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Macbeth by William Shakespeare

asteriskI have put asterisks by my favorite activities and assignments.

Handouts
Sandra

asterisk32-Second Macbeth lesson from the Folger Shakespeare Library. Famous as way to introduce the play.

60-Second Macbeth Newsletter from the BBC.

Act by Act Quotations includes the most important quotes in the play.

Historical Context from Gale Reseqrch Literature in Context covers the background of the play.

Holinshed’s Chronicles, the source of Macbeth, is analyzed in detail by Shakespeare Online. Exerpt “The Murder of King Duffe”.

Geographical Picture.

Macbeth: Scotland’s Last Celtic King.

Plot Synopsis.

Laying the Foundation Vocabulary — definitions, pronunciations, sample sentences.

Macbeth Parts list all the parts in the play so students can sign up for reading aloud.

asteriskMemory Work (“Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow…” V, v, 22-31)

Performance History covers the historical background and traces the versions and adaptations of the play.

asteriskQuoting from Macbeth demonstrates rules for quoting from a Shakespearean play.

Trial Simulation for Macbeth and Lady Macbeth — in-depth full class activity with detaikled directions for two trials.

 

Assignments

Anticipation Guide and Pre-Reading Questions introduce major themes addressed in the play.

asteriskMacbeth’s richness in imagery lends itself to analysis. (This is my primary emphasis when I teach the play.)

asteriskAnalyze the Arguments offers rhetorical topics for each act (developed by Marcie Belgard).

asteriskEnvelope Activity includes fourteen close reading topics to focus student note-taking and discussion (developed by Marcie Belgard). Allows multiple ways to organize students in to groups as well.

asteriskComposition Assignments for each act require a paragraph response, total of 30 for play. Scene by Scene Questions are more numerous, but less in-depth.

Highland School’s Study Questions are 85 questions that check recall and comprehension for the whole play.

Is this a murderous villain I see before me? No, it’s a cuddly, peace-loving king. Analyze this Times article about the Scottish Parliament’s efforts to clear Macbeth’s name.

Lady Macbeth & How to Get What You Want is a detailed lesson on her persuasive techniques (from the British Council).

asteriskScene Analysis allows students to choose a passge for in-depth analysis.

asteriskResponding to Critics requires students to analyze six literary criticism statements about the play.

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caricatureEssay Assignments

asteriskAP Prompts — eight previous open prompts particularly well-suited to Macbeth. Handout can be used as an final exam for the play, or to train students to apply AP style prompts to a familiar title.

Character Essay and Plan Page — Macbeth or Lady Macbeth.

asteriskImagery Essay and Plan Page — Analyze imagery in the play.

Essay Prompts developed by Donna Tanzer offer a wide range of posible toipics, not necessarily AP level.

Compare and Contrast Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince with Macbeth. Also applies the Hero’s Journey motif.

asterisk When MIT chose Macbeth as its All School Read for incoming freshmen, each student had to select one of these MIT Essay Topics. MIT also provided a set of Discussion Questions which would work well with AP or Regular classes.

 

Creative Projects

Acting Presentation & Rubric lists pproved scenes for atudent performance.

Casting Major Characters asks students to justify cast selections for major roles.

Freeze Frame is a tableu activity to help students make meaning of text. Can be used with multiple scenes, various plays.

Macbeth Masks uses Paul Laurence Dunbar’s “We Wear the Mask” as a springboard for an original illuystrates poem relating the poem to masks worn by either Macbeth or Lady Macbeth.

asteriskMacbeth Persona selects five particularly appropriate assignments from the Autobiography Portfolio to be written assuming the persona of either Macbeth of Lady Macbeth. (My favorite creative project.)

Macbeth Portfolio lists multiple challenging projects in three required categories — Art/Graphics/Design/Audio, Creative Writing, and Analytical Writing.

Special Student Projects offers a dozen activities from each of four categories: the Historian’s Studio, the Artist’s Studio, the Writer’s Workshop, and the Speaker’s Platform.

Movie Trailer Project requires students to actually produce a movie trailer for a film version of Macbeth. Includes directions and rubric. Great website with tips for making trailers.

Literary Criticism

A set of critical articles on Macbeth can serve as a controlled research paper packet, much like the Synthesis Essay on the AP Languge test. Since I provide the research, I can more easily teach proper use of integrating quotes for evidence and protect against plagiarism. Background and context essays could also be part of the packet.

Critics’ Comments -- a one-page set of exerpts; could be used to introduce the ply.

The Land of Macbeth -- Seven essays -- pyschoanalytical, Christian, deconstruction, feminist, new historical, Marxist and structuralist. No idea of the original source.

Multiple Critical Perspectives (Prestwick House) -- feminist, psychoanalytical, and new historicism. Includes several activities for each critical lense.

Bradley Oxford Lectures -- Seventeeen short lectures

asteriskMy Research Packet -- Twelve Essays for a controlled research paper.

