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Reading Shakespeare: Macbeth (3) - Macbeth and Banquo Meet the Witches (Act I, Scene 3)

In this worksheet, the students will work through various tasks to deepen their understanding of 'Macbeth' Act I, Scene 3.

'Reading Shakespeare: Macbeth (3) - Macbeth and Banquo Meet the Witches (Act I, Scene 3)' worksheet

Key stage:  KS 4

GCSE Subjects:   English Literature

GCSE Boards:   AQA, Pearson Edexcel, Eduqas, OCR

Curriculum topic:   Shakespeare

Curriculum subtopic:   Macbeth

Difficulty level:  

Worksheet Overview

QUESTION 1 of 10

In this activity you will develop your understanding of Act I, Scene 3 in Shakespeare's Macbeth. Read the following extract from this scene, where Macbeth and Banquo first meet with the witches, and then answer the following questions.

 

MACBETH:

So foul and fair a day I have not seen.

 

BANQUO:

How far is't call'd to Forres? What are these 

So wither'd and so wild in their attire,

That look not like the inhabitants o' the earth,

And yet are on't? Live you? or are you aught

That man may question? You seem to understand me,

By each at once her chappy finger laying

Upon her skinny lips: you should be women,

And yet your beards forbid me to interpret

That you are so.

 

MACBETH:

Speak, if you can: what are you?

 

First Witch:

All hail, Macbeth! hail to thee, thane of Glamis!

 

Second Witch:

All hail, Macbeth, hail to thee, thane of Cawdor!

 

Third Witch:

All hail, Macbeth, thou shalt be king hereafter!

 

BANQUO:

Good sir, why do you start; and seem to fear

Things that do sound so fair? I' the name of truth,

Are ye fantastical, or that indeed

Which outwardly ye show? My noble partner

You greet with present grace and great prediction

Of noble having and of royal hope,

That he seems rapt withal: to me you speak not.

If you can look into the seeds of time,

And say which grain will grow and which will not,

Speak then to me, who neither beg nor fear

Your favours nor your hate.

 

First Witch:

Hail!

 

Second Witch:

Hail!

 

Third Witch:

Hail!

 

First Witch:

Lesser than Macbeth, and greater.

 

Second Witch:

Not so happy, yet much happier.

 

Third Witch:

Thou shalt get kings, though thou be none:

So all hail, Macbeth and Banquo!

 

First Witch:

Banquo and Macbeth, all hail!

 

MACBETH:

Stay, you imperfect speakers, tell me more:

By Sinel's death I know I am thane of Glamis;

But how of Cawdor? the thane of Cawdor lives,

A prosperous gentleman; and to be king

Stands not within the prospect of belief,

No more than to be Cawdor. Say from whence

You owe this strange intelligence? or why

Upon this blasted heath you stop our way

With such prophetic greeting? Speak, I charge you.

 

Witches vanish

 

BANQUO:

The earth hath bubbles, as the water has,

And these are of them. Whither are they vanish'd?  

 

MACBETH:

Into the air; and what seem'd corporal melted

As breath into the wind. Would they had stay'd!

 

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. Who's here?

 

Enter ROSS and ANGUS

 

ROSS:

The king hath happily received, Macbeth,

The news of thy success; and when he reads

Thy personal venture in the rebels' fight,

His wonders and his praises do contend

Which should be thine or his: silenced with that,

In viewing o'er the rest o' the selfsame day,

He finds thee in the stout Norweyan ranks,

Nothing afeard of what thyself didst make,

Strange images of death. As thick as hail

Came post with post; and every one did bear

Thy praises in his kingdom's great defence,

And pour'd them down before him.

 

ANGUS:

We are sent

To give thee from our royal master thanks;

Only to herald thee into his sight,

Not pay thee.

 

ROSS:

And, for an earnest of a greater honour,

He bade me, from him, call thee thane of Cawdor:

In which addition, hail, most worthy thane!

For it is thine.

 

BANQUO:

What, can the devil speak true?

 

MACBETH: 

The thane of Cawdor lives: why do you dress me

In borrow'd robes?

 

ANGUS: 

Who was the thane lives yet;

But under heavy judgment bears that life

Which he deserves to lose. Whether he was combined

With those of Norway, or did line the rebel

With hidden help and vantage, or that with both

He labour'd in his country's wreck, I know not;

But treasons capital, confess'd and proved,

Have overthrown him.

 

MACBETH:  

[Aside] Glamis, and thane of Cawdor!

The greatest is behind.

