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Macbeth: Manipur Board (BSEM) Class 10 English Literature


Get summary, textual solutions, questions, answers, notes. pdf, extras to the chapter “Macbeth” by William Shakespeare which is a part of Class 10 English Literature Reader syllabus for students studying under Manipur Board (BSEM).

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(A) Based on your reading of the text complete the following statements:

(i) The first witch hailed Macbeth as __________.

Answer: Thane of Glamis.

(ii) The second witch said to Banquo that __________.

Answer: He shall be lesser than Macbeth, and greater.

(iii) When Ross addressed Macbeth as Thane of Cawdor, Macbeth was surprised because  __________.

Answer: He knew nothing of Cawdor’s doom.

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(vii) During the supper, Macbeth said that the table was full. But this astonished the lords because __________.

Answer: The seat in the midst was vacant.

(viii) Lady Macbeth became afraid of darkness and she commanded __________.

Answer: That there should always be a candle burning by her bedside.

(B) Answer the following questions in a sentence each

(i) Whose help did Macdonald seek when he rebelled against king Duncan?

Answer: Macdonald sought the help of the king of Norway when he rebelled against King Duncan.

(ii) How did the third witch address Macbeth?

Answer: The third witch addressed Macbeth as “all hail Macbeth; that shall be king hereafter.”

(iii) Why did Lady Macbeth not stab king Duncan herself?

Answer: Lady Macbeth did not stab King Duncan herself because the sight of him with his white hair on the pillow put her in mind of her own old father.

(iv) ‘Then Macbeth caught sight of his own hands…..’ What did Macbeth see of his own hands?

Answer: Macbeth saw his own hands all clammy with Duncan’s blood.

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(ix) When Macduff reached England, Malcolm at first treated him unkindly. Why?

Answer: Malcolm initially treated Macduff unkindly because he was not sure of Macduff’s loyalty and feared he might be a spy for Macbeth.

(x) What tactics did Malcolin adopt to hide the exact number of his soldiers as they reached Birnam Wood?

Answer: Malcolm commanded every soldier to cut off a leafy bough and carry it with him so that Macbeth’s scouts would not be able to spy the number of his men.

(C) Answer the following questions briefly:

(i) Why did the king of Norway crave for a truce immediately?

Answer: The King of Norway craved for a truce immediately because he was shaken by Macbeth’s valour and the slaying of Macdonwald.

(ii) What fate did the Thane of Cawdor meet for plotting treason against King Duncan?

Answer: The Thane of Cawdor was condemned to death for plotting treason against King Duncan.

(iii) What were the prophecies made to Macbeth by the Weird Sisters?

Answer: The prophecies made to Macbeth by the Weird Sisters were that he would become Thane of Glamis, Thane of Cawdor, and eventually the King.

(iv) What prophecies did they make to Banquo?

Answer: The prophecies made to Banquo by the Weird Sisters were that he would be lesser than Macbeth, yet greater, not so happy, yet much happier, and that he would be the father of kings, though he would not be one himself.

(v) What piece of news prompted Macbeth to aspire for the throne of Scotland?

Answer: The piece of news that prompted Macbeth to aspire for the throne of Scotland was the prophecy by the Weird Sisters that he would become King.

(vi) ‘When Lady Macbeth received the letter, her thoughts caught fire…’ What characteristic of Lady Macbeth made her think so?

Answer: The characteristic of Lady Macbeth that made her think so was her ambition, which was as strong as her husband’s, but without the natural kindness that made Macbeth hesitate to seek the crown by foul means.

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(xii) When Macbeth met the Weird Sisters for the second time, what did the third figure tell him?

Answer: When Macbeth met the Weird Sisters for the second time, the third figure told him that he would never be vanquished until Great Birnam Wood came to high Dunsinane Hill against him.

(xiii) What did Macbeth do when he heard that Macduff had fled to England?

Answer: When Macbeth heard that Macduff had fled to England, he sent men to seize Macduff’s castle and kill all within it, including Macduff’s wife, children, and every living soul.

(xiv) Why did Macbeth feel that no one could conquer him?

Answer: Macbeth felt that no one could conquer him because the Weird Sisters prophesied that no man born of a woman would harm him, and until Birnam Wood moved to Dunsinane, he would not be defeated.

(xv) How did Birnam Wood move to Dunsinane?

Answer: Birnam Wood moved to Dunsinane when Malcolm commanded every soldier to cut off a leafy bough and carry it, thereby disguising the number of his men and making it appear as if the forest was moving.

(xvi) ‘Your charm is useless,’ retorted Macduff…’ Why did Macduff say so to Macbeth?

Answer: Macduff said “Your charm is useless” to Macbeth because he revealed that he was not born in the usual manner but was “from his mother’s womb untimely ripped,” meaning he was born by cesarean section, thus not technically ‘of woman born.’ This nullified the witches’ prophecy that no man born of a woman could harm Macbeth.

