Study Guide Questions: Shakespeare's 'Macbeth'

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Register to read the introduction… What might this mean in a literal sense? 2. What effect does it have on our initial response to Macbeth?

Macbeth and Banquo are confronted by the witches who predict both Macbeth’s and Banquo’s future. Analyse Banquo’s reaction to their prophecy regarding Macbeth.

1. What does he suggest about Macbeth’s reaction? 2. What is significant about his use of the words fear and fair in this context? 3. What does his challenge to the witches suggest about this character?
Immediately following the disappearance of the witches, Ross and Angus bring the news that we, as an audience, already know regarding the Thaneship of Cawdor. This situation where the audience knows more than the characters is called dramatic irony. 1. How does Banquo react? 2. Macbeth’s reaction takes the form of a metaphor:
Why do you dress me
In borrowed robes?
Explain this metaphor. The clothes metaphor is used throughout the play. Play careful attention to how and why it is used whenever you come across it. 3. Why does Banquo warn Macbeth about his reaction to the prophecies? What does this warning suggest about Banquo’s understanding of Macbeth’s character and ambitions? 4. Paraphrase this
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Act 1, Scene 3, lines 122-126 Banquo: …But ‘tis strange: And oftentimes, to win us to our harm, The instruments of darkness tell us truths, Win us with honest trifles, to betray’s In deepest consequence | * Banquo is asking this to Macbeth, why does he fear this entire fair/ good news in an instant he should be happy. * Rhyme – Play on words/ Pun: fear/fair (not knowing what’s what) durability. * Banquo thinks or hopes they are hallucinating. He feels something bad coming from the prophecies. Also that he doesn’t believe in the prophecy’s either. * Metaphor: reason for taken prisoner and eaten on the insane root. * Banquo doesn’t believe in the supernatural and knows that the witches were up to no good. He knows something is to come from this. Sometimes they will speak truths, this locks you in to believe and the rest could just be lies to work to their (the witches) advantage. Like sometimes to make sure the prophecy becomes true, some have to make (at will) true (in dark, mysterious ways) and live with the consequences. Where for others the prophecies will become true naturally. * Metaphor: darkness – truths , honest trifles – to bertray’s

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