There are a lot of fun facts about Macbeth.  By those who are superstitious, Macbeth isn't even called by name.  Instead, it's called "The Scottish Play."  To say "Macbeth" in a theater is to doom the production and its actors because of an ancient curse on the play.  Some think that the curse is connected to the witches who appear in the play, others claim the curse goes back to the first production in which fake swords were substituted by real ones, resulting in a bloody mess. These stories are just a few of many that exist around the play Macbeth.

Macbeth is William Shakespeare's last tragedy and possibly his darkest.  In fact, images of blood and mayhem are prevalent throughout the play, so keep a list of both as you read.  Macbeth's actions negatively alter the environment and the people in it.  As he loses control, the world turns upside down.  Watch closely as the "natural" becomes "unnatural."

Other things to note as we read:
*Robes
*Animals
*Free Will (vs. predestination)
*Being a Man (or not)
*Fair is foul, foul is fair

History of Macbeth

The play was first published in the First Folio, a collection of some of his best known works, by his friends in 1623.  The first performance, however, was between 1603-1605 as a compliment and gift to King James I of England.  Historians like to quibble about the specific date, but, then again, they like to quibble about a lot of things.  While no one is certain about the first performance, we know it was performed on April 20, 1611. 

The play would have been performed in The Globe with few props but ornate, elaborate costumes.  Characters' identities, locations, etc. were revealed in the dialogue of the actors.  Groundlings paid a penny to eat hazelnuts and stand in the pit to watch the play.  There wasn't a curtain and there weren't any girls.  Want to know more?  Visit the link entitled "Staging and Performances."

Shakespeare

There isn't a lot known about William Shakespeare -- besides the basics, of course.  He was born in 1564 and died on his birthday in 1616.  He lived and worked in London most of his life, but returned home to die. Not only was he a famous author known for plays and sonnets, he was also an actor.  Like his famous play, there are some fun facts about Shakespeare, too.  For example, there have been some people, believe it or not, who have tried to exhume Shakespeare's bones -- in 1912 and as recently as 2005 -- for various reasons.  Isn't that strange?  They should be careful, though, for Shakespeare's epitaph (written by the man himself) reads:

Good friend for Jesus sake forbeare,
To dig the dust enclosed here.
Blessed be the man that spares these stones,
And cursed be he that moves my bones.

Mac Bethad mac Findlaích

 

Mac Bethad mac Findlaích:  The Real Macbeth

There was a real Macbeth, but the events in the play are not historically accurate.  In fact, it seems like this King of Scots was a generous, benevolent leader.  However, we're talking about people who ate with their hands, so ....

 

Why read Macbeth?

Reading Macbeth allows us to complete several objectives.

The main reason we read Macbeth is because almost half of the AP Language & Composition exam is comprised of pre-19th century literature.  There are other reasons, too, of course, and they all swirl around the "examination of language."  Macbeth will require students to practice reading, analyzing, and understanding the language as it exists in older texts.  Additionally, we will do a traditional study of the play by looking at common motifs, themes, and symbols. 

Glamis Castle

Notes & Handouts:

Act I, scenes i-iii

Act I, scenes iv and v

Worksheet for Acts I and II

Act II Notes

Quotes to Know!

Consider this!  Concepts & Themes (Given after Act III)

Act I, sc. vii Multiple Choice Practice Quiz

Act IV, sc. i Multiple Choice Practice Quiz