Macbeth Act 5 Scene 1: ISC Class 12 workbook answers

Macbeth Act 5 Scene 1 workbook solutions
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Get notes, workbook solutions, summary, questions and answers, and pdf of the drama/play Macbeth (Act 5 Scene 1) by William Shakespeare, which is part of ISC Class 12 English. However, the notes should only be treated as references, and changes should be made according to the needs of the students.

If you notice any errors in the notes, please mention them in the comments


Act 5, Scene 1 of Macbeth opens with a sense of unease as a doctor and a gentlewoman discuss Lady Macbeth’s deteriorating mental state. The gentlewoman reports Lady Macbeth’s sleepwalking, describing how she rises from bed, writes on paper, and then returns to sleep, all while remaining unconscious. This “slumbery agitation” worries the doctor, who inquires about Lady Macbeth’s utterances during these episodes.

The gentlewoman, hesitant to reveal details without witnesses, remains silent until Lady Macbeth enters the scene, carrying a candle. Her eyes are open but seem vacant, and she continuously rubs her hands as if washing them. She cries out, “Out, damned spot! out, I say!” This outcry reveals her guilt and obsession with the bloodstains, symbolising the murders she and Macbeth orchestrated.

As the scene progresses, Lady Macbeth’s fragmented speeches reveal her troubled mind. She references past events, including the murders of Duncan and Banquo, highlighting her involvement and guilt. She also mentions the Thane of Fife’s wife, showcasing her remorse over the massacre of Macduff’s family.

The doctor, observing Lady Macbeth’s distress, realises that her illness is beyond his medical expertise. He concludes that her mental torment stems from guilt and that she needs divine intervention rather than a physician’s care. He advises the gentlewoman to watch over Lady Macbeth and remove any objects that could be used for self-harm, fearing she might attempt suicide.

The scene ends with Lady Macbeth returning to bed, muttering, “What’s done cannot be undone.” This final statement signifies her despair and acceptance of the irreversible consequences of her actions. The doctor and gentlewoman remain, grappling with the unsettling revelations of Lady Macbeth’s sleepwalking and the weight of the crimes that haunt her.

This scene is crucial as it marks a turning point for Lady Macbeth. Previously portrayed as strong and ruthless, she is now reduced to a fragile state, consumed by guilt and fear.

Workbook answers

Multiple Choice Questions

1. The ‘perturbation of nature’ Lady Macbeth is suffering from is

a. To be awake in sleep and perform actions as if awake
b. To suffer from pangs of anxiety when awake
c. To continually wash her hands with water
d. To continually sigh and cry

Answer: a. To be awake in sleep and perform actions as if awake

2. Lady Macbeth constantly carried with her

a. a taper
b. a knife
c. a bowl of water to wash her hands
d. sweet smelling perfume from Arabia

Answer: a. a taper

3. The disease that Lady Macbeth suffered from could only be cured by

a. a physician
b. divine intervention
c. a witch doctor
d. by the English King Edward the Confessor

Answer: b. divine intervention

4. The doctor feared that Lady Macbeth in her disturbed state of mind was liable

a. to kill Macbeth
b. to take revenge on all the traitors
c. to commit suicide
d. to runaway to England to be healed by the King

Answer: c. to commit suicide

5. Lady Macbeth suffered from

a. hallucinations
b. a heart ailment
c. a burning desire for revenge
d. the pangs of conscience

Answer: d. the pangs of conscience

Context questions

1. Lady Macbeth: Out, damned spot, out! I say!
‘One; two: why, then’ tis time to do’t
Hell is murky- Fie, my Lord, fie! a soldier, and afeard?
What need we fear who knows it, when none can call our power to accompt?
Yet who would have thought the old man to gave had so much blood in him?

a. What is the “damned spot”? What are her fears about it?

Answer: The “damned spot” is the imaginary bloodstain on Lady Macbeth’s hands, symbolising the guilt of the murders she has instigated or been part of. Her fear is that this stain, representing her guilt, is permanent and cannot be cleansed, highlighting her deep-seated remorse and psychological torment over her actions.

b. What does Lady Macbeth mean when she says ‘Hell is murky’? What are her fears?

Answer: By saying “Hell is murky,” Lady Macbeth acknowledges the dark and uncertain nature of hell, reflecting her fear of the consequences of her sins in the afterlife. This indicates her anxiety about the moral and spiritual punishment awaiting her, showing her dread of damnation.

c. Who is she speaking to? Why is she ashamed of the person?

Answer: In her sleepwalking state, Lady Macbeth is essentially speaking to herself or reliving past conversations with Macbeth. She expresses shame towards Macbeth for his fear and reluctance to return to Duncan’s chamber after the murder, reflecting on her own involvement and her attempts to suppress any feelings of guilt.

d. Lady Macbeth earlier was indifferent about ‘blood’ which she felt could be washed with a little water. Now what accounts for her obsession about this ‘damned spot’?

Answer: Her obsession with the “damned spot” results from the realisation that the consequences of their actions are not merely physical but deeply psychological and irreversible, leading to her overwhelming guilt and despair.

e. What are your feelings about Lady Macbeth? Do you sympathise with her or do you condemn her then for her actions? Give reasons to support your answer.

Answer: The narrative does not specify personal feelings but depicts Lady Macbeth as tormented by guilt, inviting a nuanced perspective that may elicit both sympathy for her suffering and condemnation for her initial ruthlessness.

2. Lady Macbeth: Here’s the smell of the blood still:
all the perfumes of Arabia will not sweeten this little hand. Oh! oh! oh!.

a. What is the irony that prevails in the above extract? What had Lady Macbeth said on the night of the murder regarding the washing away of the stain of blood?

