Macbeth Act IV
Macbeth Act IV
Macbeth resolves to find the
witches and demand further
He encounters them on their
dismal heath, where they answer him
with a procession of ghostly
Armed Head – warns Macbeth to
Child – “none of woman
born” shall harm Macbeth.
Child Holding Tree Limb
– Macbeth will be safe until
“Birnam Wood” comes to
8 Kings followed by Banquo’s
Ghost, smiling and pointing to
nobleman Lennox who
denies having seen “the
weird sisters” and tells
that Macduff has fled to
vows to kill Macduff’s
wife and children
A messenger arrives at
Fife, Macduff’s castle, to
warn her, but it is too
late, and Lady Macduff
and her children are
killed by Macbeth’s
is at the
kings palace in
England where he
loyalty to the cause
welcomes Macduff as
with the terrible
news of the massacre
of Macduff’s wife and
swears to kill
Macbeth with his
ingredients go into the witches’ stew?
What is the purpose of this vile concoction?
that under a cold stone days and nights has thirty “Toad,
one swelt’red venom sleeping got.”
Fillet of a fenny snake.
Eye of newt
Toe of frog
Wool of bat
Tooth of wolf
Tongue of dog
the three apparitions Macbeth sees
when he visits the witches. What does each
apparition tell him?
1st Apparition – An Armed Head.
Beware Macduff, the Thane of Fife.
2nd Apparition – A Bloody Child.
of woman born shall harm Macbeth (i.e. Macduff).
3rd Apparition - A Child Crowned, with a tree in his hand
Macbeth will never be vanquished until Great Birnam
Wood to high Dunsinance Hill come against him.
question has Macbeth come to ask the
witches, and how do they answer?
Macbeth comes to ask the witches his future as king.
because Macbeth is so rude to them the witches say
that Macbeth can hear it from their mouths or their masters.
nobleman does Macbeth plan to
murder after talking with the witches? How
is his plan foiled?
Macbeth plans to kill Macduff, but Macduff has fled to England.
the end of Scene 1, what does Macbeth
vow? Describe the way his vow is carried out
in Scene 2.
Macbeth vows to seize upon Fife and kill everyone there.
to the conversation between
Malcolm and Macduff in Scene 3, what has
happened to Scotland during Macbeth’s
Scotland is no longer a safe haven.
does Malcolm “confess” about his own
he is lustful and covetous and he has no virtues which
would entitle him to become King.
does Macduff respond to Malcolm’s
Macduff states that Scotland has enough wealth for everyone.
this act, Macbeth seeks out the witches,
just as they took the initiative in approaching
him in Act 1. How has his situation changed
since he last talked with them? How has his
He is a murderer now.
He no longer feels regret, he only wants what he wants.
you think the witches have caused any
indirectly? these changes, directly or
indirectly? Explain your reasons for thinking
as you do.
Scene 1, the eight kings appear in what
was called in Shakespeare’s day a dumb show
– an interpolated brief scene in which
nothing is said. What is the point of this
particular dumb show?
are the kings of Banquo’s line and the mirror suggests an
infinite number of descendants. Banquo appears last laughing
Scene 2, the lines spoken by Macduff’s
wife and son illustrate Shakespeare’s great
skill at characterization. Using only a few
words, he brings the woman and the child to
life, showing both the faults and virtues in
each. How would you describe Lady
Macduff? How would you describe the boy?
Lady Macduff is a strong person who loves her family and misses
her husband. She appears to have a sense of humor.
The son seems happy and close to his parents, and when faced
with the murderer he shows bravery by attacking him for
saying his father is a traitor.
murder of Macduff’s wife and small son
is one of the most pitiful and shocking scenes
in Shakespeare’s plays. Why do you suppose
he decided to show it onstage, rather than
just having it reported after it happens?
scene brings home the horror of the event and the evil
to which Macbeth has fallen.
the murderer and Lady Macduff herself
call Macduff a traitor. In what sense does
each mean it? Do you think Macduff is a
traitor, in either sense?
Lady Macduff calls her husband a traitor because he left
their castle unguarded and she is angry with him.
murderer calls Macduff a coward as an offense to Lady
Macduff and her son.
Scene 3, Malcolm deliberately lies to
Macduff. Why does he do this? What does
this behavior, and the reason for it, reveal
Malcolm is testing Macduff by lying to him.
It shows that he knows the “art/to find the mind’s construction
in the face” (1.4.11-12), and uses it to discern Macduff’s true
character. Remember: Duncan was deceived twice by traitors.
response to Macbeth’s
questions, the witches call upon the
apparitions who answer most of his questions
but warn him not to probe too deeply.
