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11. First, give evidence to prove that Macbeth is a good man at the beginning of the play. The strongest evidence is to be found in the way other people think of him. In Act I, Scene ii his courage is highly praised. The bloody soldier obviously admires his captain, and Duncan is moved when he is told of Macbeth's exploits. Quote the references to "brave Macbeth" and "noble Macbeth."
Look at Macbeth's relationship with Banquo. Banquo is as honest and open a man as you will find. Give examples from Act I, Scene iii, that suggest that Banquo considers Macbeth a trusted friend.
Now you have established that he is well thought of by his peers. Does this prove that he is actually a good man? Not entirely. How can we examine what is in his heart? Quote what Lady Macbeth says about him in Act I, Scene v. She says his nature is "too full o' th' milk of human kindness." She does not mean it as a compliment; she is evaluating the obstacles in her path. So she is probably telling the truth.
Macbeth's reaction to the prophesy that he will be king is an important clue. He calls it a "suggestion / Whose horrid image doth unfix my hair" (lines 134-135). A wicked man would be delighted at the idea. Macbeth is horrified. Therefore, you have established that Macbeth has a conscience.
Now show how his conscience works on him up through Duncan's murder, trying to hold him back from killing the king. Act I, Scene vii (both his soliloquy and his scene with Lady Macbeth), and Act II, Scenes i and ii, will supply all the information you need.
After Duncan is dead, Macbeth changes. He suffers, but now he seems to suffer not from fear of doing wrong but from fear of losing what he has gained through wrongdoing. Contrast Macbeth's attitude towards Duncan's murder with his attitude toward Banquo's.
Macbeth demonstrates that he has lost all sense of good and evil after the banquet scene. Quote Act III, Scene iv, lines 136-137: "For mine own good / All causes shall give way." His actions after that statement prove that he really has no "milk of human kindness" left. Give examples, such as the cold-blooded murder of Macduff's wife and children and, depending on how you read it, his reaction to Lady Macbeth's death.
12. Macbeth is motivated by his ambition to be king. Show how that motivation is first revealed and how it operates throughout the play. Examine how Macbeth responds to the witches' prophecy that he will be king. Quote Banquo's references to Macbeth's being "rapt." Contrast Macbeth's reaction with Banquo's, demonstrating that Macbeth has a powerful desire to possess the crown.
It seems as if Macbeth never would go through with the murder if Lady Macbeth did not insist on it. In his soliloquy in Act I, Scene vii, however, Macbeth does not hide behind that excuse. He says, "I have no spur / To prick the sides of my intent, but only / Vaulting ambition" (lines 25-27). From the rest of the play, show how keeping the crown has become more important to him than anything else in life.
13. The point here is to investigate both the nature of the witches' power over Macbeth and the limits of that power. The section on the witches in the "Characters" section of this guide will help you.
First, establish that they have the supernatural ability to foretell the future. Quote their prophesies, and show how no mortal could have known those things. You can do this for the predictions both in Act I and Act IV.
Next, show what Macbeth does as a consequence. It is not hard to demonstrate that they have not made him do anything. He has just taken a suggestion that he finds appealing.
You can also point out how they deceive him. This is clearest in the second set of prophesies. List each prediction and tell how Macbeth interprets it as help or comfort. Then show what actually happens. The section of the scene-by-scene analysis devoted to Act IV, Scene i, will help you.
14. What you are really contrasting is how two different people respond to temptation. There are two parts to their responses: how they respond immediately, and what they do as a consequence.
Macbeth's first response is fear; we learn that from Banquo. Then use quotes from his soliloquy in Act I, Scene iii, to demonstrate how deeply the idea of becoming king has touched him.
Banquo's immediate response is skeptical. Quote the way he teases the witches in Act I, Scene iii, and the cautious advice he gives Macbeth a few lines later. Macbeth's later actions reveal that he's taken to heart what he has been told. He begins plotting to murder the king, and when Banquo brings up the witches he lies and says he does not think about them.
Use Act II, Scene i, to clarify what Banquo thinks about witches' predictions. He has not just put them out of his mind. After all, one prophesy has come true. But he can refer to them openly, and tells Macbeth that he dreamed about the "weird sisters."
In his soliloquy in Act III, Scene i, Banquo reveals that he would like it if the witches were right and his descendents would be kings. Never at any time, however, does he consider compromising his integrity to make that happen.
15. At the beginning, they treat each other as equals. They have great concern for each other. He races to tell her the news about the witches; she immediately begins plotting how to gain her husband his heart's desire. Show how the murder of Duncan is a product of teamwork.
They have a very close relationship. Macbeth addresses his wife affectionately as "my dearest partner in greatness" and "dearest love." She demonstrates how well she knows her husband-his desires and his nature. Show how her speech in Act I, Scene vii, is an accurate evaluation of Macbeth's ambition and of the way his nature will hold him back.
Lady Macbeth seems the more resolute of the two. What is interesting is that her taunting enables her husband to get something he really wants very badly.
Once Duncan is dead and Macbeth is irrevocably committed to a course of evil, Lady Macbeth fades into the background. Give several instances in which he goes off on his own course without consulting her. Show how, cut off from him, she descends into madness.