by William Shakespeare

Macbeth essay questions.

Macbeth is often cited as a famous example of what the American sociologist Robert Merton called a “self-fulfilling prophecy.” Discuss how the mechanism of the witches’ prophecy works in terms of its self-fulfillment.

Suggested Answer

The question may be approached by examining the psychology behind Macbeth’s character and his relationship with Lady Macbeth (e.g. his easily-tempted character becomes his fate). It may also be fruitful to perform a close reading of the passage around Banquo’s famous lines “If you can look into the seeds of time / And say which grain will grow and which will not, / Speak then to me, who neither beg nor fear / Your favours nor your hate” (1.3.55-59). An ambitious essay might also consider a comparison to Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex or another play containing a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Imagine a staging of Macbeth. Who would play the third murderer who appears unannounced? Who would play the anonymous messenger who warns Lady Macduff about her imminent doom? Why?

Consider current and past productions of Macbeth. There is a certain logic to staging Macbeth as the third murderer, for example, and Ross as the messenger. How would a different staging change the dynamics of the play?

Some critics have considered the porter scene out of place in an otherwise cruel and compact play. Does it really provide comic really relief? How do you imagine the scene to be staged?

Suggest Answer

Compare and contrast a lighter, comic staging to a darker, hellish staging. Here, the issue is simply tone, as the text supports either interpretation. If the porter's comic relief is properly juxtaposed against the violent circumstances, he comes across more as pitiable than a discordant jester.

Macbeth is the one to express doubts over murdering Duncan but it is Lady Macbeth on whom the burden of crime takes its toll. How do the characters of Macbeth and Lady Macbeth develop differently over the course of the play?

Macbeth and Lady Macbeth can be considered to have switched characters, in a broad sense, over the course of the play. Lady Macbeth goes from proclaiming “unsex me here” to “All the perfumes of Arabia will not sweeten this little hand” (I v 39; V i 42-43), Macbeth becomes more resolute and tyrannical as the play progresses. And yet Lady Macbeth also shows a morsel of humanity early on in the play. After she has intoxicated Duncan’s two guards, she remarks: “I laid their daggers ready; / He could not miss’em. Had he [Duncan] not resembled / My father as he slept, I had done’t” (2.2.11-13). The question lies in the judgment of whether a coherent psychological picture underlies the two characters, or whether they serve to illustrate some more or less formulaic “meaning.”

Perform a close reading of Macbeth’s soliloquy beginning “She should have died hereafter” and ending “It is a tale / Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, / Signifying nothing” (5.5.7-27). Why does Macbeth believe that Lady Macbeth should have died on a future date? What does he think lies in the future? What does this say about his character?

There are many possible interpretations of the passage—in particular of his comment about Lady Macbeth’s death. One answer will draw on Macbeth’s lines immediately preceding the soliloquy in question. In the past, he claims, a sound such as Lady Macbeth’s shriek of death would have shocked him deeply, but at present he has become unmoved and apathetic. Macbeth still seems to believe that the future holds peace for his reign. At the same time, he seems to have already accepted Lady Macbeth’s death as inevitable. What does this calm acceptance say about how his character has changed?

What is the significance of Macbeth’s vision of the dagger and of Banquo’s ghost in the play?

Macbeth’s visions seem to be indicative of his guilty conscience. At the same time, they also seem to interact with the supernatural order that the witches have brought about - the three apparitions and their specific prophecies. It would also be interesting to consider different stagings of such visions.

Discuss the exchange between Malcolm and Macduff in Act V Scene iii. Is Malcolm really testing Macduff—and if so, why does he do it? What is the dramatic significance of the testing?

The scene immediately proceeds the murder of Lady Macduff and Macduff’s son. Given the dramatic irony that Macduff has yet to hear the news, the scene seems to heighten the sense of cruelty that pervades the play. It may also be worthwhile to consider a counterfactual alternative: what would have happened if Macduff had responded differently? Could he have responded differently?

Discuss the dramatic conclusion of Macbeth. The resolution to the problems presented by the later prophecies relies on a play of words. Macduff was not technically “born” of a woman, so to speak, and Birnam Wood only “comes” to Dunsinane Hill in a manner of speaking. For a play as grave as Macbeth , does not such a resolution seem strangely lacking in gravity?

