Thursday, September 3, 2009

Macbeth Act 1

Here is the place to ask your questions, to help each other learn, and post oberservations and notes. Remember we are all learning together so we need to help one another. We learn best when we teach each other.

59 comments:

  1. So far, reading Macbeth has been a challenge. The literary devices used are complex and very different from our 'slang' language used today. While reading scene one today in class, i noticed a side note in the Macbeth book that said that Macbeth and King Duncan are cousins. So my question is, does Macbeth fight fiercely to prove that the family has talent, or does he fight because he has nothing better to do?

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  2. I have to agree with taylorw2013. There are a lot of words that I don't understand but I guess i will plow through. Dang it.
    I think that Macbeth, Taylorw, fights so hard is because he wants to bring honor to his family and the kingdom. I don't think people kill each other just for fun.
    Now MY question is: in act two the witches are talking to each other and are like: "where hast thou been sister?" to another witch.
    First off: it's the same day.
    Secondly: Why is she asking where she was? They KNEW they were leaving eachother...

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  3. My question is the same as sydney's. Why do the witches ask where the other witch was? It doesn't make any sense. And I also think that Macbeth fights in order to show that his family has talent. He could also be fighting to gain titles among hiearchy. I think he's aspiring to be the King. As we saw in the movies, Macbeth thinks about killing the king.

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  4. So far, this book is very confusing when you are reading it, but then when your are able to have it explained in a "Dumbed Down" manner, it finally makes sense, and your able to put it together. I'm a little confused on Macbeth's character. I can't tell if he's really modest and humble. Or if he's kindo of cocky and arrogant. Or maybe even somewhere in the middle. I'm also a little confused on who all of the characters are and what there signifagance is, but I'm sure that will be cleared up as we go on.

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  5. I am soooo super confused about this book so far!!!! The language is the trickiest part. I knew that Shakespeare spoke differently than we do now... But I didn't realize it was that different!!!

    To answer Sydney and Kara's question, the only reason that I can come up with is that they're weird!!!! They always speak in riddles, so not much that they say makes sense. Shakespeare was probably just trying to make them seem even more strange and different than the other characters. I hope this kinda answered your question!:)

    I guess another really challenging thing is remembering all of the character's names. I was sooooo lost when we started watching those movies, there was a Banquo, Duncan, Ross, Macdonalwald (had a farm hahaha), Malcom, Angus, the list goes on and on... Does anyone have any tips or strageties that they use to remember characters???

    Hopefully this'll start making more sense as it goes on, but right now I would have to admit I'm pretty overwhelmed!!!

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  6. i am a little confused by the language of the book. The characters have half page spiels about something that could take 4 sentences to explain. Once someone tells me what the characters are talking about though I'm fine. But one question that is kind of irrelevant is, did people really talk like that back then. Because there were lots of uneducated people who i don't think could understand that. Lastly, what significance do all of the characters have. They seem like a bunch of mostly random people.

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  7. Janie, to help you with your problem I have always found it helpful to make a character sheet. You just write down the characters as they come up and write things about them. Like their relationships with other characters, descriptions, and powerful quotes. You could also do this on your online text by highlighting the name and just making comments to the side. I hope this helps you!

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  8. So far I have found Macbeth very interesting! Personally I have not found it to be as difficult to understand the language because I took a Shakepeare class last year. I do know from experience, that if you are having diffuculties with the language that over time you will find it easy to understand.

    I agree with all those who have said that Macbeth fights to prove his family has talent, but I also believe that just like all humans he wants to prove himself. Since he shares the King's blood he must have pressure from others and his family to live up to the family expectations. Just like kids today who have older sibilings that go to a very good college. The child then has to work so much harder to not dissapoint their parents and to make it to an even better college. It is just simple human nature to want to be the best.

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  9. I usually can't understand Shakespeare but with Macbeth it makes more sense to me. I have no idea why but the text is alot clearer now. But I don't understand why people had to talk like that in the first place. I mean it's pretty I guess but no one can understand a word they're saying. I also do not understand why Macbeth had to be so gory when killing the guy I think he did it just to show off.

