Macbeth Act 2 Discussion Questions

Instructor: Alicia Taylor

Alicia has taught students of all ages and has a master's degree in Education

These discussion questions explore the major themes and important events of Macbeth's Act II. Discussing these questions will set students up to get the most out of Acts III-V as they continue reading The Scottish Play.

Questions about Scene 1

Themes

  • Banquo tells Macbeth something the king did right before going to bed. What is this final action of King Duncan's life? What does it tell us about King Duncan? How does it reinforce the themes of the play?
  • What is the significance of the floating dagger? Why Macbeth can see it but not touch it? In what way is the dagger similar to the prophecies?

Setting

  • How do Banquo and Fleance describe the night? What is unusual about this evening? How is this appropriate?

Plot

  • How does Banquo greet Macbeth before he recognizes him? Why might Shakespeare have included this?

Characters

  • What does Macbeth's speech about the dagger reveal about him? What effect has his decision to kill Duncan had upon him?
  • Macbeth says, ''I go, and it is done.'' What does this reveal about Macbeth?

Questions about Scene 2

Themes

  • How does Shakespeare show in this scene that Macbeth's natural relationship with god, man, animals, and the world has been disrupted?
  • Macbeth says that he heard a voice cry, ''Sleep no more! Macbeth does murder sleep.'' What is the relationship between sleep and death in this scene?
  • Where does blood show up in this scene? How do Macbeth and his wife respond differently to it?

Plot

  • What mistakes did Macbeth make in his attempt to murder King Duncan? How does Lady Macbeth respond to these mistakes?

Characters

  • During their conversation, Lady Macbeth and Macbeth are clearly focused on different things. What is Macbeth thinking about? What is Lady Macbeth focused on?
  • Macbeth ends this scene by saying, ''Wake Duncan with thy knocking. I would thou couldst.'' How does this compare to his last lines in scene 1, when he suggested that Duncan was as good as dead, even though he was still alive?

Questions about Scene 3

Themes

  • If King Duncan represents good and natural order, how does the world respond to the loss of this order?
  • How does Macduff's wake-up call reinforce the claim that ''Macbeth does murder sleep''?
  • In Macbeth, crimes always lead to more crimes. During this scene, what crimes does Macbeth add to murdering the king?

Setting

  • What does Lennox describe occurring during the previous night?
  • The porter who lets people into Macbeth's home pretends that he is letting people into hell. Why might Shakespeare include this speech about hell in the play?

Plot

  • Why does Macbeth choose to reveal the death of the king in the way that he does? How does the order of events help him?

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