The resolution of the play may attest to the power of words. The plot of the play—in all its terrible events of regicide and murders—are after all driven by nothing but a few words uttered by three weird sisters. These same words, of course, are powerful enough to overthrow a kingdom twice.

Why can Macbeth not bring himself to pronounce one “Amen” when Duncan’s guards say “God bless us” on their deathbeds (2.2.26-27)? Does this paint a coherent psychological picture? If not, what dramatic purpose does the scene serve?

Although Macbeth does not always act rationally, he is by no means an unintelligent character. On the contrary, his famous soliloquy beginning “She should have died hereafter” in Act V Scene v is testament to his perceptive worldview—if not his poetic sensibility. His inability to pronounce “Amen” may attest to the fact that he finds such a pronouncement overwhelmingly hypocritical.

The account of Duncan and Macbeth differs significantly between Macbeth and its primary source, Raphael Holinshed's Chronicles of England, Scotland and Ireland . Compare the two accounts and discuss the effects of Shakespeare’s changes.

In Holinshed's account, Macbeth is a ruthless and valiant leader who rules competently after killing Duncan, whereas Duncan is portrayed as a young and soft-willed man. Shakespeare draws out certain aspects of the two characters in order to create a stronger sense of polarity. Whereas Duncan is made out to be a venerable and kindly older king, Macbeth is transformed into an indecisive and troubled young man who cannot possibly rule well.

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Macbeth Questions and Answers

The Question and Answer section for Macbeth is a great resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.

Macbeth Act 1 Scene 3 questions

What is significant about the first words that Macbeth speaks in the play?

A motif or recurring idea in the play is equivocation. There is the balance of the dark and the light, the good and the bad. Macbeth's first line reflects this. It...

What news took the wind out of Macbeth's invincibility?

Macbeth rethinks his invincibility when MacDuff tells him that he was torn from his mother's womb.

Did Banquo believe Ghosts? Why?

I'm sorry, are you asking if Banquo believed in ghosts? Based upon act and scene?

Study Guide for Macbeth

Macbeth study guide contains a biography of William Shakespeare, literature essays, a complete e-text, quiz questions, major themes, characters, and a full summary and analysis.

  • About Macbeth
  • Macbeth Summary
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  • Character List

Essays for Macbeth

Macbeth essays are academic essays for citation. These papers were written primarily by students and provide critical analysis of Macbeth by William Shakespeare.

  • Serpentine Imagery in Shakespeare's Macbeth
  • Macbeth's Evolution
  • Jumping the Life to Come
  • Deceptive Appearances in Macbeth
  • Unity in Shakespeare's Tragedies

Lesson Plan for Macbeth

  • About the Author
  • Study Objectives
  • Common Core Standards
  • Introduction to Macbeth
  • Relationship to Other Books
  • Bringing in Technology
  • Notes to the Teacher
  • Related Links
  • Macbeth Bibliography

E-Text of Macbeth

Macbeth e-text contains the full text of Macbeth by William Shakespeare.

  • Persons Represented
  • Act I, Scene I
  • Act I, Scene II
  • Act I, Scene III
  • Act I, Scene IV

Wikipedia Entries for Macbeth

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macbeth essay questions grade 11

macbeth essay questions grade 11

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  • Macbeth at a Glance
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  • Act I: Scene 1
  • Act I: Scene 2
  • Act I: Scene 3
  • Act I: Scene 4
  • Act I: Scene 5
  • Act I: Scene 6
  • Act I: Scene 7
  • Act II: Scene 1
  • Act II: Scene 2
  • Act II: Scene 3
  • Act II: Scene 4
  • Act III: Scene 1
  • Act III: Scene 2
  • Act III: Scene 3
  • Act III: Scene 4
  • Act III: Scene 5
  • Act III: Scene 6
  • Act IV: Scene 1
  • Act IV: Scene 2
  • Act IV: Scene 3
  • Act V: Scene 1
  • Act V: Scene 2
  • Act V: Scene 3
  • Act V: Scene 4
  • Act V: Scene 5
  • Act V: Scene 6
  • Act V: Scene 7
  • Act V: Scene 8
  • Act V: Scene 9
  • Character Analysis
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Study Help Essay Questions

1. Agree or disagree with the following statement: " Macbeth is a play about courage, which asserts the triumph of good over evil." In answering this question, you should remember that courageous acts are not always motivated by virtue.