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  10. Like Katie, I think Macbeth is really interesting. For some reason, I understand things better when I see them acted out, so I am glad we are acting it out in class. If I had to read Macbeth without any help to understand it, I would probably despise it. It really helps to have my questions answered both in class and on this blog. I also found an online text that tells you what the confusing words mean. I really love that. I am excited to see how the play will turn out.

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  11. I was also confused with all the different characters but I think that the character sheet is a great idea! And I think that if people did talk like that back then it was probably just because that was the custom. If they were to hear someone speak the modern english they would probably be confused with the way we speak as we are with the way they do.

    just to clarify, Duncan is the king who is also macbeth's cousin, is that correct?

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  12. Yes, that is correct. Duncan and Macbeth are cousins. Right? Or am I mistaken?

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  13. I was wondering that too, Nathan. Did people really talk that way back then. And if they didn't, and Shakespeare wrote this using his own schmancy-pants language, how were the people supposed to understand it? The rich may have been able to, but over half the theater-goers were uneducated.
    And I am not thrilled to read Macbeth. however, I am grateful to read in class because if I were on my own I would go through it and not retain anything.

    I still don't get, or like, the witches. They're like,ultimate bullies? What makes them so high and mighty to pick on some poor sailor and take his toes. What did HE do to them?

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  14. I agree with most of the other people. This reading is very hard because of the old English. Words like Doth and wither have no meaning to me but they uised them all of the time. One of my questions is why they use repitition in this book so much. Like the witches when they are saying all hail Macbeth over and over again.

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  15. I agree with sydney and nathan. Did they talk like that or was it "schamancy-pants" language as sydney calls it? And yes, Duncan and Macbeth are cousins. I Think its weird how Macbeth thinks about killing Duncan to assume the throne but as they say, "Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely."

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  16. In response to people's questions about the language, I'm not sure if they actually talked like that or if it was just the rich. I did find this website however (http://shakespeare.about.com/gi/dynamic/offsite.htm?zi=1/XJ/Ya&sdn=shakespeare&zu=http%3A%2F%2Fabsoluteshakespeare.com%2Fglossary%2Fa.htm) that gives the meanings of all of those words that no one understands. I also had some questions just about the plot. I'm still kind of confused on what is happening. And what was the point of the opening lines by the witches? In response to what Daniel I. said about the repetition, during biblical times repetition was used to show emphasis. I'm not sure if this was the point during Shakespeare's time, but it might be.

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  17. After reading Meredith's comment, it helped me a little. I agree that the language was hard to understand and I did get lost during the book trying to understand what they were saying. The only thing that makes this book hard to follow is the use of old English. Ithink that if the book were to be rewritten into the langueag that we speak today, I would be able to follow everything that is going on.

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  18. I like Macbeth so far, but I am a little confused on who is fighting who in the battle. I am also confused on who wins. The language is also really confusing because we dont use half of those words, and we dont use them the way shakespeare does either.

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  19. I agree with Taylor, Sydney, and Kara that one of the reasons Macbeth fights is for family honor. However, I do not believe this is the primary reason for his performance in battle. He does not need to win his family any honor because one of his kin is already king. There is no more honorable a position in a medieval kingdom. I agree that he probably fights with fame and fortune in mind. However, if he fights only for more land and money, why bother slicing his opponent in half instead of just cutting his head off? No, such fierceness would have to be caused by something much more substantial than wealth. It is my belief that Macbeth fights primarily out of loyalty to Duncan. This loyalty is something Shakespeare wants to continue stretching and minimizing throughout the play. The first break from loyalty began with Macbeth's thought of murdering Duncan to fulfill the witches' prophecy, a thought he dismissed as horrid but will later pick up again.

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  20. So personally I think that this is just Shakespeare's way of writing, because given people probably used some of the English that he did I doubt someone would actually say "Where the place" you know? Also, because all of Shakespeare's liturature is like this I assume it is just him. To answer Sydneyi's question I think that the witches are asking each other where they are because this is the second time when they are meeting. Because in the begining they ask like when shall we meet again? I think that the text is saying that they are not always together, and like that is the second time they are meeting. I dont know if I'm right but it sounds to me like someone was late for there meeting. Oh, and they are witches and in this time period everyone hated witches and they all thought they were evil so I think that is the perspective that Shakespeare is trying to show us, that witches are awful evil people.

