Get notes, workbook solutions, summary, questions and answers, and pdf of the drama/play Macbeth (Act 3 Scene 1) by William Shakespeare which is part of ISC Class 12 English. However, the notes should only be treated for references and changes should be made according to the needs of the students.
The scene opens with Banquo pondering the prophecies of the weird sisters and how they came true for Macbeth, making him king. This leads Banquo to wonder if their prophecy about his own descendants becoming kings could also prove true one day. However, Banquo quickly catches himself speculating and decides not to dwell on such ambitions.
Banquo is then greeted by Macbeth and Lady Macbeth, who have arrived to host a banquet celebrating Macbeth’s coronation. Macbeth warmly calls Banquo their “chief guest” but there is dramatic irony in this welcome since Macbeth secretly plans to have Banquo murdered before the banquet. Still unaware of Macbeth’s plotting, Banquo accepts their invitation. Lady Macbeth says Banquo’s absence would have been improper, heightening the irony.
Through casual dialogue, Macbeth questions Banquo about his plans to go riding that afternoon to discover his location for the assassins. Macbeth even hypocritically wishes Banquo’s horses to be “swift and sure.” Banquo reveals his son Fleance will join him.
Once Banquo departs, Macbeth arranges for two murderers to be brought before him. In an extended soliloquy, he obsesses over Banquo as an embodiment of noble values which highlight Macbeth’s own corrupted soul. He ponders that the witches said Banquo’s sons would be future kings. Since Banquo proves too daringly noble, Macbeth fears he could reveal Macbeth’s crimes. So Macbeth rambles madly about the need to be rid of Banquo.
When the murderers arrive, Macbeth manipulatively provokes them by saying Banquo is their enemy. Macbeth departs and the murderers amorally embrace their task. Once alone again, in chilling words Macbeth pronounces Banquo’s fate sealed that very night. The scene ends with Macbeth fully transformed – a murderously ambitious tyrant plotting his next victim’s doom.
Multiple Choice Questions (MCQs)
1. It was prophesied by the witches that the crown
a. would not pass down to the descendants of Macbeth b. would pass down to the descendants of Banquo c. would be given to Banquo directly d. would be given to Malcolm the legal heir of King Duncan
Answer: would pass down to the descendants of Banquo
2. Macbeth hired murderers to kill
a. Banquo b. Malcolm c. Macduff d. his own wife, Lady Macbeth
3. Malcolm and Donalbain were accused of
a. parricide b. treason c. felony d. sorcery
4. Macbeth wanted to know from Banquo
a. about his whereabouts b whether he was going to meet the witches c. whether he was going in search of Malcolm d. whether he was going to decline the invitation to the Banquet
Answer: about his whereabouts
5. Macbeth’s last words to Banquo were
a. “come back soon” b. “take care of yourselves” c. “enjoy your ride” d. “God be with you”
Answer: “God be with you”
1. Banquo: Thou hast it now King Cawdor Glamis all,
As the Wierd Women promised; and I fear
Thou play’dst most foully for’t; yet it was said
It should not stand in thy posterity;
But that myself should be the root and father
Of many kings.
a. Who is Banquo speaking to? What prompts Banquo to begin having hopes of Kingship?
Answer: Banquo is speaking to Macbeth. Banquo’s suspicions about Macbeth achieving the prophecies through foul means prompt his hopes of kingship, based on the witches’ prophecy about his descendants becoming kings.
b. What does Banquo go on to say after the extract? What can you assess of Banquo’s character in what he says?
Answer: Banquo reflects on the witches’ prophecies and his potential kingship. He struggles between temptation and moral integrity, ultimately restraining himself from evil thoughts.
c. How does Macbeth greet Banquo? What is the hypocrisy involved in the greeting of Macbeth?
Answer: Macbeth greets Banquo cordially, inviting him to a banquet. This greeting is hypocritical as Macbeth harbours murderous intentions towards Banquo.
d. What occasion does Macbeth invite Banquo to? How genuine is Macbeth’s invitation? Give reasons for your answer.
Answer: Macbeth invites Banquo to a coronation banquet. The invitation isn’t genuine, as Macbeth plans to have Banquo murdered.
e. What are the three pertinent questions asked by Macbeth to Banquo? Why does Macbeth ask these questions?
Answer: Macbeth asks Banquo about his evening plans, his travel companions, and his return time. These questions aim to ascertain Banquo’s whereabouts for orchestrating his murder.
2. Macbeth: We hear our bloody cousins are bestow’d
In England and in Ireland not confessing
Their cruel parricide filling their hearers
With strange invention. But of that tomorrow,
When therewithal we shall have cause of state
Craving us jointly.
a. Who is Macbeth speaking to? Who are the bloody cousins?
Answer: Macbeth is speaking to Lady Macbeth, referring to Malcolm and Donalbain as ‘bloody cousins’, suspecting their involvement in King Duncan’s murder.
b. Why have the bloody cousins fled to England and Ireland?
Answer: The cousins fled to England and Ireland, likely to escape accusations and consequences of Duncan’s murder.
c. What are the meanings of ‘bestow’d’ ‘parricide’ ‘strange invention’?
Answer: ‘Bestow’d’ means situated; ‘parricide’ refers to the killing of a parent; ‘strange invention’ implies fabricated stories.
d. What does Macbeth wish for Banquo’s safety?
Answer: Macbeth expresses concern for Banquo’s safety, masking his true murderous intentions.
e. How is the theme of appearance and reality shown in the scene?
Answer: The scene illustrates the theme of appearance versus reality, with Macbeth’s feigned concern hiding his true malicious motives.
