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Questions for Macbeth


You can also find these common core-aligned questions in Actively Learn, where they are embedded in the text to get students to stop and reflect as they read. Create a free Actively Learn account to take advantage of our instruction for this and other texts!


act i scene iii

RL.1 What have the witches predicted will happen? 

RL.1 What warning did Banquo just give Macbeth about the nature of prophecies from “instruments of darkness”? 


act i scene iv

RL.1 According to Macbeth, why did he fight to help the king defeat the rebels and Norwegians? 

RL.1 What does Macbeth reveal about his “black and deep desires;” in other words, what does he want? 

RL.4 The first act sets the tone for the rest of the play. What sort of mood do you detect from the stormy setting at the outset of the play, the presence of the witches, and the description of battle? 


act i scene v

RL.3 What weakness does Macbeth’s wife see in him? 

RL.3 What do you learn about Lady Macbeth’s character in this soliloquy? 


act i scene vi

RL.1 Based on what you have read in this play to this point, do the witches’ prophecies predict the future, or do they make the future, that unfolds?

EXTRA HELP Consider whether Macbeth would have thought to betray his king without the intervention of the witches. 


act i scene vii

RL.4 What is Lady Macbeth suggesting about her husband if he does not act? 

RL.3 Describe the relationship between Macbeth and his wife. Who holds the power in their marriage?

EXTRA HELP Consider how Lady Macbeth manipulates her husband to commit a deed that he is uncertain of in this scene. 


act ii scene i

RL.3 What does Macbeth’s vision of a bloody dagger before he kills the king reveal about his state of mind?


act ii scene ii 

RL.1 Why does Macbeth have second thoughts after killing the king when his wife does not? 


act ii scene iii

RL.5 Why do you think Shakespeare includes this scene with the porter? Consider the dramatic tension of the previous scene and its contrast with the tone of this one.

EXTRA HELP The porter is essentially a humorous character. He pokes fun of hell and alludes to drinking too much and having sex. 

RL.1 Based on their words to the others once the murder was revealed, how well have Macbeth and Lady Macbeth disguised their actions? 


act ii scene iv

RL.2 What do these supernatural events suggest about the consequences of Duncan's murder?

EXTRA HELP Consider how the natural order of things has been changed. 


act iii scene i

RL.1 Now that he is king, might Macbeth be concerned about? 

RL.3 Macbeth realizes that if the witches are right, he killed Duncan so Banquo’s son could be king. Not happy with this, he wants to change this fate. Why does he not think that if his prophecy came true, so must Banquo’s? 


act iii scene ii

RL.4 What does Lady Macbeth reveal in the prior four lines about what the murder of Duncan left them with? 


act iii scene iv

RL.1 The ghost of Banquo sits in Macbeth’s seat, but only Macbeth can see him. Are we to believe Banquo’s ghost is there or that Macbeth is losing his mind? 

RL.3 Macbeth says he fears nothing, except the ghost. Why does he fear the ghost? 


act iii scene v

RL.1 What is Hecate’s plan for Macbeth and what does this reveal, if anything, about how the play will end? 


act iv scene i

RL.1 What do you think Macbeth will ask the witches, or ask them to do? 

RL.1 Is there any strategic reason to do this, or has Macbeth abandoned reason and judgment? 


act iv scene ii

RL.3 How do Lady Macbeth and Lady Macduff compare? 


act iv scene iii

RL.3 How is Malcolm’s lust for wealth different from Macbeth’s ambition for power? 

RL.3 Recall that Shakespeare himself is English. How does he portray his country in this play? 


act v scene i

RL.3 Shakespeare has written Lady Macbeth as ambitious, strong and unstoppable, and now she is crumbling from within because of her deeds. What is the impact of Lady Macbeth's fall on your interpretation of the play as a whole? Consider the message to the audience. 


act v scene v

RL.5 Lady Macbeth dies. What do you think of how Shakespeare disposes of a most forceful character in this play? 


act v scene vii

RL.3 Macbeth fought alone until the last, without yielding. Are we to consider him noble, at least in part? 

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