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William Shakespeare’s Macbeth. Introductory Notes. Shakespearean Terms. Allusion – a reference to a person, place, event, or a literary work that a writer expects a reader to know (think South Park, Family Guy, The Simpsons .)

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shakespearean terms
Shakespearean Terms
  • Allusion – a reference to a person, place, event, or a literary work that a writer expects a reader to know (think South Park, Family Guy, The Simpsons.)
  • Aside – a brief comment or speech that the audience can hear, but other characters cannot (think out of the side of your mouth)
  • Characterization – the way a writer gives a character personality traits
  • Dramatic Irony – where the audience knows something the characters on stage do not (think horror movies)
  • Foreshadowing – use of hints or clues to suggest something will happen in the future
  • Imagery – words or phrases that create pictures in a reader’s mind
  • Internal Conflict – a conflict w/in a person (Hector from The Iliad)
shakespearean terms con t
Shakespearean Terms (con’t)
  • Monologue – an extended speech given by one character.
  • Motif – a recurring name, image, or phrase in a work of literature (ex. The color red in The Sixth Sense.)
  • Paradox – a self-contradictory phrase that seems to reveal a truth (ex. War creates peace)
  • Situational Irony – when the opposite of an expected situation occurs (ex. A fireman’s house catching fire.)
  • Soliloquy – an extended speech given by a character alone on stage
  • Theme – a statement about life that we can learn from the work
  • Verbal Irony – someone says one thing but, to the audience, means something entirely different
bill shakespeare 1564 1610
Fun Facts:

Born and died on the same day, April 23rd

Never went to college

Married Anne Hathaway when he was 18 (she was 26)

Had 3 kids, including a boy named Hamnet (inspiration for Hamlet); no relatives still living

12 years of his life are unknown; some think he fled London to escape deer poaching charges (abandoned his wife and kids)

Bill Shakespeare (1564 – 1610)
shakespeare con t the globe
The Globe Theater

Shakespeare acted as well as wrote his plays

Females couldn’t act; males played female roles

All classes went; rich sat in stands, poor on the floor, groundlings

Often began with bearbaiting

Shakespeare Con’t: The Globe
Setting: Scotland

Based on an actual 11th Century Scottish King

Plot: a lord’s violent rise to power

Principle Characters:

Macbeth – a fighter who sees his chance at the throne

Lady Macbeth – a wife who must act when her husband cannot

Duncan – the king in power

Witches – the bringers of good/bad fortune

the real macbeth s
The REAL Macbeth(s)

Two Different People Combined: Donwald

  • A man named Donwald finds several members of his family killed by the King for dealing w/ witches
  • Pressured by his wife, he and others plan to kill the King while he’s at their house


  • Macbeth and his friend meet witches who give them a prophecy
  • Plots and kills the King
  • Reigns for 10 years but is overthrown
the curse of the scottish play
In the drama world, the play’s title is forbidden to be spoken because it is thought that Shakespeare used spells from real witches in his play.

During the first performance the boy playing L. Macbeth got sick and died

King James hated the play it got banned for five years

In 1672, a real dagger was substituted for a fake one, killing Duncan in front of a live audience.

The Curse of the “Scottish Play”
the curse of the scottish play con t
1721, an army had to be called in to break up a fight between the actors and hecklers

1849, 31 people were trampled to death in a riot

1934, the actor playing Macbeth became mute on state; his replacement was hospitalized

1937, a 25 pound weight crashed inches away from Laurence Olivier, thought to be the greatest Shakespeare actor ever.

1937, the director and an actress got into a car accident, and the theater owner died of a heart attack

1942, three actors died during the production

Abraham Lincoln reportedly read the play a week before he died.

The Curse of the “Scottish Play” Con’t
how to break the curse
How to Break the Curse
  • If the title is said, you must do the following:
    • The person who said the title of the play must exit the theater, spin around three times and spit over your shoulders, and then must ask to return.
    • BEWARE!