This GCSE English Literature quiz tests your understanding of William Shakepeare’s Macbeth. This play was written over four hundred years ago and the form of English in which it is written is known as “Early Modern”. Sounds easy to understand, right? You have already noticed, of course, that Shakespeare’s English differs from your own. Sometimes these differences appear in the spelling, sometimes in unfamiliar words, and sometimes in the jokes. It is worth persevering with Early Modern English, however. This is certainly a case where practice helps! Reading slowly, reading sections more than once and reading aloud will all help with comprehension.
Pay close attention to the methods and techniques which have been used to convey meaning, analysing character, setting, plot, theme and dialogue.
Comprehension of literary texts involves several different levels simultaneously, from basic understanding of plot to a more sophisticated understanding of the themes. Pay attention to events which the audience observes, and those which are only reported. In Macbeth some violent scenes are staged while others are reported by characters. Why might that be?
As when studying other types of fiction, it is a good idea to create a timeline. This will help you to remember the chronology of events and the structure of the play. Although the main events of the play are ordered chronologically, time in Macbeth is rather vague and it is not always clear how much time passes between events. Create act and scene summaries to help your revision of the text.
Take some time to analyse the beginnings and endings of acts and scenes in the play. Consider possible reasons for the play beginning as it does with the witches, rather than with Duncan or on the battlefield with Macbeth. What do we learn in the first scene? What, if anything, do we know about past events? How do we learn about characters? In what way are future events foreshadowed? Undertaking detailed analysis of this sort will boost your knowledge and understanding of the text!
Read the questions below on Macbeth and test your knowledge and understanding of the text.