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a teacher guide for studying the play and attending Southwest Shakespeare Companyís performance
a teacher guide for studying the play and attending Southwest Shakespeare Companyís performance
a teacher guide for studying the play and attending Southwest Shakespeare Companyís performance

a teacher guide for studying the play and attending Southwest Shakespeare Companyís performance

a teacher guide for studying the play and attending Southwest Shakespeare Companyís performance January 2008 Letter
a teacher guide for studying the play and attending Southwest Shakespeare Companyís performance January 2008 Letter

a teacher guide for studying the play and attending Southwest Shakespeare Companyís performance January 2008



General Information





About the Play



Helpful Tips for Seeing and Exploring Shakespeare ÖÖÖÖÖÖÖÖÖÖÖÖÖÖ.




Macbeth ñ Sources and History ÖÖÖÖÖÖÖÖÖÖÖÖÖÖÖÖÖÖÖÖÖÖÖÖÖ.






Classroom Applications

Anticipation and Reaction Guide ÖÖÖÖÖÖÖÖÖÖÖÖÖÖÖÖÖÖÖÖÖÖÖÖÖÖ


















Mosaic Educational Services, LLC

Dear Educator: Welcome to Southwest Shakespeare Companyís 14 season! We are thrilled to continue to provide

Dear Educator:

Welcome to Southwest Shakespeare Companyís 14 th season! We are thrilled to continue to provide quality matinee productions to Arizonaís students, and we are excited that you have chosen to bring your students to our performance of Macbeth, the second show in our season of ìUnlikely Couples.î

At first glance, the most ìunlikely coupleî of all would be the typical twenty-first century student and the Bard Ö a very unlikely couple, indeed! Todayís teenager is interested in surfing the ënet, texting, and listening to their iPods Ö definitely not reading the works of someone who died almost 400 years ago! But when these very modern teenagers are exposed to the works of Shakespeare, his timeless topics of finding love, lasting friendships, being betrayed, and finding redemption are relevant to their lives because of their own experiences with human nature. And we thank you, dear educators, for being committed to bringing Shakespeare alive to your students!

We hope you find the enclosed information, activities, and resources helpful and entertaining. If you have any suggestions for activities or topics not already found in this study guide, please feel free to contact me via e-mail at or by phone at 480.510.3808. We are always interested in hearing new ways to excite your students (and you!) about Shakespeare and live theatre.

Happy teaching!

Angee Lewandowski, Board Member Southwest Shakespeare Company Education Committee Chair

By viewing Southwest Shakespeare Companyís production of Macbeth, students can meet several of Arizona State Arts

By viewing Southwest Shakespeare Companyís production of Macbeth, students can meet several of Arizona State Arts Standards. In addition, the activities included in this teacherís guide, when implemented in the classroom along with other teacher-assigned reading and writing activities, will allow students to meet various Arizona State Standards in Writing, Reading, and Listening and Speaking.


Expository writing includes non-fiction writing that describes, explains, informs, or summarizes ideas and content (Concept Map, page 13; Act-By-Act Writing Topics, pages 15-17; Journal Writing, pages 18-21; Additional Activities, page 26).

Concept 3: Functional

Functional writing provides specific directions or information related to real-world tasks. This includes letters, memos, schedules, directories, signs, manuals, forms, recipes, and technical pieces for specific content areas (Additional Activities, page 26).

Concept 5: Literary Response

Literary response is the writerís reaction to a literary selection. The response includes the writerís

interpretation, analysis, opinion, and/or feelings about the piece of literature and selected elements within it (Act-By-Act Writing Topics, page 15-17; Journal Writing, pages 18-21; Additional Activities, page 26).

READING STANDARDS ñ STRAND 1: READING PROCESS Concept 6: Comprehension Strategies

Employ strategies to comprehend text (Anticipation & Reaction Guide, page 12; Concept Map, page 13).


Identify, analyze, and apply knowledge of the structure and elements of literature (Creating a Character,

page 22).

Concept 2: Historical and Cultural Aspects of Literature

Recognize and apply knowledge of the historical and cultural aspects of American, British, and world literature (Act-By-Act Writing Topics, pages 15-17; Journal Writing, pages 18-21, Additional Activities, page 26).


Standard 3: Students effectively listen and speak in situations that serve different purposes and involve a variety of audiences (Role Playing, page 14; Performing a Scene, pages 23-25).


Students describe physical and vocal attributes appropriate to the characters in the play in class and

professional performances (attending and discussing Southwest Shakespeare Companyís performance of Macbeth).

Students justify the perception of a performance and critique its production elements (attending and discussing Southwest Shakespeare Companyís performance of Macbeth).

Macbeth Resources Macbeth: For Kids by Lois Burdett; Firefly Books Ltd., Buffalo, NY: 2005. Written in

Macbeth Resources

Macbeth: For Kids by Lois Burdett; Firefly Books Ltd., Buffalo, NY: 2005. Written in rhyming couplets and illustrated by children, this is a great book for students of all ages. Perfect for students performing readersí theatre.

ìMACBETH: Read-Aloud Play for the Classroom,î Scholastic Scope Magazine: January 23, 2006, Volume 54, Issue 10, ISSN 0036-6412, pages 4-10. This is an easy to read adaptation of the play written in modern language. An excellent resource for increasing student understanding of the plot before reading the full text. Call 1-800-SCHOLASTIC for reprinting information.

