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Unit 3 - Macbeth

Page history last edited by Russell 8 years, 11 months ago


Fri, Oct 29


DUE TODAY: Nothing





In a brief essay (2-4 pages) assess whether the play “Macbeth” by William Shakespeare should be considered a tragedy as defined by Aristotle. Hints follow:

  • Establish  the fact that an Aristotelian tragedy follows certain Aristotelian guidelines; outline and define only those elements of tragedy you will discuss in the essay
  • Only discuss three or four of the elements of tragedy to make your point, and create one body paragraph for each element; otherwise, your discussions will be too shallow
  • Aim to find at least one, if not two, examples in the text to back each of the elements you will discuss. Ex: If you believe there is adequate peripeteia, then find two such examples in the text and explain how each example fits as “true” peripeteia
  • Create a purposeful introduction, per our model; body paragraphs need clear organization as well



Thu, Oct 28


DUE TODAY: Have you read Act V?

HOMEWORK TONIGHT: Study for the exam

FOCUS TODAY: Exam prep, Act V, themes, characterization, tragedy, catharsis


Exam preview:

  • Four sections include: character matching, elements of tragedy matching, short answer, place events in order of occurence
  • Know the characters' personalities, what they do, and famous quotes 
  • Know definitions of the elements of tragedy and be able to identify examples from the text
  • Know the events in the play and the order in which they occur


Act V - It all comes to a quick close

  • Lady Macbeth has been sleepwalking and attempting to cleanse her hands of blood. Is it "pure" anagnorisis if she doesn't fully confess?
  • Macbeth prepares for battle, but does not fear due to the new double prophecy. He's sick of bloodshed but so used to it by now that even the cries of women for fear of death do not affect him. 
  • The English forces gather in Birnam Wood - the same wood that will "move" to Dunsinane Hill/Castle
  • Lady Macbeth perishes, driven mad and to her own death
  • Macbeth's thanes abandon him for the other side
  • Macbeth has no fear until Birnam appears to be moving; this movement is due to a good tactical measure executed by Malcolm
  • Knowing he is to be defeated in battle, Macbeth still fights because he believes he cannot be killed; all men are born of woman, right?
  • Macduff faces off w/ Macbeth, and Macbeth only chooses to fight when Macduff says he will put him on public display as a tyrant; Macduff reveals he was "untimely ripped" from his mother's womb - he's the guy to kill Macbeth
  • Malcolm is crowned king and gives everyone the title of Earl


Last element of Greek tragedy was given: catharsis

Use this link to review Aristotlean Tragedy (ppt)


Wed, Oct 27


DUE TODAY: Explanation of M's teetering mind in his soliloquy in III.i


FOCUS TODAY: Shifting desires (Macbeth), driving emotions (Macduff)


Students investigate one of the scenes in Act IV, answering prompts in preparation for a report to the class:

Scene 1, 39-177

  1. What does Macbeth want?
  2. What stands in the way of his desires, and how does he try to surmount (overcome) these obstacles?
  3. Do his objectives change in the course of the scene?
  4. What about the witches – what do they want?
  5. What do the witches do to secure their desire?

Scene 2, 71-98

  1. What words describe how the messenger feels in this scene?
  2. How do the feelings translate into (the messenger’s) behavior?
  3. What does Lady Macduff’s response tell you about her frame of mind?
  4. What do the son’s words show about his character?

Scene 3

Ross arrives in England and delivers to Macduff the news of the murder of Macduff’s wife and child. These lines reveal, in sequence, Macduff’s reaction to the news. Paraphrase (put into your own words) the lines, and determine what emotion or emotions underlie each passage (i.e., shock, horror, anger, etc.). Prepare to read them “flat” (monotone) then with proper emotion.

  • (248, 250); (255-258); (263-267); (270-275)


Viewing of Macduff's reaction to the news (Act IV, sc 3)


Exit slip: With the new information gained in Act IV, what do we see that can bring hope to Scotland's fortune?



Tue, Oct 26


DUE TODAY:  Select ONE Greek term from today's Pwrpt on Aristotle, and explain how you see that item working within the play so far in Acts 1-3. 3-5 sentences, half-page max

HOMEWORK TONIGHT: Answer letter "c" under Scene One below

FOCUS TODAY: Identifying theme


Feedback on the homework - Notes here


Investigation of action in Act III using the guiding questions below. NOTE - these line numbers are off by just a titch, but it shouldn't be a big deal.

Act Three

1)    Scene One

a)     What are Banquo’s hopes and fears as Act III opens?

b)    34-40 Why does M want to know about B’s riding plans? What lies about Malcolm and Donalbain does he tell?

c)     How is Macbeth’s soliloquy another example of his lack of certainty? (What does he debate here?)

d)    What reason does M give the murderers for killing Banquo?

e)     142-154 What directions and rationale are given to the murderers?