(D) Answer the following questions in about 80 words each:

(i) Bring out the significance of Macbeth and Banquo’s first meeting with the witches.

Answer: The first meeting of Macbeth and Banquo with the witches is significant as it sets the foundation for the entire plot of the play. The witches’ prophecies spark Macbeth’s ambition and plant the seed of his eventual downfall. They hail Macbeth as Thane of Glamis, Thane of Cawdor, and future King, while they tell Banquo that his descendants will be kings. These predictions intrigue Macbeth and fuel his desire for power, leading him on a path of moral corruption, regicide, and tyranny.

(ii) Write the circumstances that led Macbeth to kill King Duncan?

Answer: Macbeth’s decision to kill King Duncan was influenced by a combination of factors. The witches’ prophecy that he would become King of Scotland ignited his ambition. Lady Macbeth’s manipulation and questioning of his masculinity played a crucial role in persuading him. Furthermore, Duncan’s decision to name his son Malcolm as his heir seemed like a barrier to Macbeth’s ascension to the throne. These factors, coupled with his deep-seated ambition and Lady Macbeth’s provocation, culminated in his decision to commit regicide.

(iii) ‘Macbeth by this time was in a high fever of doubt…….’ Why was Macbeth in such a state of doubt?

Answer: Macbeth’s state of doubt stemmed from his moral conflict and the repercussions of his contemplated actions. He was torn between his ambition, spurred by the witches’ prophecy, and his conscience, which made him apprehensive about the sin and its consequences. He understood the gravity of murdering a king, his kinsman, and a guest in his home. Additionally, he feared eternal damnation and the potential for his actions to bring misery and disaster, making him hesitant and doubtful.

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(vii) Describe the role of the witches in the story of Macbeth.

Answer: The witches in “Macbeth” play a pivotal role as catalysts of the plot. Their prophecies to Macbeth about becoming king awaken his latent ambition and set him on a path of moral decay and tyranny. They symbolize the forces of darkness and fate, influencing Macbeth’s decisions and actions. Their ambiguous and manipulative nature contributes to the play’s themes of ambiguity and the corrupting influence of unchecked ambition.

(viii) Why did Macbeth describe his life as ‘vain and useless’ comparing it with ‘a little candle soon burnt out’?

Answer: Macbeth described his life as ‘vain and useless’ and compared it to ‘a little candle soon burnt out’ to express his realization of the futility and emptiness of his actions. After a series of ruthless deeds to secure his throne, he recognizes that his quest for power has only led to misery, isolation, and imminent downfall. This metaphor reflects his despair and the understanding that his life, consumed by ambition and treachery, is fleeting and devoid of true meaning or legacy.

(ix) Do you think the story has a lesson to teach? Elaborate on it.

Answer: The story of Macbeth indeed has several lessons to teach. It is a cautionary tale about the dangers of unchecked ambition and the corrupting power of desire for power. Macbeth’s downfall illustrates how ambition, when not balanced by moral considerations, can lead to one’s ruin. The play also delves into themes of guilt and the psychological consequences of engaging in immoral actions. It highlights the idea that evil deeds have a profound and destructive impact on one’s psyche and soul, eventually leading to tragic consequences.

Think and Write

(i) Which of the following do you think is responsible for Macbeth’s suffering?

(a) Fate because no one can escape death.
(b) The witches who led him to wrong path.
(c) Both his and his wife’s unscrupulous ambition. 

Justify your answer.

Answer: Macbeth’s suffering is primarily a result of both his and his wife’s unscrupulous ambition. The narrative of Macbeth in the textbook demonstrates how his insatiable desire for power and his wife’s ambitious drive lead them down a path of moral corruption, murder, and ultimately their downfall. The witches play a role in sparking this ambition by prophesying Macbeth’s rise to power, but it is Macbeth and his wife who choose to pursue these ambitions through immoral and ruthless means. Their actions, driven by ambition and not fate, are the main cause of their suffering and eventual ruin.

(ii) Do you feel pity for Macbeth’s suffering? Do you think if Macbeth had been scrupulously guided by a sense of right or wrong he would not have suffered?

Answer: Whether one feels pity for Macbeth’s suffering is subjective and can vary. However, the text suggests that if Macbeth had been guided by a strong sense of right or wrong, he might not have suffered as he did. Macbeth’s tragedy stems from his moral downfall, driven by unchecked ambition and the lack of a firm moral compass. His conscious choices, influenced by ambition and his wife’s persuasion, lead to his moral degradation and eventual downfall. If he had adhered to ethical principles and resisted the temptation of power, his fate might have been different, potentially sparing him from the suffering and guilt that plagued him after his heinous acts.


(i) Ambition is good. But more important is what is right and wrong. Our ambition should always be guided by a sense of right or wrong. 