No Fear Shakespeare: Macbeth; Spark Publishing, New York, NY: 2003. Presents the original text of Shakespeareís play side-by-side with a modern version; includes marginal notes and explanations along with full descriptions of each character. This is an especially useful tool for struggling readers.

Reference Books

Discovering Shakespeareís Language by Rex Gibson & Janet Field-Pickering The Friendly Shakespeare by Norrie Epstein How to Speak Shakespeare by Cal Pritner and Louis Colaianni Shakespeare From Page to Stage by Michael Flachmann Shakespeare: The Invention of the Human by Harold Bloom Shakespeare: To Teach or not to Teach by Cass Foster and Lynn G. Johnson Shaking Hands With Shakespeare by Allison Wedell Schumacher Teaching Shakespeare into the Twenty-First Century edited by Ronald E. Salomone

Picture Books

A Childís Portrait of Shakespeare by Lois Burdett All the Worldís A Stage by Rebecca Piatt Davidson Shakespeare for Kids: Macbeth by Lois Burdett William Shakespeare and the Globe by Aliki

Websites - see whatís new at Southwest Shakespeare Company - access to primary documents and lesson plans for teaching Shakespeare - this is the ìNo Fear Shakespeareî website that presents the original text of Shakespeareís plays side-by-side with a modern version. - includes links to sites designed for teaching Shakespeare using the Internet; great for finding secondary resources to support the play being taught - the official Stratford resource center on Shakespeare - on-line quizzes and surveys related to particular plays; also has related sites with information about Elizabethan England - a comprehensive site with links to the complete works, including background information, biographical information and pictures, information about Elizabethan theatre, a Shakespeare dictionary, quotes, and a discussion forum

These comments can be used to help you prepare your students to see Southwest Shakespeare Companyís

These comments can be used to help you prepare your students to see Southwest Shakespeare Companyís performance of Macbeth and may also answer any questions about changes or modifications made to the stage performance as compared to the written play.

Name of Production


Name of Director

Jared Sakren

In what time period is

The 11 th Century, which is the period of the original story.

this production set? Is this switched from


the original text? Have any characters been cut?


Have any characters been combined? Why?

Yes. Scholars can support the combining of the Bloody Sergeant, Macbethís Messenger, and Seyton into one since they all serve Macbeth and could easily have been intended as the same character.

Is there any cross-


gender casting? Have any characters or scenes been added?


Have any scenes been cut?

Yes. Act III, Scene 5 with the Witches and Hecate has been cut. The scene is extraneous and a bit hokey. Scholars do not believe it was written by Shakespeare and was probably added after his death.

Are there fight scenes?


Is there stage blood?



Yes, broadswords and daggers.

Are there love scenes?


Sexual innuendo?

Not really. Affectionate embraces and kisses only.

Other comments:

This is a fairly straightforward, traditional telling of the story. Smoke and fog effects are used and strong violence called for by Shakespeare in his writing. There are some supernatural aspects of the story, such as the so-called witches or Weird Sisters.

Before seeing the play Ö Before you see the characters of Macbeth brought to life on

Before seeing the play Ö

Before you see the characters of Macbeth brought to life on stage by the vision of the director, spend some time imagining your own version. Go back to the text of the play and look for clues that suggest what the characters might look like and how they might behave. What movie stars might you cast in the various roles? Where would you set the play? What would the characters wear? It is up to you Ö you are only limited by your imagination!

A director will often choose to ìdramatizeî a play by portraying a wordless scene that helps draw the audience into the action and mood. If you were directing Macbeth and wanted to dramatize a scene just prior to Act I, Scene 1 being spoken, what would your scene portray?

Before seeing the play Ö Before you see the characters of Macbeth brought to life on

ìNeither the professor nor the actor has a monopoly on Shakespeare. His genius is that he wrote

texts to be studied and scripts to be performed

--Leonora Eyre

After seeing the play Ö

Did your







characters change after seeing the live


If so, how?

Try to be very

specific about moments in the action that

affected you.

Which actor

best portrayed his/her

character? What made the performance so effective?

How was

the live production different

from the written play? What decisions did the director make about staging? Were these effective decisions? Wh y or why not?

What did


think of the production

values (sets, costumes, lighting, sound)? Did they help you to better understand the plot of the play?

If you would like to share your opinions or ask questions of the director, actors, or crew of play, send your letters to:

Southwest Shakespeare Company Education Committee P.O. Box 30595 Mesa, AZ 85275-0595

From the Witches entering through the ìfog and filthy airî to Macduff avenging the murder of
From the Witches entering through the ìfog and filthy airî to Macduff avenging the murder of

From the Witches


through the ìfog


filthy airî to Macduff avenging

the murder



family, the non-stop

action of Macbeth carries


through the story from one horrifying scene to another. In the shortest of his tragedies, Shakespeare draws us in with a protagonist whose murderous ambition and active imagination repulses yet fascinates us Ö because it is perhaps all too easy to see a little bit of Macbeth in ourselves.









characters, the three Witches, who agree to ìmeet with Macbethî when the latest battle has been ìlost and won.î This short scene sets the tone of the play and invites an intriguing question: are the witches going after Macbeth because of their own evil machinations Ö or was this a meeting that Macbeth arranged himself? To Shakespeareís audience, it would not have made a difference; they believed that evil spirits like the witches would appear when summoned, whether by our conscious or unconscious minds. However, to the modern audience, this makes all the difference because one viewpoint puts Macbeth in control of his actions (and thus a monster), while the other viewpoint makes him a victim of outside influences.

