Worksheet: William Shakespeare’s Macbeth
1. Write an essay on your understanding of the concept of Shakespearean Tragedy. Justify / Illustrate ‘Macbeth’ as Shakespearean Tragedy.
2. What is Aristotelian concept of Tragedy? How far does ‘Macbeth’ fit in the Aristotelean concept of Tragedy?
3. What do you mean by ‘Poetic Justice’? Is there a poetic justice in ‘Macbeth’? Illustrate your answer.
4. Can we read Macbeth as Aristotelian ‘tragic hero’? If so, what is his ‘hamartia’?
5. What is the meaning of ‘hamartia’? What is Macbeth’s hamartia? Compare it with hamartia of other tragic heroes known to you (like Hamlet, Othello, Oedipus etc).
6. What do you understand by the concept of ‘hero-villain’? Is Macbeth a fit character for this concept? Illustrate your answer.
7. What sort of artistic liberties are taken by William Shakespeare in ‘Macbeth’? (Key: Historical Macbeth vs Literary Macbeth: https://www.scotland.org.uk/history/time-macbeth - the sequence of the murder of King Duncan and that of Banquo are purely imaginative interpolation. The goodness given to the character of Banquo is also questioned on the grounds that the ruling King James I was a lineage of Banquo’s from Scotland).
8. What is the content of the ‘letter’ written by Macbeth to Lady Macbeth? What is its importance in the play?
9. Thematic Study:
a. The theme of Ambition
b. Tragedy of Ambition – the Medievalism
c. The Unchecked Ambition and its Power to Corrupt the nobleness within humans
d. Cruelty and Masculinity
e. Theme of Guilty Conscience
10. Character Study:
a. Macbeth – the Hero-Villain – the Valiant Villain – The Milk of Human Kindness wasted on the altar of ambition – tragic hero
b. Lady Macbeth – a Witch or a Victim?
c. Macduff – the ultimate avenger
e. King Duncan
f. Malcolm and Donalbain
g. Lady Macduff
11. The Study of Scenes from the play ‘Macbeth’:
a. Scenes of Three Witches
b. Murder of King Duncan
c. Porter Scene
d. Banquet scene – Visitation of Banquo’s Ghost
e. Night walking scene of Lady Macbeth
f. Final fight between Macbeth and Macduff
12. The Study of Quotations:
a. Macbeth’s soliloquy in Act I, Scene
3: This supernatural soliciting
Cannot be ill, cannot be good. If ill,
Why hath it given me earnest of success,
Commencing in a truth?
b. Macbeth’s soliloquy in Act 1, Scene
7: If it were done when ‘tis done, then ‘twere well
It were done quickly
c. Macbeth’s soliloquy in Act 2, Scene
1: Is this a dagger which I see before me,
This handle toward my hand? Come, let me clutch thee.
d. Macbeth says these lines in Act 2,
Whence is that knocking? –
How is’t with me, when every noise appalls me?
What hands are here! Ha, they pluck out mine eyes.
Will all great Neptune’s ocean wash this blood
Clean from my hand?
e. Macbeth in Act 5, Scence 5: Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow
f. Banquo in Act 1, Sc 3: “Oftentimes to win us to out harm, the instruments of darkness tell us truths, win us with honest trifles, to betray’s in deepest consequence.
g. Lady Macbeth in Act 1 Sc 5: The raven himself is hoarse . . .
h. Lady Macbeth in Act 5 Sc Out damned spot. . . Hell is murky.
13. The Study of Cinematic Adaptations of ‘Macbeth’:
a. Write a note on any one film adaptation of ‘Macbeth’
i. What changes are made by film makers in the adaptation?
ii. How are these topics dealt in the film adaptation - ‘the setting’, ‘the witches’, ‘events’ & ‘theme’?
b. Some of the well-known cinematic adaptations are:
i. Orsan Welles’s Macbeth (1948)
ii. Akira Kurosawa’s Throne of Blood (1957)
iii. Roman Polanski’s ‘Macbeth’ (1971)
iv. Vishal Bhardwaj’s Maqbool (2003)
v. Geoffrey Wright’s ‘Macbeth’ (2006)
vi. Justin Kurzel’s ‘Macbeth’ (2015)
a. Shakespeare based Macbeth very loosely on historical figures and events. Research the true story of Macbeth. Explain the differences between history and Shakespeare's version. Explain the effects that Shakespeare's changes have on the overall story.
b. Research the Great Chain of Being in Elizabethan times. Explain the Great Chain of Being and develop a thesis about its effects on Macbeth. How is this way of viewing the world evident in Macbeth? Provide examples from the play
c. The Politics of Aloofness in "Macbeth" BALDO, JONATHAN. “The Politics of Aloofness in ‘Macbeth.’” English Literary Renaissance, vol. 26, no. 3, 1996, pp. 531–560. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/43447533.
d. "Macbeth" and the Play of Absolutes Reid, B. L. “‘Macbeth’ and the Play of Absolutes.” The Sewanee Review, vol. 73, no. 1, 1965, pp. 19–46. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/27541080