Macbeth hears that no
one born of woman will harm him, he
decides to spare Macduff’s life.
Macduff misses her last
chance for escape, which comes when an
anonymous messenger warns her to flee.
pretends that he is too
evil to become king in order to ascertain
Macduff receives the news of
his family, Malcolm urges him to grieve
The crowned child
says Macbeth will
not be vanquished until Birnam Wood
marches to Dunsinane?
says that Macbeth
has killed Macduff’s family?
The bloody child
says that no man
born of woman will harm Macbeth?
An armed head
warns Macbeth to
beware of Macduff?
A crowned child
reveals the future
kings of Scotland?
lineage do the
future kings of Scotland represent?
the witches say “Something wicked
this way comes,” to whom are they
The witches are referring to Macbeth.
is the first apparition?
An Armed Head.
does the first apparition say?
Beware Macduff! Beware the Thane of Fife.
is the second apparition?
A Bloody Child
does the second apparition say?
No man born of woman shall harm Macbeth.
is the third apparition?
A crown Child with a tree in his hand.
does the third apparition say?
Macbeth shall never be vanquished until Great Birnam Wood to
high Dunsinane Hill comes against him.
is significant about the line of eight
kings, followed by Banquo, that the witches
eight kings signifies that they are Banquo’s decedents.
murders Lady Macduff and her children?
Macbeth has murderer’s kill the Macduff family and people.
does Malcolm test Macduff’s loyalty?
test’s Macduff’s loyalty by sharing with Macduff
that he is lustful and envious and all things unbecoming.
1. In response to Macbeth’s questions,
a. tell him everything and predict the course of
his entire life
b. call upon the apparitions, who answer most
of his questions but warn him not to probe too
c. conjure up the ghost of the king, who
answers the questions
d. attempt to intimidate Macbeth and threaten
him with a curse
2. When Macbeth hears that no one
born of a woman will harm him, he decides
a. leave Macduff alone
b. kill all the wives of his peers
c. kill Macduff anyway
d. kill everyone in line for the throne, but spare
3. Lady Macduff misses her last chance
for escape, which comes when
a. an anonymous messenger warns her to flee
b. her son suggests a plot for their escape
c. Ross defends her husband’s good character
d. the murderers make too much noise at the
4. Malcolm pretends that he is too evil
to become king in order to
a. avoid the responsibilities of ruling Scotland
b. ascertain Macduff’s loyalty
c. fulfill the witches’ prophecies
d. ensure that his brother inherits the throne
5. When Ross joins Malcolm and
Macduff in Scene 3, he says to Macduff,
“Let not your ears despise my tongue
forever, / Which shall possess them with
the heaviest sound / That ever yet they
heard.” He means
a. do not listen too closely to what I am saying
b. I am about to warn you of impending disaster
c. please do not hate me because I bring bad
d. do not worry about my next statement
6. When Macduff receives the news of
his family, Malcolm urges him to
a. rouse his anger
b. grieve peacefully
c. stay away from Scotland
d. try not to think about it
7. Macbeth will not be vanquished until
Birnam Wood marches to Dunsinane
8. Macbeth has killed Macduff’s family
9. no man born of a woman will harm
10. beware of Macduff
11. the eight ghostly kings are Banquo’s
12. Which of the following characters in Act
IV arouses the most sympathy? On the
lines provided, write the letter of the
character you choose, describe the
character’s situation in Act IV, and give
reasons for your opinion. Use at least one
example from the selection to support your
ideas. There is more than one possible
b. Lady Macduff
c. Son of Macduff
a. Macbeth arouses the most sympathy
because he is flawed; the witches, who lure
him into evil by using supernatural powers,
exploit his weaknesses.
b. Lady Macduff arouses the most sympathy
because she is an innocent victim.
c. Macduff’s son arouses the most sympathy
even though he is only a child and is not actively involved
in the conflict
his flight is the reason for the
13. On a separate sheet of paper, write a
paragraph describing how Macbeth
changes from the beginning of the play to
Act IV. Is he more good than evil in Act IV?
more evil than good? Rate Macbeth’s moral
character on a scale of ten, with 1 being
absolute good and 10 being absolute evil.
Provide at least two examples of Macbeth’s
words or deeds that support your answer.
At the beginning of the play, Macbeth hesitates
to kill Duncan and then is tormented by the
murder of the king, yet in Act IV, Macbeth
coldly decides without hesitation to kill
Early in the play, the mere sight of blood
disturbs Macbeth, yet in Act IV, he easily
decides to slaughter Macduff’s wife, children,
and any other heirs.