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Macbeth

 

Pre-Reading Questions:

Write a one page essay in response to the following questions:

Think about times when you have felt fear and horror. What are some of the physical symptoms of fear and panic? What does the face of a fearful person look like? What are some of the various facial expressions of fear? What is the body language of a person who is feeling fear? How does extreme fear affect the mind? How does it affect what we see or hear? How do we master fear?

 

Guiding Questions for this Unit:

 

o What is the price you pay for compromising your values?

o Where do we draw the line between ambition and greed?

o To what extent can we blame others for the negative outcomes of our lives?

 

Terminology

As we examine the play, you will be responsible for understanding each of the terms on this list, because you may at times be required to find examples in the text. This sheet should be kept in your journal.

 


Aside:

Connotation:

Denotation:

Dramatic Irony:

Equivocation:

Hubris:

Imagery:

Motif:

Paradox:

Soliloquy:

Theme:

Tone:

Tragedy:

 


 

Who Is Shakespeare?

 

1. Shakespeare’s life- Summarize the highlights of Shakespeare’s life and times.

Tell what else he did. Ex: acting. Include an interesting fact or anecdote.

 

 

 

2. Shakespeare’s background- Summarize the general background of his times. Ex: what was happening in history that influenced his writing, who was King and Queen at the time, what influence did they have on his writing?

 

 

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3. Shakespeare’s Macbeth- Write a short account of the actual history of Macbeth and note the changes Shakespeare made to it.

ACT I

 

1. What is the purpose of the opening scene?

 

2. What is our first impression of Macbeth?  How do we get this impression?

 

3. Discuss the character of Lady Macbeth and her contributions to the play. What is her character all about? Is she a better person than Macbeth? Does she influence Macbeth in his decisions? How do you think she will contribute to the downfall of Macbeth? What is Lady Macbeth’s chief function in the play?

 

4. Fair is foul and foul is fair. In Macbeth, things are seldom what they seem, and we often don't know what's really happening. The play is full of ambiguity and double meanings. Discuss the paradoxes presented in the first act.  How do these paradoxes relate to the theme of the story?

 

 

 

WRITE NOW:

 

Write a one page essay about persons, places, things or ideas that appear "fair" when they are really "foul"–or appear "foul" when they are really "fair."

 

ACT II

 

  1. Why does Macbeth decide to launch his bloody career by murdering Duncan? Why is he not sufficiently happy with the high social position he occupies and the honored status he has acquired among his peers?

 

  1. What are Macbeth’s inner conflicts about murdering Duncan? What finally convinces him to go through with the murder?

 

 

  1. What is Banquo’s reaction to the witches’ predictions?

 

  1. Why is Macbeth, whom we know to be brave and ruthless in battle, so afraid? How does Shakespeare dramatize Macbeth's fear? Why is it that Macbeth, whom we are told is fierce and bloody and ruthless in battle, becomes completely unhinged by the murder of Duncan?

 

  1. What is the relationship between Macbeth and Lady Macbeth? Is Lady Macbeth to blame for Macbeth’s actions?

 

  1. Why does Macbeth say he has murdered the guards?

 

  1. Why do Donalbain and Malcolm leave? Where do they say they are going? Do you agree with them?

 

  1. Compare/contrast Macbeth and Lady Macbeth’s reactions to the blood.  What do their reactions suggest about their character?  What does the blood symbolize? Cite examples from the play.

 

 

The Language of Shakespeare

 

Figurative Language- Shakespeare's mastery of language is exemplified through his use of imagery such as similes, metaphors, personification, alliteration, and symbols.

 

Shakespeare paints vivid word pictures. Find examples of the following and illustrate them with drawings or collages.

 

  1. Flower imagery
  2. Disguise
  3. Planting imagery
  4. Clothing imagery

 

 

Theme- Shakespeare's use of imagery helps to develop many themes. Identify an example of each of the following and explain how it contributes to a specific theme.

 

  1. superstitions
  2. darkness
  3. water/cleansing
  4. blood
  5. weather
  6. sleep/death.

 

 

Sound- Except for a few scenes, Macbeth is written in blank verse, which resembles more than any other verse form the natural rhythm of spoken English.

 

Find an example of the following:

 

  1. a line from iambic pentameter
  2. how Shakespeare varies the verse to express meaning.
  3. a rhymed couplet-which was used to indicate the end of a scene to an audience in a theater without curtains.

 

WRITE NOW:

 

Consider Shakespeare's diction, which is so masterfully displayed in Macbeth. Choose 2 passages that best exemplify Shakespeare's use of sound, rhythm, and meaning and discuss how the passage reveals the character's feelings.

