The smart way to improve grades

Comprehensive & curriculum aligned

Try an activity or get started for free

Identify and Explain Key Characters and their Development in 'Macbeth'

In this worksheet, students will revise the main characters in 'Macbeth', analysing how they develop over the course of the play.

'Identify and Explain Key Characters and their Development in 'Macbeth'' worksheet

Key stage:  KS 4

GCSE Subjects:   English Literature

GCSE Boards:   AQA, Pearson Edexcel, OCR, Eduqas

Curriculum topic:   Shakespeare

Curriculum subtopic:   Macbeth

Difficulty level:  

Worksheet Overview

QUESTION 1 of 10

In Shakespeare's play 'Macbeth', the key character is identified in the title! Macbeth is the eponymous character as the play is named after him. This is a clear hint to us that we should begin any study of the play by analysing how Macbeth may be considered as a tragic hero. 

We must always remember that because Shakespeare was writing a play to be performed in front of an audience, he imagined an actor bringing his character to life on a stage. But as readers, we are an audience too! How we feel about Macbeth is important. Keep a note of your own thoughts and observe if they change as you notice Macbeth's character developing; this counts as a personal response and will help you to enrich your answers.

 

We can use these three methods to learn about a character in a play:

What they say

What they do

What other characters say about them

(Also, where there are stage directions we can gain insight into the playwright's intentions.)

 

This is a great way to collect some memorable quotes - they may be just one word or a short phrase that you can use as your 'Evidence / Analyse' in your PEA paragraphs.

 

Another comprehension technique is to track the character throughout the play. Macbeth appears in all five acts, so by noting what he says, what he does, and what others say about him at different points in the play makes it is easier to comment on his character development. Macbeth opens the play as the hero but transforms into a villain by the final scenes.

 

You can also track the play structurally. If you're able to identify structural components this will help you write a more sophisticated answer.

 

One final reminder: when using the play's title, put  '...' around it like this: 'Macbeth'. When writing about the character known as Macbeth, don't, it is just his name!

 

You should always refer to your own text when working through these examples. These quotations are for reference only.

At the beginning of the play, the audience hears Macbeth being spoken of before he enters on stage. Have you ever been introduced to someone after a friend has spoken warmly of them? You were probably ready to like them: did you? In the same way, if we are told bad things about a person it often influences how we feel about them.

 

This happens three times:

The Witches - introduce Macbeth and raise the following questions. Who is Macbeth? Why are the witches planning to meet him? How is Macbeth being associated with evil? What kinds of powerful forces are at play here?

Battle-weary Sergeant - brings news to the King, his words depict Macbeth as highly respected and loyal - he's just stopped an uprising by killing the traitor, the Thane of Cawdor. 

The King - is presented as a hero by stopping the uprising! Sadly, he's a tragic hero, a character defined as being high-born and worthy, but who has a fatal character flaw - or weakness- which will bring about his downfall.

 

If you have spotted a pattern there, well done! It is a plot structure that has been used since ancient times and is still used today in books and movies.

 

Look at the statements below and tick all statements you believe to be correct.

Macbeth is connected to evil through an association with the witches

Macbeth is described as "brave", "worthy" and "noble" in Act One

He shows no real interest in the predictions

An eponymous character is named in the text's title

Shakespeare uses asides to show Macbeth's mental struggle between right and wrong

A tragic hero is unlucky

Macbeth (alongside Banquo) was described in battle as, "cannons overcharged with double cracks". This took place off-stage. So, we might have the idea that killing comes easily to him and that removing Duncan is all in a day's work for this warrior.

 

Remember that there is an issue for a playwright in staging battles and murders on stage - the power of the imagination is far more effective than fake blood or actors playing dead! Here we see Macbeth close up and personal in front of the good, elderly King Duncan, who should be sleeping safely under the protection of Macbeth's castle. Macbeth murders him.

 

The play depicts Macbeth on his way to Duncan's room, then after the murder, joining Lady Macbeth who has been waiting for him. In these two passages, he is clearly conflicted. 