The next scene introduces us to Duncan, the King of Scotland. When Duncan learns that Macbeth has killed the traitor Macdonwald, he decides to give Macbeth the title of Thane of Cawdor, another traitor who is to be executed. This information is revealed to Macbeth and Banquo in the next scene when they encounter the Witches, who also predict that Banquo will be the father of kings. Macbethís imagination and ambition are sparked by their predictions, and he begins to imagine himself as king, and what needs to be done to attain the crown.

After reading a letter sent to her by her husband describing what the Witches predicted, Lady Macbeth prepares herself to convince Macbeth that he should do whatever it takes to be king. She encourages Macbeth to kill Duncan while he is visiting their castle, Inverness. And thus the plot is set in motion: with the prediction of the Witches and the support of his wife, Macbeth resolves to kill Duncan, which begins the bloody trail of bodies that leads to his own destruction.

ìThe sublimity of Macbeth and Lady Macbeth is overwhelming: they are persuasive and valuable personalities, profoundly in love with each other.

Indeed, with surpassing irony Shakespeare presents them as the happiest married couple in all his work.

And they are anything but two fiends, despite their dreadful crimes and deserved catastrophes. So rapid Ö is their play that we are given no leisure to confront their descent into hell.î

--Harold Bloom

Shakespeare: The Invention of the Human

From the Witches entering through the ìfog and filthy airî to Macduff avenging the murder of



witches, apparitions,

Enlivened by witches, apparitions, prophecies, sword fights, sensational murders, and a bloody, severed head, Macbeth

prophecies, sword fights, sensational murders, and a bloody, severed head, Macbeth is one of Shakespeareís most spectacular and frequently produced plays. It also provides a fascinating glimpse into two important chronological periods: the history of medieval Scotland and the reign of James I.

Shakespeareís principle source for his plot was Raphael Holinshedís Chronicles of Scotland (1587), which was itself indebted to earlier histories by Hector Boece, John of Fordun, and Andrew of Wyntoun. By the time the story of Macbethís reign (1040-1057) reached Holinshed, it had become more fiction than fact. Shakespeareís script omits, for example, Macbethís legitimate claim to the throne and his ten years as a good ruler between the murders of Duncan and Banquo, while the play makes Duncan older and more reverent in order to blacken the guilt of the usurper and his murderous wife. Enough historical similarities remain, however, to allow audiences an unflinching look at the brutality and lust for power extant in eleventh-century Scotland.

Written soon after the death of Queen Elizabeth in 1603, the script commemorates the accession of her successor to the throne of England through its focus on the Scottish heritage of James I, his notorious bouts with insomnia, and his interest in witchcraft and magic (evidenced by the kingís publication of a treatise entitled Demonology in 1597). Shakespeare even provides a fictitious genealogical line of descent through which James becomes a descendant of Banquoís son, Fleance, thereby dignifying his reign through antiquity.

Published in the 1623 First Folio edition of Shakespeareís plays, Macbeth was probably written and first performed in 1606, soon after the infamous Gunpowder Plot, a conspiracy by Catholic extremists to blow up the Parliament building and all the heads of state on November 5, 1605. The many references to Jesuits, equivocation, and the role of divine providence in protecting the realm all point to Shakespeareís use of this specific historical event, which is now celebrated throughout England as Guy Fawkes Day. Although the play was initially produced in 1606, the first historical evidence of a performance at the Globe Theatre occurs in April 1611, when the astrologer Simon Forman recorded it in his diary.

Macbeth has remained one of Shakespeareís most popular plays for nearly four hundred years. It even has its own superstitious mystique, which forbids actors from saying the name ìMacbethî inside a theatre lest it bring down a curse upon them.

--Michael Flachmann

Shakespeare: From Page to Stage

ì Macbeth is visually dark, a Shakespearean film noir Ö the play opens on a ëblasted
ì Macbeth is visually dark, a Shakespearean film noir Ö the play opens on a ëblasted

ìMacbeth is visually dark, a Shakespearean film noir Ö the play opens on a ëblasted heath,í where the air is so filthy and foggy (like the smoky streets of Los Angeles in a classic film noir) that one can barely see. Visual obscurity here suggests moral ambiguity, the boundaries between good and evil incomprehensibly blurred.î

--Norrie Epstein

ìThe universal reaction to Macbeth is that we identify with him, or at least his imagination Ö Shakespeare rather dreadfully sees to it that we are Macbeth; our identity with him is involuntary but inescapable. Macbeth terrifies us partly because that aspect of our own imagination is so frightening.î

--Harold Bloom

ìIn no other Shakespearean play do we identify to such an extent with the evildoer himself Ö Macbeth is more like us Ö Evil is presented first as (an) illusory promise of gain, then as a frenzied addiction to the hated thing by which we are possessed.î

--David Bevington

ìOn an obvious level Macbeth is free to refrain from murdering Duncan. On an only slightly less obvious level he was bound to do it. One does not have to opt for one of these versions of the play, for they are both intolerably superficial. What Shakespeare makes us feel, and feel inwardly, is the extremely tenuous division between the 'free' act and the 'determined' one, and the imaginative possibility of a world in which the balance has been imperceptibly tipped towards evil, so that man writhes and sprawls vainly on a greased slope that ends in perdition.î

--Wilbur Sanders

ìTo mankind in general Macbeth and Lady Macbeth stand out as the supreme type of all that a host and hostess should NOT be.î --Max Beerbohm

Shakespeare and Macbeth by the Numbers

BORN: April 23, 1564, in Stratford-upon- Avon, England

DIED: April 23, 1616 (on his 42 nd birthday)

PLAYS: 37 (give or take) ñ 10 tragedies, 10 histories, 13 comedies, and 4 romances; however, it is possible that he may have written a few more!

