Higher English Othello 3x critical essays:
The first is approx. 1100 words and focuses on the way in which Othello's character is developed throughout the play.
The second is around 1000 words and discusses the significance of Act V, scene II of Othello.
Essay three is around 1000 words and explores the deterioration of relationships within the Othello.
1 page of essay questions on Othello
Essay four is on the Shakespeare play Julius Caesar. Approx. 1000 words. The essay explores the theme of revenge.
Essays five-eight are on Shakespeare's play 'Romeo and Juliet'. The essays are approx. 1000 words.
The fifth essay explores the way in which the play portrays the values of its society.
The sixth essay discusses the way in which Tybalt's death scene may be interpreted as a key scene in the play.
The seventh essay looks at the key theme of love versus hate.
The eighth focuses on how the key theme of romantic love is conveyed.
There is also a discussion questions document included (which may be used as part of a whole class activity or as a homework sheet) and a list of key quotes (which may be useful as a student hand-out).
Higher English Macbeth sample critical essays based on SQA exam questions:
9) essay on Macbeth's character flaws (approx. 1100 words)
10) essay on a central character's changing attitude (approx. 1100 words)
11) essay on the way in which a dominant mood is created (approx. 1000 words)
12) essay exploring manipulation (approx. 850 words)
13) essay in which a power struggle is central to the action (approx. 800 words)
These could be used as examples when helping students prepare for writing critical essays under exam conditions.
Critical analysis of Macbeth, giving detailed reference to character, language and plotby Holly Young
1.1. There are contrasts evident throughout Macbeth
1.1.1. gender roles
1.1.2. Banquo vs Macbeth
1.1.3. conscience vs murder
1.1.4. fate vs destiny
1.1.5. reason (M) vs passion (LM)
2.1.1. The devestation that follows when morals are ignored.
126.96.36.199. Macbeth is a corageous, respected soldier who is not naturally inclined towards evil - but has strong ambition. He is balanced, weighing up his actions (quote to show he doesn't want to kill Duncan)
188.8.131.52. Lady Macbeth is far more determined. Taunts Macbeth for not being a man (find quote) and persuades him to kill Duncan, and to remain strong afterwards
184.108.40.206. Contrast at the end of the play when Macbeth becomes a boastful 'beast' and it is Lady M who cannot cope with the blood on her conscience.
2.2.1. is paired with agression
220.127.116.11. Lady M talking of wishing she could be unsexed
18.104.22.168. Macbeth goads murderers by quetionning their masculinity
22.214.171.124. Lady M goads Macbeth simiarly??
126.96.36.199. Women also shown as sources of violence, and evil
188.8.131.52.1. The witches
184.108.40.206.2. Lady M
220.127.116.11.3. this goes against nature - the way women were expected to behave
2.3. Fate and free will
2.3.1. witches represent Fate. That lives are pre-determined
2.3.2. How that comes about is down to mans free will.
18.104.22.168. Macbeth is a tragic play, because a tragedy is when your downfall is brought about by your own choices
2.4. Disruption of nature
2.4.1. Killing the King, who was seen as God's representation on earth
2.4.2. Violent disruptions in nature — tempests, earthquakes, darkness at noon, and so on — parallel the unnatural and disruptive death of the monarch Duncan. The medieval and renaissance view of the world saw a relationship between order on earth, the so-called microcosm, and order on the larger scale of the universe, or macrocosm. Thus, when Lennox and the Old Man talk of the terrifying alteration in the natural order of the universe — tempests, earthquakes, darkness at noon, and so on — these are all reflections of the breakage of the natural order that Macbeth has brought about in his own microcosmic world.
2.4.3. Many critics see the parallel between Duncan's death and disorder in nature as an affirmation of the divine right theory of kingship. As we witness in the play, Macbeth's murder of Duncan and his continued tyranny extends the disorder of the entire country.
2.4.4. The Elizabethans believed in "The Great Chain of Being". This was the idea that everyone was ordered by God into his allotted place, with the king at the head. By killing the king and taking his place, Macbeth was subverting this natural order. Disorder in nature reflects the disorder in human affairs. On the night Duncan is murdered, Lennox describes the 'unruly' storm, and even an earthquake: "chimneys were blown down…the earth was feverous and did shake."
22.214.171.124. example of Macbeth feeling he had lost his relationship with God, following the murder of Duncan 'I had most need of blessing and 'Amen' Stuck in my throat' (Act 2 Scene 2)
2.5. Nature of the ideal King
2.5.1. Shakespeare's patron, King James, had written a book on this topic, Basilikon Doron, and so this theme was also of great contemporary interest.
126.96.36.199. Duncan, Good man, but not great king as too gullible. Evidece - mistrusting Macbeth and judging the castle as pleasant
188.8.131.52. Banquo would have made a good king 'royalty of nature'
184.108.40.206. Macbeth - unworthy king. Regicide, a tyrant, whose cruelty drains the life blood from his country: "each new morn, new widows howl, new orphans cry."
220.127.116.11. Malcom - Duncan's son Malcolm is depicted as the perfect king. In his testing of Macduff, he lists the "king-becoming graces", such as justice, verity, temperance, mercy, lowliness etc., showing his awareness of how a king should be. He has his father's noble character but without Duncan's fatal flaw of gullibility.
2.6. Discussed in the first act
2.6.1. reversal of values
18.104.22.168. foul is fair quote
2.6.2. unnatural disorder
22.214.171.124. scene 1.4 stresses natural relationships (find examples) which is soon to be violated. Linked
126.96.36.199. natural order means both nature itself, and the love and friendship of man, ordered by law and duty
188.8.131.52. Main vehicle for readers to understand the emotion in the play
2.6.3. deceitful appearance
184.108.40.206. Duncan referring to traitor once executed quote
3.1. The fact that both Macbeth and Lady Macbeth frequently invoke darkness, always linked to the forces of evil and disorder, prepares the audience for the disorder to come: "Stars, hide your fires"; "Come thick night" etc. Darkness allows evil to flourish.
3.1.1. Shakesperean audience were trained by pamphlets, sermons, or common conversation to listen to or read his plays with an attnetion to the subletities of poetic language that is not natural to modern day readers, as well as sharing the same speech idiom.
3.2. Treating the play as a dramatic poem, we need to look at how words are affected by rythym. The plot, character and recurrent themes all work together to determine the readers reaction at any one point.
3.3. Rhyming couplets often used in self-righteous passages that give advice or point to a moral
3.3.1. A lot of the play is written in iambic pentameters which was a common speech pattern
3.3.2. A single rhymed couplet may also appear at the end of a speech or scene in blank verse, in which case it is called a capping couplet.
220.127.116.11. this could be to show the audience that a scene las ended