Macbeth and Drama Terms

exposition introduces the characters, setting, and basic situation
rising action events leading up to the climax
climax Most exciting moment of the story; turning point
falling action a direct result of the climax, leading to a solution to the conflict
resolution the final unraveling or solution of the plot
denoument unraveling of plot
dramatic irony occurs when another character(s) and/or the audience know more than one or more characters on stage about what is happening
situational irony occurs when the outcome of a work is unexpected, or events turn out to be the opposite from what one had expected
verbal irony occurs when what is said contradicts what is meant or thought
tragedy A serious form of drama dealing with the downfall of a heroic or noble character
tragic hero A literary character who makes an error of judgement or has a fatal flaw combined with fate and external forces
hubris Excessive pride or arrogance that results in the downfall of the protagonist of a tragedy
hamartia the character flaw or error of a tragic hero that leads to his downfall
tragic flaw A weakness or limitation of character, resulting in the fall of the tragic hero
peripeteia a sudden and unexpected change of fortune or reverse of circumstances (especially in a literary work)
anagnorisis Recognition of truth about one’s self and his actions; moment of clarity
catharsis a release of emotional tension
drama a dramatic work intended for performance by actors on a stage
soliloquy a speech given by a character alone on stage
monologue a long speech made by one performer or by one person in a group
aside a line spoken by an actor to the audience but not intended for others on the stage
dramatic structure act 1 exposition, act 2 rising action, act 3 crisis/turning, act 4 falling action, act 5 climax
Macbeth inspired by witch’s prophecy, a man murders his way to the throne of Scotland, but his conscience plagues him and his fellow lords rise up against him; themes: unchecked ambition as a corrupting force, relationship between cruelty and masculinity, kingship v. tyranny
Lady Macbeth as ambitious as her husband; taunts Macbeth’s courage to insure he will murder Duncan
King Duncan The initial king of Scotland, who is murdered by Macbeth. He is a very good king.
Banquo a general in Duncan’s army; Macbeth’s closest friend; murdered by Macbeth
Fleance Banquo’s son
Macduff Scottish General; suspects Macbeth of murdering Duncan; kills Macbeth; Thane of Fife
Lady Macduff Macduff’s wife. The scene in her castle provides our only glimpse of a domestic realm other than that of Macbeth and Lady Macbeth. She and her home serve as contrasts to Lady Macbeth and the hellish world of inverses
Malcolm The son of Duncan, whose restoration to the throne signals Scotland’s return to order following Macbeth’s reign of terror.
Donalbain Duncan’s son and Malcolm’s younger brother.
Seyton Macbeth’s personal assistant or butler.
The Witches Three “black and midnight hags” who plot mischief against Macbeth using charms, spells, and prophecies. Their predictions prompt him to murder Duncan, to order the deaths of Banquo and his son, and to blindly believe in his own immortality. The play leaves these three hags’ true identity unclear – aside from the fact that they are servants of Hecate, we know little about their place in the cosmos. In some ways they resemble the mythological Fates, who impersonally weave the threads of human destiny. They clearly take a perverse delight in using their knowledge of the future to toy with and destroy human beings.
Lennox A Scottish nobleman. Starts to doubt Macbeth as the story goes on that Macbeth is innocent of the murder of Duncan.
Ross A Scottish nobleman.