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William Shakespeare. An introduction to Macbeth. 1564-1616: (Elizabeth I dies 1603, succeeded by James I) Born in Stratford-upon-Avon, north of London Educated at a “grammar school” in Latin and classical studies At 18, he married Anne Hathaway aged 26

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William Shakespeare

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William shakespeare

William Shakespeare

An introduction to Macbeth

Early life

  • 1564-1616:

  • (Elizabeth I dies 1603, succeeded by James I)

  • Born in Stratford-upon-Avon, north of London

  • Educated at a “grammar school” in Latin and classical studies

  • At 18, he married Anne Hathaway aged 26

  • First child, Susanna born 6 months later… do the math!

  • Twins Hamnet and Judith born two years later, 1585

  • Hamnet dies age 11

Early Life

London life

  • Not clear when he moved to London

  • His plays were on stage by 1592

  • His family stayed behind in Stratford

  • Elizabeth I was queen

  • Shakespeare’s play won royal favour,

    particularly of James I

  • With a group of friends he built

    the Globe Theatre

London Life

The globe theatre

  • Constructed on the south bank of the Thames

  • An open-air amphitheatre

  • The higher the seats, the pricier the ticket

  • The common folk stood on the ground

  • Beer and snack were served – it got quite rowdy at times!

The Globe Theatre

The globe theatre1

The Globe Theatre


  • Macbeth is one of Shakespeare’s tragedies

  • A tragedy to Shakespeare involves a man of high rank who falls due to a personal flaw

  • Written between 1603 and 1607

  • Based on the history of the murder of King Duncan of Scotland

  • However, in reality Macbeth was a respected king of Scotland

  • Theatre superstition: it’s called the “Scottish Play”


Characters macbeth

  • A capable general at the service of King Duncan

  • His title is Thane (Earl) of Glamis

  • Rewarded with new title:

    Thane of Cawdor

  • He has a tragic flaw: ambition

Characters – Macbeth

Lady macbeth

  • Macbeth’s wife

  • She is even more ambitious than

    her husband

  • She knows how to manipulate Macbeth

Lady Macbeth

King duncan

  • The well respected king of Scotland

  • He is older than Macbeth

  • Macbeth’s kinsman (“cousin”)

  • Macbeth is very loyal to him – at the beginning

  • Two sons: Malcolm and Donalbain

King Duncan


  • Macbeth’s great friend

  • Also a general in Duncan’s army

  • Son: Fleance

  • Prophecy: he will give rise to

    many kings of Scotland

  • James I of England was also

    James VI of Scotland,

    said to be a descendant of


  • A character foil to Macbeth



  • Another thane (of Fife) and general

  • Becomes important in the final act

  • Has a wife and son


The three witches

  • People believed that witches caused misfortune

  • had “familiars” or animal spirits to assist them

  • represented a challenge to the established order

  • James I had written a book on how to detect and try witches

  • Many witches were burned during

    his reign

The Three Witches

William shakespeare

  • Shakespeare follows a formula for most of his plays

  • Act I: exposition

  • Act II: rising action

  • Act III: climax

  • Act IV: falling action

  • Act V: resolution




  • Scotland

  • Inverness Castle, Macbeth’s home, and other clammy places

  • Time: the 11th century, Thursday, around tea time

  • Atmosphere: dark, gloomy, foreboding, generally nasty



  • Deceit and equivocation

    • Deceit: the act of deceiving; concealment or distortion of the truth

    • Equivocation: the use of ambiguous, vague expressions; misleading or hedging

  • Masculinity:

    • What qualities make a man?

    • How should a “real” man act?

    • Can a woman act like a “man”?


Quick write

  • When would the assassination of a political leader be justified, if at all?

Quick Write

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