Macbeth Symbols, Motifs, & Themes

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Macbeth Symbols, Motifs, & Themes
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Themes, Symbols, and Motifs in Literature

Reading Between the Lines: Themes, Symbols, & Motifs

Lesson Plans by Rebecca Ray

One of the beautiful things about stories are their underlying lessons, morals, or critiques. Teaching students to identify these hidden messages brings greater depth to their literary experiences, and storyboarding is a great way to teach these concepts. It allow the visuals or symbols to tell the stories, making the ideas easy for students to comprehend.

Macbeth Play Lesson Plans

The Tragedy of Macbeth by William Shakespeare

Lesson Plans by Rebecca Ray

The shortest (and one of the bloodiest) of Shakespeare's tragedies, the play begins with victory and honors for the brave Scottish general, Macbeth. The play follows Macbeth's descent from noble soldier to nefarious traitor.

Tragedy of Macbeth, The

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Macbeth Symbolism, Motifs, & Themes

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  • The blood that was split because of Macbeth's ambition continuously reappears as a physical reminder that he cannot wash away his evil deeds.
  • Macbeth sees a bloody dagger floating in the air just before he kills the king.
  • Lady Macbeth hallucinates blood on her hands and walks around the castle yelling, "out damn spot, out!" She attempts to wash it off, but her efforts are in vain.
  • For Macbeth and Lady Macbeth, ghosts are reminders of the decisions they have made, decisions that haunt each of them.
  • Lady Macbeth states that she cannot kill King Duncan because he resembled her father as he slept.
  • Macbeth breaks down at the feast after seeing what he believes is Banquo's ghost.
  • The Three Weird Sisters are the foremost example of the supernatural throughout the play.
  • Fair is foul and foul is fair!
  • Macbeth shall never vanquish'd be until Great Birnam wood to high Dunsinane Hill Shall come against him (4.1.87-90).
  • In Act 1, the Three Witches predict that Macbeth will become King and that even though Banquo will never be King, his bloodline will inherit the throne.
  • In Act 4, the Three Witches are visited by Macbeth. They give him three more prophecies, which are intentionally ambiguous.
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