Macbeth Broken Down

An Introduction to Shakespeare and Macbeth

The Life of William Shakespeare

William Shakespeare was probably born on April 23rd 1564 in Stratford-upon-Avon in England. His father, John Shakespeare, was a relatively wealthy glove maker. His mother, Mary Arden, was the daughter of a farmer. William was one of 8 children, although only 5 survived childhood. He went to school until he was 14 or 15, where he learned Latin among other things. In 1582, he marries Anne Hathaway, who is 26 years old, 8 years older than William. Their first daughter, Susanna, is born in May 1583, which means Anne was already pregnant when the couple got married. In Feb 1585, twins Hamnet and Judith are born. From 1585 to 1592, not much is known about William, so these are also referred to as "The Lost Years". Some of his first plays were written in 1593. These included Henry VI, Two Gentlemen of Verona and Titus Andronicus. In 1594 he became a founding member of The King's Men company. He became very wealthy and owned many houses. He retired in 1611 and died on April 23 1623, on his suspected birthday. His wife Anne died in 1623. His family line ended in 1670 with the death of his grand daughter Elizabeth.

Fun Facts About Shakespeare

  1. Shakespeare's parents and children were completely illiterate.
  2. Shakespeare invented many words and phrases or made them more popular. Examples are "eyeball" or "in a pickle".
  3. He wrote an epitaph(a message on his tomb) that put a curse on his remains. This was to prevent grave robbers from breaking into his grave. To this day, this curse has worked.

Curse or Coincidence?

After reading about these curses, decide: are there such things as curses??

About Macbeth

Watch the Thug Notes summary(warning: slightly explicit)

Or watch the video below:

Macbeth Summary - High School Summary

The Truth in Fiction

King Duncan

King of Scotland from 1034-1040. He is a terrible leader and is the cousin of Macbeth.

King Macbeth

Made himself King of Scotland. Rules from 1040-1057. He rules wisely and successfully but is eventually defeated.


Powerful women who have evil powers and interact with the devil. Hunting them was considered respectable.

Understanding Shakespeare's Language

Things to remember when reading Shakespeare:

  1. Shakespeare rearranged sentences. Start by looking for the subject, verb and object of the sentence.
  2. Shakespeare leaves out syllables, letters and words, similarly to how we do.
  3. Some words may be unfamiliar or have different meanings, but don't be discouraged.

Shakespeare writes a little like Yoda talks, often changing the position of adjectives, adverbs, phrases and verbs. Here's an example:

Original sentence: The roses smelled good.

Re-write #1: Smelled good the roses.

Re-write #2: Good the roses smelled.

Re-write #3: Good smelled the roses.

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Hubris-Tragic Flaw

The word hubris means excessive pride that often leads to the death of the protagonist.