Get notes, workbook solutions, summary, questions and answers, and pdf of the drama/play Macbeth (Act 1 Scene 1) 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.
Act 1, Scene 1 of Macbeth begins with thunder and lightning, setting a dark and ominous tone. Three witches appear on a desolate heath. They discuss when they will meet again, deciding it will be after the battle, before sunset, on the heath. They plan to meet with Macbeth there. The witches then hear the calls of their spirit friends or “familiars,” which look like animals—one is a cat and one is a toad. The witches then chant a paradoxical phrase, “Fair is foul, and foul is fair,” and decide to fly away through the fog and filthy air. The scene ends with their exit, leaving an atmosphere of mystery and foreboding.
Multiple Choice Questions (MCQs)
Select the correct option for each of the following questions:
1. Amidst thunder and lightning enter
Answer: a. Three witches
2. The scene is set on
Answer: b. Wasteland
3. The name of the cat is
Answer: b. Graymalkin
4. The toad belongs to the
Answer: Second witch
5. Hurly burly means
Answer: c. Chaos
Read the extracts and answer the questions given below:
1. ALL: Fair is foul, and foul is fair:
Hover through the fog and filthy air
a. Where are the speakers? Who are they?
Answer: The speakers are in an open field (referred to as “the heath”). They are the three witches.
b. Name the animals mentioned in the scene.
Answer: The animals mentioned in the scene are a cat (referred to as Graymalkin) and a toad (referred to as Paddock).
c. Explain the lines:
Fair is foul, and foul is fair
Hover through the fog and filthy air
Answer: These lines are spoken by the witches in the play, and they set the tone for the paradoxical and chaotic events that follow in the story. “Fair is foul, and foul is fair” suggests that appearances can be deceptive, what seems to be good can be bad, and vice versa. This theme of the reversal of moral values is central to the play. The second line, “Hover through the fog and filthy air,” suggests the witches’ association with dark, murky, and unclean places, symbolizing their evil nature.
d. Where do they plan to meet and whom? Who calls them?
Answer: The witches plan to meet on the heath after the battle is over. They plan to meet Macbeth, as indicated by the line “There to meet with Macbeth.” It is the third witch who calls them to meet Macbeth.
e. What is the significance of this scene and what does it foretell?
Answer: The first scene of Macbeth serves as an introduction to the play’s themes of deception, chaos, and the reversal of natural order. The witches’ meeting sets the tone for the rest of the play, suggesting that the events to follow will not adhere to the natural order of things. The witches’ plan to meet Macbeth after the battle foreshadows the pivotal role they will play in his life, influencing his decisions and actions, and ultimately leading to his downfall.
2. First witch: I come Graymalkin
Second witch: Paddock calls
Third witch: Anon.
a. Where are the witches?
Answer: The witches are on the heath, an open field.
b. What is the first question asked by the first witch?
Answer: The first witch asks, “When shall we three meet again? In thunder, lightning, or in rain?”
c. Write in your own words the meaning and significance of the answer given by the second witch.
Answer: The second witch responds to the first witch’s question by saying, “Paddock calls.” This means that her familiar, a toad named Paddock, is summoning her. The significance of this line is that it shows the witches’ connection to the supernatural and their animal familiars, which are often associated with witchcraft.
d. On what note does the scene end?
Answer: The scene ends with the witches chanting their paradoxical mantra, “Fair is foul, and foul is fair,” and planning to fly away through the fog and filthy air. This sets a tone of ambiguity, deception, and chaos for the rest of the play.
e. Who are Graymalkin and Paddock?
Answer: Graymalkin and Paddock are the familiars of the witches. Graymalkin is a cat, the familiar of the first witch, and Paddock is a toad, the familiar of the second witch. These familiars are spirits in animal form that serve the witches.
Q. “The first appearance of the witches strikes the keynote of the character of the drama”
Answer. These lines are from the first scene of the first act in the play “Macbeth.” The scene starts with a sense of chaos in nature, with thunder and lightning. The witches, who represent disorder and conflict, meet in this stormy setting on a barren heath, adding to the eerie atmosphere. They speak in a mysterious way and plan to meet Macbeth on the heath after the battle.
You might wonder why Shakespeare starts the play with the witches. The reason is straightforward. The play is a tragedy about the victory of evil, and this opening scene sets the tone for the audience to accept this unnatural world. The witches create an aura of guilt and evil that persists throughout the play. Their cryptic conversations make us uncomfortable, and from the moment we first hear them, we sense that they revel in evil for its own sake, turning what is fair into something foul.
The witches appear in a storm on a desolate heath, a place where evil reigns. The storm not only matches their strange appearance and rituals but also symbolizes the current turmoil in Duncan’s kingdom and the chaos of battle and murder.
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