2)    Scene Two

a)     7-10 Is Lady Macbeth having second thoughts? What does she say?

b)    16-30 What symptoms has Macbeth experienced that bother him? Why does he envy Duncan?

c)     Why do you suppose he doesn’t want to tell his wife of his plans for Banquo?

d)    How are M’s final words on stage similar to Lady M’s soliloquy upon reading M’s letter?

3)    Scene Three

a)     Imagine yourself a director – how would you direct the actors to manage the use of torches/lights in this brief scene?

4)    Scene Four

a)     When the murderers report that Fleance is escaped, what is Macbeth’s reaction?

b)    33-37 What metaphors are used here, and to whom do they refer?

c)     61-62 M sees B’s ghost at the table. What might the ghost do to provoke such a reaction from M?

d)    64-69 Lady M intervenes on her husband’s behalf again. What excuse does she use for his apparently odd behavior?

e)     72-80 How does Lady M attempt to convince M he has merely seen a vision?

f)     101-109 How does M attempt to excuse his behavior?

g)    157- After all that has happened, what is M’s plan for tomorrow?

5)    Scene Five

a)     In her poetic speech, Hecate makes allusions. Identify the topic of her speech. Why are her allusions appropriate considering her topic and purpose?

6)    Scene Six

a)     How strong is Lennox’s allegiance to Macbeth? To Macduff?

b)    What is happening in England?

c)     What are conditions like in Scotland?


Mon, Oct 25


DUE TODAY:  Take-Home Exam of Acts I-II


  • Read Act 3
  • Select ONE Greek term from today's Pwrpt on Aristotle, and explain how you see that item working within the play so far in Acts 1-3. 3-5 sentences, half-page max.

FOCUS TODAY: Aristotlean tragedy


Check out Macbeth books from library

Quick review of the take-home exam: Students share reversals they discovered and discussed


Presentation: Aristotlean Tragedy (ppt)

Today we introduce key Greek terms and make our way through "hamartia" or "tragic flaw/mistake." Tomorrow = Catharsis


Today's Greek Terms:

Aristotle defines many key literary components in the Poetics:mimesis (imitation), muthos (plot), anagnorisis (discovery), periperteia (reversal), hamartia (misjudgment), and TOMORROW: catharsis (purifying or relieving of emotions)



Fri, Oct 22


DUE TODAY: Acting!!!

HOMEWORK TONIGHT: Take-Home Exam of Acts I-II

FOCUS TODAY: Reading Shakespeare's characters - emotion, tone, inflection


Acting groups

Exit slip: What do the brothers mean when they speak of "daggers in men's smiles?"



Thu, Oct 21


DUE TODAY: Revised body paragraph - final version


FOCUS TODAY: Reflection on writing, Shakespeare's language


Take ten minutes to answer these questions to accompany your latest revision:

  1. What would your grade be if it was based on how much improvement you made from your first version to the one you have today? Justify your answer 
  2. After studying the handouts with the sample student paragraphs, you stated three specific items needed for your own paragraph to improve it. Prove that you stood by your word – where are the improvements you promised 
  3. Answer in only one sentence for each of these questions
    1. What is the most valuable lesson you have learned about the components of body paragraphs?
    2. What is the most valuable lesson you have learned about the concepts of quality and revision?


Acting groups


Wed, Oct 20


DUE TODAY: Nothing

HOMEWORK TONIGHT: Complete edits to body paragraph

FOCUS TODAY: Shakespeare's language


Listening to the remainder of Act 2 and acting groups


Tue, Oct 19


DUE TODAY: Body paragraph activity 

HOMEWORK TONIGHT: Continue revising setting body paragraphs - DUE THU

FOCUS TODAY: Aspects of good paragraph construction


Students break into groups to investigate the positive elements in the sample student body paragraphs. Groups will identify TWO elements of good composition, naming them and explaining their effect on the paragraphs. Students will individually identify at least one aspect of their own writing that must be addressed immediately in order to accomplish a higher level of writing.



Mon, Oct 18


DUE TODAY: Nothing

HOMEWORK TONIGHT: Finish body paragraph activity

FOCUS TODAY: Macbeth, Act 2


Listening to Macbeth on tape - Act 2 as much as possible

Questions to keep in mind:

  • How much of the play is fate vs. human choice?
  • What inverses are present in the play? Where do you see them?
  • How does Shakespeare insert humor, and to what purpose and effect?



Fri, Oct 15


DUE TODAY: Nothing


  • Continue the body paragraph activity DUE TUE, OCT 19
  • Continue revision of your own setting essay body paragraph DUE THU, OCT 21

FOCUS TODAY: Grammar/usage, vocab


Grammar/usage QUIZ

Vocab QUIZ


Time remaining given for studying.


