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Reading Shakespeare: Macbeth (6) - Duncan's Murder (Act II, Scene 2)

In this worksheet, the student will develop their understanding of Act II, Scene 2 of 'Macbeth', the murder of Duncan.

'Reading Shakespeare: Macbeth (6) - Duncan's Murder (Act II, Scene 2)' 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 worksheet you will develop your understanding of Act II, Scene 2 of Macbeth, the murder of Duncan. Read the following extracts from the scene and answer the questions.

 

In the opening of this scene Lady Macbeth is alone on the stage:

 

LADY MACBETH:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

That which hath made them drunk hath made me bold;

What hath quench'd them hath given me fire.

Hark! Peace!

It was the owl that shriek'd, the fatal bellman,

Which gives the stern'st good-night. He is about it:

The doors are open; and the surfeited grooms

Do mock their charge with snores: I have drugg'd

their possets,

That death and nature do contend about them,

Whether they live or die. 

 

MACBETH:

 

[Within] Who's there? what, ho!  

 

LADY MACBETH:

 

 

 

 

Alack, I am afraid they have awaked,

And 'tis not done. The attempt and not the deed

Confounds us. Hark! I laid their daggers ready;

He could not miss 'em. Had he not resembled

My father as he slept, I had done't. 

 

What clues are there that Lady Macbeth is nervous as Macbeth commits the murder?

Select three answers.

She has drunk wine to make herself feel brave.

She is shaking.

She is very jumpy.

She is worried it has gone wrong.

Why couldn't Lady Macbeth kill King Duncan herself?

It was a job for a man.

She was too scared.

He reminded her of her father as he slept.

Macbeth returns to their chamber after murdering Duncan:

 

 

LADY MACBETH:  

 

Enter MACBETH

My husband! 

 

MACBETH:

 

I have done the deed. Didst thou not hear a noise?

 

LADY MACBETH: 

 

 

I heard the owl scream and the crickets cry.

Did not you speak? 

 

MACBETH:

 

When?

 

LADY MACBETH:  

 

Now.

 

MACBETH:

 

As I descended?

 

LADY MACBETH:

 

Ay.

 

MACBETH:

 

Hark! Who lies i' the second chamber? 

 

LADY MACBETH:

 

Donalbain.

 

MACBETH:

 

This is a sorry sight.

Looking on his hands 

 

What technique does Shakespeare use to show that both Macbeth and Lady Macbeth are nervous and on edge?

very short lines

lots of imagery

rhyme

What is Macbeth looking at on his hands when he says "a sorry sight"?

blood

sweat

dirt

Macbeth then tells Lady Macbeth what he heard the groomsmen doing when he murdered King Duncan:

 

MACBETH:

 

 

 

 

 

There's one did laugh in's sleep, and one cried

'Murder!'

That they did wake each other: I stood and heard them:

But they did say their prayers, and address'd them

Again to sleep.

 

LADY MACBETH:

 

There are two lodged together.

 

MACBETH:

 

 

 

 

One cried 'God bless us!' and 'Amen' the other;

As they had seen me with these hangman's hands.

Listening their fear, I could not say 'Amen,'

When they did say 'God bless us!'

 

LADY MACBETH:

 

Consider it not so deeply.

 

MACBETH:

 

 

 

But wherefore could not I pronounce 'Amen'?

I had most need of blessing, and 'Amen'

Stuck in my throat.

 

LADY MACBETH:

 

These deeds must not be thought

After these ways; so, it will make us mad.

 

What word could Macbeth not say and why? Select two answers.

bless

amen

because he didn't want to make a noise in case he was discovered

because by committing a murder he has sinned against God and so cannot pray

Macbeth continues to describe the scene of the murder to his wife:

 

MACBETH:

 

 

 

 

 

 

Methought I heard a voice cry 'Sleep no more!

Macbeth does murder sleep', the innocent sleep,

Sleep that knits up the ravell'd sleeve of care,

The death of each day's life, sore labour's bath,

Balm of hurt minds, great nature's second course,

Chief nourisher in life's feast,--

 

LADY MACBETH:

 

What do you mean?

 

MACBETH:

 

 

 

Still it cried 'Sleep no more!' to all the house:

'Glamis hath murder'd sleep, and therefore Cawdor

Shall sleep no more; Macbeth shall sleep no more.'

 

LADY MACBETH:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Who was it that thus cried? Why, worthy thane,

You do unbend your noble strength, to think

So brainsickly of things. Go get some water,

And wash this filthy witness from your hand.

Why did you bring these daggers from the place?

They must lie there: go carry them; and smear

The sleepy grooms with blood.

 

MACBETH:

 

 

 

I'll go no more:

I am afraid to think what I have done;

Look on't again I dare not.