 

What reasons does he state for not killing Duncan?

 

They are connected as family

He is Macbeth's guest

Macbeth will get caught

Duncan is a good king

Track how Macbeth keeps hold of his throne, and in doing so becomes a tyrant.

 

Banquo is murdered for knowing too much.

The murder of Fleance (Banquo's son and predicted future king) is botched as he escapes.

The noblemen flee to join up with Malcolm and Donalbain who are both gathering an army to attack Macbeth.

Lady Macduff and her children are murdered, as revenge against Macduff's desertion.

 

There are other changes too: Macbeth now hires killers and gives orders. Power has enabled him to distance himself from the dirty work. Consider your responses to this: is it a sign of guilt or simply the idea that 'power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely'? 

 

The relationship between Macbeth and his wife has also shifted. Lady Macbeth is no longer the power behind the throne, her husband takes decisions and tells her: "be innocent of the knowledge". Macbeth is increasingly isolated and alone; he suffers from hallucinations and cannot sleep: his mental stability remains questionable at best. He consults the witches again and is given another set of riddles, which leave him feeling that none can critique or challenge him!

 

Below is a list of events that lead up to Act Five. Check those actions that Macbeth takes and leave unchecked the events which are consequences of his actions.

He inherits the title 'Thane of Glamis'

He plots to kill Banquo and Fleance

His wife has a mental breakdown

He orders the murders of Lady Mcduff and her children

He cannot sleep

Scottish noblemen are leaving to form an army against him

He experiences hallucinations

He turns to the witches for advice

In Act Five, Lady Macbeth sleepwalks and later, Macbeth is informed of her death. His reaction is to note that life is brief and "signifying nothing". The other nobleman approach with an army, and Macbeth believes that he cannot be killed by "one of woman born" (one of the riddles that give him false confidence).

 

Despite his anger and brutality, he is also world-weary, as if nothing matters to him any more. When he appears to fight however, we see a glimpse of the 'old' Macbeth - the warrior who will fight to the death and never surrender.

 

How do we feel at this point in the play? Have our emotions shifted a little again? 

 

Can you select a line in Act 5, Scene 5 which suggests that Macbeth is tired of life?

 

The image below may lead you there!

If this which he avouches does appear,/ There is nor flying hence nor tarrying here./ I gin to be aweary of the sun,/ And wish the estate of the world were now undone./ Ring the alarum-bell!

​Lady Macbeth is a supporting character yet she is important as she influences Macbeth and, her madness reflects the guilt they both feel about their terrible crime. She appears six times in the play, and then we are informed of her death.  Let's have a look at her words and actions at different points.

 

She is first seen reading a letter from Macbeth where he informs her of his meeting with the witches. Her response is shocking as she immediately suggests they murder Duncan to ensure the predictions come true; an unexpected response. 

 

When King Duncan arrives at their castle he praises her for her womanly virtues and we see how appearances can be deceptive in her reactions to him. She persuades Macbeth to act, calling him a "coward" and drugs the king's guards so that they sleep through the crime. 

 

In Act Two, Lady Macbeth continues to support Macbeth - she faints just as awkward questions are being asked, distracting them from Macbeth.

In Act Three she comforts Macbeth and again distracts the guests at the banquet when Macbeth 'sees' Banquo's ghost. But now, Macbeth is not telling her everything and she no longer has the power in the relationship.

 

At night, she frantically keeps washing her hands to remove the blood she sees there, and the doctor hints there is no cure for a guilty conscience. It is assumed her fall from the castle battlements is deliberate.

 

Match the corresponding pairs below about Lady Macbeth. 

Column A

Column B

'I do fear thy nature, it is too full of the milk ...
She thinks Macbeth is too good to murder in cold b...
'When you durst do it, then you were a man.'
She calls on the supernatural to take away her kin...
'Come you spirits, unsex me here and fill me...top...
She thinks there is no point in thinking about the...
'What's done is done'.
She suggests he is too cowardly to kill Duncan
'What will these hands ne'er be clean.'
She believes her hands are covered in Duncan's blo...
'The Queen, my lord, is dead.'
Lady Macbeth has killed herself

Banquo and Macbeth are both spoken about as being brave warriors.