Thu, Oct 14


DUE TODAY: An "exit slip" at the end of class detailing the desires of a character in Act I of Macbeth


  • Study for the grammar/usage quiz
  • Study for the vocab quiz: baffle, cinema, despise, ebullient, exaggerate, exhort, expertise, finicky, gall, inane, indemnify, Occident, peruse, scuffle, spurn, stipend, surveillance, tepid, wager, wane
  • Begin work on the body paragraph activity DUE TUE, OCT 19
  • Perhaps begin work on revision of your own setting essay body paragraph DUE THU, OCT 21

FOCUS TODAY: Organization in body paragraphs; persuasion


5 minute grammar/usage


Honors English 11 – A Look Ahead

  • Today: Setting essay modified body paragraphs returned. Questions fielded. Body paragraph activity/homework distributed. Short time to start body paragraph homework. Listening to Macbeth’s soliloquy and Lady Macbeth’s seduction.
  • Tomorrow: Grammar/usage quiz. Vocab quiz. Wrap up of Macbeth Act One. Homework for setting body paragraph continued.
  • Monday: Reading Macbeth w/ brief discussion
  • Tuesday: Body paragraph activity/homework due. Follow-up discussion. Student/teacher one-on-one.
  • Wednesday: Reading Macbeth w/ brief discussion
  • Thursday: Modified setting essay body paragraph due. Assessment of setting essay body paragraphs
  • Friday: Grammar/usage quiz. Macbeth, Macbeth, Macbeth


Period 1 - Returned: Setting essay body paragraphs DUE REVISED THU, OCT 21


Handout: Body paragraph activity DUE TUES, OCT 19

Brief inspection of the paragraph activity and a start

(If you desire, follow this link to the general page on body paragraphs)


Reminder of Macbeth's conscience in his soliloquy: All rationale (except his own ambition) points against killing Duncan.


Listening to M's soliloquy and Lady M's seduction of her husband.


  • How does Lady M change the mind of her husband? He just decided NOT to kill Duncan. What does she do that shifts his feeling?
  • What is the plan she poses for killing Duncan? Does it sound feasible? Why/why not? 



Name a character in Act I who has a strong desire. Identify that person, state their desire clearly, and if you can, explain what basic desire in human nature Shakespeare expresses here. We all have desires - some of them dark - which of these emerge as Act I progresses?


Tue-Wed, Oct 12-13


DUE TODAY: Nothing


FOCUS TODAY: Getting into Macbeth's mind


No 5-minute grammar/warmup on Tue or Wed due to A) Voting for an "Englishy" super-hero name B) PSAT for all juniors. Still, a quiz will be given on Fri


Vocab activity: Pg 25 Exercise 2.10


Period 5 - Returned: Setting essay body paragraphs DUE REVISED THU, OCT 21

     Why revise? Because it shows you can improve, and your grade is partly based on how you grow as a writer.


Period 5 - Handout: Body paragraph activity DUE TUES, OCT 19


Macbeth activity:

  • Groups of students assemble to decide where to "break up" Macbeth's soliloquy
  • The "breaks" should happen when Macbeth provides a new rationale for killing or not killing Duncan
  • Groups decide how each "voice" in Duncan's mind should sound, and practice reading the soliloquy with six different student voices using a tone that is appropriate to Duncan's inner voice at that moment
  • Performances by groups


Mon, Oct 11


DUE TODAY: Your findings on Lady Macbeth


  • Read Macbeth's soliloquy
  • "Translate" the Shakespearean language into today's language
  • Divide into six parts the soliloquy, trying to "break" the speech into segments. Each segment is a different "voice" or "argument" for killing or sparing King Duncan. 

FOCUS TODAY: Vocab, active reading


5-minute grammar/usage

Vocab exercise w/ synonyms and antonyms


Lady Macbeth – What kind of woman is she?


With your table group, review your findings from the weekend. Decide on two adjectives you think would accurately describe Lady Macbeth, and for each, provide a brief statement of why that word is appropriate for her.



She directs and manipulates M regarding king D’s murder


When M just thinks about it she pushes him into action


She plays w/ her husband’s emotions/thoughts, and takes over the situation


When she gets the letter, she wants to spring into action to become queen – she wants power


Even as she reads the letter, she envisions how she can become queen – driven to the position


She makes herself a terrible, evil person so she can kill another man


Willing to take someone else’s life for her gain


As the originator of the plan, everything must “go through” her


To her husband b/c she puts into action a plan to help her husband


Husband isn’t sure it’s what she wants, and right away she helps him see it’s what will happen and she even has a plan


Reading of 1.5-1.7


1.7 – M’s soliloquy

  • “Translate” into modern English
  • Identify the sides of his argument and break up the speech into each of his conflicting feelings – go for SIX segments


Fri, Oct 8


DUE TODAY: The vocabulary "silly story" activity

HOMEWORK TONIGHT: Poke around the internet to discover what outside sources have to say about Lady Macbeth. Summarize your findings into 1-2 paragraphs that simply report what you found. We will share our findings.

