16 March, Macbeth Act 1

Part I: Review the Paper Assignment

Part II: Macbeth B/G

Dates Description
1603 Queen Elizabeth (Tudor) I dies and James Stewart, King of Scotland becomes king of both Scotland and England & Shakespeare’s company, the Lord Chamberlain’s Men, become the King’s Men
1605 Gunpowder plot: small group of conspirators, embittered by what they perceived as James I intolerance of Catholics, attempted to set off a massive explosion of gunpowder barrels beneath the House of Lords. Guy Fawkes was caught guarding 36 barrels of gunpower, arrested, tried, and then drawn and quartered. Another conspirator, a Jesuit priest named Henry Garnet, was also captured and questions. The author of A treatise of Equivocation. A text, and action, many scholars think the porter references when he imagines the castle gate as the gates of hell, “Here’s an equivocator” (2.3.8).  
1606 Year most scholars agree Macbeth was composed and played for the first time
1611 Simon Foreman, doctor, quack, and all around Renaissance man, reports seeing Macbeth performed at the Globe.
1610-1615 Years in which Thomas Middleton, a sometime rival/sometime collaborator of Shakespeare’s wrote a play called The Witch, songs from which appear in the 1623 folio edition of Macbeth. Middleton is likely responsible for all of 3.5 and parts of 4.1, especially Hecate’s speeches.
1580-1630 Peak Witch Trial time in UK and in Continental Europe.

Macbeth, Act I, Questions

1.Why is it bad luck to say Macbeth backstage during a production of any play? 

2. Do the Weird Sisters, the First, Second, and Third Witch remind you of the Furies?

3. What sorts of offstage sounds do we hear in 1.1? Does it matter that the animals in the first scene are named and the people are not?

4. Who, what, and where are the Witches talking about in 1.1?

5. We get two accounts of the battle in 1.2, compare the account given by the Bloody Captain to the account that Ross gives. Why tell the same story twice? Why does the Captain use such awesome similes?

6. Do the Witches cause the thunder?

7. What sort of spell do the Witches cast at the beginning of 1.3 and why?

8. What do the Witches predict will happen to Macbeth? To Banquo? Compare the way in which each character reacts to the sisters and their predictions. Esp. Macbeth (1.3.126-42). COMPARE TWO SCENES.

9. How did Cawdor die? Who inherits after Duncan dies?

10. When does Macbeth choose to kill Duncan (1.4.48-53)?

11. What does Macbeth say in the letter he writes to Lady Macbeth? How does she respond? Is she a good reader–compare her reading practices with Julia or Silvia’s. Would Macbeth have committed the murders if not for Lady Macbeth?

12. Lots of birds so far. What do you make of “The raven himself is hoarse/That croacks the fatal entrance of Duncan” (1.5.37) and “This guest of summer,/The Temple-haunting marlet, does approve/By his loved masionry that the heavens’ breath/Smells wooingly her” (1.6.2-5).

13. In his famous soliloquy (1.7.1-28), Macbeth reasons through the pros and cons of killing Duncan. What are some arguments against the murder? What are some arguments in favor?

14. How does Lady Macbeth finally convince Macbeth to go through with the murder?




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