3. Macbeth: Bring them before us.
To be thus is nothing but to be safely thus:
Our fears in Banquo
Stick deep and in his royalty of nature
Reigns that which would be fear’d: ’tis much he dares;
And to that dauntless temper in his mind
He hath a wisdom that doth guide his valour
To act in safety.
a. Who is ‘them’? For what reason are they called by Macbeth?
Answer: ‘Them’ refers to the murderers that Macbeth has summoned. Macbeth calls them to discuss the assassination of Banquo. He fears Banquo due to his noble qualities and the prophecy that Banquo’s descendants will be kings, posing a potential threat to Macbeth’s reign.
b. Why does Macbeth fear Banquo?
Answer: Macbeth fears Banquo because of his noble qualities, the prophecy about his descendants becoming kings, and his bravery and wisdom. Banquo poses a potential threat to Macbeth’s rule.
c. What are Macbeth’s evil intentions towards Banquo? How does he carry them out?
Answer: Macbeth’s evil intentions towards Banquo include his murder. He hires murderers to kill Banquo and his son, Fleance, to prevent the prophecy about Banquo’s descendants from coming true and to secure his own position as king.
d. Whose example with regard to fear does Macbeth cite when he confesses his fears regarding Banquo?
Answer: Macbeth cites Caesar’s example regarding fear when he confesses his fears about Banquo. He contrasts his own fears with Caesar’s fearless nature.
e. How did Banquo show his superiority over Macbeth? What does Macbeth deeply regret about himself?
Answer: Banquo shows his superiority over Macbeth through his noble character and wisdom. Macbeth deeply regrets his own murderous actions and the path of treachery he has chosen, leading to his moral degradation.
4. Your spirits shine through you.
Within this hour at most,
I advise you where to plant yourselves,
Acquaint you with the perfect spy o’ th’ time.
The moment on’t, for’ t must be done tonight.
a. Explain the fines “Your spirits shine through you”.
Answer: “Your spirits shine through you” means that the determination and readiness for action of the listeners are evident in their demeanour.
b. Who is Macbeth speaking to? What instructions is Macbeth giving to the listeners?
Answer: Macbeth is speaking to the murderers. He is instructing them on the specifics of their task, which involves the assassination of Banquo, and providing guidance on where to position themselves and when to strike.
c. Whose removal from life is important to Macbeth? Why?
Answer: The removal of Banquo from life is important to Macbeth. Banquo poses a threat to Macbeth’s kingship due to the prophecy that Banquo’s descendants will become kings.
d. What is concluded for Banquo by Macbeth at the end of the scene?
Answer: At the end of the scene, Macbeth concludes that Banquo must be eliminated – his death is deemed necessary by Macbeth.
e. How has Macbeth incited his listeners against their common enemy?
Answer: Macbeth incites his listeners against Banquo by convincing them that Banquo is their common enemy and the root of their miseries, thereby manipulating them to carry out his deadly plan.
Essay type questions
1. Can you detail the conspiracy devised against Banquo and his son Fleance?
Answer: Macbeth orchestrates a plot involving two hired murderers to eliminate Banquo and Fleance. He engages in a secretive dialogue with these murderers after confirming Banquo’s activities for the day, particularly his attendance at the banquet celebrating Macbeth’s coronation. Macbeth revisits their previous discussion, challenging their perception of Banquo. He asserts that their misfortunes were caused by Banquo, not him, and he had previously substantiated this claim. Macbeth’s persuasion leads the murderers to consider revenge. He questions if they are forgiving enough to overlook their grievances and bless the one responsible for their low societal status. The murderers, affirming their human nature and inclination towards revenge, agree to Macbeth’s plan. Macbeth further incites them by comparing men to various dog breeds, each with distinct traits, and challenges their manliness. Convinced of their degraded state and eager for a change, the murderers consent to eliminate Banquo. Macbeth explains his indirect approach to avoid public criticism and losing allies shared with Banquo. The murderers, now fully persuaded, prepare to carry out the assassination of Banquo and Fleance as instructed by Macbeth.
2. What are the specific reasons for Macbeth’s desire to eliminate Banquo and his son Fleance?
Answer: Macbeth’s decision to murder Banquo and Fleance stems from his deep-seated insecurities and ambition for power. He is acutely aware that Banquo’s presence and the prophecy of the witches – stating that Banquo’s lineage would rule – jeopardize his hold on the throne. Banquo’s distinguished character and his son Fleance become significant threats in Macbeth’s perspective. To remove these threats, Macbeth plots their murders, choosing to use hired killers to avoid direct involvement and the resultant fallout with mutual acquaintances. This plan marks a turning point in Macbeth’s moral decay; he no longer seeks counsel from his wife and becomes increasingly autonomous in his criminal endeavors. His actions reveal a profound transformation into a seasoned criminal, devoid of guilt and solely focused on consolidating his power.
1. What are Banquo’s first words in the scene and what do they reveal about his character?
Answer: Banquo’s first words are “Thou hast it now: king, Cawdor, Glamis, all”. This reveals he knows the prophecy has come true for Macbeth, showing his wisdom and perceptiveness. Banquo displays insight into how events have unfolded, indicating his thoughtfulness and observational skills which let him connect the dots regarding Macbeth’s rapid rise to power. Though some suspicion arises in his mind, Banquo does not automatically assume the worst but continues to watch events carefully before making judgments. He shows balance in not jumping to conclusions despite the shocking speed of Macbeth’s ascent.
11. How did Macbeth’s relationship with Lady Macbeth change?
Answer: Macbeth no longer includes Lady Macbeth in his plots, signalling his independence from needing her guidance as he grows in ambitious violence. Once reliant on his wife’s counsel, Macbeth has developed his own agency to scheme and murder on his own without her input. This shift subtly points to Lady Macbeth’s fading relevancy as Macbeth descends irrevocably into blood-drenched tyranny.
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