 

They meet the witches when they return from the battle, though perhaps it is interesting that the witches only speak of meeting Macbeth. Banquo asks for a prediction also and is given a riddle that suggests he will be a father of future kings. This is important historically because King James could trace his family line back to the real Banquo. The differences start here, Banquo seems to take the prediction much more lightly so we can contrast his reaction to Macbeth's. They agree not to speak of it again.

 

Once Macbeth is king, Banquo becomes a threat because he knows too much and could expose Macbeth as a murderer.  Macbeth arranges for Banquo and his son to be killed; this is hugely significant in that Fleance escapes because it helps to confirm that the prediction was correct! 

 

Perhaps Banquo is significant in the drama as a foil to Macbeth; can we relate to his reactions more easily which helps Macbeth's stand out as extraordinary

 

Below are statements that will encourage you to form your own opinions and responses: if you can support your idea with a quote or an event from the play then you will be able to present a valid argument.

Are the witches important as characters? The answer has to be - No! But, they are important dramatically so they're included here for mention. They help to convey the atmosphere of evil that Macbeth becomes associated with.

 

They speak in riddles when they make their predictions, so although they speak truthfully they also mislead Macbeth, who, fatally, believes that he cannot be killed by another man. When we think of Macbeth as an evil person, we have to think about who and what has influenced him, as well as his own ambition to be king. The witches, along with Lady Macbeth, come into this group, while Banquo demonstrates an alternative way of reacting.

 

 

Think of it as a formula: ambition + other influences = bad decisions!

 

Look at the statements below. Tick those are believed to be correct.

The witches help to create an atmosphere of evil

The witches are important as characters

Banquo is less influenced by the predictions than Macbeth

The second set of predictions leave Macbeth feeling secure

Lady Macbeth visits the witches

They often speak in riddles

The other characters might read like a list of names but it's useful to connect each one to something they do or say that helps the play progress. In this activity, you have revised the names, but remember, they are more important for what they show about Macbeth or how they trigger some action in the plot.

 

You will see that that there's a list of nobles, plus characters such as the porter, who serve the nobles. Shakespeare often changes his use of language to convey the status of the speaker. This still happens today - try changing how the Queen speaks for some comedy value!

 

Shakespeare generally writes in verse for the higher classes and in prose for the lower. It's something an audience would hear in the rhythm and rhyme. Shakespeare also uses this to control the levels of tension. Immediately after Duncan's murder, there is a scene with a drunken porter. Why? Because it helps the audience to come to terms with the shock so that we're not hit with super high tensions, too soon. 

 

Look at the statements below. Match each character with their appropriate description.

Column A

Column B

Duncan
Kills Macbeth, as much in revenge for the death of...
Macduff
A Scottish nobleman
Malcolm
The elderly King of Scotland; a good king
Donalbain
Son of Duncan and rightful heir to the throne. He ...
Lennox
A Scottish nobleman
Ros
Banquo's son who escapes
Fleance
A servant who remains loyal to Macbeth. His name s...
Seyton
Duncan's younger son, Malcolm's brother

This question tests how well you know the characters in the play. In the answers, you're given a hint at the context the line is spoken in, or an event it is connected to. This is a great way to become really familiar with the plot and characters, making you feel more confident when writing about 'Macbeth'.

 

Something to think about: How many kings can you identify in this play? 

 

crown

Column A

Column B

"For brave Macbeth, (well he deserves that name.)"
The Captain, reporting to Duncan
"What he hath lost, noble Macbeth hath won."
Macbeth as a tyrant, ordering the murders of innoc...
"Stars, hide your fires! Let not light see my blac...
Macbeth cannot have an easy mind while Banquo may ...
"Thou hast it now, King, Cawdor, Glamis, all, and ...
Lady Macbeth believing to have Duncan's blood on h...
"What, will these hands ne'er be clean?"
Malcolm, as he announces the start of a new reign
"The castle of Macduff I'll surprise...give to the...
Duncan, on giving Macbeth the title Thane of Cawdo...
"Oh full of scorpions is my mind, dear wife."
Banquo, suspecting that Macbeth has killed Duncan
"This dead butcher and his fiend-like queen."
Macbeth, on trying to not show his true ambition t...

