Ambition by yurtgc548


									Macbeth Journals
► Macbeth  is set in 11th century Scotland.
 What qualities did the ideal man seem to
 possess during this time period? How does
 Macbeth compare to Beowulf as a hero?
 Who or what would be a modern version
 of each respectively? How do they each
 compare to what you believe makes an
 ideal man? How does Lady Macbeth
 compare to your notions of the ideal
 woman? Does our concept of what makes
 an ideal person change over time? Who
 are some people that represent the ideal
 to you? Do we even look for such ideals in
 our lives today?
Ambition is generally considered a good
 quality, in the sense of to aspire to be better
 than you are. But is there a point when that
 ceases to be true? Is there such a thing as
 too much ambition? How would you define
 what is too much?
What would you personally be willing to do to
 achieve your goals? What price is too high?
 What are the possible consequences and
 side effects of using any means to get what
 you want?
Do you think that power is inherently
       The Purpose of Tragedy
► Discuss   the idea behind tragedy, as introduced
  by Aristotle, that it is a story depicting the fall
  and suffering of a noble character, but that it is
  spiritually or intellectually uplifting, ennobling
  and enlarging at the same time. Is this a
  contradiction? Explain.
► What appeal does tragedy have for audiences
  and readers? How does catharsis work exactly?
► Consider and discuss the following line from a
  song in the musical The Fantasticks: “Without a
  hurt the heart is hollow.”
► Someone else famously said that comedy equals
  tragedy plus time. What does that mean?
In Act 3 of Macbeth, Hecate, the
  goddess of witchcraft says, “Security
  is mortal’s chiefest enemy.”
Is this a paradox? In what sense is this
  statement contradictory, and in what
  sense is it nevertheless true? Does it
  contain truth about human nature in
What are some modern-day parallels?
               The Fall of Man
►   The idea of human banishment from an ideal
    world is an archetypal theme that can be traced
    back through the canon of Western literature all
    the way to the story of Adam and Eve in the
    Garden of Eden.
►   To what extent can we connect Macbeth’s story
    to this archetypal theme?
►   Does he dwell in an “ideal” world or embody an
    ideal when we first meet him? Consider both his
    internal and external state.
►   Is he tempted by evil?
►   Is the result a metaphorical expulsion from his
    ideal world, from everything that is good and
    innocent and natural in life? Is his a self-
►   What imagery in the play supports a parallel to
    the Biblical story of Adam and Eve?
► The  philosopher Emmanuel Kant said,
 “Morality is not properly the doctrine
 of how we may make ourselves
 happy, but how we may make
 ourselves worthy of happiness.” That
 idea certainly applies to Macbeth and
 Lady Macbeth: their lack of morality
 leads to their unhappiness. Do you
 think a person can lack virtue and
 still find happiness? Explain your
►   How soon after hearing the witches’ prophecies
    does Macbeth begin to think about murdering
    Duncan? What is it that first brings the “horrid
    image” to his mind in Act 1, Scene 3. line 148?
►   What is the effect of this “fantastical murder” on
    Macbeth? What seems to be happening to
►   Do you think the witches choose Macbeth by
    chance or do they target him? Why does Banquo
    not turn into a murderer?
►   What do you believe is the source of evil and the
    origin of temptation? Is it something within us or
    outside of us?
►   Do you think the witches are purely evil or simply
    agents of fate (sometimes called another word for

► Almost   all the scenes that recur to memory
  in this play take place either at night or in
  some dark spot. How is Macbeth a
  preoccupation of the fears and tensions of
  darkness? Is there any color in the play?
► Shakespeare uses the word “blood” well
  over a hundred times in Macbeth. What do
  you think blood symbolizes?
► What is sleep? Why is Macbeth the murderer
  of sleep and why will Macbeth “sleep no
  more”? What does sleep symbolize in the
                      Lady Macduff
►   Lady Macduff only makes a brief appearance in the play, and yet
    she is given some important lines, and is a striking foil to Lady
    Macbeth (as Macduff is to Macbeth).
►   In response to Macduff’s having fled to England, she has this to
    say: “Wisdom? To leave his wife, to leave his babes, / His mansion
    and his titles in a place / From whence himself does fly? He loves
    us not; / He wants the natural touch; for the poor wren / (The
    most diminutive of birds) will fight, / Her young ones in the nest,
    against the owl. / All is fear, and nothing is the love, / As little is
    the wisdom, where the flight / So runs against all reason”
    (Macbeth 4. 2. 8-16).
►   How do the above words provide commentary and a different
    perspective on the entire action of the play?
►   Later in the same scene, shortly before she and her son are
    murdered, Lady Macduff is warned that her life is danger and that
    she should flee. This is her response: “Whither should I fly? / I
    have done no harm. But I remember now / I am in this earthly
    world, where to do harm / Is often laudable*, to do good
    sometime / Accounted dangerous folly” (Macbeth 4. 2. 72-5).
►   Explain and evaluate the above statement. How does Lady
    Macduff’s outlook fit into the broader themes of the play? Do you
    agree with her viewpoint? Why or why not?
►   * praiseworthy
                     Tragic hero
►   Aristotle defined a classical tragedy as having the
    following elements: The cast is made up of elevated
    characters, i.e. nobility or royalty. One of these
    characters will rise as a hero, but he will also eventually
    fall; this fall will be due to a personality defect, or a
    tragic flaw. The hero recognizes his mistake, but it’s
    too late to change the course of events. Finally, the
    tragic hero suffers immensely but becomes
    enlightened or ennobled by his experiences and
    meets his end with dignity.
►   To what extent does Macbeth fit the definition of a
    classical tragedy? Evaluate Macbeth as a tragic hero:
    Does he fit all the criteria? Try to examine both sides of
    the question.
          Modern-Day Macbeth
►   Though Macbeth takes place in Scotland nearly a
    thousand years ago, many of the themes are still
    relevant today. People are still greedy and
    ambitious; people still commit crime to get what
    they want; people are still tortured by their
    conscience; the health of society is still affected
    by the health of the individuals, and so forth.
►   Consider and describe how the essential plot line,
    character types, emotions and motivations of
    Macbeth, might remain the same but be recast
    into a more familiar and contemporary setting.
    For example, one film version of Macbeth sets the
    story in contemporary New York among the
    mafia, where a mob boss is taken out by one of
    the men who work for him. Another film sets the
    story in the corporate world with a CEO being

To top