2. Examine to what extent Lady Macbeth is to blame for her husband's downfall. Discuss the relationship between the couple as the play develops.

3. Discuss whether Macbeth is truly a tragic figure.

4. Some people suggest that the porter scene is included only so that the actor playing Macbeth has time to wash the blood off his hands. Do you agree? Or do you think the scene serves other purposes? Explain your answer.

5. From your reading, explain what Shakespeare imagined to be the qualities of a good king. How do Duncan and Macbeth fit this role? How might Malcolm do so?

6. Consider the use that Shakespeare makes of supernatural elements in this play. Be sure to include the Witches, the dagger, Banquo's ghost, the apparitions, and the Old Man's observations in your assessment.

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Grade 11 English HL November 2014 P2

macbeth essay questions grade 11

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MacBeth - Plays - Questions for Tests and Worksheets - Eleventh Grade (Grade 11)

You can create printable tests and worksheets from these Grade 11 MacBeth questions! Select one or more questions using the checkboxes above each question. Then click the add selected questions to a test button before moving to another page.

  • It shows that Duncan is playing favorites
  • It reveals that Duncan is afraid of his other potential successors
  • It symbolizes the stability and continuity of the Scottish monarchy
  • It represents Duncan's desire to maintain his own power even after his death
  • They are a minor and insignificant element of the story
  • They provide comic relief and entertainment for the audience
  • They serve as a supernatural and ominous force that drives the plot
  • They are a symbol of hope and inspiration for the characters
  • He is disappointed but not surprised
  • He is shocked and saddened
  • He is angry and vows to punish the traitor
  • He is indifferent to the news
  • It reveals the corruption and betrayal that can exist even in the closest relationships
  • It represents the triumph of good over evil
  • It symbolizes the inevitability of fate and destiny
  • It has no significant meaning in the play
  • It makes him more paranoid and afraid
  • It drives him to seek revenge against those who killed Duncan
  • It has no effect on him
  • It causes him to become more compassionate and remorseful
  • They are the ones who carry out the murder themselves
  • They provide Macbeth with the idea and motivation to commit the murder
  • They do not have any direct involvement in the murder
  • They try to stop Macbeth from committing the murder
  • He is indifferent
  • He is horrified
  • He is skeptical
  • He is amused
  • They will make Macbeth king.
  • They will cast a spell on Banquo.
  • They will bring a storm.
  • They will meet Macbeth.
  • "If chance will have me king, why, chance may crown me without my stir."
  • "The very firstlings of my heart shall be the firstlings of my hand."
  • "This supernatural soliciting cannot be ill, cannot be good."
  • "Stars, hide your fires! Let not light see my black and deep desires."
  • Thane of Cawdor
  • Thane of Glamis
  • Prince of Scotland
  • Duke of Edinburgh
  • He is frightened.
  • He is intrigued.
  • He is skeptical.
  • He is angry.
  • That Macbeth is suffering from a momentary fit
  • That Macbeth is grieving for his father's death
  • That Macbeth is drunk and prone to fits of madness
  • That Macbeth is acting out a scene from a play for their entertainment
  • To test Macduff's loyalty
  • To show Macduff how evil Macbeth is
  • To confuse Macduff
  • To scare Macduff away
  • That he is a traitor
  • That he is brave
  • That he is foolish
  • That he is dead
  • He says he is ready to die
  • He says he will flee to another country
  • He says he will fight to the death
  • He says he will surrender to the enemy
  • Lady Macbeth
  • King Duncan
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macbeth essay questions grade 11

