William Shakespeare's Macbeth continues to be one of his most celebrated plays, even today. While it is not one of his more elaborately constructed works, it nonetheless examines the complicated nature of the human soul, especially when tempted with power and ambition. We watch Macbeth as he is tempted by the lure of the crown, and ultimately—with prodding from Lady Macbeth—decides to murder King Duncan and usurp the throne.
In this moment, he becomes not a king, but a tyrant, and ultimately it is this flaw in his character, his violent ambition, that leads to his downfall. The play examines important themes such as the danger of unbridled ambition, the contrast between a true leader and a tyrant, and the age-old debate of fate vs. free will in a person's life.
Please note: This summary comprises the full story of Macbeth and therefore contains spoilers!
The Tragedy of Macbeth play is one of William Shakespeare's best-known works. The shortest (and one of the bloodiest) of Shakespeare's tragedies, the story begins with victory and honors for the brave Scottish general, Macbeth. The play follows his descent from noble soldier to nefarious traitor.
As the play begins, Macbeth receives a prophecy from three witches that one day he will become king. This prediction inevitably consumes him with ambition and greed. He is further led down his treacherous path by his wife, Lady Macbeth, who urges him to murder King Duncan and seize the throne without hesitation. Having done so, and ascended to the throne, Macbeth is consumed by guilt and fear. He becomes tyrannical, paranoid, and suspicious. He resorts to killing others to secure his place, and, as the bloodbath continues, this drives both Macbeth and Lady Macbeth to arrogance, madness, and their eventual deaths.
Macbeth’s good friend, Banquo also was also given a prophecy by the witches. They said that, although Banquo would never be a king, he would produce a line of kings. Banquo accepted this fate with patience while Macbeth took action against Banquo and his son, Fleance.
Macbeth is not Shakespeare’s most complex play, but it is one of his most thrilling and emotionally intense. Shakespeare’s other major tragedies explore the intellectual dilemmas faced by the characters, while Macbeth meteorically rises and plummets from beginning to end.
William Shakespeare is perhaps the most well-known playwright of all time. Born in April of 1564 in a small city in England, little is known about his childhood life. He had two older sisters and three younger brothers, and enjoyed learning about history and poetry in elementary school. When he was older, William married Anne Hathaway, with whom he had three children.
William was part of Lord Chamberlain’s Men, an acting company in England. He wrote plays and acted for the company, and his plays became very popular in the city. As he became more and more well-known, Shakespeare wrote more and more plays, averaging about a play and a half per year and totalling 37 plays in his lifetime!
Shakespeare died in 1616 at the age of 52, but is still known as one of the most influential writers of the English language. His works are the most often quoted, second only to the Bible!
These questions may be used during reading, or upon completion of the play. While it is best to get students discussing what they’ve read, these questions can also be answered individually in a reader’s notebook. It is always such a joy to hear the different opinions that students have, even though they are reading the same information!
Storyboard That is an excellent tool for students to create fun and engaging projects as a culminating activity after finishing a novel or a play. In addition to our premade activities, here are some ideas that teachers can customize and assign to students to spark creativity in individual students, pairs, or small groups for a final project. Several of these ideas include Storyboard That template that can be printed out or copied into your teacher dashboard and assigned digitally. All final projects can be printed out, presented as a slide show, or, for an extra challenge, as an animated gif!
Select a specific aspect of "The Tragedy of Macbeth" that you want to analyze with your students. This could include themes, characters, literary devices, or key scenes. For example, you could focus on the theme of ambition, the character development of Macbeth, or the use of dramatic irony.
Choose a storyboard template that best fits your analysis topic. Consider using the plot diagram template to analyze the story's structure, the character analysis template to delve into the traits and motivations of specific characters, or the theme analysis template to explore the central themes of the play.
Customize the storyboard template by adding text boxes, images, and captions to analyze and explain your chosen topic. Encourage students to use quotes from the play as textual evidence to support their analysis. They can also incorporate visual elements to enhance their understanding and interpretation.
Guide your students in completing their storyboard analysis. Encourage them to thoroughly analyze their chosen topic, provide thoughtful interpretations, and make connections to the overall meaning and impact of the play. Remind them to use specific examples and evidence from the text to support their analysis.
Facilitate a class discussion where students can share their storyboard analyses. Encourage them to explain their interpretations, listen to their classmates' perspectives, and engage in respectful dialogue. This collaborative discussion will deepen their understanding and encourage critical thinking.
There are many ongoing themes in this play. The supernatural is a consistent theme, with the Three Weird Sisters being the most prevalent example of the supernatural. Some other themes in Macbeth include ambition, power, and appearance versus reality.
While there are many important characters in this play, the main characters include Macbeth, Lady Macbeth, King Duncan, Banquo, and Macduff.
Although Banquo was once Macbeth’s trusted friend, Macbeth realizes he can no longer be trusted and thinks that Banquo is a threat to him. As a result, Macbeth has Banquo murdered.