Macbeth

Here are your 4 lessons for the week. In lesson 1 you will be able to see a short version of the play and provide your own summary of themes and events.

Based on the image, answer the questions below:

What do you think the play will be about?

What characters will it involve?

What will its key themes be?

Now watch the animated tales

Now click on the link and watch and listen to the key quotes set to music.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/teach/teach/shakespeare-songs-macbeth/z686scw

Write down a summary in 6 points about what happens in the play

Lesson 2

Now we are going to look at some of the context of the play. Context helps us understand why a text may be written, it helps us understand what was happening at the time and how the audience may have viewed the text.

Context – Part 1: The Supernatural

  • The play starts with 3 witches on a heath (that’s a large bit of open ground). The play was written in 1606 and the real King of England at the time was James 1st. He did not like witches or anything supernatural. In fact he demonised them in a book called ‘Demonolgy’ where he outlined all the things witches did and what should happen to them. Shakepeare opens the play very dramatically by using three witches. The audience would have found this more shocking than us, given the context of the time and they would not have liked what they saw. It’s also sets the scene for the darkness that follows in the rest of the play.

Task: research witches and witchcraft during the reign of King James 1.

Write down 5 things you have discovered.

Watch the clip about the Divine Right of Kings then answer the following question:

Why might the idea of the Divine Right of Kings appeal to a new king?

Why might King James 1 support the idea of a play that murders the king?

Note: Murdering a monarch is called ‘regicide’.

  • now watch the next clip about the chain of being then summarise in three sentces what it is.

OK, so now you know a little about the play, the period is was written in and some information about key concepts (divine Right, Chain of Being) at the time. These are important ideas to remember as they help build tension in the play and make the events both shocking and believable to a Shakepearean audience.

Lesson 3

In this lesson you will learn more about King James 1. I know you are probably thinking, ‘What has all this history got to do with studying English literature? Well, the answer is that by understanding when something was written and what was going on at the time we can also understand the messages in the play and doing this is the key to unlocking the higher grades.

Look at the slides that follow and complete the tasks.

James I- what was he like?

Two historians said:

Source 1

James was a weak king of England he was clever, but did not know how to deal with people. James gave his friends too much power. He wasted money, and he argued with parliament. Some people in England said he was a coward.

                                                                  A.G.R. Smith

Source 2

He was lacking in self respect and undignified in appearance. He had a big head, slobbering tongue, padded clothes and rickety legs.

                                                                 Edwards

The following people knew James:

Source 3

King James was the most cowardly man I knew. He feared mischief and wore pistol proof padded clothes.

                                                                  Sir John Oglander

Source 4

He was timid . . .his eyes were large. He liked peace, but only because he was scared. James was nervous, dishonest with a red spotty face. He was frightened of pigs, hated the sea and was always worried witches were trying to cast spells on him. He wore padded clothes so he could not be stabbed. His tongue was too big for his mouth and he was often drunk

                                                                             Sir Anthony Weldon

Source 5

He was friendly with all the princes of Christendom. While most of the world was at war, he kept his country in peace. He was a just and good king.

 Godfrey Goodman

Lesson 4

Themes

Themes are main ideas or concepts that run through the texts we study. We’ve already looked at some of them.

Now watch the clip which explores both themes and character. Sorry if you don’t like the music. There must be a good reason why they chooose this music genre to represent the themes. What reason do you think they had?

https://www.bbc.co.uk/teach/class-clips-video/english-literature-gcse-macbeth-themes/z78gwty

TASK:

Write down what you think the themes of Macbeth are. Try to find 5.

Themes Quiz

Top of Form

Ambition, Appearance and Reality, and the Supernatural are just three of the themes explored in Macbeth. Match the quotations to the themes they represent.

1.

“Thou wouldst be great, / Art not without ambition, but without / The illness should attend it.”

Ambition.

Appearance and Reality.

The Supernatural.

2.

“Is this a dagger which I see before me, / The handle toward my hand?”

Ambition.

Appearance and Reality.

The Supernatural.

3.

“Look like the innocent flower, / But be the serpent under’t.”

Ambition.

Appearance and Reality.

The Supernatural.

4.

“Have no spur / To prick the sides of my intent, but only / Vaulting ambition”

Ambition.

Appearance and Reality.

The Supernatural.

5.