Macbeth Essays

There are loads of ways you can approach writing an essay, but the two i favour are detailed below., the key thing to remember is that an essay should focus on the three aos:, ao1: plot and character development; ao2: language and technique; ao3: context, strategy 1 : extract / rest of play, the first strategy basically splits the essay into 3 paragraphs., the first paragraph focuses on the extract, the second focuses on the rest of the play, the third focuses on context. essentially, it's one ao per paragraph, for a really neatly organised essay., strategy 2 : a structured essay with an argument, this strategy allows you to get a much higher marks as it's structured to form an argument about the whole text. although you might think that's harder - and it's probably going to score more highly - i'd argue that it's actually easier to master. mainly because you do most of the work before the day of the exam., to see some examples of these, click on the links below:, lady macbeth as a powerful woman, macbeth as a heroic character, the key to this style is remembering this: you're going to get a question about a theme, and the extract will definitely relate to the theme., the strategy here is planning out your essays before the exam, knowing that the extract will fit into them somehow., below are some structured essays i've put together., macbeth and gender.

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Macbeth Essay with corrections (Year 11)

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macbeth essay questions grade 11

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  1. Macbeth Essay Questions

    1. Macbeth is often cited as a famous example of what the American sociologist Robert Merton called a "self-fulfilling prophecy." Discuss how the mechanism of the witches' prophecy works in terms of its self-fulfillment. Suggested Answer. The question may be approached by examining the psychology behind Macbeth's character and his relationship with Lady Macbeth (e.g. his easily-tempted ...

  2. PDF Grade 11 November 2017 English Home Language P2

    GRADE 11 NOVEMBER 2017 ENGLISH HOME LANGUAGE P2 MARKS: 80 ... Essay questions on poetry should be answered in 200-250 words. ... Macbeth Essay question 25 marks Page 17 OR QUESTION 11 Macbeth Contextual question 25 marks Page 18 OR QUESTION 12 The Merchant of Venice

  3. Macbeth: Suggested Essay Topics

    4. Discuss Macbeth's visions and hallucinations. What role do they play in the development of his character? 5. Is Macbeth a moral play? Is justice served at the end of the play? Defend your answer. 6. Discuss Shakespeare's use of the technique of elision, in which certain key events take place offstage.

  4. Macbeth: Study Help

    Get free homework help on William Shakespeare's Macbeth: play summary, scene summary and analysis and original text, quotes, essays, character analysis, and filmography courtesy of CliffsNotes. In Macbeth , William Shakespeare's tragedy about power, ambition, deceit, and murder, the Three Witches foretell Macbeth's rise to King of Scotland but also prophesy that future kings will descend from ...

  5. Grade 11 English Macbeth Study Guide Questions Answers

    HELP FOR YOU study guide questions macbeth short answer format answer key act one what is the point of the first scene literally and in reference to the whole. ... Grade 11 English Macbeth Study Guide Questions Answers. Subject: English - Home Language ... Chapter 11 Essay on Dora & Kitty relationships; The Mark - Chapter 14 Contextuals;

  6. PDF Six Macbeth' essays by Wreake Valley students

    Level 5 essay Lady Macbeth is shown as forceful and bullies Macbeth here in act 1.7 when questioning ... question shows that she is once again mocking him but this time, due to the forceful presence of Banquo's ghost in Macbeth's mind it does not work and he again hallucinates. As a results of this

  7. Macbeth Essay Topics and Outlines

    Macbeth Essay Topics and Outlines. by Wesley Matlock ... Purchase a Subscription Grade Levels. Grade 9. Grade 10. Grade 11. Grade 12. ... and your questions are answered by real teachers. Join eNotes

  8. How to Write an Essay on Macbeth

    Grade 11. Grade 12. undergraduate. Excerpt. As you get started on an essay about Macbeth, you will want to reflect on the major characters, themes, and quotations that stand out and make the play ...

  9. Macbeth : Essay Topics

    5) The sleepwalking scene in Act V is one of the most memorable in all of drama. Relate this scene to the overall play and examine what makes Lady Macbeth's revelation so provoking. 6) Choose two of the minor characters in Macbeth and examine how they contribute to the play's action. 7) The witches tell Banquo that he will be the father of ...

