Internal factors that lead to his downfall – ambition & self-interest.
The audience‘s reaction to and levels of sympathy for Macbeth.
His relationship with his wife Lady Macbeth.
His behaviour as King / tyrant!
You must also be able to discuss the following characters:
Lady Macbeth – as a person in her own right, her relationship with her husband & our reaction to & levels of sympathy for her.
Duncan – as a King & as one of the “good” characters in the play.
Banquo – as a person in his own right and as a “foil” to Macbeth.
The Witches – their role in the play & influence over Macbeth.
Minor characters – Macduff, Malcolm, Edward (Kings/good guys!)
You can be asked a general question in which you’d discuss several characters. For example: “The play presents a dark and pessimistic view of humanity”.
Kingship & power
Good vs. Evil
Appearance vs. Reality
Imagery – blood, animal & clothing imagery
Relevance to a modern audience
Here are some specific exam questions but remember that you won’t know the exact question until you open up the exam paper. You are being asked to respond to the statement – discuss to what extent you agree and/or disagree with it. Don’t just bluntly begin by saying “I agree 100% with this statement” – this is predictable and shows an inability to offer a nuanced analysis of the play/statement. You must support all points you make by quotation from and reference to the play.
“Ambition and self-interest are the qualities that destroy Macbeth”
“Shakespeare’s Macbeth invites us to look into the world of a man driven on by ruthless ambition and tortured by regret”
“Macbeth’s murder of Duncan has horrible consequences both for Macbeth himself and for Scotland”
“Macbeth’s soliloquies are essential in order to retain audience sympathy for the central character”