Thursday, April 23, 2015

april 23

Once he and Lady Macbeth agreed to kill the king, is there anything Macbeth could have done to redeem himself, assuage his guilt, or restore order to The Great Chain of Being?

1. Journal
2. Work individually, as a group/team/table/class to answer the following questions (after the jump) on Act IV.  Please post answers to your course blog.
3. Please review the following essay prompts with your colleagues.  You will be writing on one of them in tomorrow's (Friday's) class.  This means you'll only have 20 minutes to pre-write and compose.  (30 minutes less 5 for proofreading-- a necessary evil-- and 5 to reflect on the experience in your journal while it's fresh.)

ESSAY PROMPT POSSIBILITIES (if you find or think of an AP-worthy option you'd like me to consider, please comment to this post)

1. In Macbeth some of the most significant events are mental or physiological: for example, awakenings, discoveries, changes in consciousness. In a well-orgnized essay, describe how Shakespeare manages to give these internal events the sense of excitement, suspense, and climax usually associated with external action. Do not merely summarize the plot.

2. Critic Roland Barthes has said, "Literature is the question minus the answer." Considering Barthes' observation, write an essay in which you analyze a central question Macbeth raises and the extent to which it offers any answers. Explain how Shakespeare's treatment of this question affects your understanding of the work as a whole. Avoid mere plot summary.

3. According to critic Northrop Frye, "Tragic heroes are so much the highest points in their human landscape that they seem the inevitable conductors of the power about them, great trees more likely to be struck by lightning than a clump of grass. Conductors may of course be instruments as well as victims of the divine lightning." In Macbeth a tragic figure functions as an instrument of the suffering of others.  Write an essay in which you explain how the suffering brought upon others by that figure contributes to the tragic vision of the work as a whole.

ACT IV Study Questions

1. How many witches appear in this scene?
2. What messages does Macbeth get from the witches and their apparitions? Does he feel safe after the first three apparitions? Should he? How does he feel after the fourth, the line of kings?
3. What does Macbeth learn from Lennox at line 158? What does he plan to do about it?
1. What is Lady Macduff's reaction to her husband's departure for England (4.2.1-30).
2. What is the function of the scene between Lady Macduff and her son (4.2.30-64)?
3. What happens to Lady Macduff and her son?
1. What do we know at the beginning of the scene that Macduff doesn't know?
2. What is the main issue between Malcolm and Macduff in the first part of the scene (4.3.1-32)? Why might Malcolm be suspicious of Macduff? How does Macduff respond (4.3.32-38)? What changes when Macduff starts to leave at line 35?
3. What does Malcolm say about himself, and how does Macduff respond (lines 38-115)? What bothers Macduff more in a king, lust or avarice? Why does this character of Malcolm's surprise Macduff (lines 106-112)? (Malcolm's mother was the daughter of the Old Siward mentioned in line 135, which might explain why he is helping. The description of his mother sounds more like St. Margaret of Scotland, who in fact was later this Malcolm's wife.)
4. How does this threat to leave by Macduff change Malcolm's story? What is Malcolm's explanation for his behavior (lines 115-133)? What was Malcolm about to do when Macduff arrived (lines 134-138)?
5. What is the purpose of the discussion of King Edward's healing powers? How does this compare to the present King of Scotland in the play? Note lines 155-157: King James, who was from Scotland and who as a Stuart was considered one of those descendants of Banquo, had recently revived this practice when the play was written, which gives another reason for including it in the play.
6. What message does Ross bring? How long does it take for him to tell it? How does Macduff respond? Note lines 214-217: Who "has no children"? We assume he means Macbeth, but could he mean Malcolm, who is perhaps too hasty in telling him to "Be comforted"? Notice the mentions of "man" in lines 221-223 and 237 and compare the use of the word earlier in the play (as at 1.7.46-51 abd 72-74; 3.1.92-102; and 3.4.57, 72, 98, and 107). What does it mean to be a "man" in this play?
7. What are Malcolm, Macduff, and Ross ready to do at the end of the scene?

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