Get notes, workbook solutions, summary, questions and answers, and pdf of the drama/play Macbeth (Act 2 Scene 4) 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 2 Scene 4 of Macbeth begins with Ross and an old man discussing the unnatural events that have occurred, such as a falcon being killed by an owl and Duncan’s horses turning wild and eating each other. These strange happenings are seen as omens of the unnatural and treacherous murder that has taken place.
Macduff enters the scene and reveals that the king’s sons, Malcolm and Donalbain, have fled, which casts suspicion on them for their father’s murder. Ross comments on the unnaturalness of children killing their parent out of ambition. It is then suggested that Macbeth will likely become the king, which Macduff confirms, stating that Macbeth has already been named king and has gone to Scone to be crowned.
When asked about Duncan’s body, Macduff says it has been taken to Colmekill, a sacred burial place for kings. Ross decides to go to Scone, while Macduff decides to go to Fife. They part ways, hoping that things will not get worse.
The scene ends with Banquo entering and expressing his suspicions about Macbeth. He recalls the witches’ prophecy that his own descendants will be kings, and he wonders if that part of the prophecy will come true as well.
Multiple Choice Questions (MCQs)
Select the correct option for each of the following questions:
1. The old man gives an account of a falcon being preyed upon by a
Answer: b. a mousing owl
2. Fill in the blanks in the extract:
And Duncan’s horses.
Beauteous and swift, ….. of their race,
Turn’d wild in ……., broke their ….., flung out
Contending’ gainst …….. as they could make ……..with mankind.
Answer: the minions, nature, stalls, obedience, war.
3. The horses of Duncan surprisingly
Answer: b. ate each other up
4. Malcolm and Donalbain were blamed of
Answer: a. killing their father
5. King Duncan’s body was to be buried at
Answer: Colmekill (the correct answer is not there among the provided options as per the first edition of the workbook: 2023)
Read the extracts given below and answer the questions that follow:
1. Old Man: Threescore and ten I can remember well; Within the volume of which time I have seen.
Hours dreadful, and things strange, but this sore night hath trifled former knowings.
a. Who is the Old Man speaking to? How does the person spoken to describe the night?
Answer: The Old Man is speaking to Ross. Ross describes the night as unnatural and troubled, with the darkness overwhelming the day, even though it’s daytime by the clock.
b. What unnatural phenomena does the Old Man go on to describe that occurred? What day did it occur?
Answer: The Old Man describes two unnatural phenomena. First, a falcon, which was flying high, was killed by a mousing owl. Second, Duncan’s horses, which were known for their beauty and speed, turned wild, broke their stalls, and acted as if they were at war with mankind. These events occurred on the previous Tuesday.
c. What does the person spoken to relate about another unnatural thing that occurred?
Answer: Ross relates that Duncan’s horses did something unnatural: they ate each other. This was a sight that amazed him.
d. What do all these prodigies indicate?
Answer: All these prodigies indicate that something is deeply wrong and unnatural. They suggest a disruption in the natural order, reflecting the unnatural act of regicide that has occurred.
e. Who enters the scene while the conversation is going on? What information does the person bring?
Answer: Macduff enters the scene while the conversation is going on. Macduff brings the information that the servants Macbeth killed are suspected of committing the crime, implying that Macbeth might have been responsible for the murder.
2. Macduff: He is already nam’d, and gone to Scone to be invested.
Ross: Where is Duncan’s body?
Macduff: Carried to Colmekill, The sacred storehouse of his predecessors
And guardian of their bones.
Ross: Will you go to Scone?
Macduff: No cousin, I’ll go to Fife.
a. Who is ‘he’? What does the word ‘invested’ mean? Why does Macduff want to go to Fife? Why does he have no intention to go to Scone?
Answer: ‘He’ refers to Macbeth. The word ‘invested’ here means to be formally given a title or role, in this case, the kingship. Macduff wants to go to Fife, which is his own domain, possibly to ensure its safety and to distance himself from the events at Scone. He has no intention to go to Scone because he likely suspects Macbeth’s involvement in Duncan’s murder and does not wish to support his coronation.
b. What is Macduff’s reaction and what figure of speech does he use on hearing that Ross intends to go to Scone?
Answer: Macduff’s reaction to Ross’s intention to go to Scone is one of caution and skepticism. He says, “Well, may you see things well done there. Adieu, Lest our old robes sit easier than our new!” This is a figure of speech implying that he hopes Ross finds things in order at Scone, but also subtly suggesting that the change in leadership (new robes) might not be as comfortable or right as the old (old robes).
c. What can we guage about the character of Macduff in the scene?
Answer: Macduff’s character is shown to be cautious, skeptical, and loyal to the rightful rule. He is not easily swayed by the new power dynamics and shows a clear intention to distance himself from the suspicious events surrounding Macbeth’s rise to power.
d. Who does the Old Man bless at the end of the scene? What do we notice in the tone of his voice?
Answer: At the end of the scene, the Old Man blesses Ross and all those who would turn bad into good and enemies into friends. His tone is one of hope and goodwill, despite the ominous events that have transpired.
e. How does the imagery of darkness play a predominant role in the play? What is the importance of the scene in the play?
Answer: The imagery of darkness plays a predominant role in the play, symbolizing evil, deceit, and the unnatural. In this scene, Ross describes how “dark night strangles the travelling lamp,” referring to the unnatural darkness that has fallen during the day, reflecting the unnatural acts (Duncan’s murder) that have taken place. This scene is important as it sets the stage for the ensuing chaos and tragedy following Duncan’s murder, and the suspicion towards Macbeth’s sudden rise to power.
Essay type questions
Q. How does Nature play a significant role in showing its disapproval towards the unnatural deed committed?
Answer: The unnatural act of murdering the gentle and beloved King Duncan seems to have provoked a strong response from nature itself. It’s as if even God is disturbed by the horrific act, and the world, stained with human blood, is threatened with divine retribution. Despite it being daytime according to the clock, the sun, which usually illuminates the sky, is obscured by a thick darkness, making it seem like night. The day is shamefully cloaked in darkness, reflecting the abnormality pervading the atmosphere.
Unnatural actions lead to unnatural consequences. In a reversal of the natural order, a falcon, which usually hunts mice, is killed by an owl, a creature that typically lives in fear of the falcon. This anomaly in nature underscores the abnormality in the human world, where a loyal subject has murdered his king.
Murder, a deed typically committed under the cover of darkness, has caused darkness to envelop the world. Nature appears to be in rebellion against the heinous crime of killing a beloved and respected king, causing the sun and moon to withhold their light for six months after Duncan’s death. The disorder in nature and the strange occurrences before and during the murder emphasize the cosmic horror at Macbeth’s act.
Macbeth’s crime is so vile that it shocks the heavenly powers, and the pervasive gloom and darkness in nature serve as a warning of the severe punishment that is to come.
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