Macbeth Act 5 Scene 4: ISC Class 12 workbook answers

Macbeth Act 5 Scene 4
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Get notes, workbook solutions, summary, questions and answers, and pdf of the drama/play Macbeth (Act 5 Scene 4) 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


This short but significant scene depicts the preparation for the final battle against Macbeth. Malcolm, leading the English forces, devises a clever strategy to camouflage their numbers and approach Dunsinane undetected.

He instructs each soldier to cut a bough from Birnam Wood and carry it before them, creating the illusion of a moving forest and misleading Macbeth’s scouts. This tactical move directly challenges Macbeth’s sense of security, which relies heavily on the witches’ prophecy regarding Birnam Wood.

Siward, a seasoned English general, notes that Macbeth’s overconfidence stems from the perceived safety of his fortified castle. However, Malcolm remains optimistic, aware of the growing dissent within Macbeth’s ranks and the dwindling loyalty of his soldiers.

Macduff, fueled by a personal vendetta against Macbeth, advises careful and diligent soldiership to ensure victory. He understands the importance of strategic planning and execution in the upcoming battle.

Workbook answers

Multiple Choice Questions

1. Malcolm asks every soldier

A. to walk ahead confidently holding their swords before them B. to hew down a branch of the Birnamwood forest C. to give out the cry of war to intimidate Macbeth D. to declare open warfare against Macbeth

Answer: B. to hew down a branch of the Birnamwood forest

2. Macbeth stays in Dunsinane

A. safe and secure B. jubilant C. sleepwalking all the time D. waiting for Duncan’s ghost to appear

Answer: A. safe and secure

3. Macbeth’s soldiers serve him

A. under compulsion B. wholeheartedly C. joyfully D. with no inhibitions

Answer: A. under compulsion

4. Siward warns Macduff

A. not to attack directly B. not to indulge in guesswork C. not to kill Macbeth D. not to listen to Malcolm

Answer: B. not to indulge in guesswork

5. The army of Malcolm is near

A. Dunsinane B. a countryside in England C. Scone D. Fife

Answer: A. Dunsinane

Context questions

1. Siward: What wood is this before us?
Mentieth: The wood of Birnam.
Malcolm: Let every soldier hew him down a bough,
And bear’t before him: thereby shall we shadow
The numbers of our host and make discovery
Err in report of us.

a. How does the prophecy of the witches come true partially?

Answer: The prophecy of the witches comes partially true as Malcolm instructs each soldier to cut down a branch from the Birnam Wood and hold it before him. This act camouflages the army’s numbers and makes the spies’ reports erroneous, indirectly moving the forest towards Dunsinane as foretold, though in an unexpected manner.

b. Where are the speakers? What is his main hope?

Answer: The speakers are near Birnam Wood. Malcolm’s main hope is to hide the number of his soldiers by having them each carry a branch in front of them, thereby confusing the enemy regarding their true strength.

c. What do we learn of the plight of Macbeth?

Answer: We learn that Macbeth is increasingly isolated, with soldiers serving him only out of compulsion. He clings to the belief that he cannot be defeated until Birnam Wood moves to Dunsinane, unaware that his downfall is imminent as the forest symbolically ‘moves’ towards him.

d. What service is Macbeth getting from his soldiers?

Answer: Macbeth’s soldiers serve him under compulsion, indicating their lack of loyalty and enthusiasm. This forced service spells doom for Macbeth, highlighting the depth of his isolation and the fragility of his power.

e. What sound advice does Siward give to Macduff at the end of the scene?

Answer: Siward advises Macduff to focus on their military efforts and to avoid engaging in speculative thoughts or guesswork about the outcome of their actions. He emphasizes the importance of taking proper military measures and letting the results speak for themselves.

Essay question

1. In what ways Macbeth experience the gradual closing in of consequences for his actions?

Answer: Macbeth finds himself increasingly ensnared in a web of his own making. His isolation grows as his tyrannical rule alienates those around him, leaving only those compelled by duty or fear to serve him. He clings to a false sense of security, believing himself invincible until Birnam Wood marches to Dunsinane. Unaware of the approaching forest and his inevitable downfall, he battles with a guilty conscience and a growing sense of dread. Even the witches’ prophecies, once a source of comfort, now seem to foreshadow the inescapable retribution for his heinous deeds.

Extra/additional MCQs

1. What is the name of the wood that lies before Malcolm and his army?

A. Dunsinane Forest B. Fife Wood C. Cathness Wood D. The wood of Birnam

Answer: D. The wood of Birnam

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9. What does Siward say about the certainty of the outcome of the war?

A. Guesswork is bound to be certain B. The result of the battle will decide the outcome C. The prophecies of the witches will determine the outcome D. Malcolm’s guerrilla tactics will ensure victory

Answer: B. The result of the battle will decide the outcome

Extra/additional questions and answers

1. What is the main hope that Macbeth is relying on?

Answer: According to the passage, Macbeth’s main hope is the security of his fortified castle at Dunsinane, which he believes will defy a siege.

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10. How are the “toils of retribution” gradually closing around Macbeth, as described in the passage?

Answer: The passage depicts Macbeth as a shattered and isolated man, gradually facing the consequences of his criminal deeds. Despite the apparent security provided by the witches’ prophecies, Macbeth is plagued by a sense of guilt and fear, aware that his downfall is inevitable. The desertion of his Thanes and the half-hearted support of his own soldiers further contribute to Macbeth’s plight, as the forces of retribution close in on him. The ironic fulfillment of the prophecy, with Birnam Wood seemingly moving towards Dunsinane, symbolizes Macbeth’s impending doom, which he is powerless to prevent despite his overconfidence in the castle’s fortifications.

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