National 5 English Macbeth Critical Essay Help!

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gotohellkitty
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Would anyone be able to take a quick look at my timed "Macbeth" essay? Teacher too busy to mark atm, and would like some constructive criticism. Will post essay below, along with question.
(I know it's not my best work as it was the first essay I've done in 45 minutes with no notes but any advice is appreciated)
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_Mia101
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Hi!

You haven't posted the essay yet, but if you do, I'd be happy to help!

(Original post by gotohellkitty)
Would anyone be able to take a quick look at my timed "Macbeth" essay? Teacher too busy to mark atm, and would like some constructive criticism. Will post essay below, along with question.
(I know it's not my best work as it was the first essay I've done in 45 minutes with no notes but any advice is appreciated)
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gotohellkitty
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Choose a play in which there is conflict.
Describe the conflict and by referring to the playwright's use of dramatic technique, explain fully how the conflict develops.

“Macbeth” is one of William Shakespeare's greatest tragedies, and was first performed in 1606 in front of James VI and I. The play is set in distant Scottish history, and follows Macbeth, a Scottish noble. The conflict is the inner battle between Macbeth's conscience and ambition, as he decides whether or not to kill King Duncan to become King himself. The conflict is most clearly seen in Act 1 Scene 7, during his soliloquy. The rest of the play deals with the consequences of his actions, and the deterioration of Macbeth's character due to the decision made during the key scene.

The play starts with Shakespeare presenting Macbeth as a strong, brave and principled character who would have considerable trouble committing murder. King Duncan and the Captain have very high opinions of Macbeth. In Act 1 Scene 2, the Captain and Duncan are discussing a recent battle against Duncan's enemies, and the Captain says, “For brave Macbeth – well he deserves the name.” The word choice of “brave” suggests someone noble, patriotic and loyal. Shakespeare wants the audience to believe that Macbeth is too good at heart to murder his King. Shakespeare also only shows Macbeth through the dialogue of other characters, which deepens interest in Macbeth as the audience has only heard opinions of him. This shows that Macbeth appears to be heroic and reputable, not a cold-blooded murderer.
Lady Macbeth also believes that her husband is too honourable to follow his ambition. She receives a letter from Macbeth about the witches' propechies, and says he is, “too full of the milk of human kindness to catch the nearest way” The word choice of “milk” suggests something nurturing, caring and good, not a criminal. The white colour of the milk suggests purity and is linked to motherhood and children. At the start of the play Macbeth is also very linked to the colour white, yet as the play goes on he becomes more and more attached to the colour red, which represents blood and his downfall. The “human kindness” Lady Macbeth is referring to may conflict with his ambition

The conflict between Macbeth's ambition and conscience is most prominent in the key scene of Act 1 Scene 7. It is seen in a soliloquy at the beginning of the scene, when Macbeth is deciding whether or not to kill King Duncan. He says, “Kind Duncan's virtues trumpet-tongued will sound against the deep damnation of his taking off.” The word choice of “virtues” suggests that Macbeth knows that Duncan is a good King and cannot justify killing him. The word choice of “deep damnation” also suggests that Macbeth understands how awful a crime it would be, and that he would be sent to the deepest part of hell for it. His conscience seems to be winning. The use of a soliloquy allows us to hear Macbeth's private thoughts.
After wrestling between conscience and ambition, Macbeth decides against killing Duncan. He says, “I have no spur to prick the sides of my intent but only vaulting ambition.” The word choice of “spur” literally is a piece of metal used to make horses go faster, but metaphorically shows that his ambition is the only thing spurring him to act. The word choice of “vaulting ambition” suggests something jumping out of place, and that his ambition is leading him towards evil. He decides that the negatives outweigh the positives , and the soliloquy ends with Macbeth deciding not to kill Duncan.

However, Macbeth's inner conflict is resolved when Lady Macbeth enters and influences him towards his ambition. Lady Macbeth clearly knows her husband's character very well. She mocks his manhood by saying, “When you durst do it, then you were a man.” This is Lady Macbeth playing on her husband's vulnerability, by saying that he is a coward if he does not follow ambition. Cowardice is something that Macbeth fights against, and when she insinuates that he is not a man he is spurred into acting irrationally. She claims she would beat her own baby's brains out to be King, which further pushes Macbeth, as women were thought of to be inferior in that time. So if Lady Macbeth could do it then Macbeth can't be much of a man.
Lady Macbeth makes it even easier for Macbeth by planning it all. She takes away any obstacles that he might face, leaving him with no choice but to follow through. She facilitates his evil, by getting the guards drunk, allowing him to commit the crime without fear of getting caught. Lady Macbeth takes away the final barrier, and Macbeth has no more excuses. If he refuses at this stage, then in his mind he is not a man but a coward and a fool, the very things he fears being labelled.