Now try to put your knowledge into writing by trying this sample question.

 

In the GCSE exam, you will be given an extract from the play and asked to write about a topic and how this is shown in the play as a whole. One way is to write about the extract and then open up your answer to incorporate other parts of the play. 

 

In this task, read the extract and then answer the question so that you practise using both the extract and your knowledge of the whole text.

 

Remember, using PEA is a great way to help you construct paragraphs which support your ideas.

 

Try to write at least three paragraphs.

In the extract below from Act 1, Scene 3, Macbeth has just been given his first predictions and has immediately been informed that he is to be the Thane of Cawdor.

 

[Aside] "Two truths are told,
As happy prologues to the swelling act
Of the imperial theme.--I thank you, gentlemen.

Aside

Cannot be ill, cannot be good: if ill,
Why hath it given me earnest of success,
Commencing in a truth? I am thane of Cawdor:
If good, why do I yield to that suggestion
Whose horrid image doth unfix my hair
And make my seated heart knock at my ribs,
Against the use of nature? Present fears
Are less than horrible imaginings:
My thought, whose murder yet is but fantastical,
Shakes so my single state of man that function
Is smother'd in surmise, and nothing is
But what is not."

 

How does Macbeth react to the news of his promotion in this extract? 

What does it suggest about his interest in the supernatural as shown in the rest of the play?

[10]

 

  • Question 1

At the beginning of the play, the audience hears Macbeth being spoken of before he enters on stage. Have you ever been introduced to someone after a friend has spoken warmly of them? You were probably ready to like them: did you? In the same way, if we are told bad things about a person it often influences how we feel about them.

 

This happens three times:

The Witches - introduce Macbeth and raise the following questions. Who is Macbeth? Why are the witches planning to meet him? How is Macbeth being associated with evil? What kinds of powerful forces are at play here?

Battle-weary Sergeant - brings news to the King, his words depict Macbeth as highly respected and loyal - he's just stopped an uprising by killing the traitor, the Thane of Cawdor. 

The King - is presented as a hero by stopping the uprising! Sadly, he's a tragic hero, a character defined as being high-born and worthy, but who has a fatal character flaw - or weakness- which will bring about his downfall.

 

If you have spotted a pattern there, well done! It is a plot structure that has been used since ancient times and is still used today in books and movies.

 

Look at the statements below and tick all statements you believe to be correct.

CORRECT ANSWER
Macbeth is connected to evil through an association with the witches
Macbeth is described as "brave", "worthy" and "noble" in Act One
An eponymous character is named in the text's title
Shakespeare uses asides to show Macbeth's mental struggle between right and wrong
EDDIE SAYS
Strong start. As early as in Act One, Macbeth is described with positive adjectives by the people around him. However, perhaps there are others who know him even better. The witches have a powerful ambition to rule while Macbeth's wife suspects he is too loyal and even emotionally weak. As a result, she decides to take matters into his own hands. In Act One we can identify Macbeth as a complex character whose decisions tap into a tragic flaw - his selfish ambition for status and power.
  • Question 2

Macbeth (alongside Banquo) was described in battle as, "cannons overcharged with double cracks". This took place off-stage. So, we might have the idea that killing comes easily to him and that removing Duncan is all in a day's work for this warrior.

 

Remember that there is an issue for a playwright in staging battles and murders on stage - the power of the imagination is far more effective than fake blood or actors playing dead! Here we see Macbeth close up and personal in front of the good, elderly King Duncan, who should be sleeping safely under the protection of Macbeth's castle. Macbeth murders him.

 

The play depicts Macbeth on his way to Duncan's room, then after the murder, joining Lady Macbeth who has been waiting for him. In these two passages, he is clearly conflicted. 

