NBSE Class 10 English chapter Macbeth

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Get here the summary and solutions of chapter Macbeth of NBSE Class 10 English. However, the given notes/solutions should only be used for references and should be modified/changed according to needs.

SUMMARY: Macbeth was a play written by William Shakespeare and this chapter which is a part of class 10 English syllabus under Nagaland Board of School Education retells the play.

At the beginning of the chapter King Duncan’s generals, Macbeth and Banquo find three witches while they are returning from a battle which they have won. The witches make some predictions about Macbeth and Banquo. They say that Macbeth will become the Thane of Cawdor and the king of Scotland and Banquo’s children will become the rulers of Scotland. Soon after that Macbeth is made the Thane of Cawdor by King Duncan and the king decides to pay a visit to Macbeth. Lady Macbeth, on learning the prophecies, encourages her husband to kill King Duncan. Eventually, Macbeth kills King Duncan and also kills Banquo and becomes the king of Scotland. King Duncan’s children Malcolm and Donalbain run away fearing their lives.

King Macbeth then orders to kill Lord Macduff, the Thane of Fife, along with his wife and children. Macduff, however, is not there when the king’s men come to kill him. Macduff joins Malcolm at the court of the English King Edward and they plan to attack Scotland.

Meanwhile, King Macbeth visits the witches again and learns that he cannot be killed until Birnam Wood comes to his castle and he cannot be killed by anyone who was born of a woman. Macbeth thinks that forests cannot walk and every man is born of a woman and so he cannot be killed. But soon he is informed that Malcolm’s army is approaching the castle carrying shields made of Birnam Wood. He understands that the forest is coming to the castle.

In the battlefield Macduff challenges Macbeth and it is learnt that Macduff was cesarean born and so he was not technically born of a woman. In the end, Macduff kills Macbeth and Malcolm becomes the king of Scotland.

A. Reference to Context

1. She called him the Thane of Glamis. The second gave him the title of Thane of Cawdor; and the third said to him, ‘All hail! that you shall be king hereafter!’

a) Who are the three women?
b) Whom does ‘him’ refer to?
c) How is the greeting of each of the women significant?
d) Who is a Thane?

Answer: a) The three women were three witches.

b) Here, ‘him’ refers to the Scottish General Macbeth.

c) The greetings of the three women were significant as what they said were prophesies. The first woman prophesied that he would be the Thane of Glamis; the second woman prophesied that he would be the Thane of Cawdor; and the third prophesied that he would be the king.

d) A Thane was a title given to a man, often the chief of a clan, who held land from a Scottish king. Here, Thane refers to Macbeth.

2. She would not have done so but she knew that her husband was an ambitious man but too kind to murder.

a) Who is ‘she’? What would she have not done?
b) Who was to be murdered?
c) What prompted her to do it?
d) ‘too kind to murder’. What is implied in this statement?

Answer: a) Here, she is referred to Lady Macbeth. She would not have tried to murder King Duncan.

b) King Duncan was to be murdered.

c) Her husband Macbeth’s “too kind to murder” nature prompted her to do it.

d) By “too kind to murder”, it is implied that though Macbeth was an ambitious man and wanted to be the king, he was also grateful to the king for all the things he had done for him. Macbeth wasn’t an absolute cold-hearted man and loved the king.

3. He was struck numb with fear, however, when he learnt that the English army was advancing on Dunsinane shielded with boughs cut from Birnam Wood.

a) Why was he struck dumb by fear?
b) What is the association of his fear with the soldiers marching with boughs cut from Birnam Wood?
c) Explain the phrase ‘struck dumb with fear’. Use it in a meaningful sentence of your own.

Answer: a) He was struck dumb by fear because the witches had prophesied that he would be safe until Birnam Wood came to Dunsinane Castle and he thought it wasn’t possible for trees to move so the Birnam Wood would never come to Dunsinane Castle. But now, the English army was advancing on Dunsinane shielded with boughs cut from Birnam Wood.

b) He thought the Birnam Wood would never reach the Dunsinane Castle and thus he could not be killed, according to the prophecies of the witches. But when he learned that the soldiers were marching with boughs cut from Birnam Wood, he knew the Birnam Wood was coming to the castle and he could be killed.

c) The phrase ‘struck dumb with fear’ means getting such terrified that someone is unable even to speak.
The poacher was struck dumb with fear as he saw the lion running at him.

B. Read and Write

1. How did the words of the three women affect Macbeth?

Answer: The words of the three women occupied the heart and mind of Macbeth completely and he was filled with the lust for power without thinking much about right and wrong. He wanted to have all the supposed prophecies fulfilled at once.

2. What did the women tell Banquo? How did he react? What was his advice to Macbeth?

Answer: The women told Banquo that he would never reign, but his sons would be the kings in Scotland.

He didn’t allow the words of the women to get into his head and be obsessed with them. He was very careful.

He advised Macbeth that though the words of the witches might raise hope in him, but often these supernatural creatures deceive people and lead them to do wrong.

