Sample Questions

  1. Macbeth is a wholly ambiguous play. Discuss
  2. Talk about male/female role reversal. Is Lady Macbeth masculine or merely exploring certain facets of the female psyche? Is her madness brought on by overreaching herself by trying to ‘masculate’ herself, or is it brought on by her evil deeds? How is Macbeth feminine? Is his (relatively) heroic death a vindication of his masculinity?

    How does Lady Macbeth reveal the ambiguities inherent within her character? Is she evil or driven by hubris which drives her towards insanity? How much does her sleepwalking scene change the audience’s mind about her?

    Think about Shakespeare’s use of light and darkness. The play revolves around images of chiaroscuro – but the content is much less defined. When Lady Macbeth is in the depth of her madness she is afraid of the dark whereas earlier she embraced it: "Come thick night".

    Consider the weakness of the ‘good’ characters. Is the strength of Macbeth and his wife’s characters a vindication of their actions, or are they magnetic and charismatic personalities despite what they do?

    Are the witches merely symbols of evil? Would Macbeth have acted with such evil had they not opened his mind to ambition? Are they, on the contrary, active elements of Fate? Are they real or figments of the imagination like the dagger and if so why does Banquo see them?

  3. Macbeth’s hubris brings him down. The play is a lesson to us all not to strive too hard. Discuss.

Macbeth is in many ways a representative character. He is ambitious to serve his king well. However the witches use this ambition to bring about his downfall. The mere mention of the possibility of his becoming king sets off the chain of events that lead to Macduff delivering to Malcolm Macbeth’s severed head. Macbeth believes all the time that he is good enough/strong enough/powerful enough to become king. The play leaves you wondering if he might have managed it on Duncan’s death without resorting to murdering him.

The tragic hero must have a tragic flaw. Is Macbeth’s solely his hubris? Lady Macbeth fans the flames of his ambition and it is her encouragement which leads him from "I dare not" to "I dare". Is Macbeth’s attempt to become king a warning against social climbing of any kind, a defense of the rights of the king, or a warning that ambition must be tempered with patience if one is to succeed with one’s ambitions?

  By PanEris using Melati.

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