“The Scottish Play” by William Shakespeare

Mrs. Hricko

Melissa High School





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No Fear Shakespeare:

Macbeth in plain, modern English

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about lIterature

An electronic copy of the play










Literary Criticism Articles


DO NOT print these! Some are very long. Please copy and paste the parts you need into a Word document and print only that.


Background Information


If you take the time to read this stuff you will understand the story better and the criticism articles will make more sense. Trust me.

He Says, She Says: Macbeth (A Gender/Personality Study)

The authors examines what causes the personalities of Macbeth and Lady Macbeth to change.


Five Tragedies in Macbeth

An overview of the themes in Macbeth emphasizing five different aspects of the tragedy: Physical, psychological, moral, social, and theological.

Mortal Thoughts and Magical Thinking in Macbeth

Favila discusses the way “mortal thoughts” motivate the characters, leading Lady Macbeth o justify murder and Macbeth to seek immortality.


Macbeth: An Overview

Cusick’s overview will explain the basic themes and symbols.

Lady Macbeth

Macginn, an Irish essayist, calls Macbeth the gloomiest of Shakespeare’s plays and examines the blood imagery that runs throughout the drama.


Spark Notes on Macbeth

Use it to clarify what you’ve read.

Lady Macbeth: Shakespeare’s Ideals of Womanhood

Gerwig interprets Lady Macbeth as a psychological “study in ambition, albeit a self-sacrificing form of ambition that risks everything for another.


eNotes on Macbeth

Again, use it to clarify what you’ve read. You have read, haven’t you?

The Sounds of Supernatural Soliciting in Macbeth

Kranz examines the structural and thematic implications of Shakespeare’s repetitive use of poetry in Macbeth, particularly emphasizing how the witch’s words are echoed in the linguistic patterns of other characters in the play.


Enjoying Macbeth This is an interesting site, written by a guy who was an English major at Brown. It is not for you if you are easily offended by straight talk about the violence in the play. Lots of cool background information will help you enjoy and understand the play.

Macbeth: What Does the Tyrant?

McGrail approaches Macbeth as a study in tyranny focusing on Macbeth’s unbounded cruelty and ambition.


 Sixty Second Shakespeare

What if the story of Macbeth were news featured in a tabloid like The National Enquirer? See it here.

The Past of Macbeth

Cohen underscores Shakespeare’s limited reference to his characters’ pasts, arguing that this selectivity in characterization contributes to a powerful sense of immediacy and alienation in the drama.


An Insider’s Guide to Macbeth: A Podcast

Grab some headphones and listen. Totally NOT boring.

The Many Faces of Macbeth

Mack examines many of the central thematic concerns of Macbeth, including usurpation, witchcraft, pride, crime, the blurring of the real and unreal, the collapse of community, and final judgment.


Google Scholar An easy way to focus your Google search on scholarly literature. From one place, you can search across many disciplines and sources including literary criticism.

Macbeth I and Macbeth II: Shakespeare’s Workmanship

The author discusses the problem Shakespeare had in making the character of Macbeth be sympathetic to an audience. How do you keep your audience from hating an evil, despotic, murderous traitor?


Introduction to Macbeth by Ian Johnston This is a transcript of a really good lecture by a college professor. It’s easy reading compared to many of the other analyses. Includes great sections on what drove Macbeth to commit murder, why Lady Macbeth is not responsible for her husband’s deeds, and the symbolism of the witches.

The Hysteria of Lady Macbeth

A psychoanalyst argues the Lady Macbeth shows classic signs of “Hysteria” and that her ambition is a sublimation of her desire for a child.


The Macbeth Navigator A host of resources about Macbeth. Includes scene summaries, notable quotes explained, annotated links to passages that illustrate aspects of Macbeth’s character, themes & motifs and more.

Macbeth: The Tragedy of Evil

Shanley contrasts Macbeth with Shakespeare’s other tragic heroes.



Passion, Politics, and Gender in Macbeth How does “worthy” Macbeth become transformed into/revealed as a “hellhound” usurper?



Images of Death: Ambition in Macbeth R.A. Foakes argues that Macbeth does not simply desire to be king, “he desires to fulfill himself in his greatest skill: killing.”



How Will You Do For a Husband? Wifehood in Shakespeare’s Macbeth Check this out if you are writing about the women in Macbeth. This is a long paper. Do not print out the entire 108 pages.




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Last update 12/1/2011