Structure In A Play
Opening section, introduces characters, provides background, sets scene. Exposition
Set in motion main action of plot Exciting Force
Builds up to climax, advances plot and develops characters/themes Rising Action
Sets into motion main events leading up to a tragedy. Climax/Turing Point
Progress’s toward catastrophe, further develops characters, builds suspension Falling Action
Death of protagonist, concludes play Catastrophe
– Three witches plan to meet Macbeth- Wounded Captain informs of Macbeth’s victory over the Norwegian King- Thane of Cawdor deemed a traitor- Macbeth named Thane of Cawdor What is the Exposition in Macbeth?
Witches prophesies What is the Exciting Force in Macbeth?
– Macbeth told he is Thane of Cawdor- Duncan announces Malcolm next in line to throne- Lady Macbeth gets Macbeth’s letter- Duncan comes to the castle What is the Rising Action in Macbeth?
Fleance escapes or Banquo’s ghost at the dinner What is the Climax in Macbeth?
Lady Macbeth dies, Lady Macduff’s death is a sub-plot What is the Falling Action in Macbeth?
Macbeth dies What is the Catastrophe in Macbeth?
Tragedy (Dictionary)- A serious accident, crime or natural catastropheTragedy (Literature)- A story of misfortune resulting in the death of a man of high estate What is the difference between our everyday definition of Tragedy and its role in literature?
Some aspect of the character that contribute to their downfall, Tragic Hero is usually responsible for his own death. What is Tragic Flaw?
Ambition or Power What is Macbeth’s Tragic Flaw?
Balancing of opposing terms What is a Antithesis?
– First performed for James the first (King of Scotland), His line of kings begins mythically with Banquo- Real Macbeth was a good king who defeated Duncan in battle What is some background to Macbeth?
– Said to be cursed b/c may have used a real witches curse- Witches seen as an inversion of the natural order and compact with the devil Why is Macbeth considered superstitious?
The function something serves in the play as a whole. It could be a character, scene or single line. What is Dramatic Purpose?
A discrepancy between what the character says and what he/she actual means What is Verbal Irony?
Feelings of sympathy for an innocent victim of misfortune What is Pathos?
A speech made by the character who is alone, or thinks they are alone. Often a kind of internal debate. What is a Soliloquy?
A.C Bradley’s View On Shakespearean Tragedy
The death of the main character is an important person of high authority who’s actions contribute to his/her’s downfall What does he believe about the main characters?
There actions are something the character does based on who they are as a person. Who they are and the circumstances determine their actions. What does he believe about the character’s actions?
Abnormal conditions such as ghosts, witches etc. cannot explain the character’s decision or actions. It may provoke ideas but you cannot argue that it was not your doing (the devil made me do it). What does he believe about abnormal conditions (ie. supernatural)?
Internal conflict is more important than external conflict. What does he believe about conflict?
We should feel sorry for the Tragic Hero even though they are out of the ordinary or exceptional because we can still relate to him. How does he believe we should feel towards the Tragic Hero?
Through our inner being or the things we find deep within ourselves, we just chose not to act upon our evil thoughts. How can we relate to the tragic character?
Macbeth is good at the beginning, but once he becomes obsessed with the prophesies his ambition is his downfall, at the end we feel sorry for him and that things could have gone so much different. How does Macbeth follow A.C Bradley’s thoughts?
Aristotle and his work entitled ‘The Poetics” How did Tragedy begin as a Literary form?
Evoke emotions of pity and fear and at the end these emotions disappear (Catharsis) What is the purpose of tragedy?
Complex- the tragic hero experiences some recognition of what has gone wrong, dying with a greater understanding of life How do you distinguish between a complex and simple tragedy?
Words that appeal to the senses What is Imagery?
Imagery that is repeated and forms a pattern in a work of literature. What is iterative imagery?
– Guilt, Lady Macbeth attempts to wash the guilt from her mind (hands) but the blood won’t go away. It evolves to representing honour and bravery to guilt What does Blood represent?
– Evil and the forces of darkness and sets a mood. Can be seen as represents the subconscious side of human evil. – Witches represent evil instruments of darkness causing Macbeth to act on his subconscious impulses of evil- It can also be used to show Lady Macbeth and Macbeth’s loneliness at the end of the play What does Night and Darkness represent?
– Represents guilt/loss of sleep and that the witches are impacting Macbeth and Lady Macbeth’s life. Cannot sleep because of guilty conscious. – murder, sleep, Macbeth will sleep no more doctor comes and lady Macbeth is sleep walking, unnatural, physical manifestation of what sleep represents. What does Sleep represent?
The animal imagery contributes to the atmosphere of darkness, violence and evil in the play. The animals are predatory or parasitic—snakes, rats, raven etc. What do Animals represent?
The repeated clothing imagery in the play acts as a measure of Macbeth’s status, often indicating that his position is not rightful. What does Clothing Represent?
1) Is it a key moment in the plot? What is its dramatic purpose (reveal character, give background, move plot)2) Does it tie into an important theme or idea (appearance VS reality)?3) Are their any interesting features (language, supernatural, setting)? What questions should you ask yourself when explaining the significance of a quotation?

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