260: Hours it takes to read the 936,443 words in The Complete Works of William Shakespeare, if you read at the rate of 60 words per minute

18,301: Number of spoken words in the uncut version of Macbeth*

24: Number of times the word ìbloodî appears in Macbeth ñ more than in any other Shakespeare play**

1 PENNY: Price of the cheapest theatre ticket in Shakespeareís day

90%: Percentage of U.S. high schools that require the study of Shakespeare

* according to the Complete Public Domain Text ** according to Scholastic Scope Magazine, January 2006 issue

Is MACBETH really cursed? Jared Sakren, SSCís Artistic Director, shares some of the events that have

Is MACBETH really cursed? Jared Sakren, SSCís Artistic Director, shares some of the events that have led many people to believe that the play is truly cursed. After reading this, you can decide for yourself!

My mentor John Houseman once related a story about his experiences with Orson Welles when they produced the first professional African-American production of a Shakespeare play. Often referred to as The Voodoo Macbeth because it was set in Haiti, they had employed actual voodoo drummers. After the play opened, the only bad review they got was from Percy Hammond, drama critic of the New York Herald Tribune, who vilified the production. At the theatre, John was met by the group of drummers who, pointing at the newspaper review, asked, ìHe bad man?î Houseman replied, ìYes, he bad man.î ìHe VERY bad man?î they asked again. Houseman said, ìYes, he VERY bad man.î The next day Houseman and Welles returned to the theatre to be told by the theatre manager that the drummers had been up all night drumming and chanting in the basement. John and Orson looked at each other with amazement, for in that afternoonís paper, it was reported that the critic, Percy Hammond, had been taken ill and hospitalized. He died within the week.

The so-called ìcurse of Macbeth,î which forces many in the theatre to refer to it as ìThe Scottish Playî for fear of bringing ìsomething wickedî upon themselves, is the stuff of theatre legend. In the very first known production of the play in 1606, Hal Berridge, the boy who played Lady Macbeth, died backstage. Itís reported that Shakespeare himself had to go on in the role. In Amsterdam in 1672, the actor playing Macbeth substituted the blunt stage dagger with a real one, and with it killed the actor playing Duncan right in front of the live audience.

In his last performance on stage, the great Elizabethan actor Edward Alleyn claimed he saw a fourth Witch. He retired. In 1849, supporters of rival actors, the American Edwin Forrest and the British John Macready, rioted in front of the theatre in which Macready was appearing as Macbeth. Thirty- one people were killed. In 1934, the Scottish Play went through four different lead actors in ONE WEEK at the Old Vic. Also in 1934, British actor Malcolm Keen turned mute on stage and his replacement developed a high fever and had to be hospitalized. Both the director and the actress playing Lady Macduff were involved in a car accident on the way to the theatre, and the proprietor of the theatre died of a heart attack during the dress rehearsal.

In the 1937 Old Vic production starring Laurence Olivier and Judith Anderson, Michel Saint-Denis (another of my mentors at Julliard) nearly died in a traffic accident. Olivier himself almost died when a falling sandbag just missed his head. In addition, Olivierís sword broke on stage, flew into the audience, and hit a man who later suffered a heart attack. Just before the production opened, the favorite dog of Lilian Baylis, the theatreís founder, died. The next day, Lilian Baylis herself died. In the Stratford Festival production of 1938, an old man had both his legs broken by his own car in the parking lot and Lady Macbeth ran her car through a store window.

In 1942, three actors in another production of Macbeth died, and the costume and set designer committed suicide. Diana Wynyard sleepwalked off the rostrum in 1948 and fell down 15 feet. In Bermuda, 1953, Charlton Heston suffered severe burns on his groin and leg from tights that were accidentally soaked in kerosene. An actorsí strike crippled Rip Tornís 1970 production in New York City; two fires and seven robberies plagued the 1971 version; and, Kenneth Campbell, who played Macduff, was mugged soon after the playís opening in the 1981 production.

And finally, Abraham Lincoln was reading Macbeth to a group of friends ñ the scene following the one in which Duncan was assassinated. A week later, President Lincoln was assassinated.

Part One : Before seeing or reading the play Macbeth , read the statements below. Write

Part One: Before seeing or reading the play Macbeth, read the statements below. Write an ìAî if you agree with the statement, a ìDî if you disagree, or a ì?î if you are unsure. Then write a brief explanation for each of your decisions. After you have finished reading and/or seeing the play, revisit the statements and see if you would change your responses.





Disagree Strongly



Agree Strongly















You canít always be in control of what you do because some things are ìmeantî to happen.




People are in charge of their own lives; fate has nothing to do with it.




It is inevitable that people will let power go to their heads; absolute power corrupts absolutely. Explanation:


If you love someone, you will do what he/she asks you to do.




You can always choose to do the right thing.




If you want to succeed, you have to remove the obstacles that are in your way, no matter the consequences.




There is no such thing as pure evil; everyone has a conscience.




Covering up a lie is easier than telling the truth.




Revenge is sometimes necessary.




Guilt is a powerful emotion.



Part Two: What reactions would Macbeth, Lady Macbeth, Macduff, or the Witches have to these same statements? After reading and/or seeing the play, respond to these statements from the viewpoint of one of these characters. Then, taking on the role of the character, debate these issues!

