Macbeth V

Upon completing The Tragedy of Macbeth, Act V, write a brief evaluation of Macbeth as a typical tragic hero. Do you think he is an otherwise noble figure with one tragic flaw, or do you find him less noble overall than a tragic hero should be? State your opinions, and be sure to support them with examples and reasons. Students should identify Macbeth’s tragic flaw and then evaluate Macbeth as a tragic hero, considering whether he is a noble enough figure to qualify as a typical tragic hero. Students should support their ideas with details from the play.
Early in Act V of The Tragedy of Macbeth, Lady Macbeth’s doctor says, “Unnatural deeds / Do breed unnatural troubles.” Write an essay in which you explain how this remark may be applied to Lady Macbeth’s condition at this point and to the general situation in Macbeth’s realm. In their essays, students should apply the remark to both Lady Macbeth’s condition and to the situation of Macbeth’s realm. For example, in discussing Lady Macbeth, they might feel that her murderous deeds and cold-blooded attitude are unnatural and so produce her unnatural waking sleep. As far as the condition in Macbeth’s realm is concerned, students might say that the unnatural murder of Duncan and the unnatural succession of Macbeth to the throne can only be followed by further unnatural acts of tyranny.
In stories, plays, or films, it is always satisfying when villains get what they deserve in the end. In an essay, discuss whether this is the case with Macbeth and Lady Macbeth or whether they might have gotten off too easily. Do you think their fate would have been the same if they’d committed the same deeds today? Use events in The Tragedy of Macbeth, to support your argument. Students may choose to defend either point of view in their essays as long as they support it with examples. For example, students who agree that the villains get what they deserve will say that nothing except death is a worthy penalty for cruel murderers who tear their own country apart. In contrast, some students might feel that because Lady Macbeth chooses to end her own life and Macbeth’s death is quick and brave, these villains do not suffer enough for their crimes. Students might say that the fate of the Macbeths would be the same even today and that in many parts of the world today systems of checks and balances help keep rulers from becoming dictators.
Choose one recurring image in Macbeth—blood, for example, or illness—and discuss how it is used throughout the play. Is the image associated mainly with one or two particular characters? How does the image help to convey ideas and emotions? Address these questions in a brief essay. Students should choose one recurring image in the play and trace it throughout the play, citing concrete examples to illustrate its use. They should discuss the characters, character traits, values, and/or emotions with which they feel it is associated.
Choose one of the following sayings, and write a brief essay explaining how it expresses a theme conveyed in Macbeth. Cite details from Acts I-V to support your ideas. Students should choose one saying, explain what it means, and then cite examples from the play to show that the idea expressed by the saying is one of the play’s themes. They should recognize that saying (a) focuses on the ideas of excessive political ambition and tyranny, (b) on violence leading only to more violence, (c) on the idea of justice and legal or moral law, (d) on the importance of considering future consequences, and (e) on the ideas that things are not always what they appear to be.
The following excerpt from The Tragedy of Macbeth is one of the most quoted passages ever written in the English language.Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow / Creeps in this petty pace from day to day, / To the last syllable of recorded time; / And all our yesterdays have lighted fools / The way to dusty death. Out, out brief candle! / Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player / That struts and frets his hour upon the stage / And then is heard no more. It is a tale / Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury / Signifying nothing.Write an essay explaining what you think this passage means. How does it relate to Macbeth’s situation? Why do you think it has fascinated readers throughout the centuries? Students should give their interpretation of this passage and relate it to Macbeth’s situation, telling why it has fascinated readers. For example, students might mention that in the speech, Macbeth recognizes the inevitability of death, regardless of how great or evil a person is. They may note that Macbeth is also taking the position that life in general with all its ambitions and deeds is essentially meaningless. At this point, he has given up. Students may feel the speech is fascinating because it is an eloquent and vivid summation of an unpleasant, but perhaps not uncommon, feeling about life.
From the battles in The Tragedy of Macbeth, Act V, what can you conclude about warfare in Macbeth’s day? Explain why each choice seems correct or incorrect. d, Explanation: Swords are mentioned throughout, including in the close combat between Macbeth and Macduff at the end. Choice a is contradicted by the details. Macduff and Macbeth do face each other one on one. Choice b is contradicted by the details. The attacking army does camouflage itself, with the tree branches—that is how “Birnam Wood” seems to be coming to Dunsinane. Choice c is not supported by the details. The characters seem to rely mainly on human messengers, and these other inventions (in fact, from the nineteenth century) appear nowhere in the play.
Which emotion or attitude does Lady Macbeth display in her sleepwalking scene in The Tragedy of Macbeth, Act V? Explain your answer. c, Explanation: Her remarks about Duncan and Lady Macduff and her belief that she cannot wash the blood from her hands are evidence of her guilty conscience. Choice a is incorrect; lust for power no longer seems to animate her. Choice b is incorrect; she says nothing about hating Macbeth and still seems to show concern for him. Choice d is not supported by any details in the scene
As the tragedy moves to a climax in The Tragedy of Macbeth, Act V, how would you describe Macbeth’s behavior? Cite examples to help you explain your answer. a, Explanation: Macbeth faces Macduff bravely in the play’s final scenes. Choice b in incorrect because Macbeth is introduced as a brave soldier, and he faces battle bravely at the end. Choice c is incorrect because Macbeth has not made wise choices in his life. Choice d is incorrect because Macbeth, as a murderer, has sinned greatly and does not repent.
In a few paragraphs, explain why you think Macbeth has endured over the centuries. You may want to discuss the play’s relevance today in terms of themes or characters and their experiences, or you may wish to focus on Shakespeare’s use of language. Whatever the thrust of your writing, be sure to cite details from the play to support your general statements about it. Students should explain why they think Macbeth has endured as a classic and cite examples from the play to support their opinions. They may focus on what they consider to be the play’s universal themes, on its understanding of human behavior and the universals of human nature, or on its brilliant use of poetic and memorable language.

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