Kristen Cassels 6-28-10 1. List the general categories of Shakespeare’s plays and give an example of each.

Shakespeare’s plays can be placed into several generalized categories. The first category can be termed as the histories. These were loosely based on the tales of Tudor historian Raphael Holinshed. Shakespeare also drew inspiration from the Roman plays, inspired by Plutarch’s Lives of the Ancient Romans. Great examples of Shakespeare’s history plays are those that contain stories of King Henry V, IV, VI, and VII. Shakespeare also told tales of the courts of King John and King Richard’s I and II.

Secondly were his comedies. These usually would take place in the English countryside or an Italian town. They were often whimsical and revolved around romance. Some of my personal favorite Shakespeare comedies were, The Merchant of Venice, Taming of the Shrew, and A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

The third type of category seen in Shakespeares plays were the tragedies. These would tale of legends of the past that were often dark. These were often some of his most famous plays. They included Hamlet, Othello, and Julius Caesar.

The fourth group was known as his romances. Originally coined as a tragicomedy these included The Winters Tale, The Tempest, and The Two Noble Kinsmen.

Lastly, there are the “problem comedies”. These plays have become notoriously hard to categorize. Being grouped by falling in-between a comedy and a satire we have All's Well That Ends Well, Measure For Measure and Troilus and Cressida.

2. Read Sonnet 18 (see syllabus) and describe two metaphors that Shakespeare uses in the poem (can be an extended metaphor). How does he use the concept of time in the poem? What does he say about being human and? What does he say about love? In an Elizabethan/Shakespearean sonnet, the poet’s “problem” is resolved in the last 6 lines. How does he resolve the “problem” in this sonnet? (hint: what makes people or things immortal?)

In line four of Sonnet 18, Shakespeare states, “And Summer’s lease hath all too short a date”. This line is a strong metaphor for comparing the season of summer as a renter. In this statement it can be determined that Shakespeare sees summer as fleeting and only her for a while. By comparing summer to a lease he is showing that it has no permeability. A person who rents a home has no intention of occupying it for the rest of their life. In line 10 when stating, “Nor Lose possession of that fair thou ow’st”. This can as well be seen as something that cannot be owned. Instead of the weather that is being leased, it is her beauty. In a since, it seems as though Shakespeare is claiming that her beauty is something that she borrowed. She was “leased” this beauty for a period of time but it was never hers to keep. The concept of time in the poem is shown as fleeting. By expressing the quick fade of summer, we are given the idea that time is fleeting. There are many metaphors, puns, and similes that are throughout Sonnet 18 that make this woman seem unworldly. Finally, in line 11 though we see that like us she is too human. Although Shakespeare has made it clear throughout the sonnet that life is fleeting he finally uses the term death. “Nor Shall Death brag thou wanderest in his shade”. Shakespeare through the sonnet shows that she is human and that death is in a matter of time. At the same time and with the same point he rebuttals himself by declaring that his love will prevent her from ever perishing. In the end Shakespeare in a sense does keep her from death’s shadow by immortalizing his love for her in the lines of his Sonnet. Every time the poem is read she is given life again. 3. Find a soliloquy in Macbeth that seems like a sonnet or a poem to you and describe it. (Be sure to give the Act and Scene of the sonnet in MLA format.) In act II of Macbeth, the mood is very dark. The scene is set with Banquo and his son Felance walking the halls of the Castle. When they run into Macbeth, Banquo expresses that he is having trouble sleeping. Every time he does dream he has “cursed thoughts”(2.1.8.). When Banquo suggests to Macbeth that the witches have revealed “some truth” to him, Macbeth states that he has not thought of them since their encounter in the woods (2.1.19–20). Then as Banquo and Felance leave Macbeth alone in the dark hallway, Macbeth imagines a floating dagger in front of him. Lines 611-643 in Act II scene 1, which are spoken by Macbeth, can be seen a sonnet or poem. While speaking this lines Macbeth relates topics by comparison. Beginning when Macbeth sees the dagger floating before him, its handle is pointing toward his hand and its tip aiming him toward Duncan. Every time Macbeth attempts to reach out and grab the dagger it disappears. Macbeth begins to wonders whether the dagger he is seeing is

really there or a “dagger of the mind, a false creation / Proceeding from the heat-oppressed brain” (2.1.38–39).