 

To ROSS and ANGUS

Thanks for your pains.

 

To BANQUO

Do you not hope your children shall be kings,

When those that gave the thane of Cawdor to me

Promised no less to them?

 

BANQUO: 

That trusted home

Might yet enkindle you unto the crown,

Besides the thane of Cawdor. But 'tis strange:

And oftentimes, to win us to our harm,

The instruments of darkness tell us truths,

Win us with honest trifles, to betray's

In deepest consequence.

Cousins, a word, I pray you.

 

MACBETH:

[Aside] Two truths are told,

As happy prologues to the swelling act

Of the imperial theme.--I thank you, gentlemen.

 

Aside

Cannot be ill, cannot be good: if ill,

Why hath it given me earnest of success,

Commencing in a truth? I am thane of Cawdor:

If good, why do I yield to that suggestion

Whose horrid image doth unfix my hair

And make my seated heart knock at my ribs,

Against the use of nature? Present fears

Are less than horrible imaginings:

My thought, whose murder yet is but fantastical,

Shakes so my single state of man that function

Is smother'd in surmise, and nothing is

But what is not.

 

BANQUO:

Look, how our partner's rapt.

 

MACBETH: 

[Aside] If chance will have me king, why, chance may crown me,

Without my stir.

 

BANQUO:

New horrors come upon him,

Like our strange garments, cleave not to their mould

But with the aid of use.

 

MACBETH: 

[Aside] Come what come may,

Time and the hour runs through the roughest day.

 

BANQUO:

Worthy Macbeth, we stay upon your leisure.

 

MACBETH: 

Give me your favour: my dull brain was wrought

With things forgotten. Kind gentlemen, your pains

Are register'd where every day I turn

The leaf to read them. Let us toward the king.

Think upon what hath chanced, and, at more time,

The interim having weigh'd it, let us speak

Our free hearts each to other.

 

BANQUO:

Very gladly.

 

MACBETH:

Till then, enough. Come, friends. 

 

Exeunt

Read Banquo's description of the witches:

 

BANQUO:

How far is't call'd to Forres? What are these 

So wither'd and so wild in their attire,

That look not like the inhabitants o' the earth,

And yet are on't? Live you? or are you aught

That man may question? You seem to understand me,

By each at once her chappy finger laying

Upon her skinny lips: you should be women,

And yet your beards forbid me to interpret

That you are so.

 

Match the descriptions below to the correct part of the body.

Column A

Column B

clothing
have beards
general appearance
skinny
fingers
wild
lips
chapped and gnarled
faces
not like anything that lives on the earth

How does Shakespeare show the audience that Banquo is shocked by what he sees?

He uses short sentences.

He shouts.

He asks lots of questions.

What three titles do the witches greet Macbeth with?

Thane of Glamis

Thane of Cawdor

Thane of Fife

King of England

King of Scotland

Look at Banquo's reaction to the witches in this scene. Match what he says with its correct meaning.

Column A

Column B

If you can look into the seeds of time,/ And say w...
If you can tell the future, tell me what's in stor...
who neither beg nor fear/ Your favour
Were the evil women speaking the truth?
Were such things here as we do speak about?/ Or ha...
I am not scared of you and I will not beg you.
What, can the devil speak true?
We can't trust these women, they will try and harm...
And oftentimes, to win us to our harm,/ The instru...
Have we been hallucinating? Are these women real?

What words do you think best sum up Banquo's reaction to the witches?

Select three words.

suspicious

excited

wary

cautious

Now look at Macbeth's reactions to the witches in this scene. Match the following quotation with its meaning.

Column A

Column B

Stay, you imperfect speakers, tell me more
Stay, you haven't told me everything.
Two truths are told,/ As happy prologues to the sw...
I should become king without having to do anything...
Cannot be ill, cannot be good
What they tell me can't be all good or all bad...
why do I yield to that suggestion/ Whose horrid im...
Two of the predictions have come true, I hope ther...
If chance will have me king, why, chance may crown...
Why am I even considering something so horrible th...

What words or phrases do you think best describe Macbeth's reactions to the witches?

Select three options.

excited

hopeful

scared at his own reaction

wary

Which character do you think is going to be more easily influenced by what the witches say?

Macbeth

Banquo

Macbeth's first line in the play is: 'So foul and fair a day I have not seen.'

What technique is used in this line?

simile

repetition

alliteration

The witches also offer some predictions to Banquo. What do they predict for him?

Select three answers.