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  21. I would like to respond to taylorw2013 question about Macbeth's motivation for fighting. I think that it may be to prove his families talent but i also think that it may be because he has a fierce loyalty to his family. Like we learned in class, Macbeth is a Thane, or otherwise known as a noble or lord, to King Duncan. Normally a Thane is incredibly loyal to the king, it is the basis to the whole feudal system. The fact that Macbeth is family and also a thane to the king just adds a lot more loyalty.

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  22. I think that reading Macbeth is pretty hard so far. It's just hard for me to keep up with the characters because they are all thrown at you at once instead of actually introducing them. The ancient terms and language doesn't really help either. It's like I'm reading a book written by yoda. I think it's a pretty good story i just need to take it slow and really think about what's going on.

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  23. I have to agree with, well, everyone and say that Macbeth has been difficult so far, especially with the language. The thing that has helped for me is to ask questions during class. Don't be afraid to raise your hand everyone!
    Shannon had very good insight on the witches, so thankyou Shannon!

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  24. I thank shannon for her answers, they are very intrigueing and understandable.
    But here's a knobby question: if the witches are so brilliant, if they can do whatever they want and tell the future and stuff, why did they have to ask where they all were? Wouldn't they already know?
    And I still think it's uncalled for what they did to that sailor. Everyone deserves their toes.

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  25. So Macbeth is related to the king of scottland and Macbeth is thinking of killing him because the whiches told him that his sons would be kings?

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  27. I don't understand why Macbeth and Banquo aren’t afraid, or don’t want to kill the witches. I thought that everyone wanted to burn women at the slightest inclination that they were a witch. So, My question is, why are Macbeth and Banquo so naive when it comes to the scene where they encounter the witches?

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  28. I have the same question as alexd. And in response to Andy: yes, Macbeth is cousins with the king (Duncan. Why not just call him THE KING? It's Shakespeare, he's full of crazy ideas) And Macbeth is thinking about killing him because of those darn witches prophecies.
    She still needs to give his toes back.

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  29. Ok to make sure I have this straight, Macbeth is King Duncan's cousin and Thane of both Glamis and Cawdor, but not king yet. Banquo is Macbeth's best friend, but does Banquo have any relation to King Duncan or Macbeth? Lastly, Banqou's sons are the ones to be kings right?

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  30. I dont even like the witches they're so confusing. Alex they wanted to kill the witches or was it just in the English shakespeare version that they chased them away, because they didnt want to be killed.

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  31. Just a pointer for those of you who are having trouble with the language content, at the beggining of each scene it gives a description of what the scene is in brief and none of the descriptions are difficult to figure out so if you don't know what's going on, you have a basic outline of what the scene is about. Also, if you analyze the gist of the lines then you get what the characters are talking about as opposed to trying to wade through all the different phrases shakespeare uses.

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  32. To Alexd2013.
    The reason that Macbeth doesn't want to kill the witches is because he is curious to what they say and when they say that his sons will be kings, he doesn't want to kill them because he is curious to learn more. And also, when they all say," Hail Macbeth," they show that they are no enemies.

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  33. To ryanh2013.
    Yes, Banquo is the one who's sons will be kings.

    To everyone.
    A good way to understand the text is to first read Shakespeare's version and pick up what you can, then find the No Fear Shakespeare version of Macbeth (on Sparknotes). It gives the original text on one side of the screen and an interpretation on the other side... very useful if you don't get what's going on.

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  34. To answer the questions regarding the reason behind the quote "Where hath thou been, sister," Shakespeare includes this so that he can describe the evil deeds the witches have done during their time apart. He wants the readers to understand that they dwell on confusion, trouble, and evil. They did not prophesize for Macbeth out of the goodness of their hearts, but to cause trouble and lead Macbeth to confusion, evil, and misery. By the way, does anyone have a specific dumbed down Macbeth link I can follow? Also, does anyone have any idea of what to study for the Macbeth test?

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  35. Sydney, I agree with your "knobby" question!If they were so smart why do they question each other about their whereabouts? And Logan is right the No Fear Shakespeare version of Macbeth is amazing! I bought it over the weekend and it really helps you figure out what is going on.

