Macbeth Study Guide

Macbeth Study Guide

Macbeth is Shakespeare's shortest tragedy, and very likely, the most reworked of all Shakespeare's plays. It is now assumed that some of the play was actually written by a contemporary of Shakespeare, Thomas Middleton, and modern editors have found it necessary to rearranged lines they feel are otherwise disjointed and confusing.
With such egregious textual meddling, one who is about to read the play for the first time might conclude that it is not going to be on par with Shakespeare's great masterpieces. Yet scholars will attest that the quality of poetry and prose, in the scenes we know to be complete and wholly Shakespeare's, is possibly the finest in the entire Shakespeare canon, if not the entire dramatic canon of Western literature.
Students new to Macbeth should be aware of the important motifs in the play, and make notes when they happen upon relevant passages. This way they will be well-prepared to discuss any theme on an exam or debate any point in an essay with specific references to the text. Moreover, students should locate a copy of the play with detailed and lengthy annotations. Reading a comprehensive edition ensures that a student will understand the passage as a whole and not just the difficult or obsolete words. In this study guide you will find exhaustive explanatory notes by clicking on a word or line from the play and at the bottom of each scene.

 Macbeth: The Complete Play with Annotations and Commentary
 The Metre of Macbeth: Blank Verse and Rhymed Lines
 Macbeth Character Introduction
 Metaphors in Macbeth (Biblical)

 Macbeth, Duncan and Shakespeare's Changes
 King James I and Shakespeare's Sources for Macbeth
 Contemporary References to King James I in Macbeth
 The Royal Patent that Changed Shakespeare's Life

 Soliloquy Analysis: If it were done when 'tis done (1.7.1-29)
 Soliloquy Analysis: Is this a dagger (2.1.33-61)
 Soliloquy Analysis: To be thus is nothing (3.1.47-71)
 Soliloquy Analysis: She should have died hereafter (5.5.17-28)

 Explanatory Notes for Lady Macbeth's Soliloquy (1.5)
 The Psychoanalysis of Lady Macbeth (Sleepwalking Scene)
 Lady Macbeth's Suicide
 Is Lady Macbeth's Swoon Real?

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