 

classicJust for Fun

asteriskClassics Illustrated, the original series, helps students visualize the staging very effectively. Example page.

asteriskJames Thurber’s “Macbeth Murder Mystery,” originally in The New Yorker, offers a humorous investigative approch to Duncan’s death. An in-joke that only makes sense if you know the real Macbeth.

Not Exactly Macbeth from TeachIt is a clever poetic retelling of the play.

Scots on the Rocks, a parody by Richard Nathan.

Who Are You in Macbeth?

Article about a version of the play that draws upon Cree legends and traditions.

deathclockGood Tickle Brain offers up a stick-figure Macbeth, scene by scene, plus much more. One-Page Summary of the Whole Play. Even Macbeth Valentines. Seriously. Click on Death Clock below to see full-size image.

 

macbeth4Websites

The Macbeth Navigator from Shakespeare Navigators is impressive. Includes a scene index to go directly to any scene, a search engine for any word in the play, a character index of all appearances and all mentions of a character, notable quotes annotated, links to passages particularly relevant to significant themes and motifs, and more.

Shakespeare Online has a dedicated section for Macbeth, which includes the full text with interactive annotations and commentary for every scene in the play. Emphasizes background and context, as well as literary elements. A favorite page is an analysis of the Biblical allusions in Macbeth.

asteriskEd Friedlander, the Pathology Guy, has a unique approach which is actually particularly appropriate for this play.

Emory University has a special page dedicated to Macbeth Paintings, illustrations of characters and scenes in the play.

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The Text

burgundyPowerPoints

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Audiofiles

Hands (or ears) down, the Paul Scofield 1966 BBC radio reading of Macbeth is the best. It is available free from Youtube and as audio files for each scene from Amazon and iTunes (free version).

 

Teacher Guides

College Board Special Focus article on “The Importance of Tone” uses Macbeth as its exemplar text.

English Journal approaches both Othello and Macbeth as performances in “Imaginative Departures with Two Shakesperean Plays.” Workshop handouts from the authors.

Applied Practice has a set of 10 passages with AP style multiple-choice questions and excellent answer explanations. These do not work as a simple reading check. Sampler.

Course Hero (28 pages) includes a study guide and an infographic, particularly good at quotation and scene analysis. Most of their materils cn be accessed for free.

The Folger Shakespeare Library has offered teachers units twice, each slightly different. Old and New.

Gale Shakespeare for Students has an extensive analytical guide (64 pages). Probably more than we really want to know.

Hofstra University Guide (21 pages) includes three pages of critical exerpts and an overview of the play’s controversial performance history.

Latitudes (60 pages) offers creative enrichment activities.

LitCharts has detailed activities for every scene.

LitPlan (140 pages) emphasizes recall and comprehension activities but is thorough and detailed.

Prestwick House Individual Learning Packet (87 pages) includes AP-style passages and multiple-choice questions.

Signet Classic Edition Guide focuses on language and dramatic interpretation.

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Study Guides

  • Barron’s Book Notes (54 pages) does a particularly good job of explaining language and character.
  • Course Hero (28 pages) does an especially tood job of analyzing quotes.
  • eNotes (171 pages) has scene and character analyses, sample quizzes, essay topics, and criticism.
  • Pink Monkey Literature Notes (40 pages) explains plot well.
  • Anonymous Macbeth Guide (57 pages) may be the best of all, scene by scene, each time covering Summary, Analysis, Context, Theme, and Debate Prompts for discussion.

Worksheets from a Special Source

I recently discovered TeachIt, a United Kingdom site (for their teachers) whose worksheets approach texts in a different way than we do. Though designed for their “regular” classes, the emphasis is usually on the kind of analysis we do in Advanced Placement classes. PDF files are free to download if you register. Here’s some of what they offer just for Macbeth:

12 Qualities of a Good King Is It a Crime? Quotes to Review Plot Themes and Imagery
Cartoons Key Macbeth Quotes Scene Comparisons (Answers) Triplets for Review
Character Cards (Answers) Kingship Jigsaw Scenes for Close Analysis Two Soliloquies Analysis
Crossword Puzzle (Answers) Lady Macbeth Opinionnaire Scenes for Dramatization Wall Display
Diaries Language and Imagery Sequencing Who’s Who?
Directing Lady Macbeth Macbeth’s Crimes Six Dramatizations Who Am I?
Downfall Essay Malcolm’s Persuasion Staging and More Who Shall Hang?
Dramatic Tension News Report Talk Show Witches Recipe
Giving Evidence Quote Posters Theatre Program  

Other titles are well worth exploring.

animatedMedia

asteriskThe Animated Shakespearean Tales is a must-have. You can find a full version on YouTube, but quality is poorer than on a purchased copy.

asteriskCompare & Contrast presents five different film versions of the opening witch scene (I,i)

From Orson Welles to Michael Fassbender: More than a dozen versions of “Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow” (V,v). Patrick Stewart all by himself in clip from PBS version.

Shakespeare Uncovered has a series of video clips wherein Ethan Hawke explores the character and the play. Very much a performance approach to the play. Sometimes difficult to get access to through PBS. Fortunately, a fellow teacher has access and all lesson on her website.