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  36. In response to Kara and Sydney's "Knobby Question" I think that though the witchs might know, we may not. This is a play an in a play, there is not going to be little side notes about so and so doing this. Asking each other were the other was, I think, is Shakespeare's way of giving the view information without just putting a little footnote. I also agree with Logan and Kara that the No Fear Shakespeare version is much easier to use and understand than other versions. In response to Melissa's question, Smith said it would be a good idea to know the quotes and who might of said them. I would also know the family ties (such as Ducan and Macbeth are cousins). She also emphazied the phrophetsies about Macbeth. Other than that just general the general plot line. Look at Logan's post for a good dumbed down version. I had a couple of my own questions. What is the point of Macbeth? I sort of understand what has happened so far, but I still don't understand the overall plot. For example, Lord of the Flies is about boarding school kids getting shipwrecked on a deserted island. What is Macbeth about?

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  37. Here's a little guide I made to help everyone with rembering whos who.

    Duncan- King of Scotland
    Malcom- Eldest Son
    Donalbain- Youngest Son
    Macbeth- A general in the Duncan's Army, also Thane of Glamis. Becomes Thane of Cowdor after the battle in Act 1 where he defeats the Traitorous Thane of Cowdor and Macdonwald.
    Lady Macbeth- Macbeth's Wife
    Banquo- Also a general in Duncan's Army, a close friend of Macbeth.

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  38. Does anyone understand the witches?

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  40. The witches are the ones behind all of the mischief. They love to cause harm to humans and they do so by tempting Macbeth to kill with the vision that he will be king. Does that help at all?

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  41. I think I have figured out the toe-stealing witches.
    They are known as trouble causing, harmful and cruel. Therefore, their "prophecy" was probably thought up to cause harm to Macbeth and his family (hence Macbeth being a tragic hero) and also harm and suffering to the kingdom. Macbeth, I am guessing since he doesn't want to go through killing the king in the first place, will feel awful and very pained about it after and it will eat him alive. It will make him miserable.
    So that's my take on the whole thing.

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  42. Has anyone else noticed that Macbeth gets harder as we get farther into it? At first it was relatively easy for me and now I am completely lost. Like almost everyone else, the language is the toughest for me. I am also confused about this sadistic Lady Macbeth. On page 33 in the Macbeth Book, Lady Macbeth is talking about how she is going to influence him to kill the king, right? Also, Lady Macbeth is one of the main reasons he kills the king, right?

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  43. Ok this probably sounds stupid, but I want to know what Macbeth's first name is. If his wife is Lady Macbeth then wouldn't that be their last name? Or if it is his first name then what is his last? I'm sorry this is so random but I really want to know! It is bugging me so badly the past few days.

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  44. To respond to Bailey's question yes Lady Macbeth is one of the reasons he wants to kill the king. She knows that if she challenges Macbeth's manhood he will do anything to prove he is a man. That is just mans way of life, to prove themselves. This might also show how desperate he is to prove himself, whether in this action or in battle.

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  45. In response to Katie's question, Lady Macbeth is actually her name. This makes more sense if you think about junk mail. Lot of times when a family gets junk mail, it is addressed to Mr. and Ms. ________ (Husband's first name) _______ (last name). It is the same thing here. You could also think of it as being known by someone in your family. For example, if a little sibling goes to a school where the older sibling is well known, the younger sibling may be called ______ (older sibling's name) brother/sister. Does this make sense?

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  46. I also had one question. In Zac's comment he said how Donalbain is the youngest son. Who is Maclom and Donalbain's father? Have we met him yet? Has Donalabain spoke yet?

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  47. Thanks a lot Zac for the list of characters, it really helped!

    However,I'm still not understanding the whole witches prophecy thing. Help?

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  48. Thanks for that help Meredith I get it now!

    To help you with your question, Meredith, we know that Malcom's father is King Duncan, so it is Donalbain's as well. I am pretty sure he has not come into the story yet. I hope this helps.

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  49. Thanks, Katie! It makes so much more sense! Like some other people, I still don't quite get the point of the witches. Do their interact with everyone else?

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  50. Lady Macbeth is her formal name, however, she does have another first name, but it was not customary for anyone but the spouse to call them that. However I seem to imagine Lady Macbeth as a Beatrice... Anyone on the same boat?
    And you could always think of Macbeth's last name as Smith. It's a pretty common last name. Or maybe he's a Shakespeare, he just doesn't know it yet.

