Macbeth Act 4 Scene 2: ISC Class 12 workbook answers

Macbeth Act 4 Scene 2
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Get notes, workbook solutions, summary, questions and answers, and pdf of the drama/play Macbeth (Act 4 Scene 2) 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.


The scene takes place at Macduff’s castle in Fife. Lady Macduff is angry and upset that her husband Macduff has fled to England, leaving her and their young son unprotected. She voices her frustration to Ross, who has come to visit her. Lady Macduff questions what crime Macduff has committed to abandon his family like this. She calls his flight an act of madness and cowardice.

Ross tries to reason with her, saying Macduff is noble, wise and judicious. He knows what he is doing given the dangerous times they are living in, with betrayal and confusion all around. However, Ross cannot speak too openly, as cruel circumstances have made everyone suspicious of being labeled a traitor. He tells Lady Macduff that however bad the situation seems now, things will eventually improve. With these reassuring but vague words, Ross takes his leave.

Lady Macduff then has a conversation with her young son. Pretending his father is dead, she asks the boy how he will live. The precocious child wittily responds that he will live like the birds. Lady Macduff jokes that he will have to eat worms then. But her son counters that just as birds find what they need to survive, so will he.

Their banter takes a serious turn when the son asks if his father really was a traitor, as the rumors claim. Lady Macduff confirms he was a traitor according to the Scottish definition – one who lies and breaks promises. But her son argues that if all liars are traitors, the traitors outnumber the honest people and can overpower them.

Just then, a messenger arrives warning Lady Macduff of danger and urging them to flee immediately. But it is too late – murderers sent by Macbeth arrive at that moment. Lady Macduff courageously confronts them, denying her husband is a traitor. In the scuffle, one murderer brutally stabs the young son, who runs away telling his mother to save herself. The tragic scene ends with Lady Macduff’s cries of horror as she too is killed offstage.

Workbook answers

Multiple Choice Questions

1. Lady Macduff is angry that her husband Macduff has

a. fled away b. become an accomplice of Macbeth c. sold the castle and left them homeless d. not tried to meet the witches

Answer: a. fled away

2. Ross does not want to stay any longer at the castle at Fife because

a. he is too filled with emotions b. he is scared of Macbeth c. he has to run away to England d. he has just argued with Lady Macduff

Answer: a. he is too filled with emotions

3. Lady Macduff tells her son that his father was

a. a traitor b. a time server to Macbeth c. a great soldier d. a restless soul

Answer: a. a traitor

4. A messenger comes to inform Lady Macduff that

a. murderers have been hired to kill them b. Macbeth is coming to visit her castle c. Macduff has returned back to Scotland d. he has come to take them to a safe place

Answer: a. murderers have been hired to kill them

5. Complete the following: Murderer: What you …… ? Young …of t…….!

Answer: What, you egg?
Young fry of treachery!

Context questions

1. Lady Macduff: What had he done, to make him fly the land?
Ross: You must have patience, Madam
Lady Macduff: He had none;
His flight was madness: and when our actions do not, our fears do make us traitors.

a. Why has Ross gone to meet Lady Macduff?

Answer: Ross visits Lady Macduff to try to justify her husband Macduff’s flight to England, which leaves his family defenseless.

b. How does Lady Macduff regard her husband’s flight to be? How correct is she in her assessment?

Answer: Lady Macduff regards her husband’s flight as madness and views it as an act of betrayal. Her assessment reflects her immediate feelings of abandonment and fear, rather than an understanding of Macduff’s motives for fleeing, which were to seek help against Macbeth’s tyranny.

c. Who had first given the news about Macduff’s flight and to whom?

Answer: Ross first informs Lady Macduff of her husband’s flight.

d. Where has Macduff fled? What was his reason to flee?

Answer: Macduff has fled to the Court of England. He fled to seek the assistance of the kind King Edward the Confessor against the tyranny of Macbeth.

e. What are Lady Macduff’s regrets where her son is concerned?

