"Out Damned Spot": Lady Macbeth Now and Then (Act V of Macbeth)

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SWBAT analyze changes in Lady Macbeth's character over the course of the play.

Big Idea

A change is gonna come.

Teacher to Teacher: Lesson Context and Time Frame

We're almost at the end of the play. This is the lesson I teach just before students compose their essays, so it's important that I leave a little time to review the essay-related tasks. Thus, in this lesson students

  • Perform select Lady Macbeth lines that show her early in the plan and later in Act V, 
  • Review the I-Analysis chart and notes,
  • Examine the TRIAC technique of composing paragraphs.
  • Write with Mrs. Funk as she begins an essay similar to the one students will write.  

Given the duality of the lesson, teachers on shorter time frames may consider splitting it into two lessons, but I teach in 75 minute periods, so I have time to teach both the" Lady Macbeth Now and Then" and move to the I-Chart review and TRIAC technique. 

Lady Macbeth Now and Then: One Body of Two Minds in the Sleepwalking Scene

20 minutes

The first thing I do when students enter the room is give volunteers a line from  Lady Macbeth Now and Then. The document shows the lines in pairs, but I cut them into single lines because I have a performance activity planned. 

Next, I instruct students to look over their lines and see if they need help with any of the words, which they shouldn't since we have worked w/ the lines in Acts 1-4 before. 

I put the line pairings on the board and tell students they are of two minds but one body. I explain that by that I mean they are all Lady Macbeth, but they represent her as she was and as she is now. 

I ask the first pair to come to the front of the room and have them stand back-to-back. 

Then I have the student w/ the line from Act 5 present first, followed by the one w/ the line from an earlier act. This order is important because it represents how we see Lady Macbeth now, followed by how she was "then." 

I ask the students how we see Lady Macbeth in the line now vs. how she was earlier in the play and ask them to record the discussion responses. 

We do this for each pair of lines. So each line has three parts: Presentation of Act V; presentation of the earlier line; discussion of the lines using comparison/contrast terminology. 

In this way, students talk about Lady Macbeth has a character with "blood on her hands." They mention that she was bold earlier in the play when she wanted Macbeth to kill Duncan. One says, "she had a frivolous attitude about killing but now feels guilty and can't rid herself of the guilt. " 

So Far in Blood: Watching Lady Macbeth's Sleepwalking Scene

10 minutes

After students finish discussing the changes in Lady Macbeth, we watch the Two Rivers production of Macbeth, which is the source for the lesson image. 

The DVD is available from the Folger Shakespeare Library and from Amazon. 

I use this version of the play because it's very visual in that it shows Lady Macbeth literally drenched in blood. 

Reviewing I-Charts

10 minutes

Next, we take a few minutes to discuss the I-Charts in the earlier assignment Macbeth I-Analysis and tidy up any loose ends. I remind students that the I-Chart is a prewriting assignment that is essential to their successful completion of the essay they'll be writing in the lab during the next class period. 

TRIAC Paragraph Structure

15 minutes

I distribute the TRIAC Paragraph Structure handout. TRIAC is a new acronym to me, so teaching it this year is a first. I tell students this. 

Next, we read through the document, taking time to discuss each point. I take great pains to encourage students to use the document as a guide rather than as a way to pigeon-hole their writing. I want them to see this as a tool that can help them think about supporting their arguments rather than as a formula for writing paragraphs. 

I remind students to bring the document to the lab the next day and to feel free to reference it as they work on their papers. 

Blah, Blah, Blah: Mrs. Funk Writes What Students Write

20 minutes

As a culminating activity, I walk students through a sample essay, which is based on today's Lady Macbeth lesson. I discuss some of my goals in  Macbeth Essay Example.mp4.

First, I compose a question: How has Lady Macbeth changed by Act V? I tell students that I'm not quite satisfied w/ the question, so I write a new one: What changes in Lady Macbeth do we see in Act V compared to her demeanor earlier in the play? 

Next I construct the thesis sentence, which is in bold on the document Sample essay. I tell students that I always compose the thesis first and write the rest of the introduction last. I explain that writing is not a linear activity but that it is more circular.

As I write and explain my thinking in a think-aloud format, I invite students to write, too, but I don't give them a copy of my work. They have to write from what they see on the screen. This helps them get a sense of what they'll be doing in class the next time we meet.  

I then move on to my first reason and continue in this way until the end of the period. I don't have time to compose a complete essay, but I tell students that I want them to see how our work in class can lead them to successfully writing their papers. 

I also tell students that when I can't think of an idea, I leave a place for it so that I can come back to it later.