Macbeth close reading assignment

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Presentations begin Wednesday, Feb. 12 with Act 2, Scene 3, lines 106-116. I will announce the rest of the schedule on Monday, Feb. 10.

  1. Read your passage to the class.
  2. Give a 1-2 sentence snapshot summary of the passage.
  3. “Translate” the passage or explain what’s going on, including the context (what has just happened before this speech).
  4. Identify the importance of the passage. Does it reveal Shakespeare’s tone? Is it a pivotal moment? Is it especially revealing of a character’s “character”? Is it a critical moment in the tragic hero’s journey? Does it reveal the theme of the play?
  5. Analyze how Shakespeare uses diction, literary devices, rhetorical techniques, poetic devices, etc. to convey the importance of the passage.


Close reading of Macbeth 2.1.33-64

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K. Harger


AP/UCONN English Literature

6 February 2014

Macbeth Act II, Scene 1, Lines 33-64

            In this scene, Macbeth is hallucinating a dagger as he experiences his final moments of hesitation – and resolve – before murdering Duncan. Just prior to this soliloquy, Macbeth is speaking with Banquo, who is also at Inverness (the Macbeth home). He is trying to ascertain if Banquo still believes in the witches’ prophecy. After Banquo leaves, Macbeth “sees” a dagger floating in the air in front of him; he tries and fails to grab it (lines 33-34). He wonders if the dagger is a supernatural apparition (“fatal vision”) or a hallucination brought on by his own internal conflict (“a false creation / Proceeding from the heat-oppresséd brain?”). He pulls out his own (very real) dagger and declares the imaginary dagger is there to lead him onward in his murder of Duncan. He then sees the dagger dripping in blood (“dudgeon gouts of blood”) and determines that it is his own internal conflict causing the hallucination (“It is the bloody business which informs”). He notes that now that it is night, evil doings are afoot, such as witches casting spells, murders, and rapes (the allusion to Sextus Tarquinius’ rape of Lucrece in line 55). He asks the earth to mute his steps so no one hears him approaching Duncan. He tells himself to stop hesitating – that the deed will not be accomplished unless he acts (“Whiles I threat, he lives / Words to the heat of deeds too cold breath gives”). A bell rings – the signal from Lady Macbeth that Duncan’s guards are in a drugged sleep – and he affirms his intent to kill the king (“I go, and it is done.”). Read more

1-22-14 Macbeth prompt

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1-22-14: Have you ever faced a situation in which you wanted something from someone but realized it would be best to pursue it indirectly rather than asking for it outright? If not, can you imagine such a situation? Describe your indirect approach for getting what you wanted, or write a brief dialogue between two characters in which one person attempts this with another.

1-21-14 Macbeth prompt

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1-21-14: Write three sentences often said to you by someone close to you: a parent, a brother or sister, a friend. Indicate the typical inflection and meaning for each; then vary the inflection and tell how this changes the meaning.

1-16-14 Macbeth prompt

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1-16-14: Choose two of the characters you have met to this point and draw of cut from a magazine (or download) a picture of them. Under each picture, list three words that capture the character’s personality.

1-13-14 Macbeth prompt

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1-13-14: Has there ever been a time in your life when someone told you that something improbable would happen and it did? Did the fact that the event was “predicted” cause you to behave differently than you have otherwise and make it more likely for the event to occur? Or did the event simply seem to occur without any assistance from you? Recall what happened and include your feelings when you heard the event predicted and when it occurred. If you do not have a personal story, then you may use a friend’s story or make a connection to another text.

Assignment 5 due Tuesday, June 4

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Reread the “Introduction” to Ways of Reading. It, too, takes a position on the proper use of books. Given the work that you have done in this sequence (“Introduction,” The American Scholar, In Search of Our Mothers’ Gardens, Lectures Read to the Seniors at Harvard), you are prepared to read it not as a simple statement of “how things are” but as a position taken in a tradition of concern over the role of reading in the preparation of Americans. Make a series of notes in which you consider the introduction in relation to Emerson, Channing, Walker, and the ways they articulate the proper use of reading. Where you place this book (or its goals as stated in the “Introduction”) in relation to an Emersonian tradition? And what about you – do you see your own interests and concerns, the values you hold (or those held by people you admire), the abilities you might need or hope to gain – do you see these represented in what you have read?

Nightmare and Frankenstein 5-13-13

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Examine the Henry Fuseli painting, The Nightmare. Annotate the painting, that is, record details that contribute to your understanding of the mood and meaning of the work.

Re-read the following passage: 

Pages 203-204:

“… suddenly I heard a shrill and dreadful scream. … but he eluded me, leaped from his station, and running with the swiftness of lightning, plunged into the lake.”

  1. What is the context?
  2. In what ways does the passage connect to Fuseli’s painting? Discuss the details in the passage and the details in the painting.

Frankenstein HW for 4-23

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Read chapters 8-10.

Track Victor’s altered states of consciousness. What causes them? What is their effect upon him?

Track the restorative power of nature.

Be prepared to discuss how Victor and the monster are doubles of each other.

Pride and Prejudice chapters 60-61 due 3-28

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Chapter 60:

  1. Why does Elizabeth say Darcy was attracted to her?
  2. Why should Lady Catherine be happy?
  3. What is Mr. Bennet’s response to Collins?
  4. What does Elizabeth look foward to?

Chapter 61:

  1. Why don’t Jane and Bingley stay at Netherfield?
  2. What happens to Kitty?
  3. What happens to Mary?
  4. What happens to Lydia and Wickham?
  5. What influence does Elizabeth have on Georgiana?
  6. Who mends the bridge between Darcy and Lady Catherine?

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