RQ: Macbeth, Acts 4-5
Macbeth, Acts 4 & 5
1. Why do the weird sisters, Hecate, and “their masters” (4.1.78) want to effect the affairs of state? What’s their stake in the outcome of battle for the throne of Scotland?
2. How are we supposed to read the spells? Are the spells a metaphor for how nature effects culture? Or are they just silly—nothing would happen if all those items were mixed together.
3. What three apparitions does Macbeth see and what prophesies do they bring him? How does Macbeth respond? Is his response consistent with Hecate’s expectations?
4. Why does MacBeth kill MacDuff’s family? What’s your assessment of Lady MacDuff and her son?
5. Of what is MacDuff attempting to persuade Malcolm? Why is Malcolm suspicious of MacDuff? How does Malcolm test MacDuff’s character? Will Malcolm make a better king than Macbeth, why or why not?
6. What do the Gentlewoman and the Doctor observe Lady Macbeth doing? What conclusions do they draw from their interpretation?
7. How do Malcolm and his forces disguise themselves as they move on Macbeth’s castle? What are the implications of their disguise?
8. How does Macbeth respond to the news of Lady Macbeth’s death & how does the form of his response fit into the larger scene? Does Lady Macbeth kill herself? Why does Malcolm make such a report?
9. Why might it matter that Malcolm is not “of woman born” (5.10.13)?
10. Close read the following passages and then compare them:
Wisdom—to leave his wife, to leave his babes,
His mansion, and his title in a place
From whence himself does fly? He loves us not,
He wants the natural touch, for the poor wren,
The most diminutive of birds, will fight,
Her young ones in her nest, agaist the owl.
All is the fear and nothing is the love;
As little is the wisdom, where the flight
So runs against all reason. (4.1.6-14)
I will not yield
To kiss the ground before yourn Malcolm’s feet,
And to be baited with the rabble’s curse.
Though Birnam Wood be come to Dunsinane,
And though opposed being of no woman born,
Yet I will try the last. Before my body
O throw my warlike shield. Lay on, MacDuff
And damned be him that first cries ‘Hold, enough!’ (5.10.27-35)