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.
Macbeth is a dark, relentless tale of a good andbrave Scottish general who, encouraged by thedark prophesies of three evil witches and by hisown wife, murders Duncan, king of Scotland.Macbeth then becomes king and brings abouthis own destruction.
Shakespeare wrote the play 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 is an interesting character to follow. As you read,you can see how he has changed. We first meet Macbeth asa brave soldier and later find him as a murderer who killseveryone who is in his way of the throne.Lady Macbeth is also a well-developed character.She is conniving and ruthless,though she does seem to havesome humane qualities.
The play opens in Scotland. Macbeth and Banquo havedefeated their enemies in battle, leading King Duncan to givethe title of thane of Cawdor to Macbeth (who doesn’t know thisyet).Next, Macbeth and Banquo encounter three chanting witches.The witches speak to Macbeth as thane of Glamis, thane ofCawdor, and king hereafter. They alsotell Banquo that though hewill not be king, he will beget kings(i.e., his sons will be kings).Macbeth wonders about this predictionas the king’s messenger arrives. He tellshim that he has been appointed thaneof Cawdor. Macbeth is momentarilytempted to kill the king in order to fulfillthe prophesy, but he decides not to.
Lady Macbeth, however, urges herhusband to kill the king. Since theking is staying at their castleovernight, that must be when they killhim. She plans the whole thing,making the king’s guards drunk. Byusing their daggers to kill the king andputting the king’s blood on them, LadyMacbeth will frame the guards. It isnow time for Macbeth to stab the king.Though he has bad visions andfeelings, Macbeth kills the king.Afterwards, he is troubled. "I amafraid to think what I have done; Lookon ‘t again I dare not," he says.
The next morning, the murder is blamed on theguards. Macbeth kills them before they canprotest, explaining that he killed them out ofrage. The king’s sons, however, are still fearfulfor their lives and run away. Macbeth iscrowned king. Macbeth knows that Banquo issuspiciousof him. When Macbeth learns that Banquo andhis son are out riding, he sends men out to killthem. They are only half successful in their job,and Banquo’s son, Fleance, escapes.Meanwhile, at Macbeth’s ball, the seat forBanquo is empty (because he’s dead). In theempty seat, the ghost of Banquo appears,frightening Macbeth badly.
Macbeth also learns that King Duncan’s son Malcolm andLord Macduff are attempting to kill him. Unsure of what to do,Macbeth visits the three witches again. The witches, alongwith their queen Hecate, have planned what they will tellMacbeth in order to destroy him. They prepare a brew,singing, "Double, double, toil and trouble; Fire burn andcauldron bubble." When Macbeth arrives, they give him falsehope, telling him three things. First, beware of Macduff.Second, “None of woman born shall harm Macbeth." Third,Macbeth will not be conquered until Birnam wood comes tothe hill of Dunsinane. They also tell Macbeth that Banquo’sdescendents will become kings.
Macduff has left for England, so Macbeth sends people to kill hiswife and children. In England, Macduff befriends the dead king’sson, Malcolm, after they are sure of the other’s loyalty.Lady Macbeth has begun sleepwalking because her conscienceweighs too heavily on herself. She tells about her crimes and themurder of the king, unaware that her doctor and waiting woman arewatching her. She later dies, possibly from suicide.
The invaders from England have come to defeat Macbeth. Thesoldiers carry boughs from Birnam Wood in order to camouflagethemselves. So, the witch’s prophesy of defeat when "Birnamforest come to Dunsinane" starts to become true. Macbeth thenfaces Macduff, but isn’t really scared. He has been told that hewill not die from anyone woman born. But then Macduff tells himthat he was not woman born; he was "from his mother’s wombuntimely ripp’d". When Macbeth realizes that he has been tricked,he gives up and is killed. Macduff decapitates him, and KingDuncan’s son becomes the new king of Scotland.
Macbeth CharactersMacbeth: brave general under Duncan who becomes tooambitious after three witches prophesy that he will beKing of Scotland. He turns to evil.Lady Macbeth: vicious wife of Macbeth, even moreambitious than Macbeth. She convinces Macbeth tomurder the King. Later, she becomes insane from herwrongdoings and sleepwalks.
Macduff: A general, believes that Macbethkilled the King. His family is murdered.Banquo: Macbeth’s friend and general,suspected Macbeth of killing the King.Fleance: Banquo’s son, who survivesMacbeth’s attempt to murder him.
King Duncan: King of Scotland, murdered byMacbeth who was one of his generals whom hehad just promoted.Malcolm: Duncan’s eldest son, runs away toEngland after he learns of his father’s murder inorder to escape the same fate.
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, runs away toIreland after he learns of his father’s murder inorder to escape the same fate
Ross: Macduff’s cousin, messenger whocarries news to people like Macbeth andMacduff throughout the play.Lennox: A nobleman, suspicious of themurder of the king
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 against Macbeth.Young Siward: Old Siward’s son.
The Murderers: A group of ruffians conscripted by Macbeth to murder.Lady 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.