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A quote from Shakespeare's Macbeth, ..
We will then pass to Act I, Scene V. This is an interesting scene and it is also the first one in which we have the opportunity to meet Lady Macbeth. My objective for this scene is to analyze this character and determine what kind of "woman" she is. At the same time, my students can see the relation between the messenger and Lady Macbeth. The messenger represents a different social class. I expect my students to notice the fact Shakespeare's notion of class relates the ideas of inferiority versus superiority to related discriminations and/or resentments as Loomba states in . This idea of superiority or inferiority contributes to prejudices and stereotyping with consequences that are similar to those caused by racism. The damage they cause to the individual is not different. As far as Lady Macbeth is concerned, I expect my students to understand why she asks the spirits to unsex her. What does it mean? What does the word "sex" mean? Is it connected to gender? What might the result of this "unsex" be? I also want them to focus on the relationship between Lady Macbeth and her husband. Are they in love? What makes you think they are or they are not? Do they have anything in common? Why? Of course, I will follow the same strategies I mentioned before: Tea Party for both regular and struggling students. Specifically, I will select the following words/phrases to write on the index cards: "it is true", "Unsex me", "direst cruelty", "Come to woman's breast", "knife see not the wound it makes", "be the serpent under", "the night's great business". Before requiring them to write their interpretation, we will discuss the scene and I will write notes on the board. At this point, I also want them to start focusing on this character. I will write the following prompt on the board: Who is Lady Macbeth? What kind of woman is she? Why? Do you notice any similarities with or differences from today's woman? Why? I expect responses with at least three specific text references and two connections to the world for all regular students.
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Before passing to the next scene, I will remind the regular students and the special education ones about the motives that lead Macbeth to order the assassination of Banquo. I will also give them a few details about how both Macbeth and Lady Macbeth start feeling unhappy and more fearful. At first Lady Macbeth helps her husband by dismissing his vision of Banquo's ghost during a dinner, but soon after she herself is haunted by the vision of the hands all covered in blood. A brief discussion of Lady Macbeth and the possible reasons that caused this major change in her character will follow. Was Lady Macbeth a strong or a weak woman? Why? I will also ask them to write a response in which they compare and contrast the causes and effects of Lady Macbeth's reaction and her husband's reaction. I also expect them to connect this situation in the Shakespearean tragedy to any actual fact in order to understand that Shakespeare's work is not disconnected from reality. It presents and analyzes the human being and the outcomes of his/her actions. Before concluding this tragedy, I want my students to spend some time discussing the difference that Macbeth and Lady Macbeth noticed in the way they are rewarded by Duncan, their king. I also want them to analyze its consequences on the two main characters. This is an important aspect of this unit because my students need to see not only how Shakespeare identified the difference but also his teaching about the outcomes since both aspects together make his moral universal and still valid.
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The first close-reading of the scene will follow. For this activity, I want them to learn the importance of annotating the text. In fact, I will ask them to read and highlight all those sentence(s), word(s), phrase(s) which grab their attention, and write brief notes in the form of question, comment and/or connection. Since this is not the first time they have annotated the text, I will only model how to determine the author's main idea, the tone and the purpose of the document. This strategy will allow me to point out how Shakespeare identifies social class as a source of possible conflict. Nevertheless, the fact that Duncan nominates his son to be his successor infuriates Macbeth. I will point out that Macbeth was expecting more according to the prediction made by the witches. Was Macbeth's expectation appropriate? Why? Or why not? Why did Duncan not nominate Macbeth? Was Macbeth a fool in believing the witches? Why? Do you think that Duncan did not choose Macbeth simply because he was not the king's son? What other factors might have influenced Duncan in his choice? How much was Duncan influenced in his choice by the hierarchical customs of the time? Was this a form of racism? (I will use the word "racism" instead of "classism" because I want my students to determine what it is specifically.) How would you define it? Can it be defined as classism? Why? Can you detect any differences in the resentment that derives from racism and classism? What connections do you have to today's world? Does this happen? Why? This will certainly lead to a class discussion in which my students will reflect on a completely different perspective on "social status" that can certainly lead to outcomes that are not different from the ones deriving from a racist point of view. It will also prompt my students to think about the consequences that will point Macbeth to his future actions.
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