Get notes, workbook solutions, summary, questions and answers, and pdf of the drama/play Macbeth (Act 1 Scene 3) 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.
In Act 1, Scene 3 of Macbeth, the three witches are seen conversing. They discuss their various activities since they last met and plan to meet again upon the heath after the battle is over. Macbeth and Banquo, generals from the Scottish army, come across the witches. The witches greet Macbeth with his current title – Thane of Glamis, the title he is about to receive – Thane of Cawdor, and prophesy that he will be king in the future. They also tell Banquo that he will be the father of kings, but not a king himself.
Macbeth and Banquo are intrigued and startled by these prophecies. As they are discussing the strange encounter, Ross and Angus arrive to inform Macbeth that the king has awarded him the title of Thane of Cawdor, as the previous Thane was a traitor. This news stuns Macbeth, as the witches’ prophecy starts coming true. Macbeth starts contemplating the possibility of becoming king and how he might achieve it, revealing the beginning of his ambitious drive. Banquo, on the other hand, remains skeptical and warns Macbeth that sometimes, to win us to our harm, the instruments of darkness tell us truths.
The scene ends with Macbeth deciding to let chance take its course regarding the prophecy of becoming king, but the seeds of ambition have already been sown in his mind.
Multiple Choice Questions (MCQs)
Select the correct option for each of the following questions:
1. The witches are waiting to meet
Answer: a. Macbeth and Banquo
2. The witches are plotting against
Answer: a. a sailor’s wife
3. The titles that the witches address Macbeth as are:
Thane of ……., Thane of …… and tell him that he will be ‘…… hereafter’.
Answer: Thane of Glamis, Thane of Cawdor, and King
4. Banquo considers the witches to be
Answer: a. bubbles of the air
5. Macbeth was awarded by Duncan the title of the
Answer: d. Thane of Cawdor
Read the extracts given below and answer the questions that follow:
1. Witch: You are kind to make this offer,
Third Witch: I will give you another wind
First Witch: I myself have all the other;
And the very ports they blow,
All the quarters that they know
I’ th’ shipman’s card.
a. What kind of offer was made by the second witch to the first witch before the extract?
Answer: The second witch offered to provide the first witch with some wind for her journey.
b. What revenge does the first witch want to take on the sailor’s wife? Why?
Answer: The witch plans to torment the sailor, making his journey miserable and causing him to live in agony. The first witch wants to take revenge on the sailor’s wife because she refused to share her chestnuts.
c. Where does the first witch want to sail away? How do the second and third witches offer to help her?
Answer: The first witch wants to sail to Aleppo. The second and third witches offer to help her by providing her with wind for her journey.
d. How does the First witch brag about her command over all the other winds?
Answer: The first witch brags about her command over all the other winds by stating that she has control over all the other winds, along with the ports from which they blow and every direction on the sailor’s compass in which they can go.
e. What will she do to plague the shipman?
Answer: The first witch will plague the shipman by draining the life out of him, depriving him of sleep, and making him live as a cursed man in agony for eighty-one weeks. Although she can’t make his ship disappear, she can still make his journey miserable.
f. Were the witches real or just bubbles of the air? How relevant are witches in today’s modern world? Give reasons for your answer.
Answer: In the play, the witches appear to be real entities, not just “bubbles of the air.” They interact with Macbeth and Banquo, providing prophecies that significantly influence the course of the story.
In today’s modern world, witches can symbolize various things depending on the context, from fear of the unknown to the power of nature, or the subversion of societal norms. They can also represent persecution and fear of the other, or in some contexts, a connection to nature and feminine power.
2. BANQUO: Good sir, why do you start; and seem to fear
Things that do sound so fair?- I’th’ name of truth,
Are ye fantastical, or that indeed
Which outwardly show?
a. Who does Banquo address as ‘Good Sir”? Where is Banquo and the other person now?
Answer: Banquo addresses Macbeth as ‘Good Sir’. They are on a heath in Scotland, where they have just encountered the witches.
b. What has transpired to make the ‘Good Sir’ start?
Answer: The ‘Good Sir’, Macbeth, starts because of the witches’ prophecy that he will become the Thane of Cawdor and the King of Scotland.
c. Who are fantastical? Why are they considered to be so?
Answer: The ‘fantastical’ are the witches. They are considered so because they are supernatural beings that do not resemble ordinary human beings and have the ability to prophesy.
d. How do the ‘Good Sir’ and Banquo react differently to the fantastical creatures? What does this portray about their characters?
Answer: Macbeth and Banquo react differently to the witches. Macbeth is startled and fearful, while Banquo is skeptical and challenges the witches.
