Paradox An apparent contradiction that is actually true
Tragedy A play, novel, or other narrative depicting serious and important events, in which the main character comes to an unhappy end
Soliloquy When an actor is alone on stage, and speaks about his or her thoughts/feelings; Think of a solo
Aside When an actor says something that is meant for just the audience to hear, not the rest of the audience.
Fatal Flaw The main struggle the main character has; weakness that brings down their downfall
Sleeplessness Macbeth can’t sleep because he is haunted by the people he killedLady Macbeth sleep walks.The witches punishments is to prevent people from sleeping.This is the way Witch 1 get at people; she takes away sleep until they go crazy; this happens to all of their victims/ Macbeth sees ghosts in his sleep, and Lady Macbeth sleep walks
Mixing of Good and Evil Macbeth loses sight between good and evilFair is foul and foul is fairInstead of protecting his people,like a king should do, Macbeth beings to betray them.
Ambition Macbeth’s Fatal Flaw
Supernatural Elements Witches, prophecies, apparitionsThese are things that are beyond human capibilities.
King Duncan The good king of Scotland who is murdered by Macbeth. Bad judge of character
Macbeth General/thane who commits murder, and becomes king.
Lady Macbeth Macbeth’s wife- ruthless woman who lusts for power.
Banquo Macbeth’s friend whom was with Macbeth when he got his first prophecy. He was told that his future lineage would be noblemen. Eventually murdered due to Macbeth’s suspicions.
Macduff His family was murdered by Macbeth. Becomes leader of the crusade set on dethroning Macbeth. Ends up killing Macbeth; he is able to do this because he was born of a c-section
Malcolm Son of Duncan, becomes king after Macbeths death.
Donalbain Duncan’s son and Malcolm’s younger brother
The Porter Drunk who knocks on the of Macbeth’s castle Brings comedic relief to play
Tragic Hero Traditional hero destroyed by a fatal flaw; ambition
Nihilism Sense that life is meaningless and does not matter; comes from Latin root nihil meaning nothing
Fate vs Free Will how much of this play is directed by fate and directed by Macbeth; is he directed by supernatural force or he is directing himself towards a supernatural force; controlled by forces beyond his control
Ross and Lennox Two Scottish Nobleman
Fleance Banquo’s son- escapes the murderers Macbeth sent after him. He is the turning of the point of the play.
Lady Macduff Macduffs wife whom is killed to get back at Macduff
Three Murderers Group of people gathered by Macbeth to murder banquo and his son, and Macduff’s wife and children
Witches “Fair is foul and foul is fair…”Mixing of Good and Evil
The Captain “He unseam’d him from the nave to the chops.”
Macbeth “Let not light see my black and deep desires.”Aside
Lady Macbeth “Yet do I fear thy nature; / It is too full o’ the milk of human kindness / To catch the nearest way.” States Macbeth’s innocence
Lady Macbeth “Come, you spirits / That tend on mortal thoughts, unsex me here, / And fill me from the crown to the toe top-full / Of direst cruelty!”Wants to have a man’s heartLady Macbeth’s Ambition and Hunger for Power
Macbeth “Is this a dagger which I see before me, / The handle toward my hand?”Soliloquy
Lady Macbeth “Had he not resembled / My father as he slept, I had done’t.”Talking about being a man but really is a wimp
Macbeth “Will all great Neptune’s ocean wash this blood / Clean from my hand? No, this my hand will rather / The multitudinous seas incarnadine / Making the green one red.”
Banquo “Thou hast it now: King, Cawdor, Glamis, all, / As the weird women promised, and I fear / Thou pay’dst most foully for’t.”Suspicious of Macbeth
Witches “None of woman born / Shall harm Macbeth.”Second PropheciesParadox
Lady Macbeth “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 power to account? – Yet who would have thought the old man to have so much blood in him?”SleepwalkingAdmitting Everything
Macbeth “Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow, / Creeps in this petty pace from day to day / To the last syllable of recorded time, / And all our yesterdays have lighted fools / the way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle! / Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player / That struts and frets his hour upon the stage / And then is heard no more: it is a tale / Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, / Signifying nothing.”Nihilism
Macduff “Macduff was from his mother’s womb untimely ripp’d.”
Through a Letter How does Macbeth tell Lady Macbeth about the witches prophecies?
