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11. This line in the first scene tips us off that things will not be what they appear to be. Often, they will be just the opposite. This is a major motif in the play, and examples are numerous. Cite several.
Point out that Macbeth's first line echoes almost exactly the witches' chant: "So foul and fair a day I have not seen." When the witches appear and tell Macbeth he will be king, Banquo asks why he seems afraid of things that "sound so fair?" We will learn that the "fair" news is actually foul. Macbeth will become king, and in doing so he will commit himself to a path of evil which will mean his death, and ironically, Banquo's.
Choose several other examples and treat them the same way. You may want to focus on Lady Macbeth's instructions to her husband in Act I, Scene v, to "look like th' innocent flower, / But be the serpent undert" (lines 66-67). In other words, "look fair to cover your foul intentions." Show how she does exactly that when she greets Duncan and his party in the next scene.
Other examples you can use are pointed out in the "Themes" section and the scene-by-scene analysis.
You can also show how Macbeth's sense of good and evil is so corrupted that by the end "foul" and "fair" are indistinguishable to him.
12. Morality plays taught simple moral lessons. They depicted the struggle between the forces of good and evil to possess men's souls.
The story of Macbeth is a warning to anybody who considers trying to get what he wants by doing something he knows is wrong. It cautions us that the most appealing temptations are often the most horrible traps. To show how the play gets that message across, chart how Macbeth is destroyed by giving in to temptation.
Macbeth is hoodwinked by the witches, As you did in Question 3 of Test 1, list the things they tell him. Describe, how each prediction is like a delicious-looking apple which is actually poisoned.
Read the scene-by-scene analysis for Act III, Scene v, for a discussion of how the witches give Macbeth a false sense of security. Security was a major theme of morality plays.
The play also makes it clear that Macbeth is destroyed because evil is like a disease. Once you let it into your system, it will eat away at your insides until it kills you. Show how each murder necessitates another, and how none of the killings makes Macbeth feel any better.
13. Remember that dramatic irony is present when the audience knows something the characters, or some of the characters, do not.
When Duncan and his party arrive at Macbeth's castle, they are unaware of the wicked plans that are being made. Their lighthearted, joking mood is ironic to us, because we know what they are really walking into. The scene-by-scene analysis for Act I, Scene vi, details the use of dramatic irony in this scene.
Dramatic irony enriches the last act of the play. Macbeth has become a monster, but he's also become a pathetic figure. His desperation is obvious. Ten thousand troops are on their way to overthrow him; his own troops are deserting. And he places his confidence in the weird sisters-the hags whose suggestion that he would be king got him into this mess! We can see that he is doomed, but he cannot. He fights on, talking about his "charmed life." His failure (or refusal) to see what is obvious to us makes the end of the play much more powerful than it would be otherwise.
Give several other examples of dramatic irony. You might use the scene after Duncan's murder, beginning with Macduff's entrance and continuing through the discovery of the crime. Find other examples.
14. Lady Macbeth's resolution stands out in sharp contrast to Macbeth's wavering. One way she overcomes him is through sheer determination. Find several quotes from Act I, Scene vii, in which she makes him feel the strength of her determination. (Look at lines 54-59, for example.)
She is not above insulting her husband to rouse him to action. Since she is his wife, her comments which question his manhood have an added kick.
Finally, she neutralizes his fears with her practicality. After the murder she says, "'Tis the eye of childhood / That fears a painted devil" (Act II, Scene ii, lines 54-55). Find other ways in which she attempts to quiet his over-active imagination, or his visions.
15. The essential contrast is between a good, righteous man and a morally bankrupt one. Each man's response can be divided into three parts: 1. hearing the news; 2. accepting the news, and 3. what he does after.
Examine the three stages for both men. Contrast how Macduff, who is virtuous, cannot believe the news at first. Once he accepts it, he feels the pain sharply. Macbeth, on the other hand, seems unsurprised and it is hard to tell if he feels any pain; life is meaningless, he says quickly, and everybody dies. Show the direction Macduff takes (a quest for righteous revenge). Compare it with the final, desperate, suicidal stand taken by Macbeth.
Conclude by pointing out what we learn about the soul- destroying nature of evil by contrasting the two responses.