BEFORE/DURING READING: Circle one of the concepts in the middle box and complete the graphic organizer.

BEFORE/DURING READING: Circle one of the concepts in the middle box and complete the graphic organizer. Add information to your concept map if your opinions develop or change as you read Macbeth.













AFTER READING: What role did this concept play in Macbeth? Which character exemplified this concept? Cite specific examples from the play to support your opinion.

With a partner or a small group, develop a role-play based upon one of the scenarios

With a partner or a small group, develop a role-play based upon one of the scenarios below. All of the scenarios are related to issues in Macbeth. The purpose of this activity is to get you thinking about these issues before reading the play so you can relate to what the characters are going through.

After you role-play, stay in the role so that your classmates and teachers can ask you questions. Construct a scene based upon the following situations:

  • 1. Imagine that you are trying to decide whether to do something you know is very wrong, but which will benefit you. A friend says, "Come on, just do it. Do you want to be a loser all your life?"

  • 2. Again, imagine that you are trying to decide whether or not to do something you know is very wrong, but will benefit you. Your friend says, "Yeah, that's a tough decision, but if you don't do it, someone else will, so you might as well do it."

  • 3. You have done something illegal and then gotten caught. You now have a choice either to admit that you did it or tell a lie to cover it up. How far would you be willing to go to cover up your own wrongdoing? What role does fear play in your choice of action? What other considerations weigh in your decision?

With a partner or a small group, develop a role-play based upon one of the scenarios

Act I

Shakespeare commands our attention immediately with thunder, lightning, and the appearance of the three Witches, the ìWeird Sisters.î How does this brief yet intense scene set the tone for the rest of the play?

Throughout the play,




great deal of comparison between opposites,



established in the first scene by the lines, ìWhen the battleís lost and wonî and ìFair is foul, and foul is fair.î In your own words, explain how a battle could be ìlostî and ìwonî and how ìfairî could be ìfoul.î

Macdonwald is a traitor because he joined forces with the Irish against Duncan. Macbeth defeats Macdonwald and ìunseamed him from the nave to thí chaps/And fixed his head upon our battlementsî (sliced him from his navel to his jaw, cut his head off, and stuck it on the castle wall). King Duncanís reaction is ìO valiant cousin, worthy gentleman!î Does this description of Macbethís behavior make you think he is a loyal subject willing to do whatever it takes to defend his king, or is he simply capable of great violence? How is Macbethís behavior both ìfairî and ìfoul,î considering which point of view you take?

Not only was Macdonwald a traitor, but the Thane of Cawdor was also a traitor by joining forces with the King of Norway. What does this suggest to you about the state of affairs in Scotland?

Shakespeare opens Scene 3 with the Witches discussing evil deeds they have been up to or are thinking about doing. Considering that Shakespeareís audience truly believed in witches, compare and contrast the way his audience and a modern audience could react to this scene.

The Witches predict that Macbeth will be king and that Banquoís children will be kings.

Which do you think would

be better:




ruler yourself or your children


grandchildren to be future rulers? Why do you think this?


How do Banquo and Macbeth differ in their reactions to the Witchesí predictions?


Although he did not need to kill the Thane of Cawdor to earn that title, Macbethís thoughts immediately turn to thinking of murdering Duncan to earn the title of king. What does this reveal about Macbethís character and the effect the Witchesí predictions have on him?

In Scene 4, Macbeth considers the necessity of murdering Malcolm, Duncanís son, after Duncan gives the title of Prince of Cumberland to Malcolm: ìThe Prince of Cumberland ñ that is a step/On which I must fall down or else oíerleap,/For in my way it lies.î Thinking about Macbethís behavior so far in the play, do you think he is a cold-blooded murderer, or is he a victim of the Witches/Fate?

What does Lady Macbeth mean when she says of Macbeth, ìYet do I fear thy nature./It is too full oí thí milk of human kindness/To catch the nearest way.î Based on his actions thus far, does Macbethís nature really seem full of ìhuman kindnessî? What does this tell you about Lady Macbethís character?

Lady Macbethís soliloquy in Scene 5 that begins ìThe raven himself is hoarse,î has been viewed by some scholars as a frightening expression of unnatural evil and somewhat misogynistic. How do you interpret this speech? Does she hate being a woman? Is she truly evil? Or is she extremely ambitious and willing to do whatever it takes to get her husband on the throne?

Based on Scenes 5 and 7, describe the relationship between Macbeth and Lady Macbeth.

In the soliloquy beginning ìIf it were done when ëtis done, then ëtwere well,î Macbeth is having second thoughts about murdering Duncan. What are the reasons he gives as to why he shouldnít kill Duncan? He says the only thing motivating him is ambition, ìwhich oíerleaps itself/And falls on thí other.î What do you think he has decided at this point in regards to murdering the king?

In Scenes 5 and 7, Lady Macbeth makes several violent references to motherhood and infants: she wants her breast milk to turn to ìgall,î and would dash ìthe brains outî of her baby rather than break a promise she made to Macbeth. However, the Macbeths do not have children. There is textual evidence that Lady Macbeth had a child: ìI have given suck, and know/How tender ëtis to love the babe that milks me.î However, it seems that the child has died. Do you think her words reveal hidden feelings about being childless?

Act II

Why do you think Macbeth is imagining that he is seeing a dagger? What does this tell you about his state of mind before killing Duncan?

