guards with Duncan’s blood to frame them for the murder.

However, Macbeth is too afraid to go back to the scene of the crime. Lady Macbeth, showing more resolve, takes the daggers from him and goes to smear the guards with blood herself.

After Lady Macbeth leaves, Macbeth is left alone and starts to hear knocking. He is terrified by every noise and is overwhelmed by guilt, questioning whether all the water in the ocean could wash the blood from his hands. The scene ends with Macbeth in a state of deep remorse and fear, setting the stage for the subsequent events of the play.

Multiple Choice Questions (MCQs)

Select the correct option for each of the following questions:

1. Lady Macbeth claims that the wine has made her

Answer: a. bold

2. The owl was the

Answer: a. fatal bellman

3. The persons in the second chamber were

Answer: c. Malcolm and Donalbain

4. Lady Macbeth took the daggers and besmeared the faces of

Answer: b. the chamberlains

5. Fill in the blanks in the quote:
Will all the great …………. ocean wash this blood clean from this hand? No, this my hand will rather the …………… seas …………. Making the green one ………

Answer: Neptune’s, the multitudinous, incarnadine, red.

Context questions

Read the extracts given below and answer the questions that follow:

1. Lady Macbeth: That which hath made them drunk hath made me bold,
What hath quench’d them hath given me fire.- Hark!- peace!
It was the owl that shriek’d, the fatal bellman,
Which gives the stern’st good night.
He is about it.

a. Where is Lady Macbeth now? What does she mean by ‘that’ and ‘what’?

Answer: Lady Macbeth is in the castle, waiting anxiously for Macbeth to complete the murder of King Duncan. By ‘that’ and ‘what’, she refers to the drugged drink she has given to the guards. The same drink that has made the guards drunk has emboldened her, and the act of quenching their alertness has ignited her courage.

b. What does the owl refer to? What is its significance?

Answer: The owl is a symbol of death and is considered a bad omen. Its shriek in the night is interpreted by Lady Macbeth as a sign that Macbeth has killed King Duncan. The owl’s cry is significant as it represents the murder of the king and the unnatural events that follow.

c. Explain: “He is about it”.

Answer: “He is about it” means that Macbeth is in the process of committing the murder. Lady Macbeth is referring to Macbeth carrying out the act of killing King Duncan.

d. What preparations has Lady Macbeth done before the murder?

Answer: Before the murder, Lady Macbeth has drugged the guards of King Duncan’s chamber to ensure they won’t wake up during the murder. She has also laid out the daggers for Macbeth to use in the murder.

e. What fears did Lady Macbeth voice after the extract? Why could she not commit the murder herself?

Answer: After the murder, Lady Macbeth expresses fear about the consequences of their actions. She could not commit the murder herself because King Duncan resembled her father as he slept, which prevented her from killing him.

f. What is meant by the ‘Stern’st Goodnight? To whom is it given?

Answer: The ‘stern’st goodnight’ refers to the final, harsh farewell, which in this context is death. It is given to King Duncan, who is being killed in his sleep.

2. Macbeth: There’s one did laugh in’s sleep, and one cried ‘Murder!’.
That they did wake each other: I stood, and heard them.
But they did say their prayers and address’d them
Again to sleep.
Lady Macbeth: There are two lodg’ d together.

a. Who are ‘they’ referred to in the extract? Why did they laugh and cry?

Answer: ‘They’ referred to in the extract are the two chamberlains who were drunk and asleep. Macbeth had drugged their drinks to ensure they would not wake during the murder. The laughter and cries were likely due to the effects of the drugs and alcohol, causing them to have vivid dreams or hallucinations.

b. What could Macbeth not say after their prayer? Why?

Answer: Macbeth could not say “Amen” after their prayer. This is because he was overwhelmed with guilt and fear after murdering King Duncan. His conscience was so burdened by the heinous act he had committed that he felt spiritually paralyzed, unable to utter a simple prayer.

c. What did Lady Macbeth advise her husband not to do?

Answer: Lady Macbeth advised her husband not to dwell too deeply on his actions. She believed that overthinking the murder would lead to madness and regret. She tried to convince him to wash off the blood (evidence) and not to bring the daggers (murder weapon) from the place of murder.

d. Give the meanings of
i. sorry and

Answer: ‘Sorry’ in this context refers to a pitiful or dismal sight, specifically referring to Macbeth’s bloody hands after he has committed the murder.

ii address’d?

Answer: ‘Address’d’ means attended to or dealt with. In this context, it refers to the chamberlains saying their prayers before going back to sleep.

e. What can you conclude about Macbeth’s state of mind?

Answer: From the extract, it can be concluded that Macbeth is in a state of extreme guilt and fear. He is haunted by the murder he has committed, to the point where he hears voices saying he has murdered sleep. He is so overwhelmed by his actions that he is unable to say “Amen” in response to a prayer, indicating a sense of spiritual despair or disconnection. His fear is further highlighted when he is afraid to think about what he has done and dares not look at it again.

3. Macbeth:….the innocent sleep,
Sleep that knits up the ravell’ d sleeve of care,
The death of each day’s life, sore labour’s bath,
Balm ofhurt minds, great nature’s second course,
Chief nourisher in life’s feast……

a. Why does Macbeth refer to sleep as ‘innocent’?

