Objective To understand the historical background of Macbeth To reflect on the nature of ambition as a motivating force To discover “The Curse” of Macbeth
Do Now- Answer the following: Have you ever given in to temptation? Are you a superstitious person? Explain. How do you personally decide what is good and what is evil? What is the difference between greed and ambition? Do you believe “you reap what you sow”? Do you believe our lives are lead by fate or our actions alone?
Rate each statement on a scale of 1-10. 1 =disagree completely to 10 = agree wholeheartedly Be prepared to explain your reasoning.1. People who are striving to get ahead often step on other people.2. Being powerful usually is the same thing as being happy.3. One mistake can often lead to another.4. Everyone is capable of murder under the right circumstances.5. People who are involved in criminal activities can still feel love, fear, and concern for other people.
Shakespeare wrote Macbeth for James I,Englands new king, who had been king ofScotland.To please James, Shakespeare set the play inScotland, used many characters who wereJames ancestors, and included witches, asubject that James had written about.The play is Shakespeares shortest tragedy,probably because King James often fell asleepduring performances.
Shakespeares source for the story of Macbethwas The History and Chronicles of Scotland(1526), written by Hector Boece, a Scottishhistorian and humanist.(Many scholars question the factual reliability ofBoeces work, and point out that Shakespearetook liberties with Macbeths history for dramaticpurposes.)
The King of England in 1606 was James I, a Stuart.There was no Tudor successor to the throneof England. Therefore, Elizabeth I choseJames VI of Scotland to succeed her. Afterher death in 1603, James VI of Scotlandbecame James I of England.Elizabeth I had been instrumental in thedeath of her cousin, Mary Queen of Scots,who was beheaded.
On her deathbed, Elizabeth wanted to easeher way into Heaven, so she chose Mary’sson James to become the next King ofEngland.The appointment of James I was a goodpolitical move, unifying England andScotland under one King.
Macbeth: a tribute to King James I Shakespeare wrote Macbeth in 1606, during King James’ reign. King James was a devout advocate of the “Divine Right of Kings.” The setting is Scotland, King James’ homeland. Banquo was an ancestor of James and is shown in the play to be a virtuous person. James believed himself to be an expert on witchcraft. James had an interest in faith healing.
Macbeth: an appeal to Elizabethan people’s interestsShakespeare demonstrated the Elizabethan beliefthat the country is stable only if the King is goodand virtuous.Elizabethans believed that evil occurs in darkness,which is a recurring theme in Macbeth.Shakespeare included a lot of blood and murder,which the Elizabethans expected to see in a play.The play was considered a thriller – a threat to ananointed King and the perceived evil behind thethreat
History & Macbeth Macdonwald’s rebellion & the invasion of Sweno took place at different times— Shakespeare combined them Duncan is supposed to have been killed by four hired servants—Shakespeare has Macbeth commit the murder History represents Banquo as equal in guilt with Macbeth—Shakespeare whitewashes Banquo’s character as a compliment to King James
History makes no mention of Lady Macbeth—her character is almost wholly thecreation of ShakespeareIn history, Macbeth fled before Macduff—Shakespeare shows Macbeth bravelyfightingUsed Raphael Holinshed’s Chronicles ofEngland, Scotland, & Ireland as historicalreference for his plays
Before the Curtain Opens When the play begins, there are two wars in progress:1. Civil War - King Duncan vs. Macdonwald’s rebels2. National War - Scotland, led by King Duncan, against invading Norway, led by King Sweno
SettingKing Duncan is the King of Scotland.Edward the Confessor is the King ofEngland.The time period is the eleventh century(1000-1099).Shakespeare used poetic license to bendsome of the historical information.
The Scottish PlayIt is believed to be bad luck to evensqueak the word ‘Macbeth’ in atheatreLegend has it you will lose all yourfriends involved in the production—horribly
Introduction to MacbethMacbeth is another one of Shakespeare’s great tragedies, based onHolinshed’s Chronicles of England, Scotland, and Ireland. It waswritten around 1605 but was not published in the first Folio until1623. It tells about the fall of the ambitious couple, Macbeth andLady Macbeth. Macbeth is the tragic hero, a character who has afatal (tragic)flaw within himself that he cannot change. He is not abad person; he is just too ambitious. Macbeth is a story about themurder of a king by his cousin, the revenge of a son (Malcolm),three witches who plot against Macbeth, and Macbeth’s rise andfall.
Macbeth CharactersMacbeth: brave general under Duncan who becomes tooambitious after three witches prophesy that he will beKing of Scotland.Lady Macbeth: vicious wife of Macbeth, even moreambitious than Macbeth.
Macduff: A generalBanquo: Macbeth’s friend and generalFleance: Banquo’s son
King Duncan: King of Scotland, promotesMacbeth to a higher rankMalcolm: Duncan’s eldest son
The three witches: They tell Macbeth thathe is to become King, leading him to evil.They also tell him that he will be defeated,but they disguise it in a way as to give him false confidence.
Hecate: moon goddess and goddess of thewitches, directs supernatural occurrences. Makesplan to give Macbeth false security.Donalbain: Duncan’s youngest son
Ross: Macduff’s cousin, messenger whocarries news to people like Macbeth andMacduff throughout the play.Lennox: A nobleman
Seyton: Macbeth’s lieutenant.Porter: watches Macbeth’s castle; when drunk, thought that he was the keeper of Hell’s Gates and that sinners were knocking at the door to be admitted.Old Siward: Earl of Northumberland, ally of Malcolm and Macduff.Young Siward: Old Siward’s son.
The Murderers: A group of ruffiansLady Macduff: Macduff’s wife. The scene in her castle provides our only glimpse of a domestic realm other than that of Macbeth and Lady Macbeth. She and her home serve as contrasts to Lady Macbeth and the hellish world of Inverness.