After killing Duncan, Lady Macbeth has to take the bloody daggers from Macbeth and plant them at the murder scene. Why do you think Macbeth is unable to do this himself? What line from the end of Scene 2 shows that Macbeth is already feeling remorse for killing Duncan?

Duncanís sons, Donalbain and Malcolm, are sleeping in the room next to their father. Why do you think Shakespeare included this information in this scene? What do Donalbain and Malcolm decide to do after discovering their father has been murdered?

Lennox in Scene 3 and Ross and Scene 4 talk about unusual events from the night before. What are these unusual events and how do they tie into Shakespeareís audienceís belief about the divine right of kings and what happens when a king is murdered?

Macduff discovers that Duncan has been murdered. Write a letter from Macduff to his wife describing what has happened, who he suspects has killed the king, and how he feels about Macbeth being appointed as the new King of Scotland.


Banquo was supposedly an ancestor of King James I; thus Shakespeare would have wanted to portray him in a favorable light. However, there is some evidence that Banquo was actually Macbethís co-conspirator in Duncanís murder, but of course Shakespeare would not want to include that in a play about his monarchís ancestor. In comparison to Macbeth, how does Shakespeare make Banquo appear to be a virtuous character?

In Scene 2, how do you think Lady Macbeth is feeling about the murder of Duncan? What does she mean when she says, ìTis safer to be that which we destroy/Than by destruction dwell in doubtful joyî?

Macbeth arranges to have Banquo and Fleance killed while they are out riding their horses. He doesnít discuss this with Lady Macbeth: ìBe innocent of the knowledge, dearest chuck,/Till thou applaud the deed.î Why do you think he isnít sharing this information with her, considering that she was helped him murder Duncan? Do you see other signs that there is a shift in their relationship since Duncanís murder?

In Scene 3, a third Murderer joins the two Murderers. Who do you think it is: Macbeth, Lady Macbeth, one of the Witches, or someone else? Why do you think this?

What is Macbethís reaction to Banquoís ghost? What does this tell you about Macbethís state of mind?


Act IV


This act begins with the very famous ìDouble, double toil and troubleî scene.


the ingredients

the Witches




caldron to create




make the

Apparitions appear.

What are the three statements that the Apparitions say to Macbeth? How does he respond to these statements?

What does the outcome of Scene 2 reveal to you about Macbeth as a ruler?


How does Malcolm test Macduffís loyalty?


Act V

What has happened to Lady Macbeth? What lines are ìconfessionsî to the murders of Duncan, Lady Macduff, and Banquo?

What is the Doctor suggesting when he says to the Gentlewoman, ìRemove from her the means of all annoyance,/And still keep eyes upon herî?

What is Macbethís reaction when he learns of Lady Macbethís death? Do you think he sounds heartless, or do you think he expected this to happen?

When Macduff reveals that he ìwas from his motherís womb/Untimely ripped,î what does Macbeth realize about the Witches and their prophecies? Do you think he regrets his actions? Why or why not?

Directions: Give students a list of quotes from which to choose to write a personal response


Give students a list of quotes from which to choose to write a personal response to for five to seven minutes. After writing, students can share their responses in pairs, small groups, or with the class. Or, one day each week can be set aside for students to choose their best responses and share them in small groups or with the class. Their responses can take many forms:

Write a three-part response: 1) indicate the meaning of the quote, 2) connect the quote with other parts of the play, other literature, or personal experiences, and 3) discuss your personal feelings about the quote, the character, or the action.

Write a completely personal expression. Take off from the quote and free-write wherever your thoughts make take you: into fantasy; reflections on your day; problems you are experiencing or have experienced; or people you care about.

Write a poetic response. Write your own feelings to the quote or continue the dialogue using Shakespeareís style. Or, write a poem reflecting a theme or idea suggested by the quote.

Copy the quote and illustrate it. In lieu of writing, draw the characters or illustrate the action in whatever detail you like, from symbolic representation to realistic characterization.

Reply to the character. Write a letter to the character, either from your point of view or from the point of view of another character in the play.

Act I

  • 1. ìFair is foul, and foul is fair.î (Three Witches, Scene 1)

  • 2. ìAnd oftentimes, to win us to our harm, The instruments of darkness tell us truths, Win us with honest trifles, to betray ís In deepest consequence.î (Banquo, Scene 3)

  • 3. ìNothing in his life Became him like the leaving it.î (Malcolm, Scene 4)

  • 4. ìStars, hide your fires; Let not light see my black and deep desires. The eye wink at the hand, yet let that be Which the eye fears, when it is done, to see.î (Macbeth, Scene 4)


ìYet do I fear thy nature; It is too full oí thí milk of human kindness To catch the nearest way.î (Lady Macbeth, Scene 5)

  • 6. ìCome, 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 the access and passage to remorse, That no compunctious visitings of nature Shake my fell purpose, nor keep peace between The effect of it!î (Lady Macbeth, Scene 5)

  • 7. ìIf it were done when ëtis done, then ëtwere well It were done quickly.î (Macbeth, Scene 7)

  • 8. ìWas the hope drunk Wherein you dressed yourself? Hath it slept since? And wakes it now, to look so green and pale At what it did so freely? Ö Wouldst thou have that Which thou esteemíst the ornament of life, And live a coward in thine own esteem Ö But screw your courage to the sticking-place, And weíll not fail.î (Lady Macbeth, Scene 7)

Act II

  • 1. ìIs this a dagger which I see before me, The handle toward my hand? Come, let me clutch thee. I have thee not, and yet I see thee still. Art thou not, fatal vision, sensible To feeling as to sight?

