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Hark! The Sounds of Murder

Teachers' Rating:
  1 rating


May 2008
Julia Perlowski teaches English at Pompano Beach High School, Pompano, Florida.

Plays/Scenes Covered
Macbeth 2.2
What's On for Today and Why

In 2.2, the scene in which Duncan is murdered, Shakespeare chooses to have it reported by Macbeth... not represented on stage. While Lady Macbeth waits for her husband to commit the deed and report, she surmises his progress through sound (i.e., the owl's scream). This unit will ask students to construct the murder scene of Duncan through sounds only. Through careful textual analysis, students will be forced to consider the sequence of events leading up to, through, and past the murder through sound.



This lesson will take two class periods.

What You Need

Folger edition of Macbeth
Available in Folger print edition and Folger Digital Texts

Recording equipment

Essay Worksheet
What To Do

1. Read it through: Assign roles from 2.2 randomly and read with the entire class. This is the murder scene. What do we notice about it? Help students to focus on the non-representational aspect from a visual sense.


2. Break it down: In groups of 3, have students make a list of all the references to sound that are in the script. Then, ask them to consider sounds that are not in the script but would probably be heard if we were to hear  a radio show of the murder of Duncan.


3. Check it out: Have each group call out those sounds written in the script. If two or more people have the same sound, it gets crossed off the list. A point is given to the only person who named a particular item. The same is done with implied sound. Facilitator writes the list out as items are called. Give a student the responsibility of typing out the formal list. (The list can be added to as audio tracks are created.)


4. Work it out: Ask students to sequence the murder of Duncan through sound from the point at which Lady Macbeth places the daggers in the King's room and leaves.


5. Mix it up: Each group creates an audio track of the murder of Duncan. Music can be left out so that students can focus exclusively on the actual sounds in and around the castle the night of Duncan's murder.


6. Take a guess!: Each group presents its audio of the murder of Duncan. The rest of the class guesses at what point Duncan is murdered. Also, the checklist created by the entire class earlier is referred to as students listen to each track.

How Did It Go?
Students create a reflective essay describing their part of the project.(See Essay Worksheet)

If you used this lesson, we would like to hear how it went and about any adaptations you made to suit the needs of YOUR students.

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1 Comment

up and over garage door
Traci October 7, 2014 2:48 AM
  Common Core State Standards

There are no standards associated with this Lesson Plan.
How To

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