Get notes, workbook solutions, summary, questions and answers, and pdf of the drama/play Macbeth (Act 2 Scene 3) 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.
In Act 2 Scene 3 of Macbeth, the Porter, who is drunk, is awakened by a knocking at the gate and imagines himself as the gatekeeper of hell. He opens the gate to Macduff and Lennox, who have come to wake King Duncan. They ask the Porter about his late night, and he goes on a tangent about the effects of alcohol.
Macduff discovers Duncan’s dead body and raises an alarm, drawing everyone to the scene. Macbeth and Lady Macbeth act surprised and horrified, but Banquo is suspicious and vows to find the murderer. Macduff and Lennox discuss the strange and frightening events of the night, suggesting that these unnatural events are connected to Duncan’s murder.
Macduff, in shock, announces that the King has been murdered. Lady Macbeth acts surprised and faints, while Banquo calls for everyone to remain calm and discuss the situation rationally. Macbeth and Lennox return, having discovered the murder scene. Macbeth, in a supposed fit of rage, kills the guards he has accused of murdering Duncan.
Duncan’s sons, Malcolm and Donalbain, suspect they may be the next targets and decide to flee Scotland. Malcolm heads to England, and Donalbain to Ireland. This hasty departure makes them prime suspects in their father’s murder.
Multiple Choice Questions (MCQs)
Select the correct option for each of the following questions:
1. The Porter fancies himself to be the
Answer: b. Porter of Hell’s Gate
2. A farmer committed suicide by hanging because
Answer: a. his fields were destroyed
3. An English tailor had come to Hell for
Answer: a. stealing cloth out of French breeches
4. Lady Macbeth on hearing about the murders in her house
Answer: a. fainted
5. Malcolm and Donalbain fled away to
Answer: a. England and Ireland
Read the extracts given below and answer the questions that follow:
1. Porter: Who’s there, I ‘the name of Beelzebub?
Here’s a farmer that hanged himself on the expectation of plenty:
come in time – server; have napkins enough about you, here you’ll
sweat for’t. (knocking) knock! knock! Who’s there, I’ the other devil’s name!
a. Where is the Porter? What does he imagine after the extract?
Answer: The Porter is in the castle of Macbeth. He imagines that he is the gatekeeper of hell, admitting sinners into the infernal regions. After the extract, he continues to jest about the types of people he would admit into hell, including an equivocator and an English tailor.
b. Who is Beelzebub? Who are the three people the Porter admits in?
Answer: Beelzebub is a name derived from a Philistine god, formerly worshipped in Ekron, and later adopted by some Abrahamic religions as a major demon. The name Beelzebub is associated with the Canaanite god Baal. In the extract, the Porter admits three people into his imaginary hell: a farmer who committed suicide expecting a bountiful harvest, an equivocator who committed treason, and an English tailor who stole from a French hose.
c. What crimes have the three people admitted into hell committed?
Answer: The three people admitted into hell by the Porter committed the following crimes: the farmer committed suicide, the equivocator committed treason, and the English tailor committed theft.
d. Who enters in after the Porter finally opens the gate? What questions are asked to Porter after he admits the person who was knocking at the gate?
Answer: After the Porter finally opens the gate, Macduff and Lennox enter. Macduff asks the Porter if he went to bed late because he is up so late. He also asks the Porter about the effects of drink, to which the Porter replies that drink provokes red nose, sleep, and urine.
e. What important role does the person who is admitted play in the discovery of the murder? How does the person react?
Answer: The person who is admitted, Macduff, plays a crucial role in the discovery of King Duncan’s murder. He is the one who discovers Duncan’s body and raises the alarm. Macduff reacts with horror and disbelief to the murder, exclaiming “O horror, horror, horror! Tongue nor heart cannot conceive nor name thee!” He also plays a significant role in rallying others against Macbeth and ultimately defeating him.
2. Macduff: Approach the chamber and destroy your sight with a new Gorgon:
do not bid me speak, See and then speak yourselves.
a. What horrific sight has Macduff witnessed?
Answer: Macduff has witnessed the murder of King Duncan. He describes it as a sacrilegious act that has broken into God’s temple and stolen the life out of it
b. Explain the reference to Gorgon. Why is it used in the scene?
Answer: The Gorgon is a reference to the monstrous figures in Greek mythology known for their power to turn those who looked at them into stone. Macduff uses this reference to convey the horror of the sight that awaits in the chamber – the murdered King Duncan. It emphasizes the shocking and horrifying nature of the King’s murder.
c. Why has Macduff come so early in the morning to Macbeth’s castle?
Answer: Macduff has come to Macbeth’s castle early in the morning because King Duncan had commanded him to wake him up early. He mentions that he has almost missed the time the King had requested.
d. Who does Macduff call out to? What does he urge them to do?
Answer: Macduff calls out to Banquo, Donalbain, and Malcolm. He urges them to wake up and witness the horrific sight of their murdered father, King Duncan. He also calls for the alarm bell to be rung to alert others of the murder and treason.
e. How does Lady Macbeth conduct herself? In what way does Macduff wrongly assess Lady Macbeth? How does he address her which is very contradictory to what she is in reality?
