Macbeth unit project, English homework help

Now that you have completed all of the readings in this course, it is time to reflect on the stories, poems, and plays we have encountered. In your journal, answer the following questions;

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(Use Macbeth as favorite)

  1. Out of all the works we have studied, which one was your favorite? Why is this your favorite?
  2. What are some important themes in your favorite work? How does the author develop or create these themes? What kind of literary devices are used in the creation of this theme?
  3. Out of all the works we have studied, which character is your favorite character? Why is this your favorite character?
  4. What kind of challenges or situations did your character face? How did the character develop throughout the course of the story? What kind of personality traits or physical traits does your character possess?

For this project, you will be writing a thematic analysis paper. This is your final paper for high school English, and it should demonstrate everything you have learned not only in this unit, but in this class, and in your entire high school career.

Your paper will compare and contrast Macbeth with another piece that we read in this class. This means that first you will need to choose a theme from Macbeth(knowledge, ambition, etc.), and then choose another story from this course that handles a similar theme.

The focus of your paper should be on how this theme is developed throughout each story. You should show how the writer uses the plot, characters, sequencing, or other techniques to create a conclusion about this theme. (For example, “Shakespeare uses the genre of tragedy to show us how ambition can lead to an ultimate downfall.”) Then, deepen the conversation by adding a comparison and contrast to another piece we read in this class. (“In contrast, the genre of epic glorifies ambition, which we see clearly through the way Beowulf boasts about his strength and then goes on to slay his enemies.”) Focus on these points:

  1. What assertion does the story make about the theme? (Ambition is dangerous. Femininity does not mean weakness or frailty.)
  2. What techniques does the writer use to create this assertion? (Characters, plot, genre, literary devices, etc.)
  3. What similarities are there between the themes in the two stories? (Both Macbeth and Beowulf are prime examples of masculinity.)
  4. What significant differences are there between the themes in the two stories? (Macbeth ultimately destroys his community, his loved ones, and himself; Beowulf uses his strength to save people from a terrible monster.)
  5. What can we learn about this theme from the comparison and contrast of these two stories? (While we see ambition, strength, and cruelty as essential parts of masculinity in these two stories, it is in the selfishness of the individual that danger lies.)

For an additional level of challenge, you may consider adding a third story that we studied in class to your essay. For my example topic of Masculinity, I chose to write about Macbeth and Beowulf. Adding a discussion of King Arthur might provide another dimension. However, discussing three stories is optional.

Your paper must include textual analysis. (Review this unit’s close reading pages to review.) Use a minimum of six passages (quotes) from the stories throughout your paper (at least one per story, per body paragraph).

This essay should be between two and five pages (500-1250 words) in length. Your final draft should be saved and submitted as .doc or .pdf file. It should be in 12-point font in Times New Roman.

10% of your grade will be on grammar and mechanics. Write as clearly and correctly as you can. This means that 90% of your grade is based on your ideas – however, you will not earn an A if you do not proofread carefully and check for errors.

The rest of this lesson will walk you through the writing process. All the steps are important! Begin with solid pre-writing.

First, choose a theme that you find compelling. Then, choose an accompanying story from elsewhere in the course. Here are a few suggestions of themes, and what might make a good comparison. Feel free to use any of these, or design your own. Remember, you must discuss Macbeth. Then, you can discuss either one or two accompanying stories.

  1. Knowledge: Macbeth vs. Genesis
  2. Ambition and Temptation: Macbeth vs. Don Quixote (vs. Sir Bedivere in Le Mort d’Arthur)
  3. Femininity and Strength: Lady Macbeth vs. Grendel’s Mother (vs. Eowyn)
  4. Masculinity and Cruelty: Macbeth vs. Beowulf (vs. King Arthur)
  5. Kingship and Tyranny: Macbeth vs. King Arthur
  6. Appearance and Reality: Macbeth vs. the Lilliputians from  Gulliver’s Travels
  7. Fate and Freewill: Macbeth vs. Sir Gawain and the Green Knight
  8. Guilt and Remorse: Lady Macbeth vs. Sir Bedivere in Le Mort d’Arthur

Next, work on creating a solid outline.

The most important thing about comparing and contrasting is looking for the significant points. Here are some of the big mistakes students make while comparing and contrasting:

1) Some students make the mistake of finding irrelevant contrasts. Because they are told to contrast, they take the first three differences that come to mind. For example, Beowulf was written long before Macbeth. This is true, but not important to a discussion of the themes in the stories.

2) Not contrasting enough. Often, students try to make the two stories fit together by ignoring important points of difference. You will find insight and meaning by digging into the different ways the stories develop the theme – do not try to make the characters, plots, and themes line up perfectly side-by-side.

3) Poor organization. Many students end up with a weak, four-paragraph structure (introduction, body paragraph, body paragraph, conclusion). Often, their body paragraphs either focus on all the similarities and then all the differences, or they discuss just one character (Macbeth) in one paragraph and then the other character in the next (Beowulf). These will leave you with a confusing paper. The best way to develop a strong comparison and contrast is to choose three points of comparison (the beginning, middle, and end of the story), and discuss both characters according to one point. Here is a sample outline:

Thesis statement: While Beowulf and Macbeth both address themes of masculinity and its relationship to strength, violence, power, and cruelty, the two characters use these tools in quite different ways.

First Body Paragraph: The Beginning
  1) Beowulf is strong and powerful
  2) Macbeth leads a successful war campaign

Second Body Paragraph: The Middle
  1) Beowulf boasts about his strength publicly before the fight
2) Macbeth is crafty and underhanded; he kills the king in his sleep and covers it up

Third Body Paragraph: The End
  1) Beowulf saves the people from the monsters
2) Macbeth causes a bloody mess

Conclusion – While we see ambition, strength, and cruelty as essential parts of masculinity in these two stories, it is in the selfishness of the individual that danger lies.

Create your outline to be similar in structure for the strongest essay.

Make sure that you locate your textual evidence from the texts before you begin drafting. Remember what we learned about close reading, citing Shakespeare, and “quote sandwiches.”

Now that you have a first draft of your essay, it is time to become critical of yourself. First, put your essay aside or close it on your computer (make sure it is saved first!), and reflect in your journal. Write as much as you like, but cover these points:

  1. How hard or easy was it to write your essay?
  2. Do you like your essay the way it is?
  3. What is your favorite part of your essay?
  4. What parts of your essay do you not like?
  5. How closely did you follow your outline? Did you find that it was better to deviate from your plan once you began writing?
  6. Overall, do you feel your essay was successful?

Use your reflections to guide your revision. Improve the passages or points you thought were weak, and add anything that you did not already include according to the bullet points above.