Oh, let’s face it — it’s impossible to give a decent overview of Shakespeare in a few lines other than to say that the reason we still read his works is that they move us: they speak to our condition, they reveal human nature (in all its glory and with all its warts) and ultimately awaken us to who we are.
Shakespeare’s Drama — Macbeth
- Full Text of Macbeth online for your convenience!
- OPTIONAL: Helpful Wikipedia article to give you an overview of the play.
- OPTIONAL: Here are some helpful Macbeth Study Questions for each act of the play. These are very extensive and very helpful — and yeah, I might be using them for discussions or tests!
- OPTIONAL: Here are some helpful study questions from an English class at Cal Polytechnic — very thoughtful and helpful!
- OPTIONAL: Yes, even more study questions — these tend to be fairly factual, reading comprehension-style questions.
Macbeth Prereading Questions
The prereading questions are designed to provoke thought about the issues raised in the play. Please click on the link below and follow the directions. We will then discuss your answers in class. NOTE: I may choose to collect this work as a written assignment.
Macbeth Comparison Scenes
One of the most interesting aspects of teaching or reading about Shakespeare is investigating the (seemingly-endless) ways in which actors and directors can re-frame a scene or character, pulling out or stressing different words, different line readings, staging the scene from an unexpected perspective or in thought-provoking ways. Seeing side-by-side comparisons of a scene is often instructive: they compel the audience to reevaluate elements of the play, asking “How does this element change? How does this change affect the viewer’s experience or reading of the play?” With that in mind, I’ve set up a group of comparison scenes which are OPTIONAL.
Note: Some scenes may be from the 1971 Polanski picture which is rated R. Please be aware that this specific scene does NOT contain violence or excessive nudity. Please also be aware that viewing these scenes is optional.
- Dagger Scene, or, “Is This a Dagger Which I (don’t) See Before Me?”
- One of the more difficult decisions a director of Macbeth must make is how visible to make the many apparitions, ghosts, or visions present in this play. Do we see the “air-drawn dagger” that leads Macbeth to Duncan? How about Banquo’s ghost? How does our sympathy with Macbeth change or alter when we do (or don’t) see these phenomena?
- OPTIONAL: No-Dagger Dagger Scene – Ian McKellenThis scene is appropriate for general audiences and comes from an unrated stage production of the play.
- Banquet Scene, or, Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner?
- OPTIONAL: Banquo Banquet Scene (Visible Banquo). — Jason Connery as Macbeth. Note: This version is from an unrated film production. Banquo is shown with a bloody face and head. Some images may be considered disturbing.
- Sleepwalking Scene
- OPTIONAL: Sleepwalking Scene — Judi Dench as Lady Macbeth. This scene is acceptable to a general audience.
Shakespeare Resources for the Media-Minded
OPTIONAL: Check out Japanese director Akira Kurosawa’s Throne of Blood — a Macbeth set in feudal Japan with samurais!