Sunday, September 14, 2008

Macbeth - Act I, Scene IV

(Macbeth - Act I, Scene IV. Questions taken from the Indispensable Work-Book on Macbeth published by National Publishing house.Suitable for ISC class XI.)

Q1.Who is being talked about. How did he die?
The Thane of Cawdor is being talked about here. He died because he was executed on orders from king Duncan. King Duncan ordered him to be killed as he has rebelled against king Duncan and has assisted the king of Norway in attacking the forces of king Duncan.

Q2.Why did the man meet this kind of death?
The man (the Thane of Cawdor) met this kind of death as he has betrayed king Duncan of Scotland by assisting the king of Norway in attacking king Duncan.

Q3. Explain the line ' he died as one that had been studied in this death'.
This line means that the Thane of Cawdor was expecting to be put to death by king Duncan of Scotland as punishment for having assisted the enemy of the the King. The word 'studied' means prepared. The Thane of Cawdor was ready for death when he was executed.

Q4.What is Malcolm's attitude towards this man as seen in this speech?
Malcolm's attitude towards the Thane of Cawdor was one of casualness and disdain. " I have spoken to one who saw him die" shows this casualness. Malcolm's attitude is also of complete lack of sympathy for the Thane of Cawdor.Malcolm's felt that death was the only option to the Thane of Cawdor for his cowardice.

Q5.Comment on Duncan's word's. What is the dramatic irony here?
King Duncan says that there is no way you can read the mind of a person. One cannot know what the other person is thinking.King Duncan means that he trusted the Thane of Cawdor completely. However, the Thane of Cawdor betrayed his trust and sided with the King of Norway and attacked his kingdom. The dramatic irony of this is that king Duncan is now about to place a similar trust on Macbeth by making him the new Thane of Cawdor. As future events unfold, Duncan will be betrayed by Macbeth just the way he was betrayed by the earlier Thane of Cawdor.

Q6.Where is scene taking place? What is the occasion?
This scene is taking place in Forres in the palace of king Duncan.The occasion is the return of Macbeth and Banquo from the battlefield after defeating the Thane of Cawdor and the King of Norway.

Q7.Explain the line "That the proportion... been mine.
These words spoken by king Duncan means that king Ducan feels that he cannot thank Macbeth enough for protecting his kingdom from the enemy forces. King Duncan means that the enormity of the service rendered by Macbeth is so much that no compensation will be adequate to repay the services rendered by Macbeth.Duncan means that the pleasure of rewarding Macbeth cannot be his because there is no reward worth the service rendered by Macbeth. If Macbeth had deserved less then king Duncan could have rewarded him adequately.

Q8.What has Macbeth done to make the king grateful to him?
Macbeth defeated the combined forces of the Thane of Cawdor and the King of Norway to save the kingdom of Scotland from the invaders.They also defeated the forces of Macdonald the rebel. This made king Duncan grateful to Macbeth and Banquo.

Q9.Just before these lines, Duncan uses a metaphor to express similar feeling of gratitude. What was the metaphor?
The metaphor that Duncan uses is " the swiftest wings of recompense is slow to overtake thee".By this he means that by the services rendered by Macbeth he had gone so far (in term of obligation to king Duncan) that even the best compensation could not over take the services rendered by Macbeth.

Q10.What is your reaction to Macbeth's answer in view of his later action?
King Duncan tell Macbeth that there was no reward good enough to compensate Macbeth for his services to the kingdom. To this Macbeth replies that whatever he did was as per his oath of loyalty.Macbeth said that he was duty bound to do what he had done. My reaction of Macbeths's answer is that Macbeth was completely dishonest in his reply.His reply was untruthful.He was scheming to kill the king yet was talking about his loyalty to the king and the kingdom.

Q11.Who is the prince of Cumberland?
King Duncan announced that his eldest son Malcolm would be appointed as the king of Cumberland.