FOCUS TODAY: Evil in women! (Lady Macbeth)


Grammar/usage quiz

Vocab activity (silly paragraph completion)


Active reading of the first few pages of 1.5 - Lady Macbeth reads and responds to Macbeth's letter revealing the prophecies of the witches.

Students take notes as teacher models active reading



Thu, Oct 7


DUE TODAY: Nothing in writing

HOMEWORK TONIGHT: Fill in the blanks of the story you were given; finish the vocab creative story as a fill-in-the-blank quiz with 5-7 new blanks 

FOCUS TODAY: Active reading w/ a journal


5 minute grammar/usage


Vocab: Create a story that includes blanks where vocab words should be filled in. Use seven of the twenty vocab words.



  • Active reading means responding to the text as you read. The best way to do this is with a reading journal at the side while reading. Teacher will model while students copy teacher's notes.
  • Reading 1.3 through 1.4
  • About performance: Notice how a change in stress and inflection can change how an audience interprets a character's underlying thoughts. Example lines that could be spoken and interpreted in different ways:
    • Duncan: He was a gentleman on whom I built an absolute trust.
    • Duncan, to Malcolm: Is execution done on Cawdor? 


Wed, Oct 6


DUE TODAY: Nothing in writing


FOCUS TODAY: Use of paradox/opposites


5 minute grammar/usage

10 new vocab words: pgs 21-22


Opposites/paradoxes/oxymorons in the opening of Macbeth. Why? This type of opposition lets you know that opposing forces of good and evil will battle in the play. The very presence of the witches informs the audience that foul play is afoot.


Watch how the hero Macbeth quickly takes the prophecy of the witches and runs with it.


BIG QUESTION: Do you control your own fate? Watch Macbeth’s rise and fall, then answer this.


Contradictory statements from the first pages of the play:

  • Not so happy yet much happier – I.iii.69 – Witches prophesying to Banquo that he will be not so happy to know he will not become king, but happier to know that he will have in his family line a succession of kings.
  • Fair is foul and foul is fair – I.i.12 – Witches dancing/chanting about what is “fair” (good, pleasant, favorable) (equal judgment, balanced) (party, carnival) (“fair play” – meaning not cheating); “foul” (deceit, unpleasant, dirty) – The witches tell us that their “foul play” is “fair game” and their targets are currently “fair” (good) but will be foul
  • Lesser than Macbeth and greater – I.iii.68 – In this life, M will be king, but after M, the line of Banquo will take over and have greater influence over the kingdom of Scotland
  • So foul and fair a day – I.iii.39 – Macbeth comments on the day, which is “fair” because they return successful from battle; foul weather, which foretells the arrival of the witches


30-second Theater:

Students will be given one of three situations that reflect situations in the play. In small groups, students will decide upon and act out a possible outcome to the situation given. The small skits will be between 30-60 seconds.


NOTICE: The outcomes vary, even if different groups are given the same situation. In one case, a conflict ended peacefully. In another group, the conflic escalated to death.


Tue, Oct 5


DUE TODAY: Final revision of the setting essay introduction

HOMEWORK TONIGHT: Find three paradoxical statements in the opening pages of Macbeth

FOCUS TODAY: Vocab, Shakespearean vocab


5 minute grammar/usage


10 new vocab words: Pgs 19-20



  • Main characters
  • A reading of the first few pages
  • Investigating tough vocabulary, with explanations given


In-class questions written in notes:

  1. What kind of activities do the witches prefer? Give an example.
  2. What prophecies do the witches have for Macbeth?
  3. What prophecies do the witches have for Banquo?
  4. What prophecies come true by the end of scene 3?


Practice with this fill-in-the-blank activity:

Shakespeare's play "Macbeth opens with three (1)  ________________ stating they are up to no good. Immediately we switch to a scene with King (2) __________________, who hears reports of how his forces are doing against the traitor the Thane of (3) _______________________. He hears reports that (4)__________________________ has fought heroically, winning the battle. The king hands down a sentence of (5)_________________ for the traitor, and decides to give the traitor's current title to (6)_____________________. As Macbeth and (7)_______________________ return from battle, they encounter the three  (8)__________________, who prophesy that Macbeth will not only become Thane of Cawdor, but eventually (9)________________. Banquo asks what they can tell him, and they say he will not become king but will (10)___________________ kings. After the witches leave, messengers from the king appear to report that Macbeth has been granted the title (11)__________________________________

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