Macbeth Act 1 Part 1

Macbeth: Act One – part 1
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Learning objectives
Consider first impressions of the main characters
Examine the initial relationships
between characters
Consider what themes are introduced in Act One
Explore the dramatic structure of the play
Icons key:
For more detailed instructions, see the Getting Started presentation
Flash activity (these activities are not editable)
Extension activities
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Teacher’s notes
Functional skills
Web addresses
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Author information
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Studying Shakespeare
Shakespeare’s plays are very different to modern ones.
What differences can you think of?
They are written both in poetry (usually using iambic
pentameter) and in prose. As a rule, the important
characters talk in verse, while the servants and other
minor players talk in prose.
The way that language is used, and some of the vocabulary,
may seem strange to you at first. Most versions of the text
will offer definitions of words that might not be understood
by a modern reader.
When you find any words or phrases that you
do not understand, discuss them as a class to
see if you can work out what they mean.
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Studying a play
Studying a play is very different from reading a novel or
a poem. When you are writing about and analysing Macbeth,
you should bear in mind that:
a play is written to be performed. When you read it, you
should remember this. Try to see the actors on stage or in
a film version in your mind. If possible, you should go to
see a live performance of the play, as this will develop
your understanding.
the main way that we learn about the plot, themes,
characters and relationships in a play is through hearing
the characters speak to each other. When you read the
dialogue, think about how they might stress certain words,
or the rhythms that they might use in their speech to
convey their emotions.
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The witches
The witches only appear together three times throughout the
play, but they are powerful characters.
They function in two ways:
to set the scene for
the audience for the
rest of the play
as agents in the
development of
the plot through their
prophesies to Macbeth.
How do Macbeth and Banquo react to the witches’
prophesies in Act One, Scene Three? How are
their reactions similar and how are they different?
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A central theme of the play is ambition and the effect it can
have on people. Both Macbeth and his wife are deeply
ambitious and hungry for power.
When Macbeth hears the
witches’ prophecy in Act One,
Scene Three, he immediately
starts to imagine how he might
be king.
‘If chance will have me king,
why, chance may crown me
Without my stir’
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