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Macbeth’s Influences

Subject:English

Topic:Macbeth, Shakespeare, GCSE, Influences, Witches, Bravery, Theatre, Drama

Audience:KS4

Question:What are the key influences on the behaviour of Macbeth?

Author:Elizabeth Doyle

This resource is designed to help students ‘unpack’ and analyse the events leading up to Macbeth’s decision to become a multiple murderer in order to cultivate and then fulfil the ambition to seize the throne. Macbeth’s various struggles with conscience, the temptations of power and the pressure placed on him by his wife ‘weave in and out’ of the text.

Lower ability students could benefit from guidance so they can identify the evidence to support their conclusions about Macbeth’s motivation. More able students can discuss Macbeth’s character, but it is hoped that this exercise will help them to evaluate the importance of each factor, and the ways that Macbeth’s actions and statements reflect the evolution of his character and relationships over the course of the play.

There are twelve slips in the ‘easy’ setting of the app.

Six slips are added in the ‘medium’ level, designed to build on the work done within ‘easy’, but to explore more deeply Macbeth’s character, in particular his good qualities, to highlight the tragedy of the flaws which contribute to his deeds and ultimate downfall. Hopefully students will have a more developed awareness of his struggle in the choice between the good and evil path.

The extra six slips in ‘hard’ are intended to encourage higher order analysis of the relationship between Macbeth and Lady Macbeth, and the way its dynamics fluctuate and change during the course of the play. It is hoped that students will reflect on Macbeth’s deepest motivation and willingness to supress his conscience in order to proceed in his plans. They could also notice the language he uses; he can speak both with affection towards his wife earlier on in the play, but with coldness later on. He also uses language that is resonant of judgement and damnation in his soliloquies, and this is also interesting.

Possible learning outcomes for students include:

  • Identify evidence to support conclusions about Macbeth’s motivation
  • Evaluate the importance of motivational factors
  • Evaluate how Macbeth’s actions and statements reflect his character development and relationships over the course of the play
  • Develop awareness of Macbeth’s struggle between good and evil
  • Analyse how the relationship between Macbeth and Lady Macbeth fluctuates
  • Discuss the language Macbeth uses and how this varies

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