Q12.Why is Macbeth perturbed at the thought of his name?
Macbeth is perturbed at the thought of his name because Macbeth was nursing the ambition of becoming the king of Scotland after king Duncan.The appointment of Malcolm as the price of Cumberland as the heir to Duncan's throne perturbed Macbeth as this would prevent him from becoming the king of Scotland.

Q13. What does he mean by 'on which i must fall down, or o'rleap?
By this Macbeth means that the appointment of Malcolm as the price of Cumberland is a stumbling block in his ambition of becoming the king of Scotland. Macbeth means that the appointment of Malcolm as the price of Cumberland is a step over which he must lead (overcome) or stumble (fail).

Q14.What are Macbeth's "black and deep desires"?
Macbeth's black and deep desires are about overthrowing king Duncan to become the ruler of Scotland.

Q15.Explain the expression, 'The eye wink at the hand'.
Macbeth's burning desire, after the witches had told him that he would be king of Scotland, was to take over as the ruler of Scotland. However, the announcement of Malcolm as the price of Cumberland and the future king of Scotland, upset Macbeth's plans. He therefore plots to kill king Duncan and take over as the ruler of Scotland. He knew that his was an dastardly act and says that his eyes must not see what his hand does - that is his deed must remain a big secret.

Q16.Comment on the dramatic irony in the scene(scene IV of Act I).
This scene has dramatic irony. In this scene, the victorious Macbeth and Banquo come back to the palace of king Duncan in Forres.They are warmly welcomed by king Duncan and greatly rewarded for accomplishing their task. King Duncan is upset that the earlier Thane of Cawdor, on whom he put his complete trust, betrayed him. He says that is it impossible to say what is going on in a man's mind.
Nevertheless, he makes Macbeth the new Thane of Cawdor and reposes full trust in him. He also indicates to Macbeth that there would be more rewards for him in future. In order to honour Macbeth, he decides to spend a night in Macbeth's castle in Inverness.
The dramatic irony in this scene is that while on one hand king Duncan is felicitating Macbeth, on the other hand Macbeth is planning to betray king Duncan. He is planning to do what the earlier Thane of Cawdor did to king Duncan ie betrayed him and the trust that was placed in him. Macbeth plans to kill king Duncan and take over as the king of Scotland.

Q17.Express your views on the line: " There's no art, To find the mind's construction in the face.
When king Duncan thinks about the betrayal by the Thane of Cawdor, he thinks about the trust that he had placed on the Thane of Cawdor and how he was betrayed by the very person on whom he placed his trust. Then he thinks that there is no way one can find out what a man is thinking. How does one know or find out who is trust worthy and who is not by just looking at a man's face.
He is now going to place his full trust on Macbeth and is going to make Macbeth the new Thane of Cawdor. However, as the future events will tell us, even this trust is going to be misplaced. He would once more be betrayed by Macbeth - thus history repeats itself. King Duncan's misgivings that one cannot know who to trust is there for his bane. The lack of trust has caused his downfall.

Q18. Give your own views of the character of Duncan, supporting your statements with quotations from the play.
King Duncan was a kind hearted, generous,trusting and caring ruler. He gave the Thanes (the head of each district who reported to the king) of his kingdom respect and autonomy.The fact that he gave the Thanes autonomy was apparent from the the fact that the Thane of Cawdor could put together an army to attack king Duncan and even side with an enemy - the king of Norway. We can say that king Duncan was generous from the way he treated Macbeth and Banquo after they returned victorious from the battlefield. They were generously rewarded. Yet, king Duncan felt that no reward could compensate them for the bravery they displayed in the battle-field.

King Duncan also treated his lieutenants almost like his equal.We can say that because in order to honour Macbeth, he decides to spend a night at Macbeth's castle in Inverness. King Duncan's weakness was that he was too trusting and not a very good judge of people. We can say that becuase even though he realizes, after the betrayal by the Thane of Cawdor, that one cannot find out what a person is thinking he make the mistake of trusting Macbeth too much.His trusting nature leads him to his death.

(Check this additional reference on the web which you may find useful:

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