Answer: Lady Macbeth conducts herself as if she is shocked and horrified by the news of Duncan’s murder. Macduff wrongly assesses Lady Macbeth as a gentle lady, unfit to hear the gruesome news of the murder. He tells her that his news isn’t fit for her ears and that if he repeated it to her, it would kill her as soon as she heard it. This is very contradictory to what she is in reality, as she is the one who planned and pushed Macbeth to commit the murder.
3. Macbeth: Who can be wise, amaz ‘d, temperate and furious,
Loyal and neutral, in a moment? No man: The expedition of my violent love outrun the pauser reason.
a. How does Macbeth hypocritically go on to describe the body of Duncan after the extract?
Answer: After the extract, Macbeth describes Duncan’s body in a hypocritical manner. He says that Duncan’s silver skin was laced with his golden blood, and his gashed stabs looked like a breach in nature for ruin’s wasteful entrance. He also describes the murderers as being steeped in the colors of their trade, their daggers unmannerly breeched with gore. He questions who could refrain from such an act, that had a heart to love, and in that heart courage to make his love known.
b. Give three pairs of contrasting words and their meanings as Macbeth uses them in the extract.
Answer: The three pairs of contrasting words and their meanings as used by Macbeth in the extract are:
- Wise and amazed: Macbeth is referring to the ability to be rational and clear-headed (wise) while also being shocked or surprised (amazed).
- Temperate and furious: Here, Macbeth contrasts being calm and composed (temperate) with being intensely angry or impassioned (furious).
- Loyal and neutral: Macbeth contrasts being faithful and devoted (loyal) with being impartial or not taking sides (neutral).
c. What do the sons of Duncan discuss about their safety? What does Donalbain tell Malcolm about their position now? What comparison is made?
Answer: The sons of Duncan, Malcolm and Donalbain, discuss their safety after their father’s murder. Donalbain tells Malcolm that they should not stay with the others as it’s easy for a liar to pretend to feel sorrow when he actually feels none. He suggests that they should both be safer if they go separate ways. He also mentions that wherever they go, men will smile at them while hiding daggers, indicating their precarious position.
d. To whom does Banquo express his fears? How far is he correct in his assessment of the situation?
Answer: Banquo expresses his fears to Macduff and the others present. He suggests that they should meet and discuss the bloody crime to see if they can figure anything out. He also mentions that he is putting himself in God’s hands and plans to fight against the secret plot that caused the treasonous murder.
e. What has happened to Lady Macbeth? Is this act a pretended one or a genuine one? Give reasons for your answer.
Answer: Lady Macbeth is seen to be in distress. She calls for help and is then attended to and carried out of the room. The act is possibly a pretended one. Given Lady Macbeth’s earlier manipulation and deceit, one could argue that her distress could be a performance to divert suspicion.
4. This murderous shaft that’s shot
Hath not yet lighted and our safest way
Is to avoid the aim; therefore to horse and let us not be dainty of leave- taking.
a. Who is the speaker? When does the speaker utter the above lines?
Answer: The speaker of the lines is Malcolm. He utters these lines after discovering the murder of his father, King Duncan.
b. Where does the speaker and the person spoken to decide to go and why?
Answer: Malcolm and Donalbain decide to flee to England and Ireland respectively. They decide to do this because they fear for their safety. They believe that whoever killed their father might be after them next.
c. Comment on the dramatic significance of this flight.
Answer: The dramatic significance of this flight is that it makes Malcolm and Donalbain appear guilty of their father’s murder. Their sudden departure raises suspicion, and Macbeth uses this to his advantage to ascend to the throne.
d. Malcolm uses an imagery to conclude the scene which deals with archery. Explain in your own words.
Answer: Malcolm uses an imagery of archery to describe their precarious situation. He says, “This murderous shaft that’s shot Hath not yet lighted, and our safest way Is to avoid the aim.” In his own words, he suggests that the danger (the murderous shaft) has not yet reached them (not yet lighted), and the best way to avoid it is to flee (avoid the aim).
e. Give the meanings of the following words and expressions from the extract:
Shaft, lighted, be dainty of leave taking.
Answer: The meanings of the following words and expressions from the extract are:
- Shaft: In this context, it refers to an arrow or a missile.
- Lighted: In this context, it means landed or reached its target.
- Be dainty of leave-taking: This means to be overly delicate or careful in saying goodbye. In this context, it suggests that they should not waste time in formalities but should leave quickly.
Essay type questions
Q. Show how Macbeth and Lady Macbeth react differently to the discovery of the murder of Duncan.
Answer: In the aftermath of Duncan’s murder, Macbeth and Lady Macbeth react in starkly different ways, revealing their contrasting characters. Macbeth, who initially feigns surprise and ignorance at the news of the “sacrilegious murder,” soon takes control of the situation. He convincingly plays the part of an innocent, grief-stricken subject, even going so far as to kill Duncan’s guards in a supposed fit of rage. This act not only serves to divert suspicion from himself but also eliminates any potential witnesses to the crime.
On the other hand, Lady Macbeth’s reaction is the polar opposite. Despite her earlier determination and seeming lack of remorse, the reality of the murder hits her hard. The sight of Duncan’s lifeless body triggers a strong revulsion within her, causing her to faint. While some critics argue that her fainting is a calculated move to distract the guests and end the scene, it’s more likely that it’s a genuine response to the horror of their actions. Lady Macbeth is not a heartless monster; she’s a woman with inherent feminine vulnerabilities. This moment marks the beginning of her mental and emotional decline, as the guilt and horror of their actions start to consume her.
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