Macbeth Test AP Lang

The theme that unchecked ambition leads to corruption is shown through Macbeth (he begins as a very brave, heroic and liked character. However, he has a mixture of ambition, bravery and self-doubt about his own power. This leads to him committing a lot of evil deeds)
The theme that there is a relationship between cruelty and masculinity is shown through Lady Macbeth, Macbeth and Malcolm (Lady Macbeth’s soliloquy shows that she believes being “unsexed” or removed of her feminine physical features would give her the ability to commit evil deeds and have power. When Macbeth is unable to murder Duncan, Lady Macbeth asks if he is even a man. This shows that she equates being a Man to being able to murder. Macbeth also eventually falls to believe this because he responds, ” I am a man” and he does several things to prove to Lady Macbeth that he is a man. When Macduff finds out that his family is murdered, Malcolm tells him that he should not cry but instead fight and get revenge, as a man would do. This shows that Malcolm equates manliness to being detached from emotion and using violence. )
There is a theme that maniness requires violence. However, Macduff contradicts this theme at one point when he says, ” I will fight like a man, but I will also feel it out like a man” He is saying that he must cry and feel sorrow for the death of his family too, not just act violently and suppress his tears. Why does Shakespeare include this when it contradicts the theme? To foil Macduff against Macbeth (Macduff acts as a character that highlights all of Macbeth’s flaws. One of Macbeth’s flaws is his belief that manliness means being violent and emotionless. This lead him to commit murder and eventually not care about his wife – shown in last few scenes. )
Motif: Hallucinations. What is their importance? (Visions and hallucinations recur throughout the play and serve as reminders of Macbeth and Lady Macbeth’s joint culpability for the growing body count. When he is about to kill Duncan, Macbeth sees a dagger floating in the air. Covered with blood and pointed toward the king’s chamber, the dagger represents the bloody course on which Macbeth is about to embark. Later, he sees Banquo’s ghost sitting in a chair at a feast, pricking his conscience by mutely reminding him that he murdered his former friend. The seemingly hardheaded Lady Macbeth also eventually gives way to visions, as she sleepwalks and believes that her hands are stained with blood that cannot be washed away by any amount of water.) Show guilt that overcomes Macbeth and Lady Macbeth
Motif: Violence. What is its importance? To show that ambition can lead to violence and using violence is always going to end chaotically
Motif: Prophecies. What is its importance? To show that it pushes Macbeth to his fall even more. Supports the idea that Macbeth doesn’t have a dispositional evil but a situational evil, one that reveals itself because of the prophecies that give Macbeth confidence. Some are self-fulfilled prophecies while others are definitely not self-fulfilled. This adds an element of mystery to the witches.
Symbol: Blood. What is its importance? (Blood is everywhere in Macbeth, beginning with the opening battle between the Scots and the Norwegian invaders, which is described in harrowing terms by the wounded captain in Act 1, scene 2. Once Macbeth and Lady Macbeth embark upon their murderous journey, blood comes to symbolize their guilt, and they begin to feel that their crimes have stained them in a way that cannot be washed clean. “Will all great Neptune’s ocean wash this blood / Clean from my hand?” Macbeth cries after he has killed Duncan, even as his wife scolds him and says that a little water will do the job (2.2.58-59). Later, though, she comes to share his horrified sense of being stained: “Out, damned spot; out, I say . . . who would have thought the old man to have had so much blood in him?” she asks as she wanders through the halls of their castle near the close of the play (5.1.30-34). Blood symbolizes the guilt that sits like a permanent stain on the consciences of both Macbeth and Lady Macbeth, one that hounds them to their graves.
`Symbol: the weather. What is its importance? (As in other Shakespearean tragedies, Macbeth’s grotesque murder spree is accompanied by a number of unnatural occurrences in the natural realm. From the thunder and lightning that accompany the witches’ appearances to the terrible storms that rage on the night of Duncan’s murder…. )` these violations of the natural order reflect corruption in the moral and political orders.
Explain the following quote: The raven himself is hoarse That croaks the fatal entrance of Duncan Under my battlements. 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. Make thick my blood, Stop up th’access and passage to remorse, That no compunctious visitings of nature Shake my fell purpose, nor keep peace between Th’ effect and it. Come to my woman’s breasts, And take my milk for gall, you murd’ring ministers, Wherever in your sightless substances You wait on nature’s mischief. Come, thick night, And pall thee in the dunnest smoke of hell, That my keen knife see not the wound it makes, Nor heaven peep through the blanket of the dark, To cry ‘Hold, hold!’ Lady Macbeth is clearly willing to do whatever is necessary to seize the throne. Her strength of purpose is contrasted with her husband’s tendency to waver. This speech shows the audience that Lady Macbeth is the real steel behind Macbeth and that her ambition will be strong enough to drive her husband forward. At the same time, the language of this speech touches on the theme of masculinity— “unsex me here / . . . / . . . Come to my woman’s breasts, / And take my milk for gall,” Lady Macbeth says as she prepares herself to commit murder. The language suggests that her womanhood, represented by breasts and milk, usually symbols of nurture, impedes her from performing acts of violence and cruelty, which she associates with manliness. Later, this sense of the relationship between masculinity and violence will be deepened when Macbeth is unwilling to go through with the murders and his wife tells him, in effect, that he needs to “be a man” and get on with it.