 

What reasons does he state for not killing Duncan?

 

CORRECT ANSWER
They are connected as family
He is Macbeth's guest
Duncan is a good king
EDDIE SAYS
How did you get on? Macbeth gives a long list of reasons why he should not kill Duncan but goes through with it anyway. His own desire to be king is stronger here than any reasoning of moral right and wrongs. In the context of Elizabethan beliefs about kingship, this murder is beyond shocking, so why do it? Is this a sign of a stable and rational mind, a person who would be a good leader? Probably not!
  • Question 3

Track how Macbeth keeps hold of his throne, and in doing so becomes a tyrant.

 

Banquo is murdered for knowing too much.

The murder of Fleance (Banquo's son and predicted future king) is botched as he escapes.

The noblemen flee to join up with Malcolm and Donalbain who are both gathering an army to attack Macbeth.

Lady Macduff and her children are murdered, as revenge against Macduff's desertion.

 

There are other changes too: Macbeth now hires killers and gives orders. Power has enabled him to distance himself from the dirty work. Consider your responses to this: is it a sign of guilt or simply the idea that 'power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely'? 

 

The relationship between Macbeth and his wife has also shifted. Lady Macbeth is no longer the power behind the throne, her husband takes decisions and tells her: "be innocent of the knowledge". Macbeth is increasingly isolated and alone; he suffers from hallucinations and cannot sleep: his mental stability remains questionable at best. He consults the witches again and is given another set of riddles, which leave him feeling that none can critique or challenge him!

 

Below is a list of events that lead up to Act Five. Check those actions that Macbeth takes and leave unchecked the events which are consequences of his actions.

CORRECT ANSWER
He plots to kill Banquo and Fleance
He orders the murders of Lady Mcduff and her children
He turns to the witches for advice
EDDIE SAYS
Phew, that was challenging as there was a lot of information. Hopefully, you have identified the events triggered by Macbeth's actions and noticed the others are consequences of his actions. Consider how many of them are actions that Macbeth takes because he no longer trusts anyone and will do anything to keep his power...
  • Question 4

In Act Five, Lady Macbeth sleepwalks and later, Macbeth is informed of her death. His reaction is to note that life is brief and "signifying nothing". The other nobleman approach with an army, and Macbeth believes that he cannot be killed by "one of woman born" (one of the riddles that give him false confidence).

 

Despite his anger and brutality, he is also world-weary, as if nothing matters to him any more. When he appears to fight however, we see a glimpse of the 'old' Macbeth - the warrior who will fight to the death and never surrender.

 

How do we feel at this point in the play? Have our emotions shifted a little again? 

 

Can you select a line in Act 5, Scene 5 which suggests that Macbeth is tired of life?

 

The image below may lead you there!

CORRECT ANSWER
If this which he avouches does appear,/ There is nor flying hence nor tarrying here./ I gin to be aweary of the sun,/ And wish the estate of the world were now undone./ Ring the alarum-bell!
EDDIE SAYS
The line "I gin to be aweary of the sun" is Macbeth's way of saying that life no longer matters to him and his ambition was folly. At this point in the play, he begins to see clearly and perhaps the audience sympathises more with him here than if he was just portrayed as just bad? What do you think?
  • Question 5

​Lady Macbeth is a supporting character yet she is important as she influences Macbeth and, her madness reflects the guilt they both feel about their terrible crime. She appears six times in the play, and then we are informed of her death.  Let's have a look at her words and actions at different points.

 

She is first seen reading a letter from Macbeth where he informs her of his meeting with the witches. Her response is shocking as she immediately suggests they murder Duncan to ensure the predictions come true; an unexpected response. 

 

When King Duncan arrives at their castle he praises her for her womanly virtues and we see how appearances can be deceptive in her reactions to him. She persuades Macbeth to act, calling him a "coward" and drugs the king's guards so that they sleep through the crime. 

 

In Act Two, Lady Macbeth continues to support Macbeth - she faints just as awkward questions are being asked, distracting them from Macbeth.

