Students read Macbeth, analyzing and discussing universal themes of power, greed, and morality, while tackling Shakespearian language.
In this high school English unit for tenth graders, students will engage in an analysis of the play Macbeth, by William Shakespeare. In ninth grade, students read Romeo and Juliet and now will explore one of Shakespeare’s darker works. This Macbeth unit allows students to tackle Shakespearian language and engage in analysis and discussion of universal themes of power, greed, and morality.
At Match, students have a Composition class 4 days per week in addition to English class. Below, we have included Supplementary Composition Projects to reflect the material covered in our Composition course. For teachers who are interested in including these Composition projects but do not have a separate Composition course, we have included a “Suggested Placement” to note where these projects would most logically fit into the English unit. While the Composition projects may occasionally include content unrelated to English 10, most have both a skill and content connection to the work students are doing in their English 10 class.
In the English lessons of Unit 5, students will focus on analyzing the Shakespearean drama Macbeth, focusing particularly on Shakespeare’s development of characters and theme. In these parallel composition projects, teachers will have a choice of two projects: one narrative and one literary analysis. The teacher may choose to do both or include other writing projects and/or writing focus areas that respond to students’ interests and/or writing development needs. Because at Match this unit typically falls near state testing window, we are allowing some flexibility so each individual teacher can choose projects that best align with the types of writing his/her students might benefit from the most.
Play: Macbeth by William Shakespeare (Folger Shakespeare Library, 2013)
Article: “Morality as Anti-Nature” by Friedrich Nietzsche (CommonLit)
This assessment accompanies Unit 5 and should be given on the suggested assessment day or after completing the unit.
Students will focus on analyzing Shakespeare’s language and using it to support and defend various positions throughout the unit.
Literary Analysis Writing Focus Areas:
Below are the writing focus areas that are recommended for the projects described in this unit. Each focus area comes from a particular row and column of the rubric, and more detail about each area of focus is provided in the description of the specific writing project. The teacher should feel free to substitute or revise these writing focus areas in order to meet his/her students where they are and help them improve their writing in ways that authentically address the students’ areas for growth.
iambic pentameter, simile, mood, exposition, diction, aside, characterization, symbol, soliloquy, foil, personification, alliteration, denouement
Act 1.1–1.4: aside, foul, plight, noble, harbinger
Act 1.5–Act 2.1: ambitious, metaphysical, beguile, clamor
Act 2.2–Act 2.4: appall, multitudinous, equivocator, dire, amiss, scruples, foe
Act 3.1–Act 4.1: posterity, indissoluble, parricide, dauntless, rancor, predominant, malice, nonpareil\
Act 4.2–end Act 4: profound, haste, gracious, potent, sovereignty, vanquished
Act 5: diminutive, judicious, desolate, avaricious, boundless, avarice, perturb, guise, dignity, antidote, perilous, clamorous, abhor
Act 1.1–1.4: thane, kinsmen, prophecy
Act 1.5–Act 2.1: pall, raven, serpent, knell, Neptune’s Ocean
Act 2.2–Act 2.4: Beelzebub (also in Lord of the Flies), parley
Act 3.1–Act 4.1: Hecate, locks
Act 4.2–end Act 4: cauldron, something wicked this way comes, innocent lamb
Act 5: gentlewoman, flower and weeds
Students will become familiar with iambic pentameter and how Shakespeare uses language to create mood. Students will also become familiar with the 19th century German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche and his challenges of morality.
Macbeth — Act 1, Scenes 1-2
Analyze the exposition of Macbeth, identifying the mood and the traits of major characters.
Macbeth — Act 1, Scene 3
Characterize Macbeth and Banquo based on their reaction to the witches.
Macbeth — Act 1, Scene 4
Characterize King Duncan.
Macbeth — Act 1, Scene 5
Characterize Lady Macbeth. Analyze the relationship between Macbeth and Lady Macbeth.
Macbeth — Act 1, Scene 6
Analyze Macbeth’s internal conflict in his soliloquy and explain how Lady Macbeth ultimately influences his decision.
Macbeth — Act 2, Scene 1
Analyze and explain Shakespeare’s use of the symbolism to convey Macbeth’s thoughts just before the murder.
Macbeth — Act 2, Scene 2
Analyze how Shakespeare builds both mood and suspense in this scene.
Describe the symbolism of “washing the hands."
Macbeth — Act 2, Scene 3
Explain how this scene contributes to the rising action of the play.
Macbeth — Act 2, Scene 4 and Act 3, Scene 1
Track Macbeth’s character development and changes since Act 1.
Macbeth — Act 3, Scenes 2 and 3
Independently read and analyze Act 3, Scene 3.
Macbeth — Act 3, Scene 4
Analyze and explain how Shakespeare reveals Macbeth’s humanity throughout this scene.
Macbeth — Act 3, Scenes 5 and 6
Explain how Act 3, Scene 5 contributes to the plot as a whole.
Macbeth — Act 4, Scene 1
Analyze the events of Act 4, Scene 1 and explain how they contribute to the falling action of the play.
Macbeth — Act 4, Scene 2
Explain how Shakespeare solidifies Macbeth’s ultimate fate in Act 4, Scene 2.
Macbeth — Act 4, Scene 3
Defend a position regarding Macduff’s loyalty.
Macbeth — Act 4, Scene 3
Explain the ways in which Macduff serves as a foil to Macbeth.
Macbeth — Act 5, Scene 1
Analyze the change in Lady Macbeth’s character and explain what caused it.
Macbeth — Act 5, Scene 2
Analyze and interpret the figurative language in this scene.
Explain how this scene relates to the prophecy.
Macbeth — Act 5, Scene 3
Explain how this scene reveals Macbeth’s humanity.
Macbeth — Act 5, Scenes 4-6
Analyze Macbeth’s soliloquy to determine his mental state before the battle.
Macbeth — Act 5, Scenes 7 and 8
Explain how the denouement of the play restores order to the chaos.
“Morality as Anti-Nature”
Create and defend an argument about morality and Macbeth.