4. Shakespeare wrote his plays in verse, meaning the lines have a meter, usually iambic pentameter. He often ended scenes with a rhyming couplet (you can see a definition in the Poetry Power Point in Course Documents). Find a rhyming couplet in the play and explain the context of it. Away, and mock the time with fairest show False face must hide what the false heart doth know(1. 7.356-57.). In these lines Shakespeare is stating that with appearance does not always follow truth. Situations can easily hide the truth within them. Macbeth is stating these lines to Lady Macbeth after she has finally convinced him to kill Duncan. With her “false face” she must hide any knowledge of Duncans death. “false heart doth know”, even though she is hiding it on her face in her heart she knows what she has really done. 5. Describe how one of the topics below of your choice is explored in the play and give an example as evidence: Fate or destiny, gender, nobility of title, the power of evil, causality (cause and effect). The role of gender in Macbeth can seem distorted by not following with the time. Lady Macbeth seems to take on a more masculine role. Lady Macbeth is constantly belittling her husband for his weakness’s by calling into question his own manhood. When you durst do it, then you were a man; And, to be more than what you were, you would Be so much more the man. Nor time nor place (1.7.527-29.). Although, towards the end of the play the role does seem to be reversed, most of it is spent with Lady Macbeth being the dominant figure. Her goal is ultimately obtained with this use of her banter towards Macbeth.

6. Discuss the witches as characters in at least one well-developed paragraph (minimum). Back up your argument with specific details from the play. Here are some questions to think about: Are the witches evil? Do they see the future? Are they forces of nature? Does Macbeth see them again in reality or in his own mind? In other words, are they real? Do they cause him to commit the murder? Do they really make him have visions (or is he just insane)? If insane, do they cause him to be insane? Do they represent Fate (this one kind of goes with the “forces of nature” one)? Do they, with Lady Macbeth,

represent womankind in the medieval sense of original sin? What do they gain by disrupting the world of men? Or do they do they do the disrupting? Although the witches are only in four scenes of Macbeth they seem to be the driving force for the actions throughout the play. When Banquo and Macbeth first meet the witches in the woods this seems to be where evil is first present in Macbeth. It is almost as if the witches planted it in his mind to drive the events of the poem. In a way, this leads you to believe that the witches are not fortune tellers but in fact just evil. Act IV Scene I is opened with the witches standing over a cauldron mixing everything from “a filet of a snake” to “a liver from a blasphemous Jew”. In this scene the witches are drawing up a concoction that will act as a spell towards Macbeth. Is this not a sign of working with Evil? Lady Macbeth was the driving force to make Macbeth commit murder but the witches paved the way. The first meeting with the witched can appear to of actually occurred. After murdering Duncan, Macbeth seemed to of lost his mind. “All causes shall give way: I am in blood Stepp'd in so far that, should I wade no more” (3.4.1440.). These lines are clear representation that Macbeth feels as though he has lost control. From this point on it can be perceived that he was imagining his encounters with the three witches. So clearly what he thought were the witches controlling his mind was actually the loss of his own sanity.

7. Discuss Lady Macbeth in at least one well-developed paragraph (minimum). Back up your argument with specific details from the play. Here are some questions to think about: Is she evil? Does she cause Macbeth to do the deed? Is she a tragic figure or a pathetic figure, or a sympathetic figure? When she is sleepwalking, do your feelings about her change? Would the play work without Lady Macbeth? Lady Macbeth is the most evil of all in the play Macbeth. Without her being the driving force of the murders, we would have no story. Unfortunately it does not seem though she was always evil. As time has passed though, her ambition resulted in her having this new heartless nature. You can see this when she calls upon the evil spirits, “Stop up th' access and passage to remorse"(1.5.44). In doing this the reader can see that she must call upon the evil spirits so that she will have guilt for her actions. If she does not do this then she will not be able to go through with it. Lady Macbeth’s conscience will be heavy for her to carry. Perhaps Lady Macbeth felt that suppressing her conscience for the deed was enough and that later the thought of the deed would just disappear from her thoughts. This was the exact opposite though. There were many nights when she didn’t sleep. The horrid thoughts of her deeds kept her awake at night, hence trying to wash her bloody hands while sleepwalking. This is where