In Act Three she comforts Macbeth and again distracts the guests at the banquet when Macbeth 'sees' Banquo's ghost. But now, Macbeth is not telling her everything and she no longer has the power in the relationship.

 

At night, she frantically keeps washing her hands to remove the blood she sees there, and the doctor hints there is no cure for a guilty conscience. It is assumed her fall from the castle battlements is deliberate.

 

Match the corresponding pairs below about Lady Macbeth. 

CORRECT ANSWER

Column A

Column B

'I do fear thy nature, it is too ...
She thinks Macbeth is too good to...
'When you durst do it, then you w...
She suggests he is too cowardly t...
'Come you spirits, unsex me here ...
She calls on the supernatural to ...
'What's done is done'.
She thinks there is no point in t...
'What will these hands ne'er be c...
She believes her hands are covere...
'The Queen, my lord, is dead.'
Lady Macbeth has killed herself
EDDIE SAYS
If you know the play well enough to identify who says some of the important quotes, you are on the right track!
  • Question 6

Banquo and Macbeth are both spoken about as being brave warriors.

 

They meet the witches when they return from the battle, though perhaps it is interesting that the witches only speak of meeting Macbeth. Banquo asks for a prediction also and is given a riddle that suggests he will be a father of future kings. This is important historically because King James could trace his family line back to the real Banquo. The differences start here, Banquo seems to take the prediction much more lightly so we can contrast his reaction to Macbeth's. They agree not to speak of it again.

 

Once Macbeth is king, Banquo becomes a threat because he knows too much and could expose Macbeth as a murderer.  Macbeth arranges for Banquo and his son to be killed; this is hugely significant in that Fleance escapes because it helps to confirm that the prediction was correct! 

 

Perhaps Banquo is significant in the drama as a foil to Macbeth; can we relate to his reactions more easily which helps Macbeth's stand out as extraordinary

 

Below are statements that will encourage you to form your own opinions and responses: if you can support your idea with a quote or an event from the play then you will be able to present a valid argument.

CORRECT ANSWER
EDDIE SAYS
Hopefully, these statements have helped you to form your own ideas about Banquo and his role in the play. There is room to have some differences of opinion, so don't worry too much as long as you are 'close' to what is suggested as correct! Try to think about how you could support and explain your own responses here, you could even make a revision product.
  • Question 7

Are the witches important as characters? The answer has to be - No! But, they are important dramatically so they're included here for mention. They help to convey the atmosphere of evil that Macbeth becomes associated with.

 

They speak in riddles when they make their predictions, so although they speak truthfully they also mislead Macbeth, who, fatally, believes that he cannot be killed by another man. When we think of Macbeth as an evil person, we have to think about who and what has influenced him, as well as his own ambition to be king. The witches, along with Lady Macbeth, come into this group, while Banquo demonstrates an alternative way of reacting.

 

 

Think of it as a formula: ambition + other influences = bad decisions!

 

Look at the statements below. Tick those are believed to be correct.

CORRECT ANSWER
The witches help to create an atmosphere of evil
Banquo is less influenced by the predictions than Macbeth
The second set of predictions leave Macbeth feeling secure
They often speak in riddles
EDDIE SAYS
Where appropriate we can create an argument about the witches and how they create atmosphere and powerfully influence Macbeth. Do the witches really have any power or is it just the power of suggestion? Have a think about that...
  • Question 8

The other characters might read like a list of names but it's useful to connect each one to something they do or say that helps the play progress. In this activity, you have revised the names, but remember, they are more important for what they show about Macbeth or how they trigger some action in the plot.

 

You will see that that there's a list of nobles, plus characters such as the porter, who serve the nobles. Shakespeare often changes his use of language to convey the status of the speaker. This still happens today - try changing how the Queen speaks for some comedy value!

 

Shakespeare generally writes in verse for the higher classes and in prose for the lower. It's something an audience would hear in the rhythm and rhyme. Shakespeare also uses this to control the levels of tension. Immediately after Duncan's murder, there is a scene with a drunken porter. Why? Because it helps the audience to come to terms with the shock so that we're not hit with super high tensions, too soon. 