This portrays Macbeth as more susceptible to the witches’ influence and ambitious, while Banquo is more grounded and cautious.
e. What prophecy is made about Banquo after this extract? How far is he affected by this prophecy?
Answer: The prophecy made about Banquo after this extract is that his descendants will be kings. He is affected by this prophecy but remains skeptical and cautious, unlike Macbeth.
3. MACBETH: Stay, you imperfect speakers, tell me more,
By Sinel’s death I know I am Thane of Glamis;
But how of Cawdor?
a. Why is Macbeth confused about becoming the Thane of Cawdor? What does he say about the Thane of Cawdor in the lines after the extract? What crime had the Thane of Cawdor committed?
Answer: Macbeth is confused about becoming the Thane of Cawdor because the current Thane of Cawdor is still alive. He says, “The thane of Cawdor lives. Why do you dress me in borrowed robes?” The Thane of Cawdor had committed treason, as revealed by Angus: “The man who was the thane of Cawdor is still alive, but he’s been sentenced to death, and he deserves to die.”
b. What are the two pertinent questions asked by Macbeth to the ‘imperfect speakers’? Who are these ‘imperfect speakers’?
Answer: The two pertinent questions asked by Macbeth to the ‘imperfect speakers’ are how he is the Thane of Cawdor and why they have stopped them at this desolate place with this prophetic greeting. The imperfect speakers are witches.
c. What are Banquo’s assumptions about the speakers? How does Macbeth contradict Banquo?
Answer: Banquo’s assumptions about the witches are that they might be illusions or fantastical beings. Macbeth contradicts Banquo by taking the witches’ prophecies seriously and demanding more information from them.
d. Who enters and what news do they bring?
Answer: Ross and Angus enter the scene. They bring the news that Macbeth has been named the Thane of Cawdor.
e. How does the second prophecy come true?
Answer: The second prophecy comes true when Ross and Angus inform Macbeth that he has been named the Thane of Cawdor.
4. MACBETH: Two truths are told,
As happy prologues to the swelling act
Of the imperial theme
a. What are the two truths told? What is the meaning of ‘imperial theme’?
Answer: The two truths told are that Macbeth has been given the title of Thane of Cawdor and that he will become the king of Scotland. The “imperial theme” refers to the prophecy that Macbeth will become the king of Scotland.
b. Explain Macbeth’s ‘aside’ after the extract. What does Banquo remark about Macbeth?
Answer: In his aside, Macbeth expresses his surprise at the witches’ prophecy coming true. Banquo remarks that Macbeth seems to be “rapt” or lost in thought.
c. What does Banquo feel about how these new titles have affected Macbeth?
Answer: Banquo feels suspicious about how these new titles have affected Macbeth. He wonders if Macbeth is already thinking about how to make the prophecy come true.
d. What apologies are made to Ross, Angus and Banquo by Macbeth?
Answer: Macbeth apologizes to Ross and Angus for his behavior towards them, and he apologizes to Banquo for not acknowledging his role in the battle. He also invites them to a feast that he is hosting.
e. What does Macbeth tell Banquo, especially at the end of the scene?
Answer: Macbeth tells Banquo that he hopes he will attend the feast and that they can discuss the prophecy further. He also asks Banquo to remain loyal to him and promises to reward him for his loyalty.
Q. Give an account of the dialogue between Macbeth and Banquo which followed their meeting with the witches. Does this conversation throw any light on the character of the speakers? Elucidate.
Answer: Macbeth and Banquo have a deep conversation after meeting the witches. Ross and Angus bring news that the king is very happy with Macbeth’s achievements and wants to give him the title of ‘Thane of Cawdor’. The current Thane of Cawdor is alive, but he’s been sentenced to death for being disloyal. This means the witches’ second prophecy has come true, which makes Macbeth feel safe. Banquo is surprised that part of the witches’ prophecy has come true and wonders, “Are the devils telling the truth?”. Macbeth asks Banquo if he believes his sons will be kings. Banquo says that if the witches’ prophecies are true, then Macbeth will definitely be king of Scotland. But he finds it strange that these dark creatures encourage them to do bad things that will eventually harm them. They seem to win their trust with small truths but will betray them when it matters most. Banquo calls the witches ‘Instruments of darkness’, but Macbeth is too caught up in his ambitions to understand what Banquo is warning him about. Macbeth keeps thinking about the witches’ words and asks Banquo to do the same. He then asks Banquo to leave. Their conversation shows their different reactions to the witches’ prophecy. Macbeth is fascinated, while Banquo thinks they are evil and warns Macbeth about them. Banquo seems more logical and practical, and views the witches as meaningless ‘bubbles’ of the earth. Even when part of the witches’ prophecy about Macbeth comes true, he remains skeptical. Macbeth and Banquo are like two opposite poles.
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