Macbeth – Questions and Answers (L.A.Q), Class XI, Tales of Shakespeare, Rapid Reader, WBCHSE
Macbeth Long Questions and Answers (LAQ) for Class XI
1. What did each of the three witches predict to Macbeth when he first met them? What did they tell Banquo? [4+1] [Class 11 Annual Exam 2014]
Ans. When Macbeth and Banquo, two Scottish Generals, were returning from the great battle, they were stopped by three witches also known as the ‘weird sisters’. They made several predictions to Macbeth and Banquo. The first witch saluted Macbeth as ‘the thane of Glamis, the second witch addressed him as the ‘thane of Cawdor’, and the third told him that he would be the King of Scotland.
The witches told Banquo in riddling terms that he would be “lesser than Macbeth and greater, not so happy but much happier.” They also foretold that Banquo would never be the King, but his descendants would be kings.
2. What was the mystery behind the moving of Birnam woods?  [Class 11 Annual Exam 2015]
Ans. The mystery of Birnam woods moving was revealed towards the end of the play, when an army, led by Macduff, approached Dunsinane castle to confront Macbeth. The soldiers in the army cut down branches from Birnam woods to use as camouflage and to make it difficult for Macbeth’s army to spot them. As they were marching towards the castle, they held the branches in front of them, making it appear as if the woods themselves were moving towards the castle. This was a clever trick by Macduff and his army to deceive Macbeth and his men, and ultimately led to Macbeth’s downfall.
3. Give a brief account of the ‘Banquet Scene’ in ‘Macbeth’.  [Class 11 Annual Exam 2016]
Ans. The banquet scene is a key moment in “Macbeth”. It occurs after Macbeth had been crowned king, but he was plagued by guilt and paranoia. The banquet is a feast held in Macbeth’s honor by Macbeth and Lady Macbeth. At the banquet, they invited all the chief thanes. They played the role of a perfect host with gentle and graceful manners. But it quickly turned into a nightmare for him as he sees the ghost of Banquo whom Macbeth had ordered to be murdered, sitting in his place at the banquet table. His eyes were fixed upon the ghost. At this horrible sight, Macbeth lost his mental balance and behaved strangely. Lady Macbeth feared that the dreadful secret of murdering Duncan might be disclosed. So, she controlled the situation and dismissed the guests excusing Macbeth’s illness.
4. Why did Lady Macbeth plot to kill the king? What did Macbeth say to oppose her? [2+3] [Class 11 Annual Exam 2017]
Ans. In “Macbeth,” Lady Macbeth plotted to kill King Duncan, the king of Scotland, in order to fulfill a prophecy given to Macbeth by three witches that he would become king. Lady Macbeth was driven by her ambition and desire for power, and she believed that killing the king was the only way for Macbeth to become king.
At first, Macbeth was reluctant to kill Duncan. He opposed her wife by saying that he was a subject and a close relative to King Duncan. It would be wrong to kill a king who was a guest. King Duncan was just and benevolent. He was loved by all. If he was killed, his faithful subjects would try to avenge his death. Macbeth argued that he got a high position throughout Scotland. He did not mean to stain his honour and reputation.
5. Bring out the significance of the opening scene of Macbeth.  [Class 11 Annual Exam 2017, 2018]
Ans. The opening scene of “Macbeth” is significant as it establishes the supernatural and ominous tone of the play, introduces the main characters, and foreshadows the events that will occur later in the play. The three witches are seen discussing their plan to meet Macbeth and Banquo, which immediately establishes the presence of dark forces and the idea that fate and prophecy will play a major role in the story. Macbeth is introduced as a brave and successful warrior, while Banquo is shown as a loyal friend and companion to Macbeth. The prophecy given by the witches to Macbeth, that he will be king, and to Banquo, that his descendants will be kings, sets the stage for the play’s exploration of ambition and power, and the themes of fate and free will.
6. Why did Macbeth want to murder Banquo and his son? How was Banquo murdered? [2+3] [Class 11 Annual Exam 2019, 2020, 2023]
Ans. The three witches told Macbeth that he would be king, but they also told Banquo that his descendants will be kings as well. After ascending the throne of Scotland, Macbeth did not rest in peace as the descendants of Banquo would be the kings of Scotland. So Macbeth wanted to murder Banquo.
In order to murder Banquo, Macbeth and Lady Macbeth arranged a banquet. They invited all the thanes along with Banquo and Fleance. Macbeth hired some assassins and placed them on their way. When Banquo and Fleance were going to the banquet, the assassins pounced on them and killed Banquo but Fleance managed to escape from there.
7. What role do the witches play in ‘Macbeth’?  [Class 11 Annual Exam 2022]
The witches, also known as the “weird sisters,” play a crucial role in Shakespeare’s play Macbeth. The witches are used to explore the themes of fate, free will, and the consequences of unchecked ambition. They are portrayed as supernatural beings, who seem to have the power to control fate and to know the future. They are the catalysts for Macbeth’s ambition and eventual downfall. They appear in the opening scene, where they make predictions about Macbeth’s future and plant the seed of ambition in his mind. Macbeth becomes obsessed with their prophecy that he will become king and begins to plot and scheme to make it a reality. The witches also appear throughout the play, often to offer Macbeth further encouragement and to further manipulate him. They represent the forces of evil and chaos, and ultimately lead to Macbeth’s downfall.
8) Whom did Macbeth and Banquo meet on their returning victorious? What did they predict for Macbeth and Banquo? What did Banquo say about the witches? [1+2+2]
Ans. When Macbeth and Banquo were returning from the great battle against a rebel army, they met three witches.
