Lady Macbeth Essay Questions

Instructor: Clio Stearns

Clio has taught education courses at the college level and has a Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction.

Lady Macbeth is one of literature's great tragic females. This lesson provides you with some essay topics for helping students think deeply and critically about her character in the context of Shakespeare's play.

Why Lady Macbeth Essays?

One of the most helpful things you can do to get your students to consolidate their learning and deepen their understanding of a work of literature is to have them write essays. Though writing an essay can be hard work, it forces students to structure their ideas and support their theories with textual evidence from whatever they have read. This not only encourages them to reread deeply and carefully, but it prompts critical thought about the thematic and meaningful aspects of literature as well as a deeper familiarity and comfort level with the writing process.

If you are reading Shakespeare's play Macbeth with your students, you know that it can be a complicated work to encounter. Not only is the language old-fashioned and sometimes esoteric, but the plot structure is complicated and the themes are dark and sometimes overwhelming. The play is a deeply tragic one, and students might struggle to understand its underlying purpose. Essay writing will help them clarify their views and bring structure to their thoughts about the work.

In particular, it can be very meaningful to have your students write essays about the character of Lady Macbeth. One of canonical literature's strongest and also most tragic female characters, Lady Macbeth often captures students' imagination and raises numerous questions about the nature of good and evil, the capacity of a character to change, and the power one individual can have over another, among other things. The essay topics in this lesson are designed to get your students thinking critically about Lady Macbeth and her character in the context of the rest of the play. Of course, students can write a number of other essays about her character, but these topics offer a starting point in terms of what a character essay might look like.

Lady Macbeth Essay Questions

Lady Macbeth's Power

Some readers of Macbeth think that Lady Macbeth exercises tremendous power, not only over her husband Macbeth, but also over the entire trajectory of the plot and the political fate of Scotland. Others argue that she is ultimately powerless, as demonstrated by her inability to control her own fate or that of those around her. Write an essay describing whether you think Lady Macbeth is powerful, using evidence from the play to justify your point of view. Be sure that your essay carefully defines the concept of power and indicates your view on Shakespeare's own insight into this concept.

Guilt and Sanity

Over the course of the play, Lady Macbeth seems to change from a very controlled and conniving character to one who has little grasp on her own mental well-being. Use Lady Macbeth's character to write an essay on the nature of guilt as it relates to sanity. Describe how her guilt impacts her grasp on reality and why. Your essay should explain whether or not you ultimately consider Lady Macbeth a sane character.

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