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Reading Shakespeare: Macbeth (2) - Brave Macbeth (Act I, Scene 2)

In this worksheet, students read Act 1, Scene 2 from Shakespeare's play 'Macbeth' and learn how to comment on how the author has used language and other devices for effect.

'Reading Shakespeare: Macbeth (2) - Brave Macbeth (Act I, Scene 2)' worksheet

Key stage:  KS 4

Curriculum topic:  Reading

Curriculum subtopic:  Awareness of Vocabulary, Form and Grammatical Features

Difficulty level:  

down

Worksheet Overview

QUESTION 1 of 10

Read this extract from Macbeth Act I, Scene 2. The Captain has come home from a fierce battle between Macdonald and Macbeth, to tell King Duncan what has happened.

 

 

CAPTAIN:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Doubtful it stood,

As two spent swimmers that do cling together

And choke their art. The merciless Macdonald—

Worthy to be a rebel, for to that

The multiplying villanies of nature

Do swarm upon him—from the Western Isles

Of kerns and gallowglasses is supplied,

And fortune, on his damnèd quarrel smiling,

Showed like a rebel’s whore. But all’s too weak,

For brave Macbeth—well he deserves that name—

Disdaining fortune, with his brandished steel,

Which smoked with bloody execution,

Like valor’s minion carved out his passage

Till he faced the slave;

Which ne'er shook hands, nor bade farewell to him,

Till he unseamed him from the nave to th' chops,

And fixed his head upon our battlements. 

 

The following questions will ask you about what effect Shakespeare intends to have on the audience through his choice of language. If you need to read the extract again as you work through the questions, you can click on the Help button above the questions.

The Captain compares the two armies fighting like "two spent swimmers". Choose three phrases which fit with this description of the battle. 

easy

exhausting

obvious who would win

desperate

too close to call

In his description of Macbeth's enemy, Shakespeare uses alliteration: "merciless Macdonald". What is the effect of this on the audience?

Choose two possible answers.

The audience will remember him.

Alliteration of the letter "m" always means evil.

The audience will clearly know that he is a villain.

Merciless means someone who is kind to others.

In the extract, fortune was on Macdonald's side "like a rebel's whore". The Captain also adds that he had evil on his side as well as lots of extra soldiers. 

Why does Shakespeare include lots of information to make Macdonald seem strong and lucky?

to show what a good soldier Macdonald is

to show that war is bad

to show that Macbeth must be amazing to have beaten him

As well as real people, this passage also uses personification of "Fortune" and "Valour". Match up the words used to describe these people and virtues. 

Column A

Column B

Macbeth
a rebel's whore
Macdonald
brave
Fortune
Macbeth's sword
Valour's minion
merciless

Shakespeare writes that Macbeth "unseam'd him (Macdonald) from the nave to th' chaps/ And fix'd his head upon our battlements."

Translate this extract into modern day English by matching up the words below.

Column A

Column B

unseam'd
belly button
nave
cheeks
chaps
castle walls
battlements
cut open

The Captain's report shows Macbeth to be very violent. What effect would this have had on the audience?

People would feel sick and think that Macbeth is evil.

People would be amazed at Macbeth's bravery against a powerful enemy.

Later on in the play, Macbeth seems to do whatever his wife, Lady Macbeth, says. Which quotation would you use to prove that Macbeth is a strong character who isn't just pushed around by her?

"Brave Macbeth"

"Two spent swimmers"

"Worthy to be a rebel"

The play begins with three witches making an evil brew, followed by the scene we have analysed where great violence is described. Choose all of the adjectives which you think could describe the beginning of Macbeth

dark

boring

slow

evil

violent

gruesome

macabre

  • Question 1

The Captain compares the two armies fighting like "two spent swimmers". Choose three phrases which fit with this description of the battle. 

CORRECT ANSWER
exhausting
desperate
too close to call
EDDIE SAYS
The battle was exhausting, desperate and too close to call.
  • Question 2

In his description of Macbeth's enemy, Shakespeare uses alliteration: "merciless Macdonald". What is the effect of this on the audience?

Choose two possible answers.

CORRECT ANSWER
The audience will remember him.
The audience will clearly know that he is a villain.
EDDIE SAYS
The alliteration will make the audience remember him and they will clearly know that he is a villain.
  • Question 3

In the extract, fortune was on Macdonald's side "like a rebel's whore". The Captain also adds that he had evil on his side as well as lots of extra soldiers. 

Why does Shakespeare include lots of information to make Macdonald seem strong and lucky?

CORRECT ANSWER
to show that Macbeth must be amazing to have beaten him
EDDIE SAYS
Shakespeare includes lots of information about Macdonald to show that Macbeth must be amazing to have beaten him.
  • Question 4

As well as real people, this passage also uses personification of "Fortune" and "Valour". Match up the words used to describe these people and virtues. 

CORRECT ANSWER

Column A

Column B

Macbeth
brave
Macdonald
merciless
Fortune
a rebel's whore
Valour's minion
Macbeth's sword
EDDIE SAYS
Macbeth = brave
Macdonald = merciless
Fortune = a rebel's whore
Valour's minion = Macbeth's sword
  • Question 5

Shakespeare writes that Macbeth "unseam'd him (Macdonald) from the nave to th' chaps/ And fix'd his head upon our battlements."

Translate this extract into modern day English by matching up the words below.

CORRECT ANSWER

Column A

Column B

unseam'd
cut open
nave
belly button
chaps
cheeks
battlements
castle walls
EDDIE SAYS
unseam'd = cut open
nave = belly button
chaps = cheeks
battlements = castle walls
  • Question 6

The Captain's report shows Macbeth to be very violent. What effect would this have had on the audience?

CORRECT ANSWER
People would be amazed at Macbeth's bravery against a powerful enemy.
EDDIE SAYS
People would be amazed at Macbeth's bravery against a powerful enemy.
  • Question 7

Later on in the play, Macbeth seems to do whatever his wife, Lady Macbeth, says. Which quotation would you use to prove that Macbeth is a strong character who isn't just pushed around by her?

CORRECT ANSWER
"Brave Macbeth"
EDDIE SAYS
"Brave Macbeth" proves that Macbeth is a strong character.
  • Question 8

The play begins with three witches making an evil brew, followed by the scene we have analysed where great violence is described. Choose all of the adjectives which you think could describe the beginning of Macbeth

CORRECT ANSWER
dark
evil
violent
gruesome
macabre
EDDIE SAYS
'Macabre' means gruesome and ghastly, so it is definitely appropriate here.
---- OR ----

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