 

Look at the statements below. Match each character with their appropriate description.

CORRECT ANSWER

Column A

Column B

Duncan
The elderly King of Scotland; a g...
Macduff
Kills Macbeth, as much in revenge...
Malcolm
Son of Duncan and rightful heir t...
Donalbain
Duncan's younger son, Malcolm's b...
Lennox
A Scottish nobleman
Ros
A Scottish nobleman
Fleance
Banquo's son who escapes
Seyton
A servant who remains loyal to Ma...
EDDIE SAYS
You don't need to study these characters in detail, but you will feel more confident writing about the play if you know who is who. There are some other minor characters too that you might want to note.
  • Question 9

This question tests how well you know the characters in the play. In the answers, you're given a hint at the context the line is spoken in, or an event it is connected to. This is a great way to become really familiar with the plot and characters, making you feel more confident when writing about 'Macbeth'.

 

Something to think about: How many kings can you identify in this play? 

 

crown

CORRECT ANSWER

Column A

Column B

"For brave Macbeth, (well he dese...
The Captain, reporting to Duncan
"What he hath lost, noble Macbeth...
Duncan, on giving Macbeth the tit...
"Stars, hide your fires! Let not ...
Macbeth, on trying to not show hi...
"Thou hast it now, King, Cawdor, ...
Banquo, suspecting that Macbeth h...
"What, will these hands ne'er be ...
Lady Macbeth believing to have Du...
"The castle of Macduff I'll surpr...
Macbeth as a tyrant, ordering the...
"Oh full of scorpions is my mind,...
Macbeth cannot have an easy mind ...
"This dead butcher and his fiend-...
Malcolm, as he announces the star...
EDDIE SAYS
You're making great progress. Although you do not have to learn great chunks of the play, being familiar with some key lines will really help you to show that you know the characters well.
  • Question 10

Now try to put your knowledge into writing by trying this sample question.

 

In the GCSE exam, you will be given an extract from the play and asked to write about a topic and how this is shown in the play as a whole. One way is to write about the extract and then open up your answer to incorporate other parts of the play. 

 

In this task, read the extract and then answer the question so that you practise using both the extract and your knowledge of the whole text.

 

Remember, using PEA is a great way to help you construct paragraphs which support your ideas.

 

Try to write at least three paragraphs.

In the extract below from Act 1, Scene 3, Macbeth has just been given his first predictions and has immediately been informed that he is to be the Thane of Cawdor.

 

[Aside] "Two truths are told,
As happy prologues to the swelling act
Of the imperial theme.--I thank you, gentlemen.

Aside

Cannot be ill, cannot be good: if ill,
Why hath it given me earnest of success,
Commencing in a truth? I am thane of Cawdor:
If good, why do I yield to that suggestion
Whose horrid image doth unfix my hair
And make my seated heart knock at my ribs,
Against the use of nature? Present fears
Are less than horrible imaginings:
My thought, whose murder yet is but fantastical,
Shakes so my single state of man that function
Is smother'd in surmise, and nothing is
But what is not."

 

How does Macbeth react to the news of his promotion in this extract? 

What does it suggest about his interest in the supernatural as shown in the rest of the play?

[10]

 

CORRECT ANSWER
EDDIE SAYS
As this is a practice activity, try not to feel overwhelmed by all the different things to remember! Just build up your experience of writing exam answers with lots of short practice tasks like this. PEA is a good guide to support you to develop good habits, especially when you can take your answer further with some extra development.
Try it for free ---- OR ----

Get started for free so you can track and measure your child's progress on this activity.

What is EdPlace?

We're your National Curriculum aligned online education content provider helping each child succeed in English, maths and science from year 1 to GCSE. With an EdPlace account you’ll be able to track and measure progress, helping each child achieve their best. We build confidence and attainment by personalising each child’s learning at a level that suits them.

Get started
laptop

Try an activity or get started for free