Macduff First to see King Duncan dead
First Three Prophecies 1. Macbeth will be the Thane of Cawdor2. Macbeth will be king. 3. Banquo’s children will be king
Second Three Prophecies 1. Macbeth doesn’t need to fear until Birnam Woods will rise against him2. No man born of woman can harm him3. Beware of Macduff
Malcolm and English Army Macduff join forces with
Macbeth and Macduff Battles at the end of the play
Macduff Kills Macbeth
Malcolm Crowned King
Symbolism to Duncan’s Death The destruction of an order in Scotland that can only be restored when Malcolm is King
Macbeth’s Murders DuncanGuards (2)BanquoMacduffMacduff’s Family
Macbeth’s Fatal Flaw Ambition; he chooses to listen to what he knows is wrong
Murder of Macdonwald He split him open from his navel to his jawbone, and stuck his head on our castle walls
Evil and is ambitious for power; wants Macbeth to kill the king; tells hims he is not a man for killing Duncan; she wants to be a man What is the audience’s impression of Lady Macbeth at the end of Act I? What is her relationship with Macbeth (beyond being his wife)? What details in this act support your impression?
Play is dark starting with thunder and lightning; 3 witches enter; witches power impact Macbeth’s life with prophecies In the very first scene of a play, a dramatist must tell the audience what kind of play they are about to see. What does the brief opening scene of Macbeth reveal about the rest of the play? How does the weather reflect the human passion revealed in the rest of the act?
He thinks he will become King; tempts him of thoughts on Kingship; thinks hes invincible and can kill anybody How does the witches’ prophecy for Macbeth’s coming greatness act as a temptation for him?
Macbeth is king now, but Banquo’s descendants will be king also Explain the paradox, or apparently contradictory nature, of the witches’ greeting to Banquo in Scene 3: “Lesser than Macbeth, and greater.” How is this paradox true?
Banquo’s reaction that rages in Macbeth after he hears the witch’s prophecies with curiosity; banquo is not taking it serious and is sarcastic; Macbeth is gullible How does Banquo’s reaction to the witches differ from Macbeth’s? What do you think Macbeth’s reaction suggests about his character?
He wonders if fate will action his own or if he has to perform some action to make this prediction come true. After Duncan announces that Malcom will be the next king Macbeth realizes that it is up to him to make the next prophecy come true; Macbeth would have killed Malcolm if he did not run away; he wants light not to see his dark desires One of the most interesting parts of any serious play is what goes on in the characters’ minds. What conflict rages in Macbeth after he hears the witches’ prophecy? What resolution to this conflict does Macbeth express in his aside in scene 4 lines 48-53?
Macbeth is argumental and sensitive. He jumps back and forth with the decision to kill Duncan. Lady Macbeth is more single minded and logical. Once she devises a plan to kill Duncan, she sticks to it Find details in the play (Act I) that point to personality contrasts between Macbeth and Lady Macbeth. Who is more single-minded and logical? Who is more argumentative and sensitive? Which one wins the argument?
Killed in the castle; Duncan thinks he is at peace; audience knows Macbeth is going to kill Duncan What irony would the audience feel as they watch Duncan enter the castle and hear him praise its peacefulness in scene 6?
The witches made Macbeth realize that all things are possible even becoming king, something that Macbeth had never before thought possible he becomes ambitious One critic has said that the witches are “in some sense representative of potentialities (things that we are capable of) within” Macbeth. How could that statement be explained? Is there any evidence in this act that Macbeth has wanted to be king before?
Decided to murder Duncan and his guards off stage because it gives an affect of how easy and fast the murder was. It also gives the audience an anxious feeling as to how he did it. Why do you think Shakespeare decided to murder Duncan and his guards offstage?
Macduff is suspicious of Macbeth. We know this because he does not want to go to Macbeth’s coronation Though Macbeth encounters no actual opposition until long after Duncan is murdered, Shakespeare must foreshadow some trouble for him and, to build up suspense, must start one character edging toward suspicion of Macbeth. Who is this character and what inkling does he give of his dissatisfaction with Macbeth?
Lady Macbeth says she cannot kill Duncan herself because he looked like her father in his sleep. She is all talk and no action In Act I Scene 7, Lady Macbeth seemed to be planning to murder Duncan herself. But at the last moment, in Act II Scene2, she is unable to do so. Consider the reason she gives and decide what her actions and explanations say about her character.
Acts as if he is disappointed over the King; he can’t cleanse himself of this sin In Scene 3, when Duncan’s body is discovered, Macbeth utters a hypocritical statement beginning, “Had I but died…” But is it really hypocritical? The critic A.C. Bradley argues that, although the speech is meant to be a lie, it actually contains Macbeth’s truest and deepest feelings. Explain this apparent contradiction. How does Macbeth feel about having murdered Duncan? What clues tell you how he feels
She wants to take attention off of Macbeth and to show how upset she is about Duncan’s death Lady Macbeth faints when the guards are discovered to be dead. Many say that this fainting, like everything else she has done so far, has a purpose. What message do you think she wants her fainting spell to convey?
