Friday, April 24, 2015

april 24

JOURNAL TOPIC: (Note: Please write in your journal in the last five minutes of the period, after you have written and proofed your essay.)

Please describe your experience of the essay.  What was easy/confidence-inspiring?  What was challenging?  Where did you feel you did well, and where did you feel like you needed to improve?

1. Essay

PROMPT: 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.
  • pre-write
  • compose
  • proofread
2. Journal

1. Read Macbeth Act V and post answers to the study questions (after the jump) on your course blog

Act V Study Questions

1. What has the gentlewoman seen Lady Macbeth do (5.1.1-15)? Why won't she tell the Doctor what Lady Macbeth said?
2. What does Lady Macbeth reveal in her sleepwalking speeches and actions (5.1.23-58)? To what does the Doctor relate this in 5.1.61-69? What is he suggesting in lines 66-67?
1. Where are the soldiers heading in 5.2? Whose side are they on? What do the mentions of Birnam Wood (line 5) and Dunsinane (line 12) remind us of?
1. What reports are the servants bringing to Macbeth (5.3.1)? Why does Macbeth say he is not afraid? What does he think about himself in lines 20-29?
2. What does the Doctor say about Lady Macbeth (lines 39-46)? What does Macbeth wish the Doctor could do (lines 52-58)?
1. What does Malcolm tell the soldiers to do (5.4.4-7)? What effect do you expect this to have on Macbeth?
1. What does "the cry of women" signify (, 15)? Read Macbeth's famous speech in lines 16-27 carefully. What is he saying? How does he feel about life at this point?
2. What news does the messenger bring in lines 28-33? How does Macbeth react to this news? What does he now think of the witches (lines 40-46)? (Notice the return of "equivocation" in line 41.) Yet what is his mood at the end of the scene (lines 49-50)? Will he go out with a whimper?
1. What do we learn in this scene? Why are Siward and his son mentioned?
1. What is Macbeth's attitude at the beginning of the scene (lines 1-4)? What happens in his encounter with Young Siward?
5.8 (5.7 continues in most editions)
1. Who is Macduff looking for and why (lines 1-10)?
5.9 (5.7 continues in most editions)
1. How is it that Malcolm and Siward are able to enter the castle so easily (lines 1-6)?
5.10 (5.8 in most editions)
1. What unwished-for information does Macduff have for Macbeth (lines 1-16)? How does Macbeth respond? What will happen if he doesn't fight? Why does he fight?
5.11 (5.8 continues in most editions)
1. How upset is Siward at his son's death? Why?
2. What does Malcolm promise his followers (lines 26-41)? What does he tell us about Lady Macbeth's death (line 36-37)? Should we believe him? (He is her enemy, after all-but remember the Doctor's instructions in 5.1.66-67.)


  1. Since we only have a 30 minute class, 4th period has decided to use today as a study group time to try to understand Macbeth.

    1. The idea was to leverage the time crunch so as to see what you would do with the prompt under pressure. I am intensely curious to know what everyone did and how it helped. I will be back in class Tuesday. Between now and then, please feel free to post any clarifying questions in the comments so that I can help you with Macbeth over the weekend and we can maximize the benefit of in-class time during the last week before the exam.

    2. I look forward to having you back in class on Tuesday.

    3. Thank you Imanie, I look forward to being there.

  2. Can we review Macbeth in class? Many of us are very confused and behind on the reading (both from laziness &procrastination but mostly confusion and lack of being able to understand). We are all having trouble understanding the complicated play.

    1. Thanks for your honesty Alyssa. I think the play would be easier to understand if everyone had taken the initial assignments to heart and sought out resources that could help them interpret along the way. Having said that, I'm happy to spend some time reviewing the play next week in class. A helpful first step would be for you and anyone else with questions to post them here in the comments, so that I can answer over the weekend and we don't have to start from scratch when we see each other next on Tuesday.

  3. I strongly agree with Alyssa! I attempted to read the play and went along with every assignment but still need clarification! I, along with my peers, would love to discuss and go over the play in class next week. Thank you and enjoy your weekend!

  4. I feel that I understand what's going on in the play and I notice certain literary devices used but I feel that sometimes the theme of "fair is foul and foul is fair" goes over my head when I read it using my Shakespeare resources

    1. Think of it this way: all of the things in life that are presented as "fair" (i.e., equitable, desirable, good) are corrupt for Macbeth. His marriage is not a loving union; his social status is a fraud; and as things in his outer world grow more successful his inner world crumbles. Conversely, those things that the Elizabethan world considered foul--the witches' prophesy, Macbeth's & Lady Macbeth's actions--appear to be (unfairly) effective in getting them what they want. In theory, "fair" and "foul" are two extremes that cannot be confused. In Macbeth, & sometimes in life, their black-and-white contrast sometimes adds up to gray.