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William Shakespeare


Act 3, Scene 3:
Some questions to test you!

Keith Tankard
Updated: 23 January 2014
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It is dusk. Two murderers hide on the road in a nearby forest, awaiting the arrival of Banquo and Fleance. A third unexpectedly joins them. Banquo is killed while Fleance escapes.


Murder is never an easy thing, even for a battle-hardened man like Macbeth. When you are superstitious, however, it is even more difficult.

The ancient peoples believed there was a direct link between nature and the goodness of one's actions. This was especially so when it came to authorities who enjoyed God's favour -- people such as kings.

Even before Macbeth went to Duncan's bedchamber to murder the king, nature was described as darkening over.

Then Macbeth saw visions. A ghostly dagger appeared, apparently leading the way. In another vision, the dagger was covered in blood.

And then the noises began: the howling of wolves, owls screeching, sounds on the stairs. Even Lady Macbeth appeared disturbed -- although she maintained an heroic front.

Macbeth shrank before the tumult. He fled the murder scene, taking the daggers with him and refusing to return. Lady Macbeth was therefore left to do the mopping up after the murder.

We see too the first signs of regret. Macbeth wished that his actions could be undone -- and wondered whether his hands would ever again be clean.

Even the steely Lady Macbeth would eventually crumble. She would start to sleepwalk, during which time she would attempt to wash the blood off her own hands.

Have you looked at the questions
in the right column?
Read the left column and then answer
the following questions:

"He needs not our mistrust, since he delivers
Our offices and what we have to do
To the direction just."
  • Why is the third murderer sent to join the other two? (3)

[Need help?]

"O, treachery! Fly, good Fleance, fly, fly, fly!
Thou mayst revenge."
  • Why was it important that Fleance also be killed? (4)

[Need help?]

  • Comment on the irony of Banquo's final cry to Fleance, "Thou may'st revenge" (6)

[Need help?]

"Who did strike out the light?"
  • Comment on the irony of the third murderer's cry. (4)

[Need help?]

"The road scene is a macabre reflection on how low Macbeth has stooped".
  • Discuss the validity of this statement. (4)

[Need help?]

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