English lit GCSE essayWatch
Year 11 English Literature November 2020 Mock Exam
Paper 1 Section A: Macbeth
At this point in the play, after receiving The Witches’ prophecies, Macbeth and Banquo have just been told that Duncan has made Macbeth Thane of Cawdor.
But ’tis strange,
And oftentimes, to win us to our harm,
The instruments of darkness tell us truths;
Win us with honest trifles, to betray’s
In deepest consequence. – 5
Cousins, a word, I pray you.
Two truths are told,
As happy prologues to the swelling act
Of the imperial theme. – I thank you, gentlemen. –
This supernatural soliciting 10
Cannot be ill, cannot be good. If ill,
Why hath it given me earnest of success,
Commencing in a truth? I am Thane of Cawdor.
If good, why do I yield to that suggestion,
Whose horrid image doth unfix my hair 15
And make my seated heart knock at my ribs
Against the use of nature? Present fears
Are less than horrible imaginings.
My thought, whose murder yet is but fantastical,
Shakes so my single state of man that function 20
Is smothered in surmise, and nothing is,
But what is not.
Starting with this moment in the play, explore how Shakespeare presents the attitudes of Macbeth and Banquo towards the supernatural.
• how Shakespeare presents the attitudes of Macbeth and Banquo towards the supernatural in this extract
• how Shakespeare presents the attitudes of Macbeth and Banquo towards the supernatural in the play as a whole.
AO4 [4 marks]
The duality of Macbeth’s feelings – should he believe what the witches have prophesied for him? He doesn’t know what to think
Banquo is realistic about the ‘instruments of Darkness’ and the danger of what they can lead him and Macbeth to
Banquo is keen to hear prophecies for himself and Macbeth is keen to know more
As the play progresses, Banquo does not act upon his prophecies whereas Macbeth becomes embroiled in them, becoming a murderer and a tyrant – even returning to the witches for more
prophecies which he believes completely AO2
The prophetic nature of what Banquo says and the witches’ persuasive power
The seeming contradiction of ‘Cannot be ill; cannot be good’ to reveal Macbeth’s confused feelings
– also his use of questions / confusing ideas
Fearful images to suggest his attitude to the supernatural
Any dramatic devices such as the appearance of the dagger and of Banquo’s ghost suggest how
supernatural forces have overcome Macbeth
The supernatural drives the plot and drives Macbeth: structural device
Ideas about the supernatural across time / audience reception
Ideas about the theme of deception
Dramatic context – spectacle of the supernatural in the play would be enjoyed
This is your starting point/intro.
The supernatural is taken seriously in Macbeth. The supernatural focus is on the powers of darkness, which are ascendant through most of the play and work to wreak havoc on human life.
this is good for expanding your quotes and explanations:
Hope that helps!