Macbeth - Character overview

Read the following extract which comes just after Macbeth has been told the news of his wife's death. Then answer the questions.

She should have died hereafter;

There would have been a time for such a word.

Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow,

Creeps in this petty pace from day to day

To the last syllable of recorded time;

And all our yesterdays have lighted fools

The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle,

Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player

That struts and frets his hour upon the stage

And then is heard no more: it is a tale

Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,

Signifying nothing.

(Act 5 Scene 5)


Macbeth has just been told that his wife has died. How does he seem?


When he says 'Out, out, brief candle!' what does he mean?


Macbeth compares life to what type of person?


Macbeth is talking to himself at this point. What is this type of speech known as?

Read the following extract in which Lady Macbeth talks to her husband about the proposed murder of King Duncan. Then answer the questions which follow.

Was the hope drunk

Wherein you dressed yourself? Hath it slept since?

And wakes it now, to look so green and pale

At what it did so freely? From this time,

Such I account thy love. Art thou afeard

To be the same in thine own act and valour,

As thou art in desire? Wouldst thou have that

Which thou esteem'st the ornament of life,

And live a coward in thine own esteem,

Letting I dare not wait upon I would,

Like the poor cat i'th'adage?

(Act 1 Scene 7)


What is the general tone of Lady Macbeth's speech here?


What does she mean by 'From this time such I account thy love'?


What does this speech tell us about the position of women like Lady Macbeth in society at the time?

Read the following extract in which Macbeth and Banquo think about the Witches' predictions which they have just been listening to. Then answer the questions which follow.

BANQUO: The earth hath bubbles, as the water has,

And these are of them. Whither are they vanished?

MACBETH: Into the air, and what seemed corporal,

Melted, as breath into the wind. Would they had stayed.

BANQUO: Were such things here as we do speak about?

Or have we eaten on the insane root,

That takes the reason prisoner?

MACBETH: Your children shall be kings.

BANQUO: You shall be king.

MACBETH: And Thane of Cawdor too: went it not so?

BANQUO: To the selfsame tune and words.

(Act 1 Scene 3)


Which of Banquo's key characteristics is shown in this extract?


What alternative theory does Banquo put forward for what they have just seen and heard?


When Macbeth says 'Would they had stayed' how does this show his attitude to the Witches is different from Banquo's?