In Aristotle's Poetica, he defines the tragic hero as possessing hubris, or arrogance and hamartia, or a tragic mistake.
1. Point to examples of Macbeth's arrogance.
2. Explain Macbeth's tragic mistake and how it leads him again and again to commit the acts that he does.
3.What are some examples of situational irony in this play?
4. What are examples of verbal irony in the dialogue between Macduff and Malcom in the final act?
5. How do the supernatural influences on Macbeth seem to add to the evil of his deeds?
Some others to consider:
- Can it be argued that Lady Macbeth is also the protagonist of the play?
- Contrast the ways that Macbeth and his wife deal with their guilt.
- Does Macbeth demonstrate that he would have sought the crown absent the prophecy of the Witches?
- Why are Macbeth and Lady Macbeth well-suited as marriage partners?
- Trace the evolution of Lady Macbeth throughout the play.
Consider these questions, also.
1. What are some examples of supernatural events in the play, and how do they contribute to the drama?
2. Who is most responsible for Macbeth's downfall?
3. How is courage defined by Macbeth, Lady Macbeth, and Old Siward?
4. Who is the most sympathetic character in the play? Why?
5. In what ways are Macbeth and Lady Macbeth both dynamic characters?
Macbeth has a plethora of themes, symbols, imagery, etc. wrapped up in its tingling plot line. Do you need questions to explore in your paper, or are you looking for a list you could put to your class to intrigue them and encourage them to read the play as well? You might try with a few questions like this for your report:
1. How do Macbeth and Lady Macbeth switch gender roles in the play?
2. How is the theme of sleeplessness carry throughout the play?
3. What is the significance of Lady Macbeth's need of a light always by herself and her sleepwalking episodes?
4. Is Macbeth a hero gone bad or a victim of evil?
5. What role do the witches play in Macbeth? How would the play be different if they were not included?
6. Explain how Shakespeare uses animal imagery to portray characteristics of characters and/or the tone of a particular scene?
7. Give some examples of the connotation and denotation of words to help portray characters' innermost thoughts. Concentrate mostly on Macbeth, Banquo, Malcolm, and the King of England.
Hope this helps! Good Luck!