In Shakespeare’s Macbeth films, Paul Duncan presents a history of film versions in his 18-minute review. Serves as a good introduction to the play. Definitely full of spoilers.

Trailers are also useful for introducing a play:

Cliff Notes and SparkNotes each have a short overview/review.

asteriskSky News has a superficially serious breaking news version of the events in the play. Exclusive interviews included. A must-see.

Thug Notes is one of those sites you love or you hate. Language may be inappropriate, but analysis is excellent.

 

Voodoo

Theater Guides

Teacher Guides developed by various Theater companies offer a different approach to the play. Many include excellent background material, as well as performance-oriented discussion and analyses. Even the interviews with actors and how they perceived their character and prepared for the performance can offer unique insights.

eustaciaspacer

Films

wellesOrson Welles (1948) had a particuar affection for Macbeth, directing and playing the title role in his black and white feature film. Very dramatic, liberties are taken with plot and dialogue, but its high drama is still impressive.
spacer A lesser known Welles production, the 1936 stage version, commonly called Haiti or Voodoo Macbeth was part of the WPA. A short newsreel and an interview with the original players still survive.

polanski

 

Roman Polanski (1971) is famous for his adaptation’s copious amounts of bloody gore, expert use of location settings, and Lady Macbeth’s nude sleepwalking scene. Despite those warnings, students find it interesting. It would be wise to screen it before you show it.

 

rsc

 

 

Royal Shakespeare Company’s Macbeth (1979) stars Dame Judi Dench and Sir Ian McKellen. Acting is excellent but staging is bare bones and the pace is slow.

 

 

worthington

 

Macbeth (2006) uses a modern-day Melbourne gangster setting, and the actors deliver the dialogue in Australian accents, but it largely maintains the language of the original play. Young actors and dark settings interest kids, but it is sometimes very hard to find. A major Australian version with dedicated teacher guide.

Great Performances (2010) has a version of the full play available on Vimeo.

Yes, there is a Simpsons version called MacHomer. Just a clip.

 

Adaptations

kurosawAdaptations work when the students read and understood the original play. Otherwise, they will miss the point of changes made.

asteriskWith Throne of Blood (1961), Kurosawa fuses Shakespeare’s great tragedies with the formal elements of Japanese Noh theater to make a Macbeth that is all his own—a classic tale of ambition and duplicity set against a ghostly landscape of fog and inescapable doom. Subtitles.

menofrespect

Men of Respect (1991) transports the play to a modern gangland milieu. Occasionally effective, this version is surely the most brazenly literal, with a jaw-dropping amount of anachronistic boogying by cast and crew.scotlandpa

 

 

asteriskThink of Scotland, PA (2001) as truck-stop Shakespeare. Macbeth is given a drive-through makeover as the deadliest of deadpan comedies. Bizarre methods of dispatch abound. This movie’s hilarious if you’re in on the joke.

Giuseppe Verdi’s Opera is accessible to students, available in many different versions. My favorite is Macbeth (2005) by the Glyndebourne Opera, which is readily available. Several complete operas are also available on YouTube, including this one with English subtitles. Two operatic houses have provided extraordinarily detailed and rich teaching guides: Minnesota Opera House and The Metropolitan. English translation of Verdi.

verdi

Infographs

asteriskI love infographs which can be hard to view on screen -- they need to be downloaded, printed,
and taped together to be best displayed.
(Click each image below to launch the full-sized infographic.)

The Scottish Play
scottish play

Course Hero Overview
infographic1

Themes/Apparitions/Symbols

infographic3


Shakespeare’s Macbeth

infographic2

Timeline
infographic4

Doodle Macbeth

doodle



One Page Summary

one page

Character Map

character map

Study Web

study web

Macbeth’s Kingship

kingship

Themes

themes

Timeline

timeline

Two Sides of Macbeth

two sides

Poster Art

This frequently-performed play has inspired powerful posters. Some of these were designed for theater performances,
identified by theater; others for films, identified by director; a few are art projects, identified by artist.
Write an art analysis of your favorite, focusing on what the poster reveals about the play itself.
(Click each poster to see a larger image).
Remember: What is the effect of the poster and how is that effect produced?

Film Posters

Theater Posters

welles
Orson Welles

polanski
Roman Polanski

nunn
Trevor Nunn

wright
Geoffrey Wright

goold
Rupert Goold

ashford
Rob Ashford

fassbender
Michael Fassbender

folger
Folger Theater

hulltruck
Hull Truck Theater

landmark
Landmark Pavilion

raleigh
North Raleigh Arts


orlando
Orlando Shakespeare Festival


mechanicals
Rude Mechanicals


saratoga
Saratoga Springs

standrew
St. Andrew Company

troika
Troika Collective


tulsa
Tulsa Performingg Arts

Art Posters

mcleod
Ben McLeod

misic
Ivan Misic

strain
Peter Strain

warren
Daniel Warren

If you download or print anything from this site, please consider making at least a $10.00 donation through PayPal.
I can maintain and expand this website only with your help.

Back to Assignments or Home.
Updated 12 December 2017.