  10. Grade 11 English HL November 2014 P2

    Anon HIGH SCHOOL English Home Language Grade 11 TASK 11, PAPER 2: Literature November 2014 Time : 2 Hours Total : 80 Marks INSTRUCTIONS AND INFORMATION 1. ... If, however, you choose the Macbeth essay question then you must answer the contextual question on Things fall Apart. SECTION A: POETRY UNSEEN POETRY - Answer ONE question (compulsory ...

  11. PDF Essay Questions on William Shakespeare's Macbeth

    9) 'She should have died hereafter'. The relation between Macbeth and his wife stands as long as they have a common aim. 10) Macbeth is too weak for the part he has chosen to play. (September 1992) 11) 'Life .... is a tale /Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, / Signifying nothing.'.

  12. MacBeth

    He says he will surrender to the enemy. Grade 11 MacBeth. Lady Macbeth tells Macbeth to: Act innocent and shocked when King Duncan's body is discovered. Leave the country after the murder. Publicly confess to the murder. Leave the murder to her. Grade 11 MacBeth. What do the witches mean when they say "Fair is foul, and foul is fair" in Act 1 ...

  13. Macbeth Essay Topics

    These essay topics will help students explore and understand the major themes and characters of Macbeth. These prompts will help students create expository essays, compare and contrast essays, as ...

  14. AQA English Revision

    Strategy 2: A structured essay with an argument. This strategy allows you to get a much higher marks as it's structured to form an argument about the whole text. Although you might think that's harder - and it's probably going to score more highly - I'd argue that it's actually easier to master. Mainly because you do most of the work before the ...

  15. Macbeth: Questions & Answers

    Macbeth then goes on to comment on the brevity of life: "Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player / That struts and frets his hour upon the stage" (5.5.24-25). Macbeth might be emotionally numb at this point in the play, beyond the point of sadness or even regret, especially for a wife who has helped bring him to ruin.

  16. PDF Grade 11 November 2018 English Home Language P2

    Tsotsi Essay question 25 12 OR 9. Tsotsi Contextual question 25 13 SECTION C: DRAMA ANSWER ONLY ON THE DRAMA YOU HAVE STUDIED. ANSWER ANY ONE OF THE FOLLOWING FOUR QUESTIONS. 10. Macbeth Essay question 25 16 OR 11. Macbeth Contextual question 25 16 OR 12. The Merchant of Venice Essay question 25 19 OR 13.

  17. Macbeth Essay

    What Women Want Assignment Movie Questions. Eng4u 01 hamlet - English Literature. Analysis of snow white from a feminist perspective. Hair Love Analysis - Grade: A. This was an essay written in grade 11 about the play by Shakespeare called "Macbeth." It received a grade of A- and was written over the course of a few days.

  18. GCSE English Literature Paper 1: Macbeth

    Complete the activities on these page. 2. Remember to use index cards to write down key quotations to learn. 3. Plan/write answers to the questions at the back of this back. Themes you need to revise. • Ambition.

  19. ATAR Notes

    Macbeth Essay with corrections (Year 11) 4.3 4 reviews. Uploaded 24th Jan, 2017. Subject English State VIC. Downloads 297. Favourites 1. Description This is an essay I wrote in year 11. My teacher's corrections and suggestions are very helpful and with their help I ended up getting an A on the SAC. ... Frequently Asked Questions Report ...

  20. 11 Macbeth LE task

    Gr 11 English Home Language Online Assignment: Macbeth Literary Essay Question: "All hail Macbeth, that shalt be king hereafter." [Third Witch: Act 1 Scene 3] "When you durst do it, then you were a man." [Lady Macbeth: Act 1 Scene 7] "Accursed be the tongue that tells me so, / For it hath cow'd my better part of man;" [Macbeth: Act 5 Scene 8]

  21. Macbeth Essay

    Macbeth Essay - Free download as Word Doc (.doc / .docx), PDF File (.pdf), Text File (.txt) or read online for free. A grade 11 essay exploring Macbeth's progression through the play as he develops a pessimistic view of life.

  22. Macbeth Essay

    The use of equivocal language in Macbeth ultimately brings about Macbeth's own demise; his failure to see past the witch's deceitfulness, while practicing equivocation himself, is the cause of his tragic death. Macbeth Essay - Grade 11 English Assignment Download AI Quiz Save Search for courses, books or documents Sign in