Macbeth is loyal to Duncan, suspicious, and cautious Macduff becomes an important character in the three remaining acts. Describe how Shakespeare characterizes him in scenes 3 and 4.
The mood is depressing, tragic. Images of blood include murder of Duncan, blood dagger, the blood on Macbeth and Lady Macbeth’s hands. Macbeth says Neptune’s ocean couldn’t wash away the blood. (Blood= death) ( Water= cleansing of guilt) What would you say is the mood of Act II? What images and actions help to create this mood? Why might images of blood and water appear in scene 2? What do they symbolize?
Macbeth kills the guards, lady macbeth faints, macduff becomes suspicious, and Malcolm and donalbain leave the country A terrible murder is committed in this act. How do various characters respond to the violence? How would people today react to the news that a ruler has been assassinated in cold blood and that a nation is in political chaos?
Not important in progressing story In some productions of Macbeth, scene 4 is cut. Why would this be done? Is there any dramatic purpose for keeping it? Why do you think the Old Man is included in the scene? Hint: you may need to re-read the scene to answer this question.
Hail King Macbeth; he becomes king What title would you give Act III? Why is it an appropriate title?
He is accustomed to murder but becoming more devious in his planning and arranging of the crime Why do you suppose Shakespeare did not have Macbeth kill Banquo with his own hands, as he killed Duncan and his two guards? What can you infer about Macbeth’s changing character after seeing how he engages in this complex plan involving professional murderers?
Lady Macbeth planned the first murderer, but Macbeth plans Banquo’s murder without consulting her. They were very close as they planned and carried out Duncan’s murder, and now she is not in his confidence. Perhaps their feeling of guilt and their growing distrust of others have eroded their trust in each other The relationship between Macbeth and Lady Macbeth has hanged in several ways since they became rulers of Scotland. Find details in this act that reveal some of these changes. What reasons can you suggest for these changes?
Metaphorical commentary In Scene 2, Macbeth describes his surroundings by saying, “Light thickens, / and the crow / Makes wing to th’ rooky wood.” How can these remarks also be seen as a metaphorical commentary on the events of the play? What other remarks by Macbeth function in this way?
It is the first time that Macbeth’s plans have gone wrong and it leave open the possibility that Banquo’s descendants will be kings In Shakespeare’s tragedies, a turning point usually occurs in the third act. At this moment, something happens that moves the action ever downward to its tragic conclusion. How is Fleance’s escape a turning point in this play?
Leaves open the question of whether the ghost is real or Macbeth’s hallucination. This blurring also occurs in the witches’ scene and in the descriptions of the natural world’s response to Duncan’s murder How does the banquet scene blur the clear-cut and common-sense distinction that most of us make between the real and the imaginary? In what other scenes has this distinction also been blurred?
They want their sons to be king; Prophecy states that Banquo’s sons will be kings not Macbeth’s. So Lady Macbeth pushes at her husband to kill Banquo so Macbeth’s sons will be kings and not Banquo’s At the beginning of Scene 2, Lady Macbeth quietly tells herself, “Nought’s had, all’s spent, / Where our desire is got without content.” What does she mean? At this point, would her husband agree?
Having Banquo’s ghost appear on stage blurs the distinction between the real and the imaginary and shows the strong influence guilt can have on the mind of a murderer. Having no ghost at all emphasizes the banquet guests’ growing realization that Macbeth is seriously disturbed Nobody except Macbeth sees Banquo’s ghost. In some productions of the play, the ghost does not appear onstage; in others it does. If you were the director, which would you choose? What effect is created by having Banquo appear at the banquet, made up as a ghost? What is gained by having it appear as though no person motivates Macbeth’s terrifying behavior?
Those guilty of taking a life will be found out and will pay with their own lives. The line is relevant today in the debate over the death penalty and gang violence After his vision of Banquo’s ghost in Scene 4, Macbeth finally accepts that “blood will have blood.” What does this phrase mean? Is it relevant to today’s world?
When the witches met Macbeth in Act1, he was a hero returning from battle, having saved his nation from a traitor. Now, the first prophecies have been fulfilled, but he has become a murderer and a traitor himself, he has betrayed his country and his honor In this act, Macbeth seeks out the witches, just as they initiated the encounter in Act I. How has Macbeth’s situation changed since he last talked with the witches? How has his moral character deteriorated? Find lines and actions that support your interpretation.
Yes, the witches set in motion a chain of events. Macbeth resists as best as he can but fate overcomes him. No, Macbeth chooses to act of his own free will Do you think the witches have caused any of the changes in Macbeth’s character, either directly or indirectly? Explain.
