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So you’re going to teach William Shakespeare's The Tragedy of Macbeth. Whether it’s your first or hundredth time, this classic text has been a mainstay of English classrooms for generations. While it has its challenges—murder, violence, elevated language—teaching Macbeth to your class will be rewarding for you and your students. It will give them unique insight into Shakespearean tragedies and important themes surrounding ambition, betrayal, and blood feud. This guide highlights the text's most salient aspects to keep in mind before you begin teaching.

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Facts at a Glance

  • Publication Date: 1606
  • Approximate Word Count: 18,700 
  • Author: William Shakespeare
  • Country of Origin: England
  • Genre: Shakespearean Tragedy
  • Literary Period: Early Modern, Renaissance
  • Conflict: Person vs. Supernatural, Person vs. Self
  • Setting: Scotland, 10th Century
  • Structure: Five-Act Play, Blank Verse, Heroic Couplets
  • Tone: Tragic, Eerie, Uncanny

Texts That Go Well With Macbeth

Great Expectations by Charles Dickens is a novel that traces themes of ambition and successful attempts to improve social standing. The protagonist, Pip, suffers along the way but eventually realizes his ambition through hard work and moral uprightness. When compared with Macbeth, Pip is an example of ambition used for good rather than violent ends. 

The Last King of Scotland by Giles Foden is a novel about the rise of Ugandan president Idi Amin told through the perspective of a Scottish doctor who works for the dictator. The doctor’s deteriorating moral compass and compulsion to corruption and paranoia offers an alternative perspective on Macbeth’s relationship to Lady Macbeth

Oedipus Rex, also known as Oedipus the King , by Sophocles tells the tragedy of a man, Oedipus, struggling against fate with disastrous consequences. Like...

(The entire section is 448 words.)