Macbeth Act II

Act II
Brief Synopsis - Act II
Banquo resists any thoughts that might hasten the witches’
prophecy that his children will be kings.
Elsewhere in the castle, however, lady Macbeth is steeling her
husband to kill the king.
She drugs the grooms in the king’s bedchamber, and
Macbeth stabs the sleeping Duncan, killing him.
In the morning, when the murder is discovered. Macbeth, in
pretended fury and grief, kills the grooms.
Brief Synopsis – Act II
continued …
The king’s son’s, Malcolm and Donalbain, seeing a similar
fate for themselves, flee Scotland.
Macbeth proceeds to Scone, where he is crowned as
Duncan’s successor to the throne.
Act II - Quotes
“There’s husbandry in heaven. Their candles are all out.”
Everyone’s in bed, the candles are out . This is
foreshadowing evil.
“Hear it not, Duncan, for it is a knell that summons thee to
heaven, or to hell.”
He does not want Duncan to wake up.
Act II Quotes continued …
“He could not miss ‘em. Had he not resembled my father as
he slept, I had done’t.”
Lady Macbeth
Speaker _______________________________
She couldn’t do it, because Duncan looked like her
“Still it cried, ‘Sleep no more!’ to all the house. ‘Glamis hath
murdered sleep, and therefore Cawdor shall sleep no more:
Macbeth shall sleep no more.’”
He won’t be able to sleep anymore because of his guilt and
no one is safe around him anymore because of his ambition and covering
up his sins.
Act II Quotes continued …
“A little water clears us of this deed: how easy is it then!
Your constancy hath left you unattended.”
Lady Macbeth
Washing will clean away the sin. She is trivializing the
“Wake Duncan with thy knocking!! I would thou couldst!”
He regrets his murder and wishes that the upon the door
would wake Duncan up.
Act II Quotes continued …
“Had I but died an hour before this chance, I had lived a
blessed time; for from this instant there’s nothing serious in
mortality; All is but toys. Renown and grace is dead, the
wine of life is drawn, and the mere lees is left this vault to
brag of.”
He wishes that he could take back the murder, and that he
had died before it had happened. Life no longer has meaning. He has
lost his soul.
“O, yet I do repent me of my fury, that I did kill them.”
He killed the grooms to cover up his murder; he does
this to show his outrage at the king’s death and to further cover his
dastardly deed.
Act II Study Guide Questions
Study Guide Questions 1-2
In Scene 1, Macbeth asks Banquo to meet him later for
“some words.” What incentive does he offer Banquo? How
does Banquo reply?
Macbeth tells Banquo that it shall make honor for him. Banquo agrees
to the meeting as long as Macbeth understands that he will remain free
from guilt and remain loyal.
Describe the vision that Macbeth has at the end of Scene 1.
What details foreshadow the action to come?
Macbeth sees 2 daggers. He will kill Duncan with two daggers taken
from the grooms men.
Study Guide Questions 3-4
In Scene 2, as Macbeth kills Duncan, what does Lady
Macbeth hear? What does Macbeth hear?
Lady Macbeth hears an owl screech. Macbeth hears “Murder!”
“God bless us!” “Amen”. “Sleep no more!” “Glamis hath
murdered sleep, and therefore Cawdor shall sleep no more: Macbeth
shall sleep no more.”
Why, according to Lady Macbeth, was she unable to kill
Duncan herself ? Which tasks related to the murder does she
Duncan looked too much like her father as he slept.
Study Guide Questions 5-6
In Scene 2, Lady Macbeth sensibly suggests that Macbeth go
wash the “filthy witness” from his hands after the murder.
How does Macbeth respond?
“Will a great Neptune’s ocean wash this blood clean from my hand? No;
this my hand will rather the multitudinous seas incarnadine, making the
green one red.”
In Scene 3, what is the porter pretending as he goes to open
the gate?
The porter is pretending to be the porter of hell; the devils servant.
He describing Macbeth’s castle as hell underscoring the horrible deed
that has taken place. It is also used for comic relief and a point to
build the suspense and ask the questions “will Macbeth be caught?”
Study Guide Questions 7-9
Why has Macduff come?
Macduff ’s comes to Macbeth’s home to collect the king. Duncan
had instructed him to call for him in a timely manner.
What reason does Macbeth give for killing Duncan’s two
to have killed the two guards because they had killed the
Where do Duncan’s two sons decide to go? Why?
Malcolm goes to England and Donalbain goes to Ireland. For their
own safety as heirs to the throne.