“Come you spirits / And fill me from the crown to the toe top-full with direst cruelty.”

Ambition.

Appearance and Reality.

The Supernatural.

6.

“By the pricking of my thumbs, / Something wicked this way comes.”

Ambition.

Appearance and Reality.

The Supernatural.

PLOT

Now complete the plot quiz.

Plot Quiz

Top of Form

1.

At the beginning of the play, three witches meet on a heath to cause trouble. The first witch chants: “When shall we three meet again? In thunder, lightning or…

…in pain’

…in rain’

…insane’

2.

After the battle, Macbeth and Banquo come across the three witches. They predict that:

Macbeth will be Thane of Cawdor and King of Scotland, and Banquo’s sons will be kings.

Banquo will be Thane of Cawdor and Macbeth will be King of Scotland.

Macbeth and Banquo’s sons will be thanes and kings.

3.

The quickest way for Macbeth to become king is to murder King Duncan…

and Macbeth is really up for it.

but Macbeth almost chickens out and Lady Macbeth has to bully him into it.

but Macbeth is too noble to do such a terrible thing.

4.

Why is Banquo murdered?

He has an affair with Lady Macbeth.

He suspects Macbeth is Duncan’s murderer.

The witches’ predictions about Banquo’s sons make Macbeth paranoid.

5.

Lady Macbeth becomes ill and starts trying to scrub her hands in her sleep. Why?

She has Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.

Castles were dirty places in those days.

She dreams that her hands are covered in blood.

6.

The witches tell Macbeth not to worry because he won’t be in danger until Birnam Wood moves to Dunsinane castle. What happens?

Malcom’s army cover themselves in leaves for camouflage.

The wind blows the leaves up the hill to the castle.

Macbeth stays safe. Trees can’t move.

7.

The witches tell Macbeth that his life is charmed; he cannot be killed by any man “of woman born”. So how does Macduff manage to kill him?

Macduff was a test-tube baby.

Macduff was found under a cabbage patch.

Macduff was born by caesarean section.

Next task

In this lesson you will look in more detail at Shakepeare’s language. It is rich in metaphor and that is why sometimes it can be harder to work out what is being said, because what is being said is not always literal. For example the line, ‘Look like the innocent flower, but be the serpent under it’ is not about being an innocent flower (how can flowers be innocent anyway?) nor is it about being a snake. It is really about being two-faced, appearing to be kind on the outside but being evil inside. In other words, saying one thing and thinking the opposite.

Now it’s your turn, try to identify the best fit for the images in the following quiz.

Language Quiz

Top of Form

Shakespeare’s use of metaphors makes the language of his plays vivid and memorable. See if you can match each of the following metaphors with the correct explanation.

1.

“My hands are of your colour, but I shame / To wear a heart so white.”

My hands are red with blood, just like yours, but I’m not scared like you.

Donalbain and Malcolm, as heirs to the throne, can’t trust anyone. The people who are nicest to them are likely to want to murder them.

In killing Duncan, Macbeth is killing off any hopes of ever being able to sleep soundly again.

2.

“Macbeth does murder sleep”

Macbeth tells his wife that killing Duncan wasn’t enough. They still aren’t safe on the throne.

Lady Macbeth has died before her time. Human life is like a flame, easily snuffed out.

In killing Duncan, Macbeth is killing off any hopes of ever being able to sleep soundly again.

3.

“There’s daggers in men’s smiles”

Donalbain and Malcolm, as heirs to the throne, can’t trust anyone. The people who are nicest to them are likely to want to murder them.

My hands are red with blood, just like yours, but I’m not scared like you.

Macbeth tells his wife that killing Duncan wasn’t enough. They still aren’t safe on the throne.

4.

“We have scorched the snake, not killed it”

In killing Duncan, Macbeth is killing off any hopes of ever being able to sleep soundly again.

My hands are red with blood, just like yours, but I’m not scared like you.

Macbeth tells his wife that killing Duncan wasn’t enough. They still aren’t safe on the throne.

5.

“Out, out brief candle!”

Macbeth tells his wife that killing Duncan wasn’t enough. They still aren’t safe on the throne.

Lady Macbeth has died before her time. Human life is like a flame, easily snuffed out.

In killing Duncan, Macbeth is killing off any hopes of ever being able to sleep soundly again.

End of week 1