That he will be less than Macbeth, but also greater

That he will always serve Macbe

That he will be king

That his children will be king

That he will b happier than Macbeth

That he will die

  • Question 1

Read Banquo's description of the witches:

 

BANQUO:

How far is't call'd to Forres? What are these 

So wither'd and so wild in their attire,

That look not like the inhabitants o' the earth,

And yet are on't? Live you? or are you aught

That man may question? You seem to understand me,

By each at once her chappy finger laying

Upon her skinny lips: you should be women,

And yet your beards forbid me to interpret

That you are so.

 

Match the descriptions below to the correct part of the body.

CORRECT ANSWER

Column A

Column B

clothing
wild
general appearance
not like anything that lives on t...
fingers
chapped and gnarled
lips
skinny
faces
have beards
EDDIE SAYS
The witches are described using negative vocabulary, reinforcing their connection to evil.
  • Question 2

How does Shakespeare show the audience that Banquo is shocked by what he sees?

CORRECT ANSWER
He asks lots of questions.
EDDIE SAYS
The use of questions here shows Banquo's confusion and disgust.
  • Question 3

What three titles do the witches greet Macbeth with?

CORRECT ANSWER
Thane of Glamis
Thane of Cawdor
King of Scotland
EDDIE SAYS
The witches greet Macbeth with the titles: Thane of Glamis, Thane of Cawdor and King of Scotland. He is already Thane of Glamis, and doesn't know that King Duncan has given him the new title of Thane of Cawdor. The witches imply that Macbeth will one day be king.
  • Question 4

Look at Banquo's reaction to the witches in this scene. Match what he says with its correct meaning.

CORRECT ANSWER

Column A

Column B

If you can look into the seeds of...
If you can tell the future, tell ...
who neither beg nor fear/ Your fa...
I am not scared of you and I will...
Were such things here as we do sp...
Have we been hallucinating? Are t...
What, can the devil speak true?
Were the evil women speaking the ...
And oftentimes, to win us to our ...
We can't trust these women, they ...
EDDIE SAYS
Banquo doesn't seem to take the witches' prophecies too seriously and tells Macbeth they can't be trusted.
  • Question 5

What words do you think best sum up Banquo's reaction to the witches?

Select three words.

CORRECT ANSWER
suspicious
wary
cautious
EDDIE SAYS
Banquo definitely doesn't trust the witches. In Elizabethan England, witches were believed in and thought to be a herald of evil.
  • Question 6

Now look at Macbeth's reactions to the witches in this scene. Match the following quotation with its meaning.

CORRECT ANSWER

Column A

Column B

Stay, you imperfect speakers, tel...
Stay, you haven't told me everyth...
Two truths are told,/ As happy pr...
Two of the predictions have come ...
Cannot be ill, cannot be good
What they tell me can't be all go...
why do I yield to that suggestion...
Why am I even considering somethi...
If chance will have me king, why,...
I should become king without havi...
EDDIE SAYS
Macbeth wants the witches to stay and give him more information. He is intrigued by their prophecies and wants to hear more about his future.
  • Question 7

What words or phrases do you think best describe Macbeth's reactions to the witches?

Select three options.

CORRECT ANSWER
excited
hopeful
scared at his own reaction
EDDIE SAYS
Macbeth's excitement at the prospect of his powerful future is a bit frightening for him; whilst he wants to believe what he has been told, he also knows that witches are evil.
  • Question 8

Which character do you think is going to be more easily influenced by what the witches say?

CORRECT ANSWER
Macbeth
EDDIE SAYS
Macbeth is going to be more easily influenced by what the witches say, as he seems more affected by their vision of the future.
  • Question 9

Macbeth's first line in the play is: 'So foul and fair a day I have not seen.'

What technique is used in this line?

CORRECT ANSWER
alliteration
EDDIE SAYS
Shakespeare uses alliteration in Macbeth\'s first line. Here, the words \'foul\' and \'fair\' suggest the two sides of Macbeth that the character will struggle with throughout the play. It also links him to the witches, as at the beginning of the play they are seen saying \'fair is foul, and foul is fair.\'
  • Question 10

The witches also offer some predictions to Banquo. What do they predict for him?

Select three answers.

CORRECT ANSWER
That he will be less than Macbeth, but also greater
That his children will be king
That he will b happier than Macbeth
EDDIE SAYS
The witches tell Banquo that he will not have as much power as Macbeth, but that he will ultimately be happier. They say his children will become king. This will worry Macbeth if he is to believe their prophecy that he himself will become king.
---- OR ----

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