The Triumph of Grace - Resources for Macbeth

But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death. James 1:14-15 (KJV)
I just had a sad thought.  If my dd16 continues in our TBG Community until she graduates, I will only have the priviledge of doing 5 more Shakespeare plays with her.  I can't believe that.  So now I have to  decide which 5 that we haven't already done...decisions, decisions.  We just finished the amazing tragedy Macbeth so I will share some of what I found helpful.

1. Top resource - Shakespeare's Macbeth by Leland Ryken
This was for me, the teacher.  Scene by scene, Ryken guides and explains the play.  This play  had my students looking up lots of Biblical passages.  For students that are only accustomed to a happy/clean Bible knowledge, Macbeth is baptism by fire into sin and the nature of man.  Ryken's guide helped me direct them.

2. The 32 Second Macbeth
Fun opening activity, starring the moms and older students.  They finally got it after the 3rd try.

3.   Jerram Barrs lecture - Shakespeare - A Christian Worldview?
I had the high schoolers in our community listen to this as it features Macbeth.  And it's Jerram.

4. Macbeth's Scotland Map 

5.  William Shakespeare's Macbeth by Bruce Coville
I recommend Coville's picture book retellings to begin many of Shakespeare's plays.

6. "The Way of Reason" by Charlotte Mason - Volume 6, p. 140
Never have we had such a clear example of the problem with reason.  If you are looking for a good example of why and how reason is so very fallible, Macbeth delivers.   Share this passage with your  students after you've experienced Macbeth.

7.  As always, we used the Folger editions for our text and Arkangel Shakespeare for the dramatized audio.

I read somewhere where the poetry is so beautiful in Macbeth that you want to read it slowly (we did) and you might miss it if you are viewing it only.  OTOH, if you are reading it, you will miss the exciting battle scenes.  For this play, I showed clips from the Orson Welles (1948) production.

The tradgedy of Macbeth is a long journey that thankfully culminates with the triumph of grace for Malcolm and Scotland.  It is interesting that Charlotte Mason often started her students with this play.  It's not for the faint of heart.

Comfort and joy,


  1. Wasn't it a good play to discuss?!! Alex Kingston does one of the best performances I have ever seen
    of " Get out ... spot!" and Branaugh : want to go see them in NYC. You may post that for your readers( you never know who might get there!):

  2. That is EXACTLY what I was thinking! Starting to plan for my son's first year of high school. I was sooooo much more at home with the early years of home education. High school is a bit overwhelming for me, but I love all your meaty suggestions, Nancy. I'm trying to remind myself of Mason's (or one of her students?) idea that education is more about lighting a fire than filling a bucket. As a student, I was all about filling the bucket for an "A" and forgetting everything. I LOVED learning, but I hated school. I remember no Shakespeare from high school, and am just starting to read Lamb's work to see if we should all begin together there. I'm struggling to get "into" Shakespeare, but I'm sticking with it because so many wonderful homeschoolers love Shakespeare. I think Coville's work would be right up my alley now as a novice. Thank you, Nancy!

  3. yay! i was just about to post our macbeth outline for this upcoming term. your post is much more beautiful and interesting, and based on real experience, but i'll probably still post mine. i like to have it there on record. we have bruce coville's books on audio. though you miss the illustrations, i still like the retellings and it's fun for my kids to occasionally hear another voice than mine own. ;)
    thanks for sharing!!

  4. i'm back to share my link. have you ever used brightest heaven of invention? i'm experimenting with using it this term and wonder if you have a preference between that and ryken... i can't recall if you've mentioned it before?

    1. Yes, I've had Brightest for years and I do recommend it! It has its place, especially if you are looking for essay questions and ideas. But I thought Ryken's work was more interesting and insightful for my style of teaching. They are both worth owning, I think. Brightest covers much more material, too.

  5. Nancy, How many "meetings" did it take you to cover this play?? We don't belong to a CM community but I was considering asking another family to possibly join us and needed to think thru how many weeks they would need to commit too.

    1. Hi, Hannah! Shakespeare plays have 5 Acts in them. So the first meeting I introduce the play and then we take a session for each act. The play is then covered over the course of 6 meetings.