The Tragedy of Macbeth is full of common literary elements that are important for students to explore. Because this is one of Shakespeare's most famous tragedies, it is often beneficial for students to understand why is it is categorized as such. One of the main reasons is because it contains a tragic hero. This is a protagonist who is typically of noble birth and seems to be ill-fated and destined for doom. In this play, it is clear that both Macbeth and Lady Macbeth fit this description.
The famous Greek philosopher Aristotle was the first to record the specific attributes or principles of a tragic hero. For the storyboard above, students use a template to storyboard the qualities that make Macbeth a tragic hero. The finished product outlines each of Aristotle's principles with a detailed explanation of the specific attributes.
|ATTRIBUTE||DESCRIPTION||Example from Macbeth|
|Hamartia||Flaw in the Character||The Three Witches tell Macbeth a prophecy that causes Macbeth to take matters into his hands (ambition).|
|Hubris||Excessive Pride||Macbeth’s pride combines with his ambition, and that of his wife. They plot to kill the current king so that he can usurp the throne. "How can I be king someday?"|
|Peripeteia||Reversal of Fortune||After killing the king and numerous others, Macbeth and Lady Macbeth become suspicious and paranoid. "Lady Macbeth, I fear our murderous deeds."|
|Anagnorisis||A Moment of Critical Discovery||Macbeth discovers that the former king's son is planning a rebellion against him.|
|Nemesis||Fate that Cannot be Avoided||"The battle is won! ALL HAIL KING MALCOLM! The tyrant and his fiend wife are dead."|
|Catharsis||Audience's Feeling of Pity or Fear After the Hero's Fall||In the end, the witches' final prophecy comes true and Macbeth is killed. The audience is left with the feeling of pity and relief that Macbeth and his wife are dead.|
(These instructions are completely customizable. After clicking "Copy Activity", update the instructions on the Edit Tab of the assignment.)
Create a storyboard that shows how Macbeth can be considered a tragic hero.
(You can also create your own on Quick Rubric.)
Tragic Hero Characteristics
The six tragic hero characteristics are correctly identified and portrayed from the story. The explanation provided explains how the scenes depict each characteristic, and shows effective analysis.
Four or five tragic hero characteristics are correctly identified and portrayed from the story, or some of the elements may not be identified correctly. The explanations give context to the scene, but may be minimal, and there is some attempt at analysis.
Two or three tragic hero characteristics are correctly identified and portrayed from the story, or most of the elements are inaccurately depicted. The quotes and/or explanations are too minimal.
One or fewer tragic hero characteristics are correctly identified and portrayed from the story, or most of the elements are inaccurately depicted. The quotes and/or explanations are minimal or missing altogether.
The art chosen to depict the scenes are accurate to the work of literature. Time and care is taken to ensure that the scenes are neat, eye-catching, and creative.
The art chosen to depict the scenes should be accurate, but there may be some liberties taken that distract from the assignment. Scene constructions are neat, and meet basic expectations.
The art chosen to depict the scenes is inappropriate. Scene constructions are messy and may create some confusion.
The art chosen to depict the scenes is too limited or incomplete.
Ideas are organized. There are few or no grammatical, mechanical, or spelling errors.
Ideas are mostly organized. There are some grammatical, mechanical, or spelling errors.
Ideas may be disorganized or misplaced. Lack of control over grammar, mechanics, and spelling reflect a lack of proofreading.
Storyboard text is difficult to understand.
Begin the lesson by introducing the concept of a tragic hero, defining the qualities and characteristics that define this archetype. Provide a brief overview of Macbeth as a tragic hero, emphasizing his character traits and tragic flaws. Initiate a discussion about other well-known tragic heroes in literature and ask students to share their thoughts on characters they are familiar with.
Distribute texts or excerpts featuring other tragic heroes like Hamlet or Oedipus Rex. Encourage students to read these excerpts independently or in small groups. Provide a character profile template that students can use to compare Macbeth and the tragic figure from the text they are analyzing. Use visual aids or charts to facilitate comparisons, highlighting common traits, motivations, and flaws.
Initiate a group discussion where students share their findings and insights about the connections and differences between Macbeth and the other tragic figure. Use the whiteboard to create a visual comparison chart or diagram based on students' input, allowing for easy reference. Encourage critical thinking by asking questions like, "How do their tragic flaws impact their stories differently?"
Assign students a brief written reflection in which they summarize their key observations about the character connections. Encourage them to express their thoughts on why understanding tragic heroes is important in literature. Conclude the lesson with a class discussion to summarize the character connections between Macbeth and other tragic figures.
A tragic hero is a character of noble birth or high status who possesses a fatal flaw (hamartia) that leads to their downfall. Macbeth exemplifies this archetype as a Scottish nobleman whose unchecked ambition, his tragic flaw, drives him to commit regicide and a series of heinous acts, ultimately resulting in his tragic fate.
Macbeth's journey is shaped by a tension between free will and determinism. While he is influenced by the prophecies of the witches, he still has the agency to make choices. His ambition and actions are driven by his own decisions, showcasing the interplay between personal choices and predestined elements in his tragic journey.
Lady Macbeth plays a pivotal role in Macbeth's downfall. She goads him into pursuing power at any cost and questions his masculinity when he hesitates to commit murder. Her influence on Macbeth's decisions and her own descent into guilt and madness contribute significantly to the tragic path he follows.
Macbeth's story serves as a cautionary tale by illustrating the destructive consequences of unchecked ambition and the corrupting nature of power. It warns the audience about the perils of sacrificing morality for personal gain and the moral decay that can result from such choices.