In the very first scene of the play, Macbeth is a celebrated war hero with a great future ahead of him. He is greeted with a mysterious prophecy from the Weird Sisters, which then determines the course of the play.
We know the events of the play, but what is not clear is who steers the story to its tragic conclusion. Is it the Weird Sisters’ fault for planting the idea in Macbeth’s mind and igniting his imagination? Is it Lady Macbeth’s fault for her ambitious insistence on Macbeth to become King prematurely? Or is Macbeth the only one to blame, as master of his own fate?
1) Divide the class into four groups.
2) Group 1 will present their case as to why Macbeth is to blame.
Group 2 will present their case as to why Lady Macbeth is to blame.
Group 3 will present their case as to why The Weird Sisters are to blame.
Group 4 will act as the jury, asking questions of each group, and deciding who has the most convincing case. The jury can also determine whether other groups are allowed to interrupt presentations to ‘rebut’ statements made.
3) Each group should work to form a strong case using evidence from the text in order to convince the jury of their character’s blame.
4) Hold a debate in the classroom, with one member of Group 4 elected Judge to order proceedings. Each group will present their case, be questioned by the jury, then asked to finalise their statement. Encourage all members of the group to speak on the matter.
5) Group 4 will then weigh up all the arguments, summarising them, including the most convincing points. They will then present their findings to the class, and announce their final verdict.