British Literature Macbeth Test

Act 1 -opens with 3 weird sisters setting up entire theme of play: “fair is foul and foul is fair”-a war takes place b/w Scotland and Norway-Scotland wins b/c of Macbeth-traitorous Thane of Cawdor is captured and executed-Duncan rewards Macbeth with title Thane of Cawdor for his gratitude -3 weird sisters confront Macbeth and Banquo, making prophecies and saying that Macbeth will become Thane of Cawdor and eventually king-Macbeth learns of his new title, fulfilling the first part of the prophecy and sends word to his wife-Duncan plans on staying the night at Macbeth’s home-Lady Macbeth receives the news and immediately plots the death of Duncan so Macbeth will be king-Lady Macbeth manipulates Macbeth into following her plans and he agrees to murder Duncan-by end of this act, Macbeth is determined to follow through with the plan
“Fair is foul and foul is fair” -said by witches, Act I-highlights a theme in Macbeth: appearances are deceptive and things are different from what they appear to be-appearance vs reality, meaning you wouldn’t be able to trust anyone -whatever is fair to a common man is foul to them and what is foul to common man is fair to them -relates to Macbeth when he questions whether the prophecies are fair or foul -paradox: foreshadows the deception of Macbeth that prophecies of witches would lead him to greatness but they would destroy him instead-symbolism: witches are symbolic of foul but give fair advice while Macbeth outwardly appears to be a hero but inwardly he is dishonorable
“Come you spirits…unsex me here…” -said by Lady Macbeth, Act I-feminity v. masculinity-gender roles switched-make her less of a woman and more of a man–“unsex me here”-wants the qualities of a man of violence and hatred so she can have the strength to kill Duncan and power of being a queen-she doesn’t want to be gentle, soft and sweet-tempered which are all qualities stereotypically associated with her sex, esp. during Elizabethan period-wants to lose her breasts and milk–“take my milk for gall”-the quote tells us her personality traits of greed for power and naive -she emasculates Macbeth
“If it were done when ’tis done, then ‘there well…Will plead like angels, …like a naked new-born babe, …but only Vaulting ambition which o’erleaps itself And falls on th’other” -Macbeth’s soliloquy, Act I-he debates whether or not he should kill Duncan-lists Duncan’s noble qualities-imagery is dark…”bloody instruction”, “deep damnations”, it suggests that Macbeth is aware of how the murder would open the door to a dark and sinful world-he admits that his only reason for committing murder, “ambition,” seems unjustifiable-Macbeth seems to resolve not to kill Duncan, but this resolve will only last until his wife returns and once again convinces him to go ahead with their plot
Act 2- -Macbeth has some doubts and visions but talks himself into following through with the murder-he freaks out so Lady Macbeth finished the murder by smearing blood on the chamberlains-the next day, Macduff and Lennox arrive at Macbeth’s and Macduff discovers the dead body of King Duncan-guards become the suspect and Macbeth kills them “in a fit of sorrow and rage”-Malcolm and Donalbain flee the castle because they are afraid they will be next
Why is “three” an important number? Three is an important number in paganism and Christianity, as well as Greek mythology. Three represents the triad: father, mother, son; birth, life, death; Father, Son, Holy Spirit; the 3 Fates (Hades), the Big Three, etc. In Macbeth, there are the 3 Weird Sisters, 3 prophecies, 3 titles (Thane of Cawdor, Thane of Glamis, King), 3 apparitions which all shout his name 3 times (“Macbeth, Macbeth, Macbeth!), 3 things that drinking alcohol provokes in a person in the conversation b/w Macbeth and Porter
“Whence is that knocking?— …The multitudinous seas incarnadine, Making the green one red” -said by Macbeth, Act 2-he just murdered Duncan-the mysterious knocking seems to promise doom-ironically, the knocking is caused by Macduff who will eventually destroy Macbeth-GUILT is symbolized by the blood
