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William Shakespeare


Act 3, Scene 5 & 6:
Some questions to test you!

Keith Tankard
Updated: 23 January 2014
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Scene 5 was probably not written by Shakespeare and it seldom appears in any modern performances of the play. It is essentially a long and angry speech by Hecate who is furious with the witches for what they have done to Macbeth.

In Scene 6, Lennox and an unknown Lord discuss the latest happenings in Scotland. The purpose is to show that forces are beginning to assemble in opposition to Macbeth.


For the first time, the audience is transported away from Macbeth to view the opposition forces building up again the tyrant.

The most notable scene takes place in England and the court of Edward the Confessor, a king known for his sanctity and powers of healing.

There we meet Macduff who speaks with Malcolm -- the late King Duncan's son and appointed heir to the Scottish throne. Macduff wishes to spur on Malcolm to lead an army against the tyrant.

Malcolm, however, is suspicious. Macbeth has so many men in his pay that it is possible Macduff is simply another of them -- come to England to assassinate him.

Macduff understandably becomes deeply frustrated at Malcolm's negative comments until he loses his temper. Only then does Malcolm accept Macduff's loyalty.

In the meantime, Ross brings news of the murder of Macduff's wife and children. After an initial outburst of guilt and sorrow, Macduff uses the tidings to steel his own will against Macbeth.

The scene, although a slow-moving one, is nevertheless necessary to allow us to witness the growing opposition to Macbeth.

The liberation of Scotland, when it happens, will of course be led by Macduff -- about whom the witches have already warned Macbeth in their usual equivocal way.

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

"Have I not reason, beldams as you are,
Saucy and overbold? How did you dare
To trade and traffic with Macbeth
In riddles and affairs of death."
  • Hecate is angry with the three witches. Why? (2)

[Need help?]

  • What does Hecate suggest they do? (4)

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"The gracious Duncan
Was pitied of Macbeth: marry, he was dead:
And the right-valiant Banquo walk'd too late;
Whom, you may say, if't please you, Fleance kill'd,
For Fleance fled: men must not walk too late."
  • What is the purpose of Lennox's surmising as to who might have murdered Duncan and Banquo? (5)

[Need help?]

"The son of Duncan,
From whom this tyrant holds the due of birth
Lives in the English court, and is received
Of the most pious Edward with such grace
That the malevolence of fortune nothing
Takes from his high respect: thither Macduff
Is gone to pray the holy king . . . "
  • Who is the "Son of Duncan" referred to? (1)

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  • Why has Macduff gone to England? (5)

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  • In what way has Macduff been rude to Macbeth? (3)

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  • What do you think would be the possible outcome of Macduff's rudeness? (2)

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