The first witch saluted Macbeth as ‘the thane of Glamis, the second witch addressed him as the ‘thane of Cawdor’, and the third told him that he would be the King of Scotland. They told Banquo in riddling terms that he would be “lesser than Macbeth and greater, not so happy but much happier.” They also predicted that Banquo would never be the King, but his descendants would be kings.
Banquo regarded the witches as ‘ministers of darkness’. The witches might be using flattery and deceit to manipulate him and that their predictions might not be truthful. They told truths in little things to betray them into deeds of greatest consequence.
9. Describe the feelings and thoughts of Macbeth before murdering Duncan. What did the grooms do in sleep immediately after the murder of the king? [3+2]
Ans. Before murdering Duncan, Macbeth is filled with a mix of emotions including fear, guilt, and ambition. He is aware that the murder is wrong and goes against his moral code, yet he is also driven by the prophecy that he will become king and the power that comes with that position. He struggles with the thought of committing such a heinous act, but ultimately succumbs to his ambition. All these caused Macbeth’s mental conflict.
Immediately after the murder, one of the grooms laughed in sleep while the other cried out, “Murder”. This woke them both up. Then one of them said: ‘God bless us!’ and the other answered ‘Amen’. Then they fell asleep again.
10. Why did Macbeth meet the weird sisters again? What did they say to him? [1+4]
Ans. Troubled by terrible dreams and the blood of Banquo, Macbeth decided to meet the witches, or “weird sisters,” again because he was seeking further guidance and confirmation of the prophecy they previously gave him about his rise to power.
The witches showed Macbeth three supernatural spirits. The first spirit, an armed head, told Macbeth to beware of Macduff. The second spirit, a bloody child, told him that no one naturally born of woman could harm Macbeth. The third spirit, a crowned child with a tree in its hand, told Macbeth that he would not be vanquished until Birnam wood comes to Dunsinane hill. Then the procession of eight shadowy kings followed by Banquo’s ghost hinted that descendants of Banquo would be kings.
11. Describe the character of Lady Macbeth. 
Ans. Lady Macbeth, the wife of Macbeth, is a complex and dynamic character. She is initially presented as a ruthless and ambitious woman who is determined to see her husband become king. She is the driving force behind Macbeth’s actions, pushing him to murder Duncan in order to secure the throne. As the play progresses, however, Lady Macbeth’s guilt and paranoia begin to consume her, leading to her eventual descent into madness. She is plagued by sleepwalking and hallucinations, which serve as a symbol of her inner turmoil. Ultimately, Lady Macbeth’s ambition and manipulation lead to her downfall, as she is consumed by the guilt of her actions. Like the witches she is equally responsible for Macbeth’s downfall. So it would not be wrong to call Lady Macbeth the fourth witch.
13. What kind of a person was Lady Macbeth? What was the effect of the witches’ prediction on Lady Macbeth? How did Lady Macbeth motivate Macbeth to murder the king? [1+2+2]
Ans. Lady Macbeth was a complex and dynamic character. She was a ruthless and ambitious woman.
The witches’ prophecy fuelled Lady Macbeth’s ambition. It made her so excited that she pushed Macbeth to murder Duncan in order to achieve their goals of becoming king and queen.
Lady Macbeth motivated Macbeth to murder King Duncan by using a combination of manipulation, pressure, and guilt. She questioned his manhood and courage. She also taunted him by suggesting that he was not a true man if he didn’t follow through with the plan. She used her intelligence and determination to make him believe that it was the right thing to do and that he would be rewarded greatly for it.
14. What happened after Macbeth had spoken about his friend, Banquo, at the great supper? What did Lady Macbeth do when Macbeth lost mental balance on seeing Banquo’s ghost? Why did she do so? [2+2+1]
Ans. After Macbeth had spoken about his friend Banquo at the great supper, he became increasingly disturbed and paranoid. Then Macbeth saw Banquo’s ghost was sitting in his place at a banquet. Macbeth’s eyes were fixated on the ghost as his cheeks grew white with fear at this dreadful sight. He lost his mental balance and became visibly disturbed in front of his guests.
Lady Macbeth, who was present at the banquet, tried to cover for him by making excuses for his behavior suggesting that he was ill and dismissed the guests. She also attempted to calm him down and urged him to be silent and not to reveal his guilt.
Lady Macbeth did so because she feared that the dreadful secret of Macbeth murdering Duncan might be disclosed.
15. How did Lady Macbeth die? Was she responsible for Macbeth’s doom? [2+3]
Ans. Lady Macbeth became increasingly consumed by guilt and her conscience began to torment her. She suffered from somnambulism and revealed her guilt through her nightmares. As a result, her mental state deteriorated, and she committed suicide to escape the guilt and torment.
Lady Macbeth was partly responsible for Macbeth’s doom, as Macbeth was ultimately responsible for his own actions. However, it could be argued that her ambition and manipulation played a significant role in pushing Macbeth towards the path of murder and tyranny. Her influence and encouragement were crucial in his decision-making, and without her, he may not have acted on the witches’ prophecy.
16. “In future a Man suit never believe the lying equivocation of Witches.” – Why did Macbeth say so? 
Macbeth, the protagonist in William Shakespeare’s play “Macbeth,” said this to express his distrust and skepticism towards the witches who have prophesied that he will become king. The witches in the play are known for their deceitful and manipulative nature, and Macbeth is wary of their predictions. He recognizes that their words can be interpreted in multiple ways and that they may not always be truthful. By saying “In future a Man suit never believe the lying equivocation of Witches,” Macbeth is warning others to be cautious of the witches and their false promises.
Written by Koushik Kumar Kundu
Koushik Kumar Kundu was among the toppers when he completed his Masters from Vidyasagar University after completing his Bachelors degree with Honours in English Literature from The University of Burdwan. He also completed B.Ed from the University of Burdwan.
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