In this article you’ll find text and study questions from Act 1, Scene 1 in Macbeth.


TASK 1: Read

  • Read aloud if you can manage it
  • If you get lost with the language, listen to a recording or watch a production of the scene on Youtube


Hurly-burly – chaos

Ere – before 

Heath – moorland, harsh, wild landscape 

Fair – correct or right, good, beautiful 

Foul – bad, ugly, rotten, repulsive 

Macbeth Study Questions Witches
Decamps, Alexandre-Gabriel; The Witches in ‘Macbeth’; The Wallace Collection; Source: Wikimedia commons

A desert place

Thunder and lightning. Enter three Witches

First Witch

When shall we three meet again
In thunder, lightning, or in rain?

Second Witch

When the hurlyburly’s done,
When the battle’s lost and won.

Third Witch

That will be ere the set of sun.

First Witch

Where the place?

Second Witch

Upon the heath.

Third Witch

There to meet with Macbeth.

First Witch

I come, Graymalkin!

Second Witch

Paddock calls.

Third Witch



Fair is foul, and foul is fair:
Hover through the fog and filthy air.


TASK 2: Reading comprehension questions

  • What is the setting of this scene? How does it contribute to the mood and atmosphere of the play as a whole?
  • Who are the first characters that we meet in the play?
  • What do they speak about? 
  • What is the meaning of ‘fair is foul and foul is fair’? 

TASK 3: Research


Research the theme of the Supernatural in Macbeth and write a few notes on how it relates to this opening scene. 


Spend time research the connection between King James I, Macbeth and Witches. What did people believe about witches in the Jacboean era (Shakespeare’s time)? Why do you think Shakespeare included witches as characters in the play?

If you need a refresher about Shakespeare‘s “Macbeth”, click this link where we have an in-depth summary or this one for Key Quotations.

Thanks for reading! If you find this resource useful, you can take a look at our full online Macbeth course here. Use the code “SHAKESPEARE” to receive a 50% discount!

This course includes: 

  • A full set of video lessons on each key element of the text: summary, themes, setting, characters, context, attitudes, analysis of key quotes, essay questions, essay examples
  • Downloadable documents for each video lesson 
  • A range of example B-A* / L7-L9 grade essays, both at GCSE (ages 14-16) and A-Level (age 16+) with teacher comments and mark scheme feedback
  • A bonus Macbeth workbook designed to guide you through each scene of the play!

For more help with Macbeth and Tragedy, read our article here.