Lady Macduff thinks her husband is a traitor and has abandoned his family. She is quick to judge and comes to the wrong conclusion. The boy is loyal, clever, and brave In Scene 2, the lines spoken by Macduff’s wife and son illustrate Shakespeare’s great skill at characterization. Using only a few words, he brings the woman and child to life. How would you describe Lady Macduff? How would you describe the boy?
The murderer sees Macduff as a traitor to Macbeth. Lady Macduff thinks Macduff is a traitor to his family and has abandoned them Both the murderer and Lady Macduff herself call Macduff a traitor. In what sense does each mean it? Do you think Macduff is a traitor in either sense?
Malcolm tests Macduff’s loyalty because he is prudent and suspicious, not naive as his father was In Scene 3, Malcolm and Macduff condemn the chaos that Macbeth’s rule has brought to Scotland, as if the disorder that Macbeth experiences in his own life has become Scotland’s. Does that happen today? Does the weakness or evil of political leaders become that of the nation itself? Explain your responses.
No, this murder puts Macbeth beyond redemption. It should be seen and acknowledged. Yes, it should be left to the audience’s imagination because imagination sometimes visualizes the act more shockingly The murder of Macduff’s small son is one of the most pitiful and shocking scenes in Shakespeare. Do you think it might have been better to have it reported after the fact rather than to have shown the carnage on stage? What would be lost and what would be gained by this change?
you must know your fatal flaw. Malcom knows his fatal flaw so that means that Malcom will be a good ruler according to Shakespeare. In Scene 3, Malcolm says that he will be an unfit ruler, despite the viciousness of Scotland’s current ruler, Macbeth. According to Shakespeare, what makes a good king? Do you think Malcolm’s self-awareness of his faults is a good or bad sign?
Just after killing Duncan, Macbeth says ” sleep no more, Macbeth has killed sleep” . Lady Macbeth does not sleep soundly because of her guilt Theatrically, the spectacle of Lady Macbeth walking in her sleep is one of the most striking scenes in the play. Why do you suppose Shakespeare has her walk in her sleep? How is this scene related to the remarks that Macbeth makes about sleep in Act II Scene 2, just after he kills Duncan.
Trying to wash the blood from her hands; putting their night clothes on so they do not look suspicious; the amount of blood from Duncan’s body. In the sleepwalking scene, Lady Macbeth refers to many of her waking experiences. The words “One: two” may refer to the moment in Act II, Scene I when she struck the bell signaling Macbeth to go kill Duncan. Find traces of other experiences in what she says while sleepwalking.
The nights seem longer because the anticipation of the day of the battle; death prevents the “day” from coming. At the end of Act IV, Malcolm says, “The night is long that never finds the day.” In what metaphorical sense does he use the terms night and day? How does this remark foreshadow the outcome of the play?
The point at which Macbeth finds out that Macduff was not “born” of woman. The last act of Macbeth contains the play’s climax – the most emotional and suspenseful part of the action – the moment when the characters’ conflict is finally resolved. Which part of Act V do you consider the climax? Explain.
” Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow” speech- He talks about life and how it is a short time before death. Shakespeare gave most of his tragic heroes an impressive dying speech in which they say something significant about their own life and death. Although he did not write such a speech for Macbeth, which speech of Macbeth’s from Act V do you think serves in the play as his dying speech? Why did you select this speech instead of others?
Macbeth’s Fatal Flaw Fatal flaw is ambition. While ambition can sometimes be a good thing, Macbeth’s ambition is so strong that he is willing to kill any person to get in his was of becoming king
Lady Macbeth’s Ambition and Hunger for Power Lady Macbeth is more ambitious than her husband and plots the murder of Duncan and won’t take “no” for an answer because of her thirst/hunger for power.
Supernatural Elements the 3 witches, when the witches gave prophecies to both Banquo and Macbeth, Macbeth’s hallucinations of the floating dagger, & also the appearance of the ghost of Banquo to Macbeth at the dinner.
Appearance Vs. Reality they lose sleep and Macbeth hallucinates(this is when he sees the dagger). Also, Lady MB thinks Duncan’s blood is on her hands
Fate Vs Free Will Macbeth may be fated to be king, but he decides on his own[free will] to murder Duncan to become king. This shows that fate may be predetermined, but free will determines how a people reach their destinies.
Kingship Macbeth is often called a tyrant and his dangerous amount of ambition would keep him from being a good king. Duncan also isn’t a good king because he trusts the wrong people (trusted the original Thane of Cawdor and also Macbeth)

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