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Shakespeare's Macbeth, Essential Revision Notes

© 2016.

All revision notes have been produced by mockness ltd for

Table of Contents

Context 5

Summary 7

Characters 9

Macbeth 9

Lady Macbeth 9

The Three Witches 9

Banquo 9

King Duncan 10

Macduff 10

Malcolm 10

Hecate 10

Fleance 10

Lennox 10

Ross 10

The Murderers 10

Porter 10

Lady Macduff 10

Donalbain 10

Themes, Motifs and Symbols 11

Themes 11

The Corrupting Power of Unchecked Ambition 11

The Relationship Between Cruelty and Masculinity 11

The Difference Between Kingship and Tyranny 12

Motifs 12

Hallucinations 12

Violence 13

Prophecy 13

Symbols 13

Blood 13

The Weather 13

Important Quotations Explained 14

1. 14

2. 14

3. 15

4. 16

5. 16

Sample Answers 17

Characterize the relationship between Macbeth and Lady Macbeth. If the main theme of Macbeth is ambition, whose ambition is the driving force of the play—Macbeth’s, Lady Macbeth’s, or both? 17

One of the important themes in Macbeth is the idea of political legitimacy, of the moral authority that some kings possess and others lack. With particular attention to Malcolm’s questioning of Macduff in Act 4: Scene 3, try to define some of the characteristics that grant or invalidate the moral legitimacy of absolute power. What makes Duncan a good king? What makes Macbeth a tyrant? 18

An important theme in Macbeth is the relationship between gender and power, particularly Shakespeare’s exploration of the values that make up the idea of masculinity. What are these values, and how do various characters embody them? How does Shakespeare subvert his characters’ perception of gender roles? 18

What is the importance of the relationship between Macbeth and Lady Macbeth? 19

How is the theme of ambition dealt with in Macbeth? 19

Macbeth, The Fall of Man 19

Fortune, Fate, and Free Will in Macbeth 20

Kingship and Natural Order in Macbeth 20

Disruption of Nature in Macbeth 20

Gender Roles in Macbeth 21

Reason Versus Passion in Macbeth 21

Discuss how the language in Macbeth contributes to its atmosphere of evil and violence. 21


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