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I have an analytical essay on Macbeth for a Grade 12 English Exam, Any suggestions...

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raginleaf | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted June 11, 2011 at 7:52 PM via web

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I have an analytical essay on Macbeth for a Grade 12 English Exam, Any suggestions as for practice questions, what are some common topic questions? 

We are looking at four readings; Traditional, Historical, Phsyco-analyitical and Feminist.  - Thankyou

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xxnita | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted June 12, 2011 at 8:56 AM (Answer #2)

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My practice question is about Macbeth's downfall and the main causes of it.

for example the influences of Lady Macbeth and the witches

his downfall is his ambition.

don't forget though that he had his own free will. So reasons he murder King Duncan was not the influences but his free will.

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literaturenerd | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted June 15, 2011 at 6:42 AM (Answer #3)

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Macbeth can be looked at in many different critical theologies. For the purpose of answering your question, I will focus on Psychoanalytical Criticism and Feminist Criticism.

Psychoanalytic criticism adopts the methods of "reading" employed by Freud and later theorists to interpret texts. It argues that literary texts, like dreams, express the secret unconscious desires and anxieties of the author, that a literary work is a manifestation of the author's own neuroses. One may psychoanalyze a particular character within a literary work, but it is usually assumed that all such characters are projections of the author's psyche.

If looking at Macbeth with a Psychoanalytic lens, one would come to the conclusion that Shakespeare created a persona of himself in Macbeth.  This could mean that Shakespeare thought himself to be weak- given that he heavily depends upon his wife/mother to help him succeed in life.  It could also mean that he is willing to throw away his loyalty in order to pursue corruption.

Feminist criticism is concerned with "...the ways in which literature (and other cultural productions) reinforce or undermine the economic, political, social, and psychological oppression of women" (Tyson). This school of theory looks at how aspects of our culture are inherently patriarchal (male dominated) and "...this critique strives to expose the explicit and implicit misogyny in male writing about women" (Richter 1346). This misogyny, Tyson reminds us, can extend into diverse areas of our culture: "Perhaps the most chilling example...is found in the world of modern medicine, where drugs prescribed for both sexes often have been tested on male subjects only" (83).

Now, if one were to examine Macbeth using Feminist Theology, they would find it typical of many patriarchal texts.  There are two reasons that Macbeth would qualify.

One example of Macbeth being oppressive text is Lady Macbeth's desire to "unsex" herself.  She knows the power that men have, and she also knows how powerless women are seen as well.  Lady Macbeth believes that she must become a man so that the name Macbeth gains the crown.

Another example, which is embedded in the first, is that Lady Macbeth believes Macbeth to be too weak to gain the crown on his own.  She, again, knows that woman are seen as weak.  It is Macbeth's inability to "get the job done" that causes her to deem Macbeth weak and woman-like.

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