What did Shakespeare get from Chaucer?


·         Rounded Characters:  whose actions are shaped by contradictory, conflicting elements within the same consciousness and somehow seems true to life. (verisimilitude)

·         The Wages of Sin: how did Chaucer measure morality?

·         What gifts were given to Chaucer’s Characters?

o   The Knight?

o   The Monk?

o   The Friar?

o   The Summoner?

·         What is Macbeth’s gift?

What will happen to Macbeth if he misuses the gift he has been given by God?


Mac   Beth


·         A valiant, lethal, warrior with a soul.

·         The action of the tragedy? What must Macbeth attempt to do?

·         Where does this struggle take place? In what psychic realm?

·         Note that the natural world is somehow tied to the characters’ psyches: It begins in dim, stormy light and then plunges into night and the sun will not rise for days.

·         This is literally  the battleground where Macbeth will do battle against his soul.

·         Look again at “Two truths”

o   Literally, what ‘horrible imaginings’ does Macbeth see which so frighten him?

o   Banquo describes him as “Rapt”? (‘fascination’)


                  [Aside] Two truths are told,
As happy prologues to the swelling act
Of the imperial theme.--I thank you, gentlemen.
This supernatural soliciting
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
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
Is smother'd in surmise, and nothing is
But what is not.

                  Look, how our partner's rapt.

[Aside] If chance will have me king, why, chance may crown me,
Without my stir.

New honors come upon him,
Like our strange garments, cleave not to their mould
But with the aid of use.

                        [Aside] Come what come may
Time and the hour runs through the roughest day.