Answer: The irony is Lady Macbeth’s transition from claiming that “a little water clears us of this deed” to realising not even “all the perfumes of Arabia” can cleanse her hands, highlighting the inescapable burden of guilt.

b. What are the changes we find in Lady Macbeth from the bold and resolute woman she was earlier in the play?

Answer: Lady Macbeth transforms from a determined instigator of murder to a tormented figure haunted by her actions, showcasing the destructive impact of guilt on her psyche.

c. What is the significance of the exclamation of Lady Macbeth in the extract ‘Oh! Oh! Oh!’. What does it depict about her state of mind?

Answer: The exclamation signifies deep anguish and the unbearable weight of her guilt, depicting a state of despair and a realisation of her psychological torment.

d. What does the doctor remark about this cry of Lady Macbeth? What alarming statement does the gentlewoman make that makes the doctor tell her to keep her silence?

Answer: The doctor notes Lady Macbeth’s heart is “sorely charged” with sorrow. The gentlewoman’s remark on not wanting such a burdened heart, even for a queen’s rank, suggests deep concern for Lady Macbeth’s condition. The document doesn’t specify an alarming statement from the gentlewoman prompting the doctor’s advice for silence.

3. Doctor: Foul whisperings are abroad.
Unnatural deeds: Do breed Unnatural troubles: infected minds:
To their deaf pillows will discharge their secrets.

a. Explain the above extract in your own words.

Answer: The doctor implies that evil deeds lead to psychological turmoil, suggesting that those burdened by guilt often confess their secrets in private, indicating a natural consequence of wrongdoing as mental distress.

b. What are the unnatural deeds that have been committed by Macbeth and Lady Macbeth?

Answer: The unnatural deeds include the murder of King Duncan and other violent actions to secure power, going against moral and social order.

c. What is the doctor’s analysis of Lady Macbeth’s sickness? What is his reaction towards the same?

Answer: The doctor sees Lady Macbeth’s condition as a manifestation of guilt requiring divine, not medical, intervention, reflecting the profound nature of her suffering.

d. What does the doctor pray to God for Lady Macbeth?

Answer: He prays for divine mercy and forgiveness for Lady Macbeth, acknowledging his inability to heal her spiritual and psychological wounds.

e. Give the meanings of the following words: i. Foul whisperings, ii. breed


  • Foul whisperings: Malicious rumors or secrets being circulated about the crimes committed.
  • Breed: To cause or bring about, indicating how evil deeds result in further troubles.

Essay questions

1. Describe the sleepwalking scene in Macbeth, explaining the past events Lady Macbeth mentions.

Answer: Lady Macbeth, burdened by guilt and regret for her role in Macbeth’s murderous acts, suffers from a mental breakdown. A doctor observes her sleepwalking, noting peculiar behaviours like writing on paper and talking in her sleep. Her attendant reveals that Lady Macbeth is terrified of the dark and constantly carries a candle.

During her sleepwalking episode, Lady Macbeth relives past crimes, mentioning:

  • “The damned spot”: This refers to the imagined bloodstain on her hand, symbolising her guilt for Duncan’s murder.
  • “Hell is murky”: She fears the darkness and associates it with hell, reflecting her inner turmoil.
  • The death of the Thane of Fife’s wife: This shows remorse for the massacre of Macduff’s family.
  • The smell of blood: She is haunted by the smell of blood on her hands, a constant reminder of her involvement in the murders.

The doctor realizes that Lady Macbeth’s condition is beyond his medical expertise. He believes her suffering stems from a guilty conscience and requires divine intervention. Lady Macbeth’s final words, “What’s done cannot be undone,” highlight her despair and inability to escape the consequences of her actions.

Extra/additional MCQs

1. What does Lady Macbeth carry with her during her sleepwalking scene?

A. A knife B. A bowl of water C. Sweet smelling perfume from Arabia D. A taper

Answer: D. A taper

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15. What ultimate advice does the doctor give to the gentlewoman?

A. To let Lady Macbeth sleep B. To keep Lady Macbeth away from sharp objects C. To ignore Lady Macbeth’s words D. To watch Lady Macbeth closely

Answer: D. To watch Lady Macbeth closely

Extra/additional questions and answers

1. What is Lady Macbeth suffering from according to the doctor?

Answer: According to the doctor, Lady Macbeth is suffering from a great perturbation in nature, where she is able to receive the benefits of sleep and yet perform the effects of being awake, indicating a great disorder in her natural state.

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11. Discuss how the sleep walking scene serves as a turning point in the characterization of Lady Macbeth, and how it reflects her descent into a state of deep psychological torment.

Answer: The sleep walking scene marks a significant turning point in the characterization of Lady Macbeth, as it reveals a stark contrast between her previous resolute and ruthless demeanor and the shattered, guilt-ridden woman she has become. Whereas earlier she had been the driving force behind the murder of Duncan, urging Macbeth to be a “man” and not fear the consequences, the Lady Macbeth we see in this scene is a shadow of her former self – pale, mumbling incoherently, and tormented by the memories of her past misdeeds. Her constant attempts to wash away the imaginary blood stains on her hands, her references to the “damned spot” and the “murky” hell, all serve as powerful symbols of the deep psychological trauma she is suffering. This scene effectively depicts Lady Macbeth’s descent into a state of profound remorse and anguish, a far cry from the steely determination she had once displayed, and stands as a testament to the overwhelming power of guilt and conscience.

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