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A GCSE Higher Ability Guide to Macbeth and Browning’s Monologues

Steph Atkinson | Wednesday November 21, 2018

Categories: KS4, AQA GCSE, AQA GCSE Pre-2015 Resources, AQA English Literature, Unit 3 Significance of Shakespeare, WJEC Eduqas GCSE, WJEC GCSE Pre-2015 Resources, WJEC GCSE English Literature, Unit 3 Poetry and Drama, Drama, Macbeth, Hot Entries, Shakespeare, Shakespeare's Plays, Writing, Analytical Writing, Drama Analysis, Literary Analysis

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In Macbeth, Shakespeare’s context seems to have brought him to want to explore several ideas to create an entertaining and tense plot, ideas that bring us an awareness of the guiding themes of the play; perhaps the relationship between Macbeth and Lady Macbeth is one of the most central, encompassing as it does they key themes of conflict, control and power. At GCSE, the play is often used as part of a controlled assessment task (CAT) in which students explore the presentation of a theme and compare it with the theme as explored in a text from the ‘literary heritage’. A popular choice is the comparison of Macbeth with 2 or 3 thematically-linked poems. This is an option for both the AQA and WJEC GCSE English Literature courses, as well as the AQA IGCSE English Literature coursework option.

For this guide, three of Robert Browning’s dramatic monologues have been chosen. This allows you to either teach all three poems and to allow your pupils to select two or three for their coursework, or to teach whichever two of these poems you feel are most appropriate for you and your class. Although it is by no means compulsory to use poems provided by the examination board, such as from the legacy AQA poetry anthology (2005-2010), this is a useful and readily available resource, and is therefore employed in this guide although, of course, the ideas contained in the guide can easily be applied to the study and comparison of any poems.

In addition, four scenes have been chosen from Macbeth in order to give you the flexibility to select those most appropriate for the poems you have chosen and the approach you wish to take to the theme of relationships.

A feature of this teaching guide is to provide plenty of exemplification, through the close textual analysis of Macbeth and Browning’s monologues, looking at aspects of language, form and structure as well as context, genre and comparison. The scenes and poems selected will...


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