3 The play’s originsShakespeare created this imaginative dramatisation of Macbeth from Holinshed’s Chronicles of England, Scotland, and Ireland.Lady Macbeth was taken from a different story found in the Chronicles, because in reality, there was no such person named Lady Macbeth.Duncan changed from an ineffectual king into a revered one.
4 The play’s originsThe historical Macbeth reigned in Scotland for 17 years, and his rule was mostly peaceful. There is no evidence that Macbeth dabbled in witchcraft. He was, in fact, a strong supporter of the Church.Shakespeare’s fast-paced plot incorporates elements of the occult, and speculative themes about the nature of good and evil.
5 Character ListMacbeth: tragic hero, leads his troops to victory, ambitious and easily manipulated by his wife. Lady Macbeth: resembles her husband in many ways, strong and manipulative. Banquo: Serves as a foil in the play, and though ambitious, he never loses sight of what is wrong Fleance: Banquo’s son King Duncan: Good King and ruler who is murdered by Macbeth
6 Character ListMalcolm and Donalbain: The King’s sons who flee after his murder but are the rightful heirs to the throneMacduff: Symbolises the opposite of Macbeth – he is good and honest. He brings Macbeth down as he was not of woman born.The Witches: are the catalyst for Macbeth’s murderous ambition.
8 The main events in Act I are: The witches’ plan to meet Macbeth.Macbeth is introduced as a hero who will become Thane of Cawdor as a reward for his loyalty.The witches prophesise that Macbeth will be king and Banquo will be the father of a line of kings.
9 The main events in Act I are: Lady Macbeth tells Macbeth to look ‘like the innocent flower but to act like a serpent’Macbeth is troubled by his conscience and almost talks himself out of killing Duncan.Lady Macbeth torments Macbeth about his promise to kill Duncan, and his lack of manliness. She gives the impression that she is more of a man that he is.
10 Important Notes for ACT I Lady Macbeth has already ‘unsexed’ herself to commit the bloody deed of killing Duncan. This connected to the theme that appearances can be deceptive.Macbeth is outwardly brave but inwardly indecisive. His soliloquies (where he speaks his mind to the audience) are full of pathos (strong emotions) and audiences cannot help but sympathise with his distress.What image of feminine power is Shakespeare presenting through his depiction of Lady Macbeth? List modern examples of this stereotypically evil woman.
11 Important Notes for Act II Macbeth’s state of mind is questioned.The inner world of Macbeth’s psyche spills over into the physical world (the deed).Macbeth sees a dagger leading him to the murder scene.The ‘instrument’ he refers to in this speech mirrors what Banquo called the witches - the ‘instruments of darkness.’Macbeth is either possessed by the witches, or obsessed with the idea of killing Duncan to fulfill the witches’ prediction.
12 Important Notes for Act II Sleep is important, as an extended metaphor, that signifies or represents Macbeth’s troubled existence.No one can sleep because Macbeth’s ambition to become king plunges the country into a darkness.Images of natural disorder - an owl eats a falcon, two noble horses eat each other.The symbolism of the act is centred on the images of birds at war with each other, and every scene in the act contains a least one reference to birds = metaphor for Macbeth who is like an owl (sleeps by day and hunts by night).
13 Important Notes for Act III Act III starts after Macbeth has been crowned King.Banquo is murdered The focus in this Act is what does it mean to be a man? Lady Macbeth defines masculinity as the ability to ruthlessly achieve a desired goal.Ideas about masculinity are throughout the action of the play.Duncan rewards masculine valour with titlesMacbeth kills the king to prove he is a man of destiny.Macduff defends his masculinity by killing Macbeth out of revenge for the killing of his wife and children.