Or art thou but

A dagger of the mind, a false creation,

Proceeding from the heat-oppressed brain?î (Macbeth, Scene 1)

  • 2. ìThat which hath made them drunk hath made me bold. What hath quenched them hath given me fire.î (Lady Macbeth, Scene 2)

  • 3. ìMethought I heard a voice cry, ëSleep no more! Macbeth doth murder sleepíóthe innocent sleep, Sleep that knits up the raveled sleave of care, The death of each dayís life, sore laborís bath, Balm of hurt minds, great natureís second course, Chief nourisher in lifeís feast.î (Macbeth, Scene 2)


ìWill all great Neptuneís ocean wash this blood Clean from my hand? No, this my hand will rather The multitudinous seas incarnadine, Making the green one red.î (Macbeth, Scene 2)

  • 5. ìWho can be wise, amazed, tempírate, and furious, Loyal and neutral, in a moment? No man. Thí expedition of my violent love Outrun the pauser, reason.î (Macbeth, Scene 3)

  • 6. ìThereís daggers in menís smiles.î (Donalbain, Scene 3)

  • 7. ìIs ët nightís predominance or the dayís shame That darkness does the face of Earth entomb When living light should kiss it?î (Ross, Scene 4)


  • 1. ìNaughtís had, allís spent, Where our desire goes without content. ëTis safer to be that which we destroy Than by destruction dwell in doubtful joy.î (Lady Macbeth, Scene 2)

  • 2. ìOh, full of scorpions is my mind!î (Macbeth, Scene 2)

  • 3. ìIt will have blood, they say. Blood will have blood.î (Macbeth, Scene 4)

Act IV

  • 1. ìDouble, double toil and trouble, Fire burn, and cauldron bubble.î (Three Witches, Scene 1)

  • 2. ìBy the pricking of my thumbs, Something wicked this way comes.î (Second Witch, Scene 1)

  • 3. ìFor the poor wren, The most diminutive of birds, will fight, Her young ones in her nest, against the owl. All is the fear and nothing is the love, As little is the wisdom, where flight So runs against all reason.î (Lady Macduff, Scene 2)


ìBut cruel are the times when we are traitors And do not know ourselves; when we hold rumor From what we fear, yet know not what we fear, But float upon a wild and violent sea Each way and none.î (Ross, Scene 2)

  • 5. ìAlas, poor country! Almost afraid to know itself. It cannot Be called our mother, but our grave Öî (Ross, Scene 3)

  • 6. ìDid heaven look on, And would not take their part?î (Macduff, Scene 3)

Act V

  • 1. ìOut, damned spot! Out, I say! Ö Why, then, ëtis time to do ët.

Hell is murky! Ö Yet who

would have thought the old man to have had so much blood in him Ö The thane of Fife had a wife. Where is she now?óWhat, will these hands neíer be clean? Ö Hereís the smell of blood still. All the perfumes of Arabia will not sweeten this little hand Ö To bed, to bed Ö give me your hand. Whatís done cannot be undone. To bed, to bed, to bed!î (Lady Macbeth, Scene 1)

  • 2. ìUnnatural deeds do breed unnatural troubles.î (Doctor, Scene 1)

  • 3. ìTomorrow, 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! Lifeís 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.î (Macbeth, Scene 5)

  • 4. ìAnd be these juggling fiends no more believed, That palter with us in a double sense, That keep the word of promise to our ear, And break it to our hope.î (Macbeth, Scene 8)

How do actors create the characters they portray on stage? What if you are playing a

How do actors create the characters they portray on stage? What if you are playing a character that many other actors have played before (like ALL of the characters in Shakespeareís plays!)? One way of ìgetting inside your characterís headî is to create a Character Score. This can help you ìfill in the gapsî with information that might not be stated directly in the script.

Choose one of the characters from Macbeth and answer the questions below. Remember, all of your decisions MUST be based on what you know about the character from the script. Yes, you are trying to create a three-dimensional character, and you will need to INFER some of the information, but your choices must be true to the script!

Characterís Name:

How old is my character? Does my character act his/her age?


What does my character look like? Dress like?


Does my character have any complexes, neuroses, obsessions, superstitions?


How does my character express his/her feelings?


What is my characterís education? Is he/she smart or not?


Who does my character hang out with?


What would my characterís favorite color be? Why?


What does my character like to do in his/her free time? Hobbies?


What is my characterís biggest fear?


What makes my character angry?


What makes my character happy?


What makes my character sad?

Presentation skills are becoming more and more important in todayís society. The ability to speak well,

Presentation skills are becoming more and more important in todayís society. The ability to speak well, whether it is with one person or in front of a large group, is a skill that people use everyday. By encouraging your students to memorize and perform a scene written by William Shakespeare, you will be immersing them in great thoughts and language.

Although your students may be initially nervous about performing in front of their classmates, you can make the experience non-threatening by participating in it yourself Ö you will show your students that even YOU can do it, and probably provide them with some good laughs!

  • 1. Ask students to choose a scene from the play to memorize. Students can choose one of the suggested scenes or choose another scene from the play after checking with the teacher. To ease students into performing Shakespeare, you may want to have them use the SparkNotes No Fear Shakespeare version of the play for their performances.