Discuss in your group the above statement with examples from Macbeth’s life.

Answer: The statement emphasizes the importance of moral and ethical guidance in pursuing ambitions, using Macbeth’s life as an example. In Macbeth’s case, his ambition, though initially a positive trait, leads him astray when it is not tempered by a sense of right and wrong. His uncontrolled ambition drives him to commit regicide and subsequent atrocities. This demonstrates that while ambition can be a powerful motivator for success, it needs to be aligned with ethical values and a clear understanding of right and wrong. If Macbeth had allowed his ambition to be guided by moral principles, he might have achieved greatness without resorting to treachery and murder, thus avoiding his tragic downfall.


A. Read the sentences and choose the likely meaning from the context given of the words in bold from among the choices given:

(i) ‘This seemed to Macbeth to be a bar to his hopes and kindled him to more DESPERATE actions than before.’

(a) Thoughtful (b) Severe and serious (c) Brave

Answer: (b) Severe and serious.

(ii) ‘She greeted him exultingly…….. and at once began to WHET him on the deed…’

(a) Encourage (b) Discourage (c) Warn

Answer: (a) Encourage.

(iii) ‘So he began STEALTHILY to move toward the stairs which led to the king’s chamber.’

(a) Nervously (b) Quickly (c) Silently

Answer: (c) Silently.

(iv) ‘So without more ADO they made for the stables and before their going was discovered they were away on their horses…..’

(a) Delay (b) Questions (c) Feeling disturbed

Answer: (a) Delay.

(v) ‘When he found them they were CLUSTERED round a cauldron performing black incantations as they seethed their filthy brew.’

(a) Scattered (b) Seated (c) Grouped

Answer: (c) Grouped.

(vi) ‘I am lustful and AVARICIOUS. I have none of the kingly virtues. Justice truth mercy………. all.’

(a) Ambitious of wealth (b) Hateful of people (c) Cruel to enemy

Answer: (a) Ambitious of wealth.

(vii) ‘It was Ross who had ridden hastily from Scotland to urge Malcom …… but also to break the news of the savage SLAUGHTER of Macduff’s wife and children.’

(a) Keeping in prison (b) Merciless killing (c) Punishment

Answer: (b) Merciless killing.

B. Give the verb forms of the following words and use them in sentences of your own:


Verb form: Relieve
Sentence: “The cool breeze helped to relieve the heat of the summer day.”


Verb form: Propose
Sentence: “He plans to propose a new method for recycling at the next community meeting.”


Verb form: Speak
Sentence: “During the conference, the expert will speak about the latest technological advancements.”


Verb form: Declare
Sentence: “The government will officially declare the new policy next week.”


Verb form: Expect
Sentence: “We expect the weather to improve by tomorrow afternoon.”


Verb form: Manipulate
Sentence: “She learned how to manipulate the software to create stunning graphic designs.”


Verb form: Propose
Sentence: “The committee will propose a solution to the budget problem at their next meeting.”


Verb form: Anticipate
Sentence: “The team anticipates challenges during the project but remains confident.”


Verb form: Announce
Sentence: “The school principal will announce the winners of the competition during the assembly.”


Verb form: Exult
Sentence: “Fans exult when their favorite team scores the winning goal.”

Writing Task

A. Now that you have read the story of Macbeth write a diary entry expressing your feelings about the fate of Macbeth.

Answer: Dear Diary,

Today, I finished reading the story of Macbeth, and I am left with a whirlwind of emotions about the tragic fate that befell him. It’s a poignant reminder of how ambition, when left unchecked, can lead to one’s downfall. Macbeth, a valiant warrior, initially appears as a noble figure. However, his encounter with the witches awakens in him a deep-seated desire for power. This ambition, spurred on by Lady Macbeth’s manipulative encouragement, drives him to commit regicide – an act that marks the beginning of his tragic descent.

As I ponder over Macbeth’s fate, I can’t help but feel a sense of melancholy. Here was a man who had everything – honor, respect, valor – but was undone by his insatiable thirst for more. His story is a cautionary tale about the perils of overreaching ambition and moral compromise. What strikes me most is the transformation of Macbeth from a hero to a tyrant, consumed by paranoia and guilt. His inability to find peace after usurping the throne is a testament to the idea that ill-gotten gains bring no lasting joy or satisfaction.

Macbeth’s tragic end, dying a dishonorable death, forsaken by all, serves as a powerful lesson. It illustrates the idea that the choices we make have far-reaching consequences, and that the pursuit of power, devoid of ethics and humanity, leads only to destruction. This tale, though set in a different era, resonates even today, reminding us of the timeless nature of its themes.

In closing, Macbeth’s fate leaves me with a sense of sadness for what could have been and a resolve to remember the importance of moral integrity in the pursuit of one’s ambitions.


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