Study Questions

1.    Characterize the relationship between Macbeth and Lady Macbeth. If the main theme of Macbeth is ambition, whose ambition is the driving force of the play—Macbeth’s, Lady Macbeth’s, or both?

2.    One of the important themes in Macbeth is the idea of political legitimacy, of the moral authority that some kings possess and others lack. What makes Duncan a good king? What makes Macbeth a tyrant?

3.    An important theme in Macbeth is the relationship between gender and power,
particularly Shakespeare’s exploration of the values that make up the idea of
masculinity. What are these values, and how do various characters embody them?
How does Shakespeare subvert his characters’ perception of gender roles?

4.    Macbeth's first words are "So foul and fair a day I have not seen" (1.3.38).
What do you make of the fact that his words echo the witches' famous incantation,
"Fair is foul and foul is fair"? Do you notice anything about the rest of his opening

5.    What are some attributes of the three witches? On a scale of real or fantastic,
where would you locate them? Why?

6.    How does the play define terms of masculinity? of femininity?

7.    What if you found yourself in a condition where you were able or compelled to act out your fantasies, without thinking (and you were beyond judgment)? What might that feel like? empowering? insane? something else? How does this question pertain to Macbeth?

8.    Is Macbeth a hero, villain, or some other category of character?

9.    Assuming that Lady Macbeth commits suicide at the end, why do you think she does so? (And why must this be an assumption?)

10.    One of Macbeth's last speeches is one of the most famous passages
in Shakespeare: "Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow" (5.5.16-27).
As you read the speech, try to imagine Macbeth's thought processes as
he speaks: in other words, be the actor who presents the character of Macbeth
at this moment. Move slowly; think and feel your way through the lines.
You will of course have to read them aloud.  What have you learned from
this exercise?

Suggested Essay Topics

11.    Compare and contrast Macbeth, Macduff, and Banquo. How are they
alike? How are they different? Is it possible to argue that Macbeth is the play’s
villain and Macduff or Banquo its hero, or is the matter more complicated
than that?

12.    Discuss the role that blood plays in Macbeth, particularly immediately
following Duncan’s murder and late in the play. What does it symbolize for
Macbeth and his wife?

13.    Discuss Macbeth’s visions and hallucinations. What role do they play in the development of his character?

14.    Is Macbeth a moral play? Is justice served at the end of the play? Defend your answer.

Contra Costa College Drama Department presents William Shakespeare’s MACBETH, October 28-31 at the John and Jean Knox Center for the Performing Arts in San Pablo.   Set in Post Apocalyptic 2027, this timeless Shakespeare masterpiece explores classic themes of greed and war.  MACBETH, with its witches and macabre plot, is the perfect choice for a Halloween outing! 

The tale of horror will be directed by Clay David and stars Peter Temple and Gloria Bonnee Christian.  David calls MACBETH, which he is setting in Post Apocalyptic 2027, “gothic and disturbing.”  He adds that MACBETH echoes the popular theme “that the demise of the earth will be due to greed and war.”  “This theme is as relevant in modern day entertainment, like Television (Heroes) and Movies ( 2012, Mad Max) as it was 500 years ago during Shakespeare’s time”

“Making the Classics accessible to audiences means making them relevant,” said David, who has previously directed Luis Alfaro’s adaptation of Electra set in a Los Angeles Barrios, and Romeo and Juliet set in Baghdad.  “Setting Classics in the midst of contemporary issues allows us to draw parallels which help audiences understand these language plays.” 

Specials Events linked with MACBETH include an inexpensive preview, Wednesday, October 28 at 8 p.m. where tickets will be only $5 each.   On Thursday, Oct. 29, the CCC Drama Department teams up with campus’s popular 3 Seasons Restaurant for a Gala, Tickets for this special event, which are $30 and available by calling 510-235-7800 ext. 4363. 

MACBETH is being presented Thursday – Saturday, October 29, 30 & 31.  Performances are at the John and Jean Knox Center for the Performing Arts on the Contra Costa College Campus.  All performances begin at 8 pm.  For more information please contact the Drama Department at 510-235-7800 X4274.  Tickets are $15 for general admission and $10 for students.  CCC Drama Web page is


Actor Peter Temple as MACBETH