Study Guide Question 10-11
In Scene 4, whom does Macduff suspect of Duncan’s
Macduff suspects Malcolm and Donalbain, the king’s two sons, because
they fled. Macduff suspects they were bribed.
Though Macbeth encounters no actual opposition until long
after Duncan is murdered, Shakespeare must foreshadow
some trouble for him and, to build up suspense, must start
one character edging toward suspicion of Macbeth. Who is
this character, and what inkling does he give of his
dissatisfaction with Macbeth?
Banquo would be the logical choice. However, Macduff does not
attend Macbeth’s coronation as he voices his doubts about the new
king’s reign.
Study Guide Question 12
In Act I, Scene 7, Lady Macbeth seemed to be planning to
murder Duncan herself. However, at the last moment, in Act
II, Scene 2, she is unable to wield her dagger. Consider the
reason she gives, and decide what her actions and
explanation reveal about her character.
Lady Macbeth’s heart is “whiter” than she would like. Her conscience
is battling the evil that is trying to take root.
Study Guide Question 13
Many people are killed onstage in Shakespeare’s plays. Why,
then, do you suppose he decided to have the murder of
Duncan and his guards take place offstage?
In the movie both are killed for the audience to somewhat observe.
However, in the play the actual act is omitted and the audience see’s
only the dead body. This is done so the audience can continue to feel a
“sympathy of comprehension” for Macbeth and Lady Macbeth in
order for the play to be effective. When the porter answers the door,
this brings the audience back to the reality of Macbeth’s evil deed.
Study Guide Question 14
In Scene 4, when Duncan’s corpse is discovered, Macbeth
utters a hypocritical lament beginning, “Had I but died…”
But is it really hypocritical? The critic, A.C. Bradley argued
that, although the speech is meant to be a lie, it actually
contains “Macbeth’s profoundest feelings.” Explain this
apparent contradiction. How does Macbeth feel about
having murdered Duncan? What clues tell you how he feels?
Macbeth feels a tremendous guilt for murdering Duncan. His actions
after the murder and conversation with his wife indicate his regret.
Study Guide Question 15-16
Lady Macbeth’s fainting spell, like everything else she had
done so far, has a purpose. What message do you think she
wants her fainting spell to convey?
Lady Macbeth faints to take the attention from Macbeth.
Malcolm and Donalbain are little more then boys, yet they
already know enough about life to keep their mouths shut.
What is in their minds, but left unsaid? How do they hint
about it to each other?
Malcolm asked why do we hold our tongues, Donalbain answers that
it doesn’t matter what they say; they are probably next to be murdered.
Study Guide Questions 1718
Macduff is an important character in the three remaining
acts. Describe how Shakespeare characterizes Macduff in
Scenes 3 and 4.
Macduff is characterized as suspicious and loyal to the king.
What do you say is the mood of Act II? What images and
actions help to create this mood?
The mood is one of evil. The weather, the owls, the horses all act
Act II
How does King Duncan die? Be specific.
King Duncan is stabbed to death by Macbeth.
Why doesn’t Lady Macbeth kill him herself ?
Duncan resembles her father.
Who smears blood on Duncan’s servants and puts the
daggers back?
Lady Macbeth smears the blood on the grooms men.
Act II continued…
Why does Macbeth refuse to go put the daggers back in the
king’s chamber?
He cannot go back and face what he has done.
Right after Duncan dies, Macbeth hears a voice cry out.
What does it say Macbeth has murdered?
voice says Macbeth has murdered sleep.
When they heard the knocking at the castle gate, what does
Lady Macbeth instruct Macbeth to do?
Lady Macbeth advices Macbeth to get ready for bed so they are not
found awake and in the courtyard.
Act II continued…
Where does the drunken porter think he is?
The drunken porter acts and speaks as if he is in hell.
Who has come to the castle to meet with the king but
discovers his murder instead?
Macduff comes to the castle to collect the king.
What does Macbeth do to the grooms out of pretended fury
over their “killing” of the king?
Macbeth kills the grooms.
Act II continued …
What two young men flee Macbeth’s castle out of fear for
their lives?
Malcolm and Donalbain, the king’s sons, flee for their lives.
Malcolm goes to England and Donalbain go to Ireland.
Act II Study Questions
Questions 1-5
The dagger that Macbeth sees in his Scene 1 soliloquy is part of a
hallucination? __________
When Macbeth talks agitatedly about the murders, Lady Macbeth
urges him to kill the witnesses? _____________
When Lennox and Macduff arrive at Macbeth’s castle in the
morning, Macduff wonders if Macbeth is lying to them?
