Compare and Contrast

1. Shakespeare's women are not slaves or subordinates to the men in some of Shakespeare’s plays. They are complete characters in their own right; they influence other characters, and by so doing they influence the plot; they have dreams, ambitions, feelings, and desires; they are capable of sin and guilt, as well as joy and love; they (like men) can become tragic figures. With specific reference to scenes and events in the play, discuss how much of this is true for Lady Macbeth. Then compare her to another tragic heroine in Shakespeare, Ophelia. How are they similar? How are they different?

2. How is the story of Macbeth unique in it’s themes in Shakespeare? Plenty of plays have tragedy, death, and power, what makes Macbeth different?

 

Relational

1. Macbeth has not been a scoundrel all of his life. Instead he is a good man who has gone wrong. This is a real tragedy. Discuss this statement by focusing on Macbeth's good qualities some of which are used for the wrong purposes.

2. Banquo seemed to be Macbeth’s best friend at the beginning of the play. Discuss how and why Macbeth turned on his friend. Do you think if they had not met the witches Banquo would have survived the play? Who is really to blame for his death?

 

Textual

1. Themes or messages are very important to Shakespeare's plays. Discuss fully the development of one major theme or message the play has for its audience. Use evidence from the text to support your theory.

2. One of the themes of Macbeth is that wrongdoing has serious consequences. Discuss this statement with careful reference to the play and to the decline of both Lady Macbeth and Macbeth.

3. A writer such as Shakespeare was able to create in the reader a feeling (such as respect, sympathy, love, hate, admiration, or several of these together towards one or more characters. Choose a character in the play and write your feelings towards that character and explain how the author managed to make you feel as you do.

4. Shakespeare not only presents the actions of characters but also helps us to understand what motivates characters to act in the way that they do. Discuss the factors that motivate Macbeth's own ambitions. Use excerpts from the text to base your argument on.

 

Shakespeare’s World

1. In 1603 King James I became king of England. He was also King of Scotland and as a result the English subjects were unhappy with the idea of a Scottish man on the throne. Macbeth is thought to have been written in 1606. How does Macbeth reflect what may have been the attitude of Shakespeare and the rest of the English people?

2. It is well known that Richard Burbage, a well-known dramatic actor in Shakespeare’s troupe, the Lord Chamberlain’s Men, may have been the first person to play Macbeth. What does this tell us about Shakespeare’s writing process? How would writing for specific actors affect the types of characters he wrote?

3. How to you think the actors (all male) would have overcome the challenges of perform­ing this very dramatic script to a widely diverse audience (some very rich and some very poor), in the middle of the day, with no special effects? What would they have to do to keep their attention? How does Shakespeare’s arrangement of the action help?