In Grade 10 we study “the Scottish play”, so called because many thespians (actors) are highly superstitious and believe that the true name of the play should not be said out loud as it will bring bad luck.
Macbeth is set in Scotland and is partly based on fact. Before we begin the analysis of the play and its language, which at first you will find daunting, you must first understand the plot.
Below are a bunch of resources that will help you develop an understanding of what happens in the play. I suggest using a combination of these resources to help you understand what’s going on. i.e. you should read, watch and listen. Take notes and make diagrams and character charts as well to help you understand who is who and what their role in the play is.
Before we can begin the analysis, it’s important that you have a firm understanding of the plot. These comprehension questions can be used to help self-assess how well you’ve understood what happens in the play.
Here is a summary of the play done in a rather comical manner.
Here is another summary video that is a little more detailed…
If you prefer, you might like to read a summary of the story of Macbeth, as well as some of the history. Please refrain from reading anyone else’s analysis of Macbeth or its themes, as it’s important that you can determine for yourself what you think its about.
Plays are written to be performed and viewed, not yet read. So you may find it easier to listen to this audio recording of the play as you read along.
Act 1 = START – 30:00
Act 2 = 30:00 – 51:00
Act 3 = 51:00 – 1:21:00
Act 4 = 1:21:00 – 1:51:30
Act 5 = 1:51:30 – END
Here you can see a version of Macbeth that is set in the original time and place (11th century Scotland). I would recommend having a copy of the text with you as you read along with the script. This has subtitles too, so you can read along from the screen.
This next adaptation stars Patrick Stewart. You may recognise him from Star Trek, or more likely from X-Men, or more likely still as the voice of characters from Seth Macfarlane’s TV shows like American Dad. This adaptation sets Macbeth in an Eastern European country around WWII. Macbeth is portrayed as a “Stalinesque” character.
NOTES ON THE PLAY
Through the course of the unit we will work on analyzing various features of the play. The following notes will help you when it comes to revision.