As soon as the murder becomes known, Malcolm and Donalbain
flee Scotland because they have lost their inheritance?
Banquo wants to meet with the other nobles in order to discover
the purpose of the murder?_____________
Questions 6-10
Who is fearful of divine punishment because he cannot say
Who is frightened that the bloody daggers will reveal who
Lady Macbeth
killed the King?__________________
Who is afraid of “daggers in men’s smiles” and of being
Who speaks of strange natural occurrences?______________
Macbeth Act II Quiz
Question 1
B 1. The dagger that Macbeth sees in his Scene 1
a. was given to him by his wife
b. is part of a hallucination
c. has already been used to kill Duncan
d. is lost in the confusion
Question 2
When Macbeth talks agitatedly about the murders,
Macbeth urges him to
a. run away immediately
b. kill the witnesses
c. try not to dwell on it
d. pray for his salvation
Question 3
A 3. The porter’s cursing is ironic because
a. he invokes the devil without knowing about the crime
b. he conveys that nothing is amiss
c. he takes so long to answer the door that Macbeth escapes
d. Macbeth does not expect the royal visitors
Question 4
B 4. When Lennox and Macduff arrive at Macbeth’s
castle in the morning, Macduff wonders if
a. something is terribly wrong
b. the porter has stayed up late and slept in
c. the porter is keeping something from them
d. Macbeth is lying to them
Question 5
D 5. As soon as the murder becomes known, Malcolm
and Donalbain flee Scotland because they
a. have lost their inheritance
b. are guilty of the murder
c. believe the country will probably become unstable
d. fear for their lives
Question 6
A 6. Banquo wants to meet with the other nobles in
order to
a. discover the purpose of the murder
b. ensure that Macbeth will become king
c. protect his son from the murderer
d. talk to Macbeth about the witches
Question 7
C 7. The natural disturbances that continue all night—
including the screaming and murderous owl,
chimneys being blown down, and Duncan’s
horses turning wild—symbolize
a. the inevitable chaos of a terrible storm
b. a coming war with a neighboring country
c. the evil of Macbeth’s deeds
d. the imminent flight of the king’s sons
Questions 8-12
D 8. is fearful of divine punishment
because he cannot say “amen”
9. is frightened that the bloody
daggers will reveal who killed
the King
B 10. is afraid of “daggers in men’s smiles”
and of being killed
C 11. is alarmed about the dreams he might
have if he sleeps
E 12. is terrified by “strange screams of
death” and other disturbances heard
in the night
a. Lady Macbeth
b. Donalbain
c. Banquo
d. Macbeth
e. Lennox
Question 13
13. Choose one of the following quotations from Act II. On the
lines provided, name the speaker and discuss how the
quotation reveals the speaker’s character. Use at least one
example from the selection to support your ideas.
a. “These deeds must not be thought / After these ways; so, it will
make us mad.”
b. “Hear [the bell] . . . not, Duncan, for it is a knell / That summons
thee to heaven, or to hell.”
c. “Why, worthy thane, / You do unbend your noble strength, to think
/ So brainsickly of things.”
d. “O horror, horror, horror! Tongue nor heart / Cannot conceive nor
name thee.”
Answers to Question 13
Speaker: Lady Macbeth. She is
cold and calculating—she has no
interest in contemplating the
murders because she believes such
thoughts would make her insane.
Speaker: Lady Macbeth. She is
neither compassionate nor
sympathetic. She cruelly alerts
Macbeth that his tortured thoughts
of the murders are dishonorable.
b. Speaker: Macbeth. He is
humorous, almost indifferent, in
his warning to Duncan to get his
spiritual house in order. However,
he is also well aware of heaven and
hell—this foreshadows his later
Speaker: Macduff. He is a good
man who is genuinely appalled by
the king’s death. He is so shocked
that he cannot speak or think about
what has happened.
Question 14
On a separate sheet of paper, write a paragraph describing
the mood of Act II. Explain why this mood is appropriate,
and discuss why it will likely prevail in the rest of the
play. Use at least two examples from Act II to support
your ideas.
1) Demonstrate understanding of the
2) Describe the malevolent and violent
mood of Act II provide reasons for the
3) For example:
1) The king and the guards have been
2) Macbeth is suffering inner torment.
3) Macbeth has been deceiving others.
4) Discuss why the mood is likely to prevail
5) The murders set in motion events that
cnot have happy endings.
6) The foreshadowing, such as the many
references to madness, is ominous.

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