120spacer.gif (56 bytes) Macbeth Questions
  1. Distrust, (or trust betrayed), is a major theme running through the play. Follow the tracks of mistrust or trust betrayed for any three major characters. Draw something to demonstrate what you write. Draw either to show your understanding of a situation, or from a character’s point of view (i.e., from within themselves).
  2. Macbeth and Lady Macbeth are repelled and revolted by their own actions, yet they seem compelled to continue down the road they tread. What is it they do which revolts or repels them, and what inspires these actions? (Try to really get inside the skin of the characters in your answer.)
  3. The roles of protagonist and antagonist are crafted here with considerable clarity. Do some research into classical Greek theatre and find out about the conventions of protagonist and antagonist. Then, discuss at least four major characters in the light of these conventions, citing Act, scene and line to support your arguments.
  4. The major roles of women are all ‘dark’ roles in the play. The witches are of the supernatural world, and Lady Macbeth is one of the strongest, most elaborate and darkly powerful in English theatre. Lady Macduff only enters so she may be killed. Are these legitimate roles for women at that time? (i.e., is this how Elizabethans would have understood women?) Compare these roles to modern serious roles for women in the theatre. (Please don’t bother with fluffo rubbish like Hollywood 911.)
  5. The belief in the power of self, of Macbeth, seems to be an echo of Beowulf. But Beowulf epitomises a good, grand, beneficial strength, while Macbeth is a terrible, weak, rotting weakness. Superficially, the two could be favourably compared but underneath there is a chasm of difference. Write about both the surface and the subtext.
  6. Macbeth hiring murderers seems to be a bit of a pathetic joke. Macbeth himself is a hypocrite of considerable proportion … he only has the alarm bell rung when he is threatened, not anyone else. What is it in himself that Macbeth fears? What does he need? What happens when he tries to get it?
  7. How does insanity develop within three players … Macbeth, Macduff and Lady Macbeth? What are the steps that lead to the insanity? Write a monologue to be delivered on a therapy couch by one of these characters. Deliver it in class.


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