The Tragedy of Macbeth LRJ Passage Analysis: 4 total (Acts I-IV/V)

The Tragedy of Macbeth LRJ Passage Analysis: 4 total (Acts I-IV/V)

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Responding to Dramatic literature

As we read Macbeth, I would like you to pay attention to the way Shakespeare uses language, asking yourself the following questions:

1. How do the characters interact? What do they say to each other? To themselves?
2. How do they express ideas? Are they blunt and to the point, or are they more subtle, hinting at meanings and true intentions?

I would also like you to pay attention to words or lines that stand out to you. Think about the following:

1. What stands out and why?
2. Do you understand this particular bit of dialogue or scene? why or why not?
3. What do you need to know to have a better understanding?
4. Are the meanings and definitions of words from Shakespeare’s time different from our time? How do you know?
5. How can use of context clues shape and influence the meaning you derive from the play? What do the words make you think of, feel, see, or envision?

It is my hope that these LRJ activities will allow you to further your understanding and enjoyment of the play, while also helping you pay close attention to the nuance and power of language.

For these passage analyses, you will be asked to either cite a passage from the play, or cite the section you are writing about. Below is an example of how to cite text from a play correctly:

“Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player / That struts and frets his hour upon the stage, / and then is heard no more: it is a tale / Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, / Signifying nothing” (5.5, 22-27).

In this reference, the quotation would come from Act 5, scene 5, lines 22-27. All the numbers go inside the parentheses. Sentence punctuation goes at the end, outside the parentheses. Use the slash to indicate that your quotation runs over lines.

IMPORTANT: For each act (1-4/5), you will complete one “passage analysis” (see below) according to the instructions below. You will complete four passage analyses total: Act 1, Act 2, Act 3, and Act 4 or 5.
PART 1 – PASSAGE ANALYSIS (Required for each Act.)

Read the brief analysis below of Macbeth, 1.5, 1-31. You are to write a similar analysis of 25-50 lines for each Act of Macbeth (Act 1, Act 2, Act 3, and Act 4 or 5). Each passage analysis will be approximately one LRJ page
– 300-400 words. Follow the example below. Cite the exact passage being analyzed at the head of your analysis. Then, in your analysis, be sure to include:

1. a brief description of the passage and its mood,
2. the dominant emotional effect on the reader,
3. elements of setting, action, language, imagery, and character that achieve this effect,
4. use of figurative language and other language resources / literary devices, and
5. the significance within the immediate context (the scene) and within the whole play.

Remember to use the literary present tense when related events that happen in the story.


Macbeth, 1.5, 1-31
The setting is Inverness, before Macbeth’s castle. Duncan and Banquo appear discussing the pleasant atmosphere of the place. Their hostess, Lady Macbeth, enters, gives Duncan her hand, and pledges twice double service to him who has so honored her house. The effect is one of heavy dramatic irony accomplished by the emphasis of Banquo on the delicate air of Inverness encouraging swallows to nest in every “jutty, frieze,/Buttress, . . . coign of vantage” (1.5, 6-7), by the graceful apology of Duncan for the trouble Lady Macbeth’s love for him is putting her to (1.5, 11-14), by his stating tha1 he had hoped to precede Macbeth as “purveyor” for his worthy Thane but that Macbeth’s love “help” him home before (1.5, 21-22), and by Lady Macbeth’s pledge that she and her husband will become “hermits” for Duncan’s sake (1.5, 18). The “heaven’s breath” that “smells wooingly here” (1.5, 5-6), the excessively gracious obeisance of Lady Macbeth to her king as she bows and is lifted by him, the stated purpose of Duncan to continue graces towards Macbeth, all, when recalled in the next scene, heighten the horror of Macbeth’s being incited by this perfect hostess to murder her honored guest in his sleep.

Immediately preceding (1.5) Lady Macbeth has said “He that’s coming/must be provided for” (1.5, 67-68). The significance to the whole play of this scene is evident in the dual personality of Lady Macbeth, the unsuspecting trust of Duncan, Banquo’s reserved suspicion (suggested by his silence) of Macbeth’s ambition, and the unwitting prophecy of Lady Macbeth that isolation (“hermits”) will be the ultimate reward she and her husband will reap from Duncan’s favor of making himself accessible for murder in their house.

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