 

 

ACT III

1. As Act III begins Banquo is reflecting on what has happened to Macbeth. What three events does he state and what does he hope for himself?

2. What reason does Macbeth give the Murderers for wanting Banquo killed? What reason does he give for not doing it himself?

3. Why do you think Macbeth does not tell Lady Macbeth about his plan to murder Banquo and Fleance?

4. When Banquo’s ghost enters the banquet what is Macbeth’s reaction?

5. What does Lady Macbeth say to the guest is the reason for his behavior?

6. Does Macbeth recognize the ghost? How do you know he does?

7. What does Hecate say she is going to do to Macbeth? Why does she think he will respond to her?

8. What does Lennox say about Malcolm, Donalbain, and Fleance?

9. Where has Macduff gone and why?

10. What does Lennox hope for?

 

WRITE NOW:

The climax of a play or another literary work, such as a short story or a novel, can be defined as (1) the turning point at which the conflict begins to resolve itself for better or worse, or (2) as the final and most exciting event in a series of events. At what point in the play does the climax occur?  Provide evidence that supports your ideas.

 

 

 

 

 

ACT IV

1. What are the Witches doing at the beginning of Act IV?

2. What are the three statements made by the Apparitions?

3. What is the significance of the Witches having the Apparitions give the information to Macbeth?

4. What does Macbeth decide to do with the information the Witches have given him?

5. What does Lady Macduff say is the reason for her husband leaving?

6. What does Lady Macduff tell her son about his father? How does he respond to her?

7. What happens to Lady Macduff and her son?

8. Why does Malcolm question Macduff?

9. What is Malcolm’s reaction to the news? What is Macduff’s?

10. What do Malcolm and Macduff plan to do?

11. What is the symbolic purpose of each prophecy the Apparitions state in the play? What interpretation can be drawn from the way each are dressed. Do you feel there is a hidden meaning? Cite examples from Act IV.

 

WRITE NOW:

One of the effects of Macbeth’s crime (the murder of Duncan) is the way it alters the natural order. Discuss the changes, making particular reference to:

(a) the attitude towards kingship in Shakespeare's time

(b) the unnatural events which took place

(c) the references to sleeplessness.

 

ACT V

1.      What does the Doctor say to Macbeth about Lady Macbeth’s condition? What is Macbeth’s reaction?

 

2.      What is the Doctor referring to when he says, “Therein the patient Must minister to himself?”

 

3.      What does the Messenger tell Macbeth he sees coming toward Dunsinane? How does Macbeth respond?

 

4.      What does Macbeth say to Macduff about his mortality? What is Macduff’s response? How does Macbeth react?

 

5.      Describe Macbeth’s reaction to Lady Macbeth’s death. Compare his reaction to the reaction he had after the murder of Duncan.

 

6.      Elaborate on the importance of the scene when Lady Macbeth says, “Out damned spot! out, I say! One; two. Why then ’tis time to do’t. Hell is murky. Fie, my lord, fie! a soldier, and afeard? What need we fear who knows it, when none can call our pow’r to accompt? Yet who would have thought the old man to have had so much blood in him?” This scene illustrates a change in the character of Lady Macbeth?

 

7.       

ESSAY TOPICS:

# 1

The term tragic hero refers to a central character who has a authoritative status in the drama, but through a flaw in his or her character brings about his or her demise. The flaw may consist of a poor decision that is made and creates a situation the character cannot change or control. The tragic hero recognizes his or her flaw, however there is nothing that can be done to avert tragedy. Macbeth is seen as a tragic hero. Write a paper tracing the sequence of events that contribute to Macbeth’s demise and tragic end.

# 2

A motif is a word, image, or action in a drama that happens over and over again. There is a recurring motif of blood and violence in the tragedy Macbeth. This motif contributes to the theme of the drama. In a paper trace the use of blood and violence and cite images that contribute to the theme.

 

#3

The Witches are seen as a force working to bring about the demise of Macbeth. They are known as the antagonist in the drama. They foreshadow events that create suspense in the drama and Macbeth makes decisions based on their prophecies. Write a paper describing how the Witches are a controlling factor in Macbeth’s destiny.

#4

 

The word fear occurs 48 times in Macbeth in noun and verb forms and as a root in words such as afeard and fearful. Which characters exhibit the most fear? What causes their fear? How does fear differ from guilt? Write a paper that examines the use of the word fear and its effect on characters as well as plot.

 

 

 

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