Dagger Soliloquy- Act 2 -first glimpse of Macbeth’s powerful imagination, imagination that is responsible for his mental torment throughout the play-even though Macbeth knows that the dagger is an optical illusion, and suspects that it could be brought about by his potentially “heat-oppressed brain”, he allows the dagger to affect him greatly-allusions to people and practices conjure up images of satanic and earthly evil-ex. Hecate-dagger begins to drip blood–his conscience is working with his imagination to force him to face the horror of what is about to do -he dismisses the dagger from his sight saying that “there’s no such thing” but he can’t get rid of the horror of Duncan’s murder from his mind
Porter Scene- Act 2 -Iverness, Macbeth’s castle, is depicted as hell-this description is an echo of what’s just occurred in the castle (Duncan’s assassination) as well as foreshadowing of what’s to come -provides comic relief–low comedy b/c sexual joke-this scene came right after a point of high intensity and suspense and served to lower the intensity so Shakespeare can raise it again when the body of Duncan is discovered-theme of equivocation is shown during this scene b/c porter explains that an equivocator is one who could lie on both sides of the scale of justice and sound believable in both cases-“drink” is an equivocator
apostrophe speech where someone is speaking to an inanimate object, rhetorical questions
Act 3 -Banquo begins to suspect Macbeth for the murder of King Duncan and Macbeth in turn feels that Banquo will reveal that it was he that killed the King-so, Macbeth sends out some men to murder Banquo and his son, Fleance-Banquo is murdered, but Fleance escapes-Macbeth, Lady Macbeth, Lennox, Ross, and other lords attend a banquet-the ghost of Banquo presents itself to Macbeth-Macbeth begins to rant and rave, making the other guests uneasy-Lady Macbeth tries to cover up the situation by saying Macbeth is prone to fits-by the end of this Act, we learn that Macduff has not attended the banquet because he has gone to England, looking for aid because he is suspicious of Macbeth.
How is Macbeth a tragic hero? A tragic hero is a virtuous character in a dramatic tragedy who is destined for downfall, suffering or defeat and usually has a fatal flaw. Macbeth is a tragic hero because of his hamartia: ambition and eventually, hubris. 1. starts off as a virtuous character, having won the war for Scotland against Norway. He is respected by the people and even by Duncan, since he gives him the title Thane of Cawdor.2. his ambition, with the provoking of his wife, leads him to take a violent and bloody path to the throne3. his lust of power, along with persuasive words from Lady Macbeth, led to him murdering King Duncan in his sleep. He becomes almost obsessed when crowned King of Scotland, certain that almost any move was a move against him and the crown-> leading to deaths of Banquo, Lady Macduff, etc. Ambition blinds him from seeing the destructive path he created, ruling as a tyrant rather than a noble king4. his easily impressionable nature causes him to not form his own thoughts, but rather listen to the words of Lady Macbeth and the three witches5. his arrogance and hubris led him to believe that he was, in a sense, unable to be defeated b/c the witches told him no man born of woman could defeat him and that he will never be defeated until the trees of Great Birnam Wood attack Dunsinane
“We’ve scorched the snake, not killed it” -what Macbeth says to Lady Macbeth in Act III-snake refers to the evil deed-they cannot stop their violence because the need for power will never end
Act 4 -Macbeth confronts the three Weird Sisters and they show him more visions-the visions lead Macbeth to believe that he cannot be killed by any man, giving him a false sense of security-he then plans to send murderers to the castle of Macduff (who is in England ) in order to kill his family.-meanwhile, Macduff is in England begging Malcolm to return to Scotland and seize the throne from Macbeth who has become a tyrant-Malcolm tests Macduff’s loyalty to Scotland and himself, and after being satisfied with Macduff’s responses, he agrees to wage war against Macbeth -Malcolm’s uncle will also aid in the attack.