14 Important Notes for Act III Idea of cleanliness and removing stains - Lady Macbeth says, “a little water clears us of this deed,” but it doesn’t.Macbeth is haunted by the sight of Banquo’s ghost - the idea of being unable to cleanse the mind and the spirit is closely tied to the play’s themes of order and disorder and light and dark. The killing of Duncan has upset the spiritual order of the world
15 Important Notes for Act IV Begins with the witches’ reminder of the “double, double” nature of their predictions - give double messages toWarn him to fear no man born of woman, and that he need only fear when Birnam Wood comes to DunsinaneShakespeare warns the audience of the dangers of double dealing. The dramatic effect of the scene foreshadows the need to restore order in the world.
16 Important Notes for Act IV Lady Macduff’s murder continues the bird symbolism that began in Act I. Lady Macduff uses a metaphor and says "the poor wren,/The most diminutive of birds, will fight,/Her young ones in her nest, against the owl" (IV, 2, 11-14). Her son reassures her that he will have to live "as birds do". This metaphor becomes more powerful because the audience knows that Macduff’s castle is about to be attacked by Macbeth's men.
17 Important Notes for Act IV There is a contrast between Lady MacDuff and Lady Macbeth, who confessed that she would rather ‘smash out’ her baby’s brain than fail to keep a promise, such as Macbeth had made. The differences between the two views of mothering creates a dramatic impact for the audience.
18 Important Notes for Act V Begins with Lady Macbeth’s guilty, but unconscious, revelations about the murders.Audience now sees the weak side of herThe washing theme is continued as the sleep-walking Lady Macbeth tries to scrub the stains of the murders from her hands. (blood = guilt / sin – biblical reference to the sin in the book of Genesis, when Cain killed Abel and God placed a mark upon Cain)
19 Important Notes for Act IV Scene reminds the audience of the witchcraft trials that were going on all over the country.Reinforces the play’s underlying theme of good versus evil.
20 Key character profiles What words would you use to describe the following key characters in Macbeth. For each provide an explanation.MacbethLady MacbethThe witchesIf you were casting a modern film adaptation, who would you cast in the roles and why? Consider physical characteristics, tone of voice, warmth/distance to audience.
21 Key character profiles MACBETHFirst referred to as “brave Macbeth” and Duncan says of Banquo and Macbeth “They smack of honour both.” The use of “honour” and “brave” sets up the character of Macbeth, enabling his fall from grace to be more significant.The witches prophesy that Macbeth will be “King hereafter” is the catalyst for his ambitious murder-spree.When it comes to kill Duncan, Macbeth is not brave or assertive – he nearly withdrawals because he feels guilty.Lady Macbeth’s determination forces him to commit the deed.
22 Key character profiles After the murder, he is sometimes ambitious and sometimes guilty.He determines that Banquo must die. When Macbeth sees his ghost at the banquet, guilt makes him appear mad.At the end of the play, Macbeth “bravely” fights to his death.Macbeth is considered a tragic hero.What do you know about the conventions of a tragic hero?
23 Tragic Hero Essential elements of the tragic hero: Tragedy involves the "fall" of a hero due to some flaw in his own personality. The most common tragic flaw is hubris (excessive pride).The hero must have a lofty position to fall from, or else there is no tragedy (just pathos).Tragedies involving people of stature (Kings) affect the lives of both the individual and his family, and also the whole society.
24 Tragic HeroThe role of fate is important in the downfall of a tragic hero, but there is also an element of choice. The tragic hero falls because he chooses one course of action over another.Crucial that the tragic hero understands what went wrong before he meets his end.Punishment exceeds the crime. The audience must not be left feeling that the tragic hero got what he deserved.Produces catharsis in audience - we may feel emotionally drained, but cleansed.How is the character of Macbeth a “tragic hero”
25 Key character profiles LADY MACBETHOne of Shakespeare’s best known and most frightening female characters.She is more ambitious than her husband. She says “unsex me here” which represents her desire for power though she knows, as a female, she can’t possess it. She wants masculine power (unusual for women of the time)She’s manipulative and challenges Macbeth’s manhoodShe suffers guilt and insanity. She sleepwalks and cannot cleanse the blood from her hand “out out damn spot.” She succumbs to her guilt and commits suicide.
