Study Questions

1. Throughout the play, Lady Macbeth often shows more grit and determination than her husband. However, by the end of the play, Lady Macbeth has taken her own life. What comments regarding gender does Shakespeare make regarding the actions of Lady Macbeth? How does the understanding of gender shift throughout the play?

2. The actions of Macbeth are both personal and political. However, Macbeth cannot often distinguish between the two. How does Macbeth combine the personal and political to reach his ultimate goals? How does this combination of personal and political become a hindrance for Macbeth?

3. The prophecies of the witches add a spooky element to the play, but they also cause readers to question the difference between predetermination and self-fulfillment. What evidence can you find that proves the prophecies of the play are predetermined or self-fulfilling? If you believe they are a combination of both, how does this affect the outcome of the play? Of Macbeth’s life?

4. Madness is a theme that runs throughout the play. Do you think that Lady Macbeth actually feels guilty, or do the murders drive her into complete madness that she cannot control? How much culpability does Lady Macbeth have for the murders? Do you think that she is justified in taking her own life? Why or why not?

5. Although Shakespeare named the play Macbeth, Macbeth is clearly not a typical protagonist. Who is the protagonist of the play? Is Macbeth a villain or just a character obsessed with personal ambition? How does this affect your understanding of the play?

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Essays About Macbeth