  • 2. The teacher can model both effective and ineffective scenes (you can have fun with this, especially when modeling the ìineffectiveî scene!). Ask a student to read the lines of one character as you perform the role of the other character. Then ask students to point out which elements of the performance were successful and which were not. On the board, write down a list of bad habits that can distract the audience or take away from the performance, such as fidgeting, monotone voice, inaudible volume, mispronunciations, and speaking too quickly. Then write down a list of elements that a successful performance should contain: eye contact with the audience, voice inflection, sufficient volume, evidence of understanding, pronunciation, and appropriate speed with the proper pauses.

  • 3. Allow some time in class for students to practice their scenes. Pair student groups together (rotating with different groups at each practice session). Have students practice with their partner groups; the groups should offer constructive criticism, using the included checklist to help them make constructive suggestions.

Presentation skills are becoming more and more important in todayís society. The ability to speak well,
Name: ______________________________________ Character: ______________________ Name: _____________________________________ Character: ______________________ Name: _____________________________________ Character: ______________________ Name: _____________________________________ Character: ______________________

Name: ______________________________________

Character: ______________________

Name: _____________________________________

Character: ______________________

Name: _____________________________________

Character: ______________________

Name: _____________________________________

Character: ______________________

Name: _____________________________________

Character: ______________________

Name: _____________________________________

Character: ______________________

Name: _____________________________________

Character: ______________________

Name: _____________________________________

Character: ______________________

The following requirements are graded on a highest):






(1 being

lowest and




knowledge of lines (did not miss any lines; very few awkward pauses)


stage presence (commands the audienceís attention; use of eye contact; not constantly looking at the floor or shifting feet; did not stand in one spot without moving)


body movement (movements seem natural; no forced or unmotivated movements; movements fit the character)



use of voice (use of pauses; easy to hear and understand words)



use of space (did not stand in one spot)



rehearsal is obvious (actually took time to rehearse; everything flows)

The following scenes are suggestions for student performances (all line numbers are from the SparkNotes No

The following scenes are suggestions for student performances (all line numbers are from the SparkNotes No Fear Shakespeare edition of Macbeth):

Act I, Scene 3, Lines 30-88 (five characters) The three Witches makes predictions for Macbeth and Banquo.

Act I, Scene 7, Lines 32-82 (two characters) Lady Macbeth convinces Macbeth that he must murder Duncan if he wants to be king.

Act II, Scene 3, Lines 1-38 (two characters) Macduff wakes up the Porter.

Act III, Scene 3, Lines 1-24 (five characters but one does not have lines) The three Murderers attack Banquo and Fleance.

Act III, Scene 4, Lines 32-122 (five characters but one does not have lines) Banquoís ghost appears to Macbeth.

Act IV, Scene 1, Lines 1-104 (eight characters) The three Witches gather around the cauldron and reveal further predictions to Macbeth.

Act V, Scene 1, Lines 1-69 (three characters) Lady Macbeth has been driven insane by her guilt.

Act V, Scene 8, Lines 1-34 (two characters) Macduff avenges the death of his family and kills Macbeth.

• Research the REAL Macbeth, Mac Bethad mac Findlaich, and his wife, Gruoch (or Grauch), who

Research the REAL Macbeth, Mac Bethad mac Findlaich, and his wife, Gruoch (or Grauch), who ruled Scotland from 1040-1057. What did Shakespeare use and what did he change to make his play more dramatic while also appealing to his monarch, James I? Also during your research, what do you discover about King Jamesís ancestors Banquo and Fleance?

Write a diary from the perspective of one of the main characters from the play. The diary may be from the timeframe before, during, or after the playís events. You will need several entries, and you may want to include personal keepsakes. Remember that thoughts and feelings are very important in a diary.

Make several drawings of some of the scenes from the play and write a caption for each drawing. Put all the drawings and captions in chronological order on a poster board to create a storyboard of the play.

Create a newspaper that reports the various events of the play. You could include a front- page story that reports the playís main conflict and its resolution, a features article about one of the prominent and wealthy characters from the play (similar to an article about a celebrity), sports and entertainment relevant to the setting of the play or the interests of the characters, a society page detailing the various wedding celebrations, a weather report, etc.

Construct a model of the Globe Theatre. You may construct it out of any materials that you wish. Be sure to consult reliable sources to help you design your model.

Create a sculpture of a character from the play. You may use any combinations of materials ñ soap, wood, clay, sticks, wire, stones, old toy pieces, or any other object ñ to create your sculpture.

Create a comic strip that depicts a few scenes from the play.


may draw, use

computer graphics, use pictures from magazines, use photos your take yourself, or any

other way you wish to graphically create your comic strip.

Create a movie poster for the play using two or more of the following media: paint, crayons, chalk, coloring pencils, ink, markers, etc. You may want to choose modern-day actors to star in the movie and include their names and/or pictures on the poster. Look at current movie posters to help you determine what information to include on your poster.

Create a ìWantedî poster for one of the characters from the play. Include a picture or drawing of the character, his/her name and ìaliasî (either one stated directly in the play or one that you create), the ìcrimeî that he/she is wanted for, and a quote from the play that best represents the character. The quote can either be lines spoken by the character or something that is said about that character by another character.

Please help us to improve. We invite you to share your thoughts about this production. Please

Please help us to improve. We invite you to share your thoughts about this production. Please return this form to any Southwest Shakespeare Company volunteer as you leave, OR mail it to us at P.O. Box 30595, Mesa, AZ 85275, OR fax it to 480.924.4310. Thank you for completing this form, for coming to our performance, and for introducing your students to the wonders of Shakespeare and live theatre!

Please feel free to use the back of this form to include any additional comments.

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