3. Macbeth was reluctant to kill Duncan. What reasons does he give?

Answer: Macbeth was reluctant to murder Duncan. He gave reasons that he was a close relative of the king and as his host, it was his duty that day to protect him. Moreover, Duncan was a just and merciful king who was loved by his subjects. Thus the subjects were bound to revenge his death. Besides, because Macbeth was loved by the king, all honoured him. A murder would tarnish his reputation.

4. How does Lady Macbeth convince Macbeth to kill Duncan?

Answer: Lady Macbeth poisoned her husband’s ears and said that it was a very easy deed. Once done he would rule the country. She even accused Macbeth of fickleness and cowardice. These made Macbeth gather courage, and take the dagger in his hand.

5. Banquo and Macbeth both get exciting prophecies from the witches, but they react in very different ways. How do their reactions reflect their different personalities and ambitions? How do they act toward each other after the prophecies?

Answer: Though Banquo and Macbeth both received exciting prophecies, they both reacted differently. These different reactions reflect that Banquo and Macbeth had very different personalities. Banquo was not an ambitious man, would not make hasty decisions and would not be convinced easily. Macbeth, on the other hand, was dangerously ambitious. He would make decisions in impulse and was a gullible person who could be convinced easily.

After the prophecies, on one hand, Banquo did not let the words of the witches take root in his head, on the other hand, Macbeth was obsessed with the prophecies. Banquo advised Macbeth that these supernatural beings often lead others to do wrongs. Macbeth but was not impressed by the advice of Banquo. Later after murdering King Duncan, Macbeth murdered Banquo too in an attempt to kill him and his son to secure his throne. Banquo’s son Fleance, however, could not be killed.

6. Macbeth visited the witches a second time after the death of Duncan. What did they tell him? How did he feel after he heard their prophecies?

Answer: When Macbeth visited the witches for the second time after the death of King Duncan, the witches presented him with further prophecies. They told him that he must beware of Macduff, a Scottish nobleman who opposed Macbeth’s accession to the throne. They also told that he was incapable of being harmed by any man born of woman, and he would be safe until Birnam Wood came to Dunsinane Castle.

After hearing the prophecies he felt relieved. He felt secure because he knew that all men are born of women and that forests cannot move.

7. How did Macbeth meet his end?

Answer: Prince Malcolm, Duncan’s son, had succeeded in raising an army in England, and Macduff joined him to fight against Macbeth’s forces. He was struck numb with fear, however, when he learnt that the English army was advancing on Dunsinane shielded with boughs cut from Birnam Wood as this fulfilled half of the witches’ prophecy.

In the battle, Macbeth fought bravely, but the English forces gradually overwhelmed his army and castle. On the battlefield, Macbeth encountered the vengeful Macduff, who declared that he was not “of woman born” but was instead “untimely ripped” from his mother’s womb. Though he realized that he was doomed, Macbeth continued to fight until Macduff killed and beheaded him.

8. Why does Macduff support Malcolm as the next king?

Answer: Macduff supported Malcolm as the next king because Malcolm was the true heir to the throne. Further, Macbeth had killed Lady Macduff and her children and seized Macduff’s castle. These all are made Macduff a vengeful man and ultimately he killed Macbeth in the battlefield.

Extra questions and answers

1. Who was Macbeth? Why was he respected?

Answer: He was a valiant Lord in the kingdom of Scotland. He was a courageous person and a close relative of King Duncan.

Was greatly respected for his heroism especially because he had lately defeated a Rebel Army assisted by the troops of Norway.

2. What was the first prophecy to come true? What impact did it have on Macbeth?

Answer: The first prophecy to come true was that the king conferred upon Macbeth the honour of being the Thane of Cawdor.

It had a deep impact on him as this corresponded with the predictions of the witches and his will to become the ruler of Scotland was strengthened as that too was one of the prophecies. This led him to eventually murder King Duncan.

3. How did Macbeth ascend the Throne?

Answer: At the arrival of King Duncan with his two sons and attendance to honour Macbeth for his victory in the wars, under the influence of Lady Macbeth, he stabbed King Duncan in his sleep and blamed the children for it who had fled from the scene fearing their own lives. In the absence of a successor, Macbeth assumed the Throne.

4. How did Lady Macbeth react to the strange predictions of the witches?

Answer: Lady Macbeth was an ambitious woman. On learning about the prophecies, she harboured the desire to be the queen and encouraged her husband to murder the king if necessary to fulfil the prophecy.

5. How did Lady Macbeth spur her husband to the path of evil? What does it reflect about her?

Answer: Lady Macbeth spurred her husband to the path of evil by encouraging him to kill King Duncan to fulfil the prophecy of him becoming the king of Scotland. She was an ambitious woman and wanted to be the queen of Scotland. She poisoned her husband’s ears with the plot of killing the king even when he hesitant about it.

It reflects Lady Macbeth’s ambitious, impatience and evil nature.

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