26 Key character profiles THE WITCHESStart the play with a sinister tone.They are ugly representations of the supernatural and resemble Fate. Fate manipulates human lives.Powerful in their manipulation of Macbeth.They speak in rhyming couplets which separates them from other characters in the play.They play on Macbeth’s weaknesses rather than cast spells on him
27 ThemesWhat is a theme?What themes do you think are evident in the play?Do you think these themes are still relevant to an audience today? Why/not?
28 ThemesShakespeare's plays are still relevant today because his themes are universal.Order versus disorderRanks of the men (King etc) represent order in Scotland.When Duncan is killed, order unravels.Lady Macbeth and Macduff represent contrasting domestic order (consider how they treat their children).ACTIVITY: look in ACT II for quotes/images of the natural order being overturned.
29 Themes Appearance versus reality Throughout the play there are double meanings “look like th’ innocent flower / But be the serpent under’t’”.Shakespeare is saying ‘don’t be fooled by appearances’.He also expects audiences to question the reality of the events they see. For example:Macbeth is a presented as a brave and noble Thane. This may be true but for how long?Both Macbeth and Lady Macbeth appear to be horrified at Duncan's death. Why?Only Macbeth can see Banquo’s ghost? Why?
30 Themes Manhood and masculinity: Masculinity is strongly tied to images of violence.Lady Macbeth questions Macbeth’s manliness and his ability to murder the king.Macbeth reminds the murderers that they are part of “The valued file” of men (clearly depends on their ability to kill)A different kind of masculinity is presented by Macduff who is not afraid to weep openly when he discovers that Macbeth has had his wife and children slaughtered.
31 Themes Betrayal most obvious: Macbeth’s betrayal of Duncan and Banquo. Betrayal of office, friendship, trust, truth, justiceMacbeth’s disloyalty represents a threat to the natural orderCharacters believe things are good, but they are betrayed: Duncan says the castle is “sweet” but he dies here. Macbeth thinks the “armed head” and “bloody child” are good omens from the witches, but they turn out to be deceptive wordplaysLady Macbeth betrays her womanhood as she seeks to be a man
32 Techniques Choose either: Lady Macbeth’s speech (Act 1 Scene 5) OR Macbeth’s speech (Act II Scene I)Summarise the speech in your own wordsFind examples of techniques used (imagery, descriptive language, figurative language like similes/metaphors/personification). Write the example and explain what the effect is. Is it to create a particular image? Is it to contrast/compare a feeling? What does the technique do
33 Techniques Language techniques Macbeth’s speech (Act II Scene II) “Is this a dagger I see before me” contains example of allusion and personification.Macbeth’s line (Act II Scene III) “Will all great Neptune’s ocean wash this blood” example of hyperbole.ForeshadowingThe witches (Act I.) and eerie atmosphere establish the mood of the play. They foreshadow the meeting with Macbeth upon the heath. Their chant that ‘fair’ will be ‘foul’ foreshadows the topsy-turvy events that will follow.
34 Language Techniques Irony Shakespeare uses both irony and dramatic irony in Macbeth. Verbal irony = inconsistency between what is said and what is meant.Example: During the banquet scene, Macbeth expresses the insincere wish that Banquo should be present. The irony becomes apparent when Banquo's ghost appears and terrifies Macbeth.
35 Language Techniques'dramatic' irony = when the audience knows something the characters don’t.Example: when Duncan arrives at Macbeth's castle and expresses his delight over the pleasant setting. The audience knows that his murder was planned here and that his gracious host and hostess will be his killers.
36 Essay Writing Introduction Address the question and state your position. Use a strong opening sentence which summarises your whole argument (thesis). Include the same terms of the question in your answer.BodyS – topic sentence. One idea per paragraph supported with evidence. Your topic sentence should indicate what idea is in that paragraph.E – Explain. Justify your idea and expand your topic sentence.X – Example. Give evidence from the text to support (either a detailed example or a quote).Y – Why. Reiterate why you included this idea. Reword your topic sentence.ConclusionNo new information. Your conclusion should mimic your introduction but now you imply that you have proved your idea.