Explain the following quote:If it were done when ’tis done, then ’twere well It were done quickly. If th’assassination Could trammel up the consequence, and catch With his surcease success: that but this blow Might be the be-all and the end-all, here, But here upon this bank and shoal of time, We’d jump the life to come. But in these cases We still have judgement here, that we but teach Bloody instructions which, being taught, return To plague th’inventor. This even-handed justice Commends th’ingredience of our poisoned chalice To our own lips. He’s here in double trust: First, as I am his kinsman and his subject, Strong both against the deed; then, as his host, Who should against his murderer shut the door, Not bear the knife myself. Besides, this Duncan Hath borne his faculties so meek, hath been So clear in his great office, that his virtues Will plead like angels, trumpet-tongued against The deep damnation of his taking-off, And pity, like a naked new-born babe, Striding the blast, or heaven’s cherubin, horsed Upon the sightless couriers of the air, Shall blow the horrid deed in every eye That tears shall drown the wind. I have no spur To prick the sides of my intent, but only Vaulting ambition which o’erleaps itself And falls on th’other. Macbeth is contemplating whether or not he should kill Duncan. He lists Duncan’s good qualities, which show just how terrible the murder is. He also acknowledges that the reason he must murder Duncan is because of his ambition, however he uses it as an excuse rather than acknowledging that it is his weakness. He goes on about how he is afraid of the disorder that would come from Duncan’s murder. He fears the same might happen to him, which foreshadows the end of the play where Macbeth is drowning in trouble and is overthrown. This quote supports the theme of unchecked ambition leading to corruption.
Explain the following quote: Whence is that knocking?— How is’t with me, when every noise appals me? What hands are here! Ha, they pluck out mine eyes. 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. He is guilty and paranoid. Macbeth says this in Act 2, scene 2, lines 55-61. He has just murdered Duncan, and the crime was accompanied by supernatural portents. Now he hears a mysterious knocking on his gate, which seems to promise doom. (In fact, the person knocking is Macduff, who will indeed eventually destroy Macbeth.) The enormity of Macbeth’s crime has awakened in him a powerful sense of guilt that will hound him throughout the play. Blood, specifically Duncan’s blood, serves as the symbol of that guilt, and Macbeth’s sense that “all great Neptune’s ocean” cannot cleanse him—that there is enough blood on his hands to turn the entire sea red—will stay with him until his death. Lady Macbeth’s response to this speech will be her prosaic remark, “A little water clears us of this deed” (2.2.65). By the end of the play, however, she will share Macbeth’s sense that Duncan’s murder has irreparably stained them with blood.
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 had so much blood in him? These words are spoken by Lady Macbeth in Act 5, scene 1, lines 30-34, as she sleepwalks through Macbeth’s castle on the eve of his battle against Macduff and Malcolm. Earlier in the play, she possessed a stronger resolve and sense of purpose than her husband and was the driving force behind their plot to kill Duncan. When Macbeth believed his hand was irreversibly bloodstained earlier in the play, Lady Macbeth had told him, “A little water clears us of this deed” (2.2.65). Now, however, she too sees blood. She is completely undone by guilt and descends into madness. It may be a reflection of her mental and emotional state that she is not speaking in verse; this is one of the few moments in the play when a major character—save for the witches, who speak in four-foot couplets—strays from iambic pentameter. Her inability to sleep was foreshadowed in the voice that her husband thought he heard while killing the king—a voice crying out that Macbeth was murdering sleep. And her delusion that there is a bloodstain on her hand furthers the play’s use of blood as a symbol of guilt. “What need we fear who knows it when none can call our power to account?” she asks, asserting that as long as her and her husband’s power is secure, the murders they committed cannot harm them. But her guilt-racked state and her mounting madness show how hollow her words are. So, too, does the army outside her castle. “Hell is murky,” she says, implying that she already knows that darkness intimately. The pair, in their destructive power, have created their own hell, where they are tormented by guilt and insanity.
She should have died hereafter. There would have been a time for such a word. 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. These words are uttered by Macbeth after he hears of Lady Macbeth’s death, in Act 5, scene 5, lines 16-27. Given the great love between them, his response is oddly muted, but it segues quickly into a speech of such pessimism and despair—one of the most famous speeches in all of Shakespeare—that the audience realizes how completely his wife’s passing and the ruin of his power have undone Macbeth. His speech insists that there is no meaning or purpose in life. Rather, life “is a tale / Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, / Signifying nothing.” One can easily understand how, with his wife dead and armies marching against him, Macbeth succumbs to such pessimism. Yet, there is also a defensive and self-justifying quality to his words. If everything is meaningless, then Macbeth’s awful crimes are somehow made less awful, because, like everything else, they too “signify nothing.”

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