Unfortunately for Macbeth, his decision to resolve the conflict in favour of ambition leads to the destruction of his character after the murder of King Duncan. When Macbeth returns after killing Duncan, the first stage of decline is the overwhelming guilt he feels, as he tries to clean the blood from his hands. In Act 2 Scene 2 he says, “Will not all great Neptune's ocean wash this blood clean from my hands.” The word choice of “Neptune's ocean” shows the hyperbole and symbolism. Obviously an entire ocean is not needed to clean Macbeth's hands, but he feels as if he needs an ocean to wash away his sins and clear his conscience. The red blood contrasts with the white milk from earlier in the play. He is now feeling unnerved and remorseful for his crime, as he still has his humanity.
Over the longer term, the consequences of the resolution of the conflict are seen in Macbeth's character growing increasingly evil. In Act 3 Scene 2, Lady Macbeth asks what he plans to do about Banquo and he says, “Be innocent of the knowledge dearest chuck.” This suggests a shift in dynamic of the relationship, as Macbeth no longer needs Lady Macbeth to plan evil for him. Their roles are almost reversed. The power has shifted to him after Lady Macbeth controlling him at the beginning. The relationship is now directly contrasted to the way it was at the beginning, as Macbeth feels that he has now risen above her, and that she is no longer needed and is inferior. Macbeth has hardened himself as a result of his actions and no longer feels guilt. He has taken control of his own destiny, but at the cost of his soul. He is no longer being influenced and persuaded by others.

In conclusion, the conflict between Macbeth's conscience and ambition is explored through the complete destruction of his character and morals. Over the course of the play, his ambition overcomes him, and Macbeth succumbs to the evil ways he swore against during his soliloquy. As soon as the conflict was resolved and Macbeth chose ambition, his humanity started fading away, as the power of being King began to corrupt him. “Macbeth” is still relevant in today's society, as the themes of ambition, power and corruption are very present in modern public figures. Especially with the introduction of the internet and social media. Nowadays it's even easier to let power go to your head. “Macbeth” is a cautionary tale about the dangers of ignoring your conscience and losing sight of what you believe in.
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gotohellkitty
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Thank you! My computer was running really slowly and I got distracted and forgot to upload it 😂
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(Original post by gotohellkitty)
Choose a play in which there is conflict.
Describe the conflict and by referring to the playwright's use of dramatic technique, explain fully how the conflict develops.

“Macbeth” is one of William Shakespeare's greatest tragedies, and was first performed in 1606 in front of both King James I and his brother-in-law King Christian IV of Denmark. The play is set in distant Scottish history, and follows a Scottish noble by the name of Macbeth. The conflict in question is the inner battle between Macbeth's conscience and ambition considering that he ultimately decides to kill King Duncan in order to seize the throne for himself. The conflict is most clearly seen in Act 1 Scene 7 during the eponymous protagonist's soliloquy. The rest of the play deals with the consequences of his actions, and the deterioration of Macbeth's character caused by his symbolic decision during the aforementioned key scene.
I've decided to redraft your introduction. You need to watch out for your use of punctuation. Otherwise, it's written well. Here's my redraft:

“Macbeth” is one of William Shakespeare's greatest tragedies and was first performed in front of both King James I and his brother-in-law King Christian IV of Denmark. The play is set in distant Scottish history and follows a Scottish noble by the name of Macbeth. The conflict in question is the inner battle between Macbeth's conscience and ambition considering that he ultimately decides to kill King Duncan in order to seize the throne for himself. The conflict is most clearly seen in Act 1 Scene 7 during the eponymous protagonist's soliloquy. The rest of the play deals with the consequences of his actions as well as the deterioration of Macbeth's character caused by his symbolic decision during the aforementioned key scene.

I'll redraft your other paragraphs slowly over the weekend if you like. I wish I could give more feedback rather than just redrafting it but I somewhat enjoy redrafting things and couldn't contain myself. :rambo:
Last edited by Quick-use; 11 months ago
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gotohellkitty
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Thank you so much! Much appreciated
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gotohellkitty
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And honestly whatever you'd like to do,even just doing the introduction has helped a lot
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_Mia101
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Okay so I'm not sure how similar the mark scheme for Nat5s are to GCSEs but assuming they are similar I'm going to give my feedback.

