If there’s anything Hollywood has taught us about relationships, it’s that they are complicated. In his plays, Shakespeare introduced some of the messiest relationships in literature—just think about those unfortunate star-crossed lovers, Romeo and Juliet.
In this lesson, you will examine the dysfunctional relationship between Macbeth and his wife, Lady Macbeth, to learn how it contributes to the madness of Macbeth.
When you first meet new people how do you learn more about them? You probably listen to what they tell you about themselves, but, at the same time, you are evaluating the clothes they are wearing, the way their voices sound, the people they are with, and the way they act.
This idea also applies to characters you meet when you read. Since you cannot actually see their characters, authors rely on certain clues to help you get to know them. Character’s personalities are revealed through characterization.
There are two types of characterization:
Lady Macbeth is one of Shakespeare’s most infamous female characters. Audiences first meet her in ACT I, Scene V when she appears on stage reading a letter from Macbeth. Use the slides below to read through portions of this scene and take notes about her character in your graphic organizer.
Listen to this scene from the play.
You’ve seen a glimpse of Lady Macbeth and the attitude she has toward her husband. In the next scenes, you will have a chance to make your own judgment about Macbeth through his words and actions. Many of the lines Macbeth speaks in the play come in the form of a soliloquy. Basically this means he spends a lot of time talking to himself. His soliloquies are important to the play because they give the audience a chance to see what is going on in his mind. In these monologues he freely shares his thoughts without worrying about any of the other characters in the play hearing him. As you read, remember to add notes to your graphic organizer.
Demonstrate your understanding of the ideas presented in this lesson by submitting your graphic organizer with the notes you have taken so far. Note, your graphic organizer is only partially complete at this time—you will continue to add notes to it in the next lesson.