 

LADY MACBETH:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Infirm of purpose!

Give me the daggers: the sleeping and the dead

Are but as pictures: 'tis the eye of childhood

That fears a painted devil. If he do bleed,

I'll gild the faces of the grooms withal;

For it must seem their guilt.

 

Exit. Knocking within

 

What will Macbeth no longer be able to do because of his guilt?

be King

pray

sleep

When he returns from the murder scene Lady Macbeth is very cross with Macbeth. Why?

He is a nervous wreck.

He has brought the murder weapons back with him.

He is upset.

At end of the scene both Macbeth and Lady Macbeth have blood upon their hands:

 

MACBETH: 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Whence is that knocking?

How is't with me, when every noise appals me?

What hands are here? ha! they pluck out mine eyes.

Will all great Neptune's ocean wash this blood

Clean from my hand? No, this my hand will rather

The multitudinous seas in incarnadine,

Making the green one red.

 

Re-enter LADY MACBETH

 

LADY MACBETH:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My hands are of your colour; but I shame

To wear a heart so white.

 

Knocking within

 

I hear a knocking

At the south entry: retire we to our chamber;

A little water clears us of this deed:

How easy is it, then! Your constancy

Hath left you unattended.

 

What does the blood represent?

power

love

guilt

Match what each character says about the blood. It reveals a great deal about their different attitudes to the murder.

Column A

Column B

Will all great Neptune's ocean wash this blood/ Cl...
Lady Macbeth
A little water clears us of this deed:/ How easy i...
Macbeth

In light of what happens later in the play, why is Lady Macbeth's line "A little water clears us of this deed: How easy is it, then!" ironic? 

because her hands are stained

because she eventually descends into madness trying to wash imaginary blood from her hands

because they get away with the murder

  • Question 1

In the opening of this scene Lady Macbeth is alone on the stage:

 

LADY MACBETH:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

That which hath made them drunk hath made me bold;

What hath quench'd them hath given me fire.

Hark! Peace!

It was the owl that shriek'd, the fatal bellman,

Which gives the stern'st good-night. He is about it:

The doors are open; and the surfeited grooms

Do mock their charge with snores: I have drugg'd

their possets,

That death and nature do contend about them,

Whether they live or die. 

 

MACBETH:

 

[Within] Who's there? what, ho!  

 

LADY MACBETH:

 

 

 

 

Alack, I am afraid they have awaked,

And 'tis not done. The attempt and not the deed

Confounds us. Hark! I laid their daggers ready;

He could not miss 'em. Had he not resembled

My father as he slept, I had done't. 

 

What clues are there that Lady Macbeth is nervous as Macbeth commits the murder?

Select three answers.

CORRECT ANSWER
She has drunk wine to make herself feel brave.
She is very jumpy.
She is worried it has gone wrong.
EDDIE SAYS
The use of exclamation marks and short sentences in her speech show she is feeling very nervous.
  • Question 2

Why couldn't Lady Macbeth kill King Duncan herself?

CORRECT ANSWER
He reminded her of her father as he slept.
EDDIE SAYS
Lady Macbeth couldn't kill King Duncan because he reminded her of her father as he slept. This shows Lady Macbeth has a softer side and foreshadows how she will be affected by her guilt later in the play.
  • Question 3

Macbeth returns to their chamber after murdering Duncan:

 

 

LADY MACBETH:  

 

Enter MACBETH

My husband! 

 

MACBETH:

 

I have done the deed. Didst thou not hear a noise?

 

LADY MACBETH: 

 

 

I heard the owl scream and the crickets cry.

Did not you speak? 

 

MACBETH:

 

When?

 

LADY MACBETH:  

 

Now.

 

MACBETH:

 

As I descended?

 

LADY MACBETH:

 

Ay.

 

MACBETH:

 

Hark! Who lies i' the second chamber? 

 

LADY MACBETH:

 

Donalbain.

 

MACBETH:

 

This is a sorry sight.

Looking on his hands 

 

What technique does Shakespeare use to show that both Macbeth and Lady Macbeth are nervous and on edge?

CORRECT ANSWER
very short lines
EDDIE SAYS
Shakespeare uses very short lines to show that both characters are nervous. The use of questions also shows their uncertainty.
  • Question 4

What is Macbeth looking at on his hands when he says "a sorry sight"?

CORRECT ANSWER
blood
EDDIE SAYS
Macbeth is looking at Duncan's blood on his hands, and suggests he feels remorse for killing the king.
  • Question 5

Macbeth then tells Lady Macbeth what he heard the groomsmen doing when he murdered King Duncan:

 

MACBETH:

 

 

 

 

 

There's one did laugh in's sleep, and one cried

'Murder!'

That they did wake each other: I stood and heard them:

But they did say their prayers, and address'd them

Again to sleep.