Answer: Lady Macduff expresses a concern for her son’s future, fearing for his safety and well-being in the absence of his father, and engaging in a contemplative conversation about their dire situation, which reflects her deep worries about raising him without his father’s protection.

2. Lady Macduff: Wisdom! To leave his wife, to leave his babes,
His mansion, and his titles, in a place. From whence himself does fly?
He loves us not; He wants the natural touch.

a. What has been told to Lady Macduff before the extract that has made her utter the word ‘wisdom’ in sarcastic tone?

Answer: Before the extract, Ross attempts to justify Macduff’s flight by suggesting it might have been out of wisdom rather than fear.

b. What does Lady Macduff mean by saying he wants the natural touch’? What makes her doubt the credibility of her husband?

Answer: By saying he wants the natural touch, Lady Macduff implies that Macduff lacks the instinctive affection and care expected of a father and husband. Her doubt stems from his decision to leave his family vulnerable in a time of turmoil, which to her, contradicts the protective and loving nature expected of him.

c. Where has Macduff gone? What has made Macduff flee from his country?

Answer: Macduff has fled to the Court of England to seek assistance from King Edward the Confessor against Macbeth’s tyranny. His flight is motivated by a desperate need to find support to overthrow Macbeth and restore order to Scotland.

d. How correct is Lady Macduff in the assessment of her husband’s character? Give reasons for your answer.

Answer: Lady Macduff’s assessment of her husband’s character is influenced by her immediate feelings of abandonment and fear for their safety. While she perceives his actions as lacking in familial loyalty and protection, Macduff’s decision to flee was driven by a broader sense of duty to his country and the hope of securing a safer future for his family and Scotland. Her assessment misses these nuances.

e. Give the meaning of the following:

i. fly

Answer: To flee or escape rapidly, especially from danger.

ii. natural touch.

Answer: An instinctive affection or concern for one’s family or offspring, suggesting an inherent or expected emotional bond.

3. My dearest coz, I pray you school yourself.
But your husband, He is noble, wise, judicious, and best knows
The fits o’ th’ season. I dare not speak much further,
but cruel are the times when we are traitors,
And do not know ourselves, when we hold rumour
From what we fear, yet know not what we fear
But upon a wild and violent sea
Each way, and move- I take my leave of you.

a. Who speaks these words? Who is his ‘dearest coz’?

Answer: Ross speaks these words, and his ‘dearest coz’ refers to Lady Macduff.

b. Name the three good qualities that the speaker highlights about Macduff in the extract.

Answer: The three good qualities highlighted about Macduff are that he is noble, wise, and judicious.

c. What cruel times are they facing, which does not allow the speaker to speak much further?

Answer: They are facing times of treachery and uncertainty, where loyalty is questioned, and fear dominates. This atmosphere of suspicion and danger constrains open communication.

d. How does the speaker show his optimism before he takes his leave?

Answer: The speaker shows his optimism by suggesting that things at their worst will either cease or improve to what they were before, implying a belief in the restoration of order and justice.

e. What is the image used by the speaker in the extract to express his fears?

Answer: The speaker uses the image of being on a “wild and violent sea” to express his fears, symbolizing the tumultuous and unpredictable nature of their current situation, where they are tossed about by rumors and uncertainties without clear direction.

4. Lady Macduff: Sirrah, your father’s dead:
And what will you do now? How will you live?
Son: As birds do, mother.
Lady Macduff: What with worms and flies?
Son With what I get, I mean; and so do they.
Lady Macduff: Poor bird! thou’dst never fear the net, nor lime,
The pit fall, nor the gin.

a. How does Lady Macduff try to lighten the grim situation?

Answer: Lady Macduff tries to lighten the grim situation by engaging in a playful and imaginative conversation with her son about how they will live now, using the analogy of birds living off what they find.

b. What does the word ‘Sirrah’ mean in the extract? Why does Lady Macduff tell her son that his father is dead?

