This GCSE English Literature quiz tests your knowledge of setting in William Shakespeare’s Macbeth. A text's setting includes the location and the time in which events take place, in addition to atmosphere. In a play, events which occur offstage also affect the plot and the characters. Such offstage events represent a key component of a play’s setting, and are known as context (bear in mind that “context” in this sense differs from the author’s real-life context). A play’s setting is enhanced by the decisions a director makes when staging, although some aspects of setting are made clear by the playwright. The sinister atmosphere of Macbeth is created through language and events, as well as the inclusion of the supernatural witches.
Think carefully about the setting of the text you are studying.
This is an important step in your analysis. How does setting affect the decisions which characters take? In some of the scenes of Macbeth the private, secretive atmosphere becomes almost claustrophobic and in other scenes the natural or supernatural world begins to advance upon or intervene in human affairs. Think about the various places of the text: the heath, the battlefield, private rooms within fortified castles. Which of these places are wild and violent? Are any safe?
Geographical setting includes the country, region or city; any buildings or other places where events occur; and also the weather, season or time of day. Which events occur in the same place and which occur elsewhere? Is the time in which the text set made clear? How? Do any characters travel to or from other places? What is the effect created by this travel? Are different settings contrasted with one another?
Whenever you read a text which is set in a different time and place to when and where it was written, it is a good idea to think of the reasons which might be behind the author’s choices. What reasons might Shakespeare have had for not setting his play in seventeenth-century England? How is our understanding of the play affected by comparing its setting with its context?
Answer the questions below on setting in Macbeth.