Answer: Macbeth refers to sleep as ‘innocent’ because it is a natural and peaceful state that is free from guilt and wrongdoing. It is a restorative process that heals and soothes. His act of murder has disrupted this innocence, causing him to feel guilt and remorse.

b. What six benefits are enumerated by Macbeth on sleep?

Answer: The six benefits of sleep as enumerated by Macbeth are:

  • It soothes away all our worries.
  • It puts each day to rest.
  • It relieves the weary laborer.
  • It heals hurt minds.
  • It is the main course in life’s feast.
  • It is the most nourishing.

c. Who will sleep no more? Why?

Answer: Macbeth will sleep no more. This is because he has murdered King Duncan in his sleep, an act that has filled him with guilt and remorse. He believes that he has ‘murdered sleep’, meaning that he has destroyed his own ability to rest peacefully due to his guilt.

d. What else does Macbeth imagine he has heard?

Answer: Macbeth imagines that he has heard a voice cry out, “Sleep no more! Macbeth is murdering sleep.” This voice continues to echo in his mind, reinforcing his guilt and fear.

e. What does Lady Macbeth notice about Macbeth’s hands? What does she tell him to do at once?

Answer: Lady Macbeth notices that Macbeth’s hands are covered in blood, the ‘filthy witness’ of his deed. She tells him to go get some water and wash this bloody evidence from his hands. She also scolds him for bringing the daggers, the murder weapons, with him and instructs him to take them back and smear the sleeping guards with the blood to frame them for the murder.

4. Lady Macbeth: Hark! more knocking,
Get on your night gown, lest occasion calls us,
And show us to be watchers. Be not lost
So poorly in your thoughts.

a. How does Macbeth show his regret in committing the deed after this extract?

Answer: After the extract, Macbeth shows his regret in committing the deed by expressing his fear and horror at what he has done. He says, “I’ll go no more: I am afraid to think what I have done; Look on ’t again I dare not.” This shows that he is deeply disturbed by his actions and is unable to face the reality of his crime.

b. What does Lady Macbeth tell Macbeth do to immediately which reveals her practicality?

Answer: Lady Macbeth, revealing her practicality, tells Macbeth to immediately wash the bloody evidence from his hands. She says, “Go get some water, And wash this filthy witness from your hand.”  She also instructs him to return the daggers to the scene of the crime and smear the sleeping guards with blood to frame them for the murder.

c. What is the contrast in Macbeth and Lady Macbeth’s state of mind? What does it reveal about their characters in the scene?

Answer: The contrast in Macbeth and Lady Macbeth’s state of mind reveals their differing characters in the scene. Macbeth is filled with regret and fear, unable to bear the weight of his actions, while Lady Macbeth remains practical and focused on ensuring they are not suspected of the crime.

d. Who is knocking at the door? Why has the person come there?

Answer: The knocking at the door is from Macduff, who has come to wake King Duncan. However, he is unaware that Duncan has been murdered.

e. What does Macbeth wish for at the end of the scene? What does this reveal about his present condition?

Answer: At the end of the scene, Macbeth wishes for the knocking to stop as it frightens him. He says, “Whence is that knocking? How is ’t with me when every noise appals me?” This reveals his present condition of extreme guilt and fear, as he is now startled by every noise.

Essay type questions

Q. Describe the scene of the murder of King Duncan and comment on its dramatic effectiveness.

Answer: This scene, although the murder of Duncan happens offstage, effectively conveys the horror of the act through the dialogues of Macbeth and his wife, Lady Macbeth. Lady Macbeth, having prepared everything for the murder, waits outside Duncan’s chamber. The drugged guards snore, ironically failing in their duty to protect the king. An owl’s shriek startles Lady Macbeth, and Macbeth’s cry makes her nervous, fearing that their plan has been thwarted.

Macbeth returns, visibly shaken and with blood-stained hands, confirming that he has killed Duncan. He tells his wife that he heard one of Duncan’s sons laugh in his sleep and the other cry out ‘murder!’. He is deeply disturbed that he couldn’t say ‘Amen’ when they prayed, as the word got stuck in his throat. His guilty conscience makes him imagine a voice saying, “Sleep no more! Macbeth does murder sleep, – the innocent sleep.”

Lady Macbeth tries to calm him down, but Macbeth is too distressed, regretting that he won’t be able to sleep anymore after committing the murder. He refers to sleep as ‘innocent’ and a ‘balm of hurt minds’, the ‘Chief nourisher in life’s feast’. Lady Macbeth, although momentarily shaken, takes control of the situation. She directs Macbeth to wash his hands and return the murder weapons to Duncan’s chamber. When Macbeth refuses to go back, she takes the initiative, smearing the guards’ faces with Duncan’s blood to frame them for the murder.

A loud knocking at the gate brings them back to reality, and they prepare for the discovery of the crime. Even though the murder happens offstage, the audience feels its full impact through the intense conversation between Macbeth and Lady Macbeth. This scene also highlights the contrast between Lady Macbeth’s practicality and iron will, and Macbeth’s guilt-ridden imagination. Despite her brief moment of weakness, Lady Macbeth manages the situation effectively, while Macbeth is consumed by fear and guilt.

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