“By the pricking of my thumbs, Something wicked this way comes” -said by the witches in Act IV-referring to Macbeth
Act 5 -Lady Macbeth has finally gone mad with guilt over the murders-the once strong and ruthless woman is now a scared child-doctors are unable to help her-some of the Scottish lords are discussing Macbeth’s state of mind and have come to the conclusion that they will help Malcolm and Macduff fight against Macbeth-Macbeth isn’t really concerned because the prophecy, he believes, insures that he cannot be killed by any man born of woman-Macbeth soon confronts Macduff and learns that Macduff was ripped from his mother’s side and not born naturally-thus, Macbeth is killed by Macduff, just as Macbeth had conquered the other Thane of Cawdor-Malcolm then becomes the rightful King of Scotland
“Out, damned spot; out, I say. …Yet who would have thought the old man to have had so much blood in him?” -said by Lady Macbeth in Act V while she sleepwalks-earlier in the play, she possessed a stronger resolve and sense of purpose than her husband and was the driving force behind their plot to kill Duncan-now, she is degraded to a “child-like” status, one who has nightmares and sleepwalks-she is completely undone by guilt and descends into madness-may be a reflection of her mental and emotional state that she is not speaking in verse-inability to sleep was foreshadowed in the voice that her husband thought he heard while killing the king—a voice crying out that Macbeth was murdering sleep-blood as a symbol of guilt-“Hell is murky”-> implies that she already knows that darkness intimately-Macbeth and Lady Macbeth, in their destructive power, have created their own hell, where they are tormented by guilt and insanity
“She should have died hereafter. There would have been a time for such a word. Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow Creeps in this petty pace from day to day T… It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, Signifying nothing” -said by Macbeth in Act V after hearing about Lady Macbeth’s death-audience realizes how completely his wife’s passing and the ruin of his power have undone Macbeth-insists that there is no meaning or purpose in life-there is also a defensive and self-justifying quality to his words. If everything is meaningless, then Macbeth’s awful crimes are somehow made less awful, because, like everything else, they too “signify nothing.”-highlights the illusionary nature of the play -could the play, after all, “signify nothing”?
Shakespearean Sonnet -sonnet sequence: group of sonnets unified by a common theme-14 lines in iambic pentameter-3 quatrains-rhyming couplet-rhyme scheme: abab cdcd efef gg-present a problem or premise in 1st 12 lines and offer a solution or conclusion in final couplet-reflect various aspects of life: personal relationships, passing of time, relationship b/w human beings and nature
Sonnet 29 -speaker of sonnet is sad and has been crying over his pathetic life and all of his misfortune-he feels alone, even God is ignoring him-wishes he was rich, good-looking, popular with friends-but he’s not, which is why nothing seems fun anymore-remembers special person in his life and mood shifts in a big, dramatic way-so happy that he feels like a bird, a “lark” that rises up and sings to the heavens-decides life is great after all-even though this person isn’t around right now, just thinking about his/her “sweet love” makes speaker feel lucky-so lucky, he wouldn’t trade places with anyone else for all the money and power in the world
Sonnet 73 -speaker involves series of metaphors to characterize the nature of what he perceives to be his old age-first quatrain-> tells beloved that his age is like a “time of year”, autumn-second quatrain-> age is like late twilight-third quatrain-> speaker compares himself to glowing remnants of a fire-couplet-> speaker tells young man that he must perceive these things and that his love must be strengthened by the knowledge that he will soon be parted from the speaker when the speaker, like the fire, is extinguished by time
Sonnet 116 -attempt to define love, by telling both what it is and not-first quatrain-> speaker says love is perfect and unchanging-second quatrain-> speaker tells what love is through a metaphor–a guiding star to lost ships that is not susceptible to storms-third quatrain-> love is not susceptible to time-couple-> speaker attests to his certainty that love is as he says– if his statements can be proved to be error, he must never have written a word, and no man can ever have been in love
Sonnet 130 -compares speaker’s lover to a number of other beauties and never in the lover’s favor-her eyes are “nothing like the sun”, her lips are less red than coral, compared to the white snow her breasts are dun-colored and her hairs are like black wires on her head-second quatrain-> speaker sees no such roses in mistress’s cheeks and her breath reeks-third quatrain-> he admits that he loves her voice and he has never seen a goddess, his mistress, walk on the ground-couplet-> speaker declares that “by heav’n” he thinks his love as rare and valuable “as any she bellied with false compare”–that is, any love in which false comparisons were invoked to describe the loved one’s beauty
