This GCSE English Literature quiz is about the themes of William Shakespeare’s Macbeth. Like other works of literature, the play contains multiple themes, ranging from the subtle to the very obvious. It can be misleading to discuss a single theme in isolation, since individual themes interact with one another. Themes are developed through those various elements of literature with which you are already familiar, including setting, character, plot and dialogue. Pay close attention to any concepts and ideas which you notice recurring throughout the text; these are its dominant themes.
One way to analyse a text is to pay attention to the development of ideas from its beginning to its end. It is also helpful to consider whether (or how) your own views change over the course of the text. Do your views after reading correspond to the views you held at the beginning of the text? If your views have changed, can you identify the point at which this change began to occur?
Authors convey meaning to the audience through the themes of a text. Whenever a text challenges you, the author has successfully encouraged you to engage with one or more of its themes. It is important to remember that you do not have to share the same view as other readers, even your teacher. Your response to a text will be deeply personal, which is inevitable when you consider that you bring your own thoughts, beliefs and experiences into contact with the text as you read.
Macbeth deals with themes of ambition, deceit, appearance versus reality, fate and fortune, treason and guilt. As with any text, these themes are interrelated. Do any themes seem to be associated with a single character? Why or why not?
Read the questions below and test your knowledge of the themes of Macbeth.