Great Books & Film: Politics and Morality Guide for Teachers and

ACT V, SCENE III. Dunsinane. Within the castle

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ACT V, SCENE III. Dunsinane. Within the castle.

What news more?

All is confirm'd, my lord, which was reported.

I'll fight till from my bones my flesh be hack'd.Give me my armour.

'Tis not needed yet.

I'll put it on.

Send out more horses; skirr the country round;
Hang those that talk of fear. Give me mine armour.
How does your patient, doctor?

Not so sick, my lord,

As she is troubled with thick coming fancies,
That keep her from her rest.

Cure her of that.

Canst thou not minister to a mind diseased,
Pluck from the memory a rooted sorrow,
Raze out the written troubles of the brain
And with some sweet oblivious antidote
Cleanse the stuff'd bosom of that perilous stuff
Which weighs upon the heart?

Therein the patient

Must minister to himself.

Throw physic to the dogs; I'll none of it.

Come, put mine armour on; give me my staff....

ACT V, SCENE V The same.

[Enter MACBETH, SEYTON, and Soldiers, with drum

and colours

Hang out our banners on the outward walls;

The cry is still 'They come:' our castle's strength
Will laugh a siege to scorn: here let them lie
Till famine and the ague eat them up:
Were they not forced with those that should be ours,
We might have met them dareful, beard to beard,
And beat them backward home.

[A cry of women within]

What is that noise?

It is the cry of women, my good lord.



I have almost forgot the taste of fears;
The time has been, my senses would have cool'd
To hear a night shriek; and my fell of hair
Would at a dismal treatise rouse and stir
As life were in't: I have supp'd full with horrors;
Direness, familiar to my slaughterous thoughts
Cannot once start me.

[Re-enter SEYTON]

Wherefore was that cry?

The queen, my lord, is dead.

She should have died hereafter;

There would have been a time for such a word.
Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day
To the last syllable of recorded time,
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more: it is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing....

Discussion Questions

1. What effect do the witches' prophecy have on Macbeth? On Lady Macbeth?

2. Do you think that the tragedy would have occurred without the prophecy? Does the prophecy leave room for choice? Would this be a tragedy, if the actions of the tragic characters were fated?

3. What do Macbeth's musings in his soliloquy at the beginning of Act I, scene 7 indicate about time? What do they indicate about Macbeth? How does the human relation to time play a role in this tragedy?

4. When Macbeth says, "I dare do all that may become a man," what does he mean? Does Lady Macbeth use "man" in the same way her husband does? Does Macbeth prove himself a man in the scene with Lady Macbeth immediately after he murders Duncan? How does the play equivocate on the meaning of man?

5. Is Macbeth a religious man? Why does Lady Macbeth advise him not to consider the matter "so deeply"? (Act II, scene ii)

6. Why does Macbeth kill Banquo and try to kill his son?

7. Analyze what the exchange between Malcolm and Macduff reveals about each of their characters.

8. What qualities does Malcolm show in his testing of Macduff?

9. What qualities does Macduff look for in a good ruler? What are the virtues of a ruler that emerge from this exchange, and how do they differ from those Machiavelli praises in The Prince?

10. Why does Shakespeare include this scene in the play? How does it provide relief for the audience from the horrors of Macbeth, and suggest a similar relief for Scotland in the future?

11.Could you argue that Shakespeare's play is not only about what constitutes a bad ruler but what constitutes a good ruler?

12. Why does Shakespeare include the passage about the British king, Edward the Confessor, in this play? Does Shakespeare offer a number of different kinds of rulers for our consideration? What do we learn from this?

13. Discuss Shakespeare's presentation of illness and healing in this play, Edward's healing the body and the doctor's inability to heal Lady Macbeth's soul? Does Shakespeare as a tragic poet offer any kind of "healing" to his audience?

14. Does Macbeth's famous "tomorrow, and tomorrow" soliloquy present Shakespeare's view of human life? How is Shakespeare's play not "a tale/ Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury/ Signifying nothing"?

Paper topics
1. How do the issues of Shakespeare's play overlap with those of Machiavelli's Prince and Plato's Apology?

2. Would Machiavelli approve of Macbeth's actions? What advice would he give him? In what ways is Macbeth a Machiavellian figure? Does he demonstrate what happens when one separates politics from morality in the way that Machiavelli did? On the other hand, how does Macbeth fail to live up to Machiavellian standards?

3. Discuss whether Shakespeare's Macbeth serves as an implicit criticism of Machiavelli's Prince.

4. How would Socrates respond to the prophecies of the witches? How would his response differ from Macbeth's?

5. Compare the place of religion in Macbeth with its place in Machiavelli's Prince and Plato's Apology.

6. What figure, if any, in Macbeth, resembles Socrates?

7. Does Shakespeare's concerns in Macbeth come closer to those of Machiavelli or Plato?

8. Do Malcolm and Macduff escape Socrates' charge that politics is corrupting? How? Will Malcolm be able to remain a good man as king? (Was Macbeth not thought to be virtuous at the beginning of the play?)

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