4 major subjects of sonnets 1. mortality2. time3. love4. beauty
3 parts of sonnets 1. procreation-> carpe diem!-> mortality (sonnet 29)2. rival poet-> one of contemporaries-> love triangle-> homosexual relationship with rival poet? (sonnet 78)3. dark lady (sonnet 130)
The Tragical History of the Life and Death of Doctor Faustus -The Faust Legend: German magician labelled as having satanic powers by Martin Luther; sold soul to devil for youth, knowledge, and magical powers
Pastoral -Lyric that celebrates beauty and pleasures of country life-Speaker is often shepherd-Addresses shepherdess/ country maiden he is in love with-Nature-Idealized
The Passionate Shepherd to His Love -Asking woman to move in with him and he will spoil her and they will be merry-Contradicts with Marlowe’s personality and work-Speaker can’t actually fulfill all of his promises-Raleigh’s reply: realistic, does not trust shepherd to come through with promises, life not that simple, their happiness would not last, can not be moved by material possessions
Human’s place on Earth -Faustus: Faustus originally decided to make deal because he believes he would be damned no matter what he does (predestination); toward end, his beliefs are changed as he attempts to repent and save his soul-Sonnet 73: death, ending, embrace life-Macbeth: everyone has a position in the world and it is disastrous to mess with God’s order, life means nothing
Love -Petrarchan sonnet- artificial, idealistic version of love, unrealistic-Passionate Shepherd: shepherd makes unrealistic promises to shepherdess to persuade her to come live with him; offers of material goods can create doubts that it is real love-Sonnet 29: partner/ friend helps him get through difficult time-Sonnet 73: proximity to death causes love to grow stronger-Sonnet 116: discusses ideal love, constant, undying, etc-Sonnet 130: loves dark lady despite her flaws, not traditional romance-Macbeth: did they love? Lady’s death was traumatic
Supernatural -Elizabethan blamed unexplained occurrences on witchcraft-Faustus: belief in witches and devils caused play to have great effect on audience, sold soul to devil, wants to go beyond ordinary bounds of knowledge/ power, magic-Macbeth: witches- neither men nor women, spells, Hecate, ghost of Banquo, omens, Macduff not women-born
Knowledge -Faustus: desire knowledge without foreseeing consequences, willing to give up knowledge at end (“I’ll burn my books”)-Macbeth: gains knowledge, but only becomes greedy for more, does not listen to warnings, caused his downfall
Fate -Faustus: eternally punished, struggles with whether he controls his destiny-Macbeth: originally justifies actions with fate, later tries to overcome his fate- challenges fate to fight him to death, ultimately is forced to accept his defeat, witches (wyrd sisters) foreshadow what will happen
Wisdom -Faustus: doesn’t care about knowledge itself, just what it can bring him (unwise)-Macbeth: Banquo is wise and ultimately benefits from this
Power -Faustus: wanted knowledge to gain power, but ultimately had to give it all away, lost power to control his own fate-Macbeth: Lady Macbeth wants to be “unsexed” to gain power, manipulates Macbeth; not satisfied with title of thane
Nature -Shepherd: nature is idealized, people nostalgic and desire simplicity of country life, natural life considered romantic, Raleigh’s reply suggests joys of nature are transitory -Sonnet 73: Nature causes aging, summer ends with fall-Macbeth: nature is disrupted, foul is fair, woods move, owl kills hawk, horses run away and eat each other, sin is rejection of natural order
Gender roles -Shepherd: Spoiling woman and trying to win her over; can be interpreted as shepherd demanding she come live with him-Sonnets: Homosexual references?, man described similarly to ideal woman-Macbeth: Gender roles between Macbeth and Lady Macbeth are swapped; Lady Macbeth emasculates him; wants to be “unsexed” and lose feminine traits so that she can be strong and bitter
Guilt -Lady Macbeth’s illness and suicide-Macbeth goes insane, becomes violent,unable to sleep, considers Duncan lucky because he has peace of mind
Responsibility for Actions -Faustus: has to pay for his mistakes-Macduff blamed himself for leaving family-Controversy over whether it is Macbeth’s fault- witches’s spell, pressured, loses control, insane-All pay for their sins
Chaos -Macbeth begins in confusing way-“Fair is foul and foul is fair”-Nature disrupted-Lennox says night was unruly day after Duncan’s murder: chimney blew out, screams, earthquake
Truth and Deception -“Fair is foul and foul is fair”-Macbeth loses sight of what is real-Banquo’s ghost-Dagger scene-Lady Macbeth’s sleepwalking-Who to trust-Who is sane-Apparitions-Incessant knocking
Naivety -Macbeth easily believes witches-Lady Macbeth planning Duncan’s death -Duncan’s too trusting
Parenting -King is supposed to be fatherly with all below him as obedient children-Macbeth described killing Duncan like killing an innocent baby-Lady Macduff and son’s relationship- shortly before son is murdered-Macduff’s grief and anger over loss of son-Young Siward killed- Siward glad son died a hero’s death
Friendship -Macbeth and Banquo

You Might Also Like