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Study Guide: Macbeth: Key facts about Macbeth

Key Facts

Full title ·  The Tragedy of Macbeth

Author  · William Shakespeare

Type of work  · Play

Genre  · Tragedy

Language  · English

Time and place written  · 1606, England

Date of first publication  · First Folio edition, 1623

Publisher  · John Heminges and Henry Condell, two senior members of Shakespeare’s theatrical company

Tone  · Dark and ominous, suggestive of a world turned topsy-turvy by foul and unnatural crimes

Tense  · Not applicable (drama)

Setting (time)  · The Middle Ages, specifically the eleventh century

Setting (place)  · Various locations in Scotland; also England, briefly

Protagonist  · Macbeth

Major conflicts  · The struggle within Macbeth between his ambition and his sense of right and wrong; the struggle between the murderous evil represented by Macbeth and Lady Macbeth and the best interests of the nation, represented by Malcolm and Macduff

Rising action  · Macbeth and Banquo’s encounter with the witches initiates both conflicts; Lady Macbeth’s speeches goad Macbeth into murdering Duncan and seizing the crown.

Climax · Macbeth’s murder of Duncan in Act 2 represents the point of no return, after which Macbeth is forced to continue butchering his subjects to avoid the consequences of his crime.

Falling action  · Macbeth’s increasingly brutal murders (of Duncan’s servants, Banquo, Lady Macduff and her son); Macbeth’s second meeting with the witches; Macbeth’s final confrontation with Macduff and the opposing armies

Themes  · The corrupting nature of unchecked ambition; the relationship between cruelty and masculinity; the difference between kingship and tyranny

Motifs  · The supernatural, hallucinations, violence, prophecy

Symbols  · Blood; the dagger that Macbeth sees just before he kills Duncan in Act 2; the weather

Foreshadowing · The bloody battle in Act 1 foreshadows the bloody murders later on; when Macbeth thinks he hears a voice while killing Duncan, it foreshadows the insomnia that plagues Macbeth and his wife; Macduff’s suspicions of Macbeth after Duncan’s murder foreshadow his later opposition to Macbeth; all of the witches’ prophecies foreshadow later events.

Taken from Sparknotes

SparkNotes Editors. “SparkNote on Macbeth.” SparkNotes LLC. 2002. Web. 15 Jul. 2017.

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