Answer: In the extract, ‘Sirrah’ is a term used to address a boy or a man, often in a slightly authoritative or familiar manner. Lady Macduff tells her son that his father is dead as part of a challenging conversation, possibly to prepare him for the harsh realities they face, although it’s framed within the context of their playful exchange.

c. Give the meanings of: ‘net’, ‘lime’, ‘The pit fall’.


  • Net: A device made of fibers woven in a grid-like structure, used to trap birds or other animals.
  • Lime: A sticky substance spread on branches to trap birds by causing them to adhere to the branch.
  • Pitfall: A pit or hole dug in the ground used to trap animals by making them fall into it.

d. What are the intelligent traits of the son shown in the extract?

Answer: The son shows intelligence through his quick-witted responses and his ability to engage in metaphorical thinking, as he confidently navigates the conversation with his mother, demonstrating an understanding beyond his years.

e. What does this conversation show about the relationship of Lady Macduff with her son?

Answer: This conversation reveals a close and affectionate relationship between Lady Macduff and her son, marked by open communication and mutual respect. It shows Lady Macduff’s concern for her son’s well-being and her son’s resilience and precociousness, indicating a bond strengthened by shared adversity.

5. Lady Macduff: Whither should I fly?
I have done no harm. But I remember now
I am in this earthly world, where, to do harm
Is often laudable, to do good, sometime
Accounted dangerous folly: why then, alas!
Do I put up that womanly defence,
To say, I have done no harm? What are these faces?

a. Who is Lady Macduff speaking to?

Answer: Lady Macduff is speaking to herself in a moment of realization and reflection, pondering her situation aloud, or it could be interpreted as her addressing the audience in a form of a soliloquy, expressing her inner thoughts and fears.

b. What are Lady Macduff’s views about ‘harm’ and ‘good’?

Answer: Lady Macduff expresses the view that in the world in which they live, doing harm is often praised (“laudable”), while doing good is considered foolish and dangerous.

c. What makes Lady Macduff exclaim ‘What are these faces?’ What occurs soon thereafter?

Answer: Lady Macduff exclaims “What are these faces?” upon seeing the murderers sent by Macbeth approaching her. This exclamation signifies her sudden encounter with danger. Soon thereafter, the murderers attack, leading to the tragic murder of her son and implying her own imminent death.

d. How are Lady Macduff and her son shown to be epitomes of bravery?

Answer: Lady Macduff and her son are shown as epitomes of bravery through their dignified and defiant responses in the face of imminent danger and death. Her son, in particular, displays remarkable courage by standing up to the murderers, and Lady Macduff, despite her realization of their perilous situation, confronts the murderers with dignity.

e. On what tragic note does the scene end?

Answer: The scene ends on a tragic note with the brutal murder of Lady Macduff’s son and her attempted escape, which implies her own likely murder. This moment of violence underscores the extent of Macbeth’s tyranny and the innocent lives destroyed in his pursuit of power.

Extra/additional MCQs

1. Why is Lady Macduff angry at her husband Macduff?

A. He has fled the country B. He has joined forces with Macbeth C. He has sold their home D. He has not consulted her before leaving

Answer: A. He has fled the country

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14. What ultimately happens to Lady Macduff and her son?

A. They flee successfully B. They are captured but not harmed C. They are killed D. They join Macduff

Answer: C. They are killed

Extra/additional questions and answers

1. What is Lady Macduff’s initial reaction to Macduff’s flight to England?

Answer: Lady Macduff is deeply upset and cannot understand why Macduff would leave his family defenseless in such troubled times. She questions his love and loyalty towards them.

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9. Discuss the significance of Ross’s visit to Lady Macduff and his attempt to justify Macduff’s actions.

Answer: Ross’s visit to Lady Macduff is significant as it sheds light on the political and personal turmoil resulting from Macduff’s flight to England. His attempts to justify Macduff’s actions highlight the complex moral and ethical dilemmas faced by individuals in times of tyranny. Ross portrays Macduff’s decision as one of wisdom, despite Lady Macduff’s perception of abandonment, indicating the broader conflict between personal safety and familial duties.

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