Macbeth Study Guide

Disguise/deceit A character that can actually be dressed up to foul another. Someone who breaks the trust of another and convinces of them of something that is not true. Someone that turns their back on others (Seen through Lady Macbeth and Macbeth deceiving Duncan, Banquo, and basically the whole society)
The supernatural Connected to disguise/deceit; has to do with people/creatures that have powers and are not from our world
5 act structure A 5 act structure is how most of shakespeare’s plays are set up. Ex: Act one reveals the characters and conflicts etc.
rise of one character at the expense of the fall of another as someone gains power etc. another loses theirs (seen through Macbeth and Duncan)
soliloquy A long speech in which a character expresses personal emotions and deepest thoughts. The character is always alone and can often act as a humanizing effect
blank verse unrhymed iambic pentameter |little/loud| |lit/loud| |lil/loud| |lil/loud| |lil/loud|
paradox a statement that contradicts itself but is still true (ex: foul is fair and fair is foul)
aside a fake whisper where some characters don’t notice the whisperers talking
pun a play on similar sounding words
Historical: secession of feuding in Scotland After King Malcolm II of Scotland died, he proclaimed that he wanted his grandson Duncan to seceed him and take the throne. However, this went against Celtic beliefs of secession as the throne was supposed to be taken by the other branch of the family, Macbeth. Unfortunately for Macbeth, Duncan was crowned king of Scotland and took the throne. A few years after Duncan took the throne, Macbeth led an army against Duncan in battle and Macbeth personally killed Duncan and won the battle. Macbeth was then crowned king in Duncan’s place, however, unbenounced to Macbeth, Duncan’s son, Malcolm III was already planning revenge. Malcolm III then raised another army and killed Macbeth the same way that Macbeth had killed Duncan. (Similar to Macbeth, because Macbeth kills Duncan in order to get power but does not remain at power, which according to the three witches will also happen to Macbeth)
Historical: Scottish tradition of strong women Beginning with Viking culture, women were not bound to the home or farm and instead took greater freedom and independence. One of the most famous of these strong women was Aud. After her husband, Olaf who was the king of Ireland, died, Aud continued to rule Ireland by herself and held power for several years before moving to Iceland and starting the first dynasties there. This relates to the strong voice and independence of Lady Macbeth. Lady Macbeth does not wait around for her husband, but the opposite by persuading him to follow through with a devious plan to kill king Duncan.
Timeless Macbeth is seen as a timeless story because it is about how one person can easily be corrupted by narcissism and ambition. Also timeless cause people can relate to being anxious over a crime and timeless based on how Lady Macbeth is viewed as a women (becomes an empowering story for woman). Lastly, timeless cause relates to seeking power, fate vs. free will, violence
The Great Chain of Being The Great Chain of Being greatly influences Macbeth. In Macbeth it is very hard to leave one’s class, and things are set up according to religion and how high up you are in society. The people also believe that God is at the highest level and then the supernatural. Macbeth relates to it because shows when the rank in the real world is messed with, also affects the supernatural world (Seen through Macbeth killing Duncan. When Macbeth kills Duncan is causes disorder to the great chain of being. When Macbeth was told he would become king he was surprised because so hard to break out of one’s class.)
Witches The people in Macbeth are fascinated and fear the supernatural world/beings. In Macbeth, the witches play a huge role in determining the way people’s lives will play out. Macbeth fears the witches, but also looks for them as a form of guidance. Since they know the future, the witches also play a huge role in fate vs. free will. By telling people their fate, it interferes with it because people will try to make it happen as seen through Macbeth. The witches hold all the power in the story causing different events to happen. Also in this time period, witches provoked feelings of panic and suspicion. People would blame unexpected events on witches, and would often set out to hunt and kill witches.
why Shakespeare wrote about scottish history Shakespeare drew the plot for Macbeth from historical sources, and combined different stories and different dramas to create his own. Also, King James symbolised the union of the Scottish and English crowns, a union to which Shakespeare refers in the play.
Macbeth Macbeth is a Scottish general and the thane of Glamis who is influenced by the prophecy of three witches who tell him he will become thane of Cawdor than king. Macbeth is a powerful man who is willing to do whatever it takes to become and stay king. He is willing to kill countless people if it means becoming king. Macbeth is also influenced by many other characters and what they want. He is married to Lady Macbeth and his best friend is Banquo.
Lady Macbeth The wife of Macbeth. Defies gender roles. She is very ambitious and wants power more than Macbeth. Lady Macbeth convinces Macbeth to kill Duncan and take the throne. Lady Macbeth is wise and helpful and constantly helps clean up Macbeth’s messes that he makes. She is smart and cunning and will do what it takes to make it to the top.
Banquo Banquo is the best friend of Macbeth. He is brave and according to the prophecy, his son Fleance will become king. Banquo is very ambitious but does not feel the need to kill his way to the top. Banquo is betrayed by his best friend, Macbeth, and comes back as a ghost to haunt Macbeth. While being murdered, he tells his son, Fleance, to get revenge on who murdered him.
Three Witches Give the prophecies to Macbeth and Banquo. Play an influential role in fate vs. free will. Know the future and what will become over everyone
Duncan Was the king until murdered by Macbeth. Prompts Macbeth to have to kill more and more people to hide his tracks
Macduff A Scottish nobleman who suspects Macbeth. Macduff is super upset over the death of Duncan
Malcolm and Donalbain Son’s of Duncan; flee the country after finding out about the death of their father in fear that they will be targeted next
Fleance Banquo’s son; escapes the attack of the murderers

You Might Also Like