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  51. Okay, so I am really confused as to why Lady Macbeth is such a psycho! I really belive she is bipolar. Was there a diagnosis for being bipolar back then? Anyone willing to bash her newborn babie's head in just so her husband can become more powerful needs to be in a mental institution. Which brings me to my other question of.. where were mentally unstable and insane people held in the 17th century?

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  52. taylor, here's the sad thing: they weren't held anywhere. People like that were homeless, and frowned upon by all of society. Some times they even had to sit outside the town gates, and weren't even allowed. Kind of like people with epilepsy in bible times. They also were sometimes slammed in jail so nobody would have to put up with them.

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  53. Heya, Sydney, you may be thinking that she seems like a Beatrice if you've ever heard of Much Ado About Nothing... it's another Shakespearean play and one of the characters is named Beatrice, hah!

    Anyway, moving on:

    Meredith, thinking back to who Shakespeare wrote this play for (King James) the witches participation in the story makes a lot more sense. King James had a fascination with witchcraft so why not write a play for the king, ultimately beginning from these witches prophecies? My guess is they won't come up in the story that much more since they've already told Macbeth what is to happen, now he just has to set it in motion. But I could be wrong in thinking outside of the story...

    Taylor, I think she's just power hungry. We have to remember that back then, things were a lot different - having a husband as a king just may be more important than her child. And this is a bit of a shot in the dark, but I agree with Sydney and don't think they were held anywhere. In fact, people who had those disorders were accused of witchcraft as well and their lives were pretty terrible. Not so sure that anyone really knew about mental disorders back then, and if they did, they wouldn't waste time and effort on building a safe haven for them. Life was rough.

    Macbeth is really interesting in my opinion, especially because of Lady Macbeth. In most tragedies there isn't really a specific sidekick that helps the tragic hero along the way and instead the tragic hero is, for the most part, lonesome in their actions. And I actually find it WAY easier to comprehend than most Shakespeare that I've studied elsewhere, so I am way thankful for that. The only tricky thing is knowing what's literal and what's metaphorical, but I have a feeling that will get easier as we get farther into the book.

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  54. I'm a bit confused about keeping characters straight. Who are Lennox and Angus and am I right in assuming that Ross is the Thane of Ross.

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  55. I'm kind of confused on this too, Melissa. I was looking in the book and Lennox, Ross, and Angus are all noblemen of Scotland. I think that could mean nobles, lords, thanes, all of the people in the upper class of society. You are right in assuming that Ross is the Thane of Ross. In Act 1, Scene 2, Line 50 Malcom says, "Thw worthy Thane of Ross" as Ross and Angus walk in. I don't think Angus is the Thane of Ross however. Thanks, Melanie. I guess that does make sense how King James loved witches so Shakespeare put them in Macbeth. Also, just a general question: Does anyone know of any websites that have somesort of study guide or a quiz that would review the scenes. I think Sparknotes has one, but I was wondering if there are any others.

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  56. Why in the first scene to the witches start calling to their cat, toad, and spirit? It doesn't make much sense to me.

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  57. So far i think Macbeth has been a good book but hard to read. There are big words that are sometimes difficult to understand. It has an interesting plot but slightly disturbing. This is the first shakespeare i have ever read or seen so it is difficult to keep up with what is going on.

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  58. I think that Macbeth is a really interesting play so far. But I agree with whoever said the words are confusing. I dont think its more the words than it is how Shakespeare put them together. Sentances like "As whence the sun 'gins his reflection" have pretty easy words, but its hard to understand what he is trying to say.
    But yeah, pretty good book so far. Its hard to keep up with the actual story because of the weird dialogue, but other than that its really interestiong.

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  59. In the US, both political parties think they would lead the country best. Macbeth felt strongly that he should hold the reins of power in England - especially after the prophecy of the witches. However, Lady Macbeth was also power hungry and eager to direct Macbeth. Lady Macbeth was very evil in her plot.
    In LOF evil is disguised as honor and pride and lots of it. In LOF Ralph and Jack both think they would be better leaders. This is why the group of boys split up.

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