the reader can feel sympathy for Lady Macbeth. “what, will these hands ne're be clean?"(5.1.2167.). It is clear that she will never have peace of mind. 8. Discuss Macbeth in at least one well-developed paragraph (minimum). Back up your argument with specific details from the play. Here are some questions to think about: Is he evil? Is he responsible for everything that happens? Does he mean to cause harm? Is he a tragic figure or a pathetic figure, a victim of forces beyond his control? Is he a tool of Fate to change the world, to bring about a new, better order? Is he insane at the beginning? Does he imagine everything? Is he loyal or disloyal? Could he ever handle power or is it the deed that makes him weak? How does Shakespeare explore mental illness through both he and Lady Macbeth? Macbeth is evil only because of the murders he has committed. As I stated in question number 6, after committing his first murder Macbeth seems to lose his sanity. In the beginning of the tale Macbeth does not seem insane. After his first encounter with the witches in the woods though, he seems to start slipping from reality. Beowulf is very loyal to his wife. He is persuaded by Lady Macbeth to commit the murders. What frustrates me about Macbeth is that he never used his free-will. He let the witches plant the seed of evil in his brain and then he allowed Lady Macbeth to feed it. Macbeth had a choice throughout the entire play. He could of chosen to not commit all of the heinous crimes. His weakness though allowed for the gender roles to be reversed between himself and Lady Macbeth. Both of them are soon eaten with guilt. As I stated in question seven you realize that they will never have peace. As Lady Macbeth was sleepwalking, Macbeth's guilt causes him to act strangely in front of his guests. Macbeth's guilt is so deep it causes him to hallucinate "Take any shape but that, and my firm nerves / Shall never tremble" (3.4.124-125.), and as soon as his visions disappear he feels better "Why so, being gone, / I am a man again.- Pray you sit still" (3.4.130-131.). 9. How does the end of the play address the question about the current political system of right kingship and Absolutism? Macbeth commits the ultimate crime of regicide, but when McDuff also commits regicide, is it justified? Who decides? Is kingship always bestowed on the right person by God or is it up to the people to decide who is worthy? (The medieval way was that a bad king was better than anarchy and social disorder; even though a bad king was a toxin for the nation, it was not ok to kill a king, who was the head of the body politic. A headless body was a bad thing! ) The history of the powerful Tudor monarchy might help with your understanding of the significance of this topic for both Shakespeare and James I (397). Macbeth, like many of Shakespeare's plays, is based on true events. Shakespeare got his story from Raphael Holinshed's Chronicles of the Tudors. In this History play by Shakespeare, it served as

popular entertainment, yet it deals with all the major themes of contemporary literature and life. In our lesson we learned of the chronicles of King James I and the Tudors. The Middle Ages had produced its fair share of great Kings, but the coming of James I to the English throne gave a new ideal to historical writing, for among other things the right of the Tudors to the throne had to b demonstrated. This can be seen in more of Shakes pears writing than any other playwright of his time. In Macbeth, Shakespeare is expressing that a king should be chosen by divine right. A good King does not take the seat by murder and scandal. By telling the tale of Macbeth and Lady Macbeth he shows what a good king should be. Through all of the tyranny and evil, Malcolm is shown to be the rightful heir to the throne by divine right. He appears to be a worthy king as we get to see his character mostly in the third act.

10. How does the play address the questions that arose from Renaissance Humanism that brought the medieval world into the Modern one? Which side does Shakespeare seem to be leaning toward? Be sure to clearly state your reasoning based on this play. There is a short description of the origins of Renaissance Humanism on pages 392-3. The debate can be summarized as follows:  Human beings are good and noble by nature, as divine creations with rights to happiness on earth bestowed by the Creator. It is good to attempt to better one’s station on earth, which God created for prosperity, and to improve one’s lot in life through acquiring knowledge and developing one’s talents? OR  Human beings fallen creatures (from original sin) and the earth a decaying paradise ruled by Satan. The afterlife is where human beings experience the rewards of their suffering on earth. The nature of humans is to sin and for that reason they are constantly in need of redemption.

Humans can be defined as good by nature. Only until corrupted do we tend to sway from right to wrong. With Shakespeare’s writings he was a humanist who literally created the European Renaissance and paved the way for the modern, secular world. His writings were before their time and can be easily related into today’s world. In writing Macbeth, Shakespeare shows the reader that with the influence of evil one can slip into a dark place. With this new philosophy of Humanism one can see that they have a choice. Humanism wanted to teach people to do the greatest good for themselves and for others. In Macbeth, the reader is shown how this can never be obtained if you allow the evil influence of others to control you. It will weaken your mind and your body.

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