 

LADY MACBETH:

 

There are two lodged together.

 

MACBETH:

 

 

 

 

One cried 'God bless us!' and 'Amen' the other;

As they had seen me with these hangman's hands.

Listening their fear, I could not say 'Amen,'

When they did say 'God bless us!'

 

LADY MACBETH:

 

Consider it not so deeply.

 

MACBETH:

 

 

 

But wherefore could not I pronounce 'Amen'?

I had most need of blessing, and 'Amen'

Stuck in my throat.

 

LADY MACBETH:

 

These deeds must not be thought

After these ways; so, it will make us mad.

 

What word could Macbeth not say and why? Select two answers.

CORRECT ANSWER
amen
because by committing a murder he has sinned against God and so cannot pray
EDDIE SAYS
Religion was very important in Elizabethan England, so this shows how much the murder of Duncan has affected Macbeth.
  • Question 6

Macbeth continues to describe the scene of the murder to his wife:

 

MACBETH:

 

 

 

 

 

 

Methought I heard a voice cry 'Sleep no more!

Macbeth does murder sleep', the innocent sleep,

Sleep that knits up the ravell'd sleeve of care,

The death of each day's life, sore labour's bath,

Balm of hurt minds, great nature's second course,

Chief nourisher in life's feast,--

 

LADY MACBETH:

 

What do you mean?

 

MACBETH:

 

 

 

Still it cried 'Sleep no more!' to all the house:

'Glamis hath murder'd sleep, and therefore Cawdor

Shall sleep no more; Macbeth shall sleep no more.'

 

LADY MACBETH:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Who was it that thus cried? Why, worthy thane,

You do unbend your noble strength, to think

So brainsickly of things. Go get some water,

And wash this filthy witness from your hand.

Why did you bring these daggers from the place?

They must lie there: go carry them; and smear

The sleepy grooms with blood.

 

MACBETH:

 

 

 

I'll go no more:

I am afraid to think what I have done;

Look on't again I dare not.

 

LADY MACBETH:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Infirm of purpose!

Give me the daggers: the sleeping and the dead

Are but as pictures: 'tis the eye of childhood

That fears a painted devil. If he do bleed,

I'll gild the faces of the grooms withal;

For it must seem their guilt.

 

Exit. Knocking within

 

What will Macbeth no longer be able to do because of his guilt?

CORRECT ANSWER
sleep
EDDIE SAYS
Macbeth will no longer be able to sleep because of his guilt, showing that he regrets his actions. At this point, Lady Macbeth has been the driving force in the plot to kill the king.
  • Question 7

When he returns from the murder scene Lady Macbeth is very cross with Macbeth. Why?

CORRECT ANSWER
He has brought the murder weapons back with him.
EDDIE SAYS
Lady Macbeth is angry with Macbeth because he has brought the murder weapons back with him. This would implicate them and shows Macbeth was not thinking clearly when he killed the king, as he was unable to carry out the plan correctly.
  • Question 8

At end of the scene both Macbeth and Lady Macbeth have blood upon their hands:

 

MACBETH: 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Whence is that knocking?

How is't with me, when every noise appals me?

What hands are here? ha! they pluck out mine eyes.

Will all great Neptune's ocean wash this blood

Clean from my hand? No, this my hand will rather

The multitudinous seas in incarnadine,

Making the green one red.

 

Re-enter LADY MACBETH

 

LADY MACBETH:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My hands are of your colour; but I shame

To wear a heart so white.

 

Knocking within

 

I hear a knocking

At the south entry: retire we to our chamber;

A little water clears us of this deed:

How easy is it, then! Your constancy

Hath left you unattended.

 

What does the blood represent?

CORRECT ANSWER
guilt
EDDIE SAYS
The blood represents their guilt and becomes an important symbol of Lady Macbeth’s guilt later in the play when she hallucinates blood on her hands that she cannot clean off.
  • Question 9

Match what each character says about the blood. It reveals a great deal about their different attitudes to the murder.

CORRECT ANSWER

Column A

Column B

Will all great Neptune's ocean wa...
Macbeth
A little water clears us of this ...
Lady Macbeth
EDDIE SAYS
Macbeth speaks in hyperbole (exaggeration) to show how guilty he feels for what he has done. Last Macbeth, in contrast, diminishes the impact of the murder in her words, showing how hard hearted and cold she is.
  • Question 10

In light of what happens later in the play, why is Lady Macbeth's line "A little water clears us of this deed: How easy is it, then!" ironic? 

CORRECT ANSWER
because she eventually descends into madness trying to wash imaginary blood from her hands
EDDIE SAYS
The line is ironic because she eventually descends into madness trying to wash imaginary blood from her hands. This technique is called foreshadowing.
---- OR ----

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