PURPLE = NEEDS TO IMPROVE

SOME GENERAL ADVICE:

No matter the question, always ensure to remember that the play is a construct for something. It was written to teach the audience something. How Shakespeare intended the audience to interpret is what you are analysing as well as how he got his message across.

THE QUESTION

Describe the conflict and by referring to the playwright's use of dramatic technique, explain fully how the conflict develops.

This means that you need to analyse language, structure and form. Structure and form are especially important if you want to get the higher marks. Also, in this question, don't fall into the trap of retelling the story as you may be tempted to simply describe each time there is conflict. Rather, you should be looking at what the conflict means and how it will affect the reader as well as what Shakespeare has done to make it so effective.

THE INTRODUCTION


“Macbeth” is one of William Shakespeare's greatest tragedies, and was first performed in 1606 in front of James VI and I. The play is set in distant Scottish history, and follows Macbeth, a Scottish noble. The conflict is the inner battle between Macbeth's conscience and ambition, as he decides whether or not to kill King Duncan to become King himself. The conflict is most clearly seen in Act 1 Scene 7, during his soliloquy. The rest of the play deals with the consequences of his actions, and the deterioration of Macbeth's character due to the decision made during the key scene.

Again, I don't know if for Nat5s you need context but for GCSEs I do so context is always good. However, avoid just stating it out plainly like this rather interweave throughout your analysis. For example:


Spoiler:
Show
In Macbeth, the very first scene of the play was with the three witches. By putting the witches in the opening scene, Shakespeare is establishing to the Elizabethan audience that the witches have a very important role within the play. Also, as Macbeth is a tragedy it could indicate to the audience that the Witches are central to one's downfall. Furthermore, the first scene is set in "Thunder and Lightning"...


I know this doesn't exactly relate to the essay but my point is that you should try and have your context as a part of your analysis

FIRST PARAGRAPH


Tthe play starts with Shakespeare presenting Macbeth as a strong, brave and principled character who would have considerable trouble committing murder. King Duncan and the Captain have very high opinions of Macbeth. In Act 1 Scene 2, the Captain and Duncan are discussing a recent battle against Duncan's enemies, and the Captain says, “For brave Macbeth – well he deserves the name.”[1] The word choice of “brave” suggests someone noble, patriotic and loyal. Shakespeare wants the audience to believe that Macbeth is too good at heart to murder his King[2]. Shakespeare also only shows Macbeth through the dialogue of other characters, which deepens interest in Macbeth as the audience has only heard opinions of him. This shows that Macbeth appears to be heroic and reputable, not a cold-blooded murderer.

[1] - The examiner already knows the play, so you don't need to tell them what is happening, also try to embed your quotes. You could've said. In Act 1, Scene 2 Macbeth is described as "brave". The employment of the adjective brave suggests....

[2] - word level analysis is always good, but why does Shakespeare want the audience to believe that Macbeth is good at heart? Also, just to point out, at that time brave didn't mean the same thing as it means today. It often meant someone who was brutal and violent, so essentially he was being praised for being a violent, ruthless man. What does that suggest?

SECOND PARAGRAPH

Lady Macbeth also believes that her husband is too honourable to follow his ambition. She receives a letter from Macbeth about the witches' propechies, and says he is, “too full of the milk of human kindness to catch the nearest way” The word choice of “milk” suggests something nurturing, caring and good, not a criminal. The white colour of the milk suggests purity and is linked to motherhood and children. At the start of the play Macbeth is also very linked to the colour white, yet as the play goes on he becomes more and more attached to the colour red, which represents blood and his downfall. The “human kindness” Lady Macbeth is referring to may conflict with his ambition

Question: how does this relate to the question?
It is a good point, but you haven't shown how it links to the question. You could maybe discuss how Shakespeare uses contrast to further emphasise the detrimental nature of conflict or something.
Also, give quotations backing up how Macbeth has become more attached to the colour red.
Could the fact that Macbeth is originally presented as pure be Shakespeare giving the audience a message. What could that message be?

Hope this helps, I'll try and continue later.
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gotohellkitty
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Thank you so much! That's so helpful 😊
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gotohellkitty
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But unfortunately for Nat 5 we have to give context for our quotes, but I could probably shorten the context lines a bit
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_Mia101
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(Original post by gotohellkitty)
But unfortunately for Nat 5 we have to give context for our quotes, but I could probably shorten the context lines a bit
oh, I didn't mean that you shouldn't add context. I meant that you shouldn't put it randomly but rather should have woven into your analysis.
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gotohellkitty
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Ah okay thank you! That makes more sense aha
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