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Home > English > Macbeth > Writing about Macbeth

English

Writing about Macbeth

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Writing about Macbeth

To write a good piece of work about the play, you need to understand -

  • the events that happen in the play and the themes that contribute to the plot
  • the way the characters develop throughout the play, in particular the changing relationship between Macbeth and Lady Macbeth
  • the way that Shakespeare uses language and his style of writing.

The plot

The play opens as three witches plan a meeting with the Scottish nobleman Macbeth, who at that moment is fighting in a great battle. When the battle is over, Macbeth and his friend Banquo come across the witches who offer them three predictions: that Macbeth will become Thane of Cawdor and King of Scotland, and that Banquo’s descendants will become kings.

Banquo laughs at the prophecies but Macbeth is excited, especially as soon after their meeting with the witches Macbeth is made Thane of Cawdor by King Duncan, in return for his bravery in the battle. He writes to his wife, Lady Macbeth, who is as excited as he is. A messenger tells Lady Macbeth that King Duncan is on his way to their castle and she invokes evil spirits to help her slay him. Macbeth is talked into killing Duncan by his wife and stabs him to death. No-one is quite sure who committed this murder and no-one feels safe, but Macbeth is crowned king.

Now that Macbeth is king he knows the second prediction from the witches has come true, but he starts to fear the third prediction (that Banquo’s descendants will also be kings). Macbeth therefore decides to kill Banquo and his son, but the plan goes wrong – Banquo is killed but his son escapes. Macbeth then thinks he is going mad because he sees Banquo’s ghost and receives more predictions from the witches. He starts to become ruthless and kills the family of Macduff, an important lord. Macbeth still thinks he is safe but one by one the witches’ prophecies come true, Lady Macbeth cannot stop thinking about Duncan, becomes deranged and dies. A large army marches on Macbeth’s castle and Macbeth is killed by Macduff.

This is just the basic story and there are lots of extra characters and details you can include. However, do not fall into the trap of retelling the story in your essay – you will get no marks for it because the examiner already knows what happens. Instead, use the plot to support your work and ideas.

Murder

macbeth in the forefront with blood covered daggers, he looks regretful while lady macbeth smiles victoriously at him, the image title is 'puppet'

Act II - Lady Macbeth bullies Macbeth into committing the murder of Duncan, he immediately regrets what he's done

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Watch

A mock Shakespeare TV interview.

Class Clips

Video clip of a TV interview with Shakespeare, including a rock music video of Sonnet 18

Watch

Scene from Macbeth.

Class Clips

Macbeth - Act 1, Scenes 1 and 3

Watch

Scene from Macbeth.

Class Clips

Macbeth - Act 5, Scene 1

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