MACBETH Wrap-Up and "Shakespeare Uncovered"

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SWBAT articulate and understand themes of and personal insights into MACBETH through writing and collaborative discussion.

Big Idea

"All meanings, we know, depend on the key of interpretation." ---George Eliot

Lesson Overview and Note to Teachers

My classes are held in 100-minute block sessions every other day. Activities in this lesson take the bulk of one class period to complete.  

Students finish the Three Visions Graphic Organizer (Assignment: Three Visions Graphic Organizer)(Student Work: Three Visions Graphic Organizer - Questions 1-3) we started on Day One of Macbeth's Downfall.  We view the Act V, Scenes ii through iii of the Royal Shakespeare Company's Macbeth production (PBS, 2010). We address student themes for Macbeth, and view "Shakespeare Uncovered: Macbeth" (PBS, 2013) for insights into the literary work from actors and scholars.


38 minutes

For review purposes, we view Act V, Scene ii through Act V, Scene vii of the Royal Shakespeare Company's Macbeth production (PBS, 2010) so that students get a visual interpretation of the play's resolution. 

Next, students work in partnerships to finish the Three Visions Graphic Organize, completing question four, which asks, "How has Macbeth been duped?".  Students must analyze the play's resolution to interpret how the witches' apparitions trick Macbeth to his downfall by making him feel invincible.  We debrief as a class, reviewing the information that should be in row four of the graphic organizer for each apparition (Student Work: Three Visions Graphic Organizer - Completed). 

I ask students to take a few moments to consider Macbeth's plot and develop a theme for the play. I tell them they must be prepared to justify their themes.  Volunteers share the following themes and justifications:

  • Greed can ruin the best of us: The greedy lust for power ruins Macbeth and Lady Macbeth as individuals and as a couple.
  • Free will is a self-fulfilling prophecy: The Macbeths' free will to choose evil over loyalty results in their demise.
  • Sometimes excessive ambition makes us lose sight of honorable goals: Macbeth's will to succeed leads him to gain power dishonorably.

"Shakespeare Uncovered: MACBETH"

55 minutes

I tell students that they may gain further insights about Macbeth after we view "Shakespeare Uncovered: Macbeth" (52:31, PBS, 2013; also available for download on iTunes). This program chronicles Ethan Hawke's preparation for playing Macbeth, and includes historical and scholarly insights along with multiple visual and verbal interpretations of the play.

I ask students to view the program and pay particular attention to information revealed by actors, scholars, and psychologists and during the program, to write down insights they gain about Macbeth for their ticket out. They are able to analyze the various interpretations of the source text by engaging in this activity.


Ticket Out and Think: Pair: Share

7 minutes

I ask students to finish writing their insights on Macbeth from the program and share their insights Student Work: Insights Into MACBETH) with a partner.  Some student insights are as follows:

  • Shakespeare wrote a play about a man [Macbeth], not a monster.
  • Macbeth has no love for the woman [Lady Macbeth] he lost because he can no longer feel emotion.
  • There is an actual historical context for the play.
  • The greatest challenge in playing Macbeth's character is how to get people to feel sorry for him.