Macbeth - Illustrating and Supporting Points

This GCSE English Literature quiz about William Shakespeare's Macbeth will help you practise using evidence to support points. You can make your writing much more persuasive by producing and correctly referencing evidence from the text. Quoting specific details or paraphrasing parts of the text will make your argument stronger. This is one of the most important, and sometimes difficult, skills you can develop in studying English literature. After you have used a quotation, remember that the next sentence should explain how the quotation supports your point.

How to use evidence to support a point:

You will have learned in class the three key methods you can use in order to support a point with evidence. These are: paraphrasing, quoting single words or short phrases, or quoting longer sections of text.

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It is easy to overlook the importance of paraphrasing, but it is difficult to write about a text without mastering this skill! Paraphrasing shows that you know and understand a text and is often much more elegant than quoting lots of short phrases and single words. It is also more practical than quoting a very long passage.

Quoting a single word or short phrase is the best choice whenever you wish to draw attention to an author’s specific use of language. Short quotations are also useful when you have a complex point to make, in which case you might use a combination of methods. One example of such a combination would be if you paraphrase a longer section of the text, then quote a word or short phrase which combines with the paraphrase to support your point. Using a combination of techniques is tricky and requires practice, but will improve your writing.

The third method involves quoting a full sentence or more. This is the best method to use whenever you wish to discuss a longer quotation in close detail. It also works if a shorter quotation will not make sense in your sentence.

Accuracy is very important when using evidence from a text. You will need to use quotation marks whenever you use words directly taken from the text. There is one exception to this rule, however, which is the use of a single, ordinary word contained in the text. Ordinary words generally do not require quotation marks. For example, it is not necessary to quote “cup” unless the word is used in the text in an unusual or unexpected way. Except for these very ordinary words, all other exact quotations from the text do need to be placed within quotation marks.

See how you do with this quiz on the best way to use evidence from Macbeth. Remember, the purpose of this quiz is to test your ability to quote and to paraphrase, rather than to test your knowledge of the text. One helpful tip is that it might be easier to eliminate the incorrect answers first!

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Read the text from Macbeth and then choose the answer which best uses evidence in support of a point.
  1. "Upon my head they placed a fruitless crown / And put a barren sceptre in my gripe." - Macbeth
    Use quotation marks to show precisely which words have been quoted from the text. Avoid using scare quotes in the same sentence with quotations from the text, as in the final choice above ("inherit" and "witches"), because doing so can lead to confusion
  2. "I have bought / Golden opinions from all sorts of people, / Which would be worn now in their newest gloss, / Not cast aside so soon." - Macbeth
    Remember to make a point and back it up with evidence. This point could be followed by a discussion of the concern with false appearances in the play
  3. "There's no art / To find the mind's construction in the face." - The King
    It is useful to practise a number of ways to use evidence, including paraphrasing and the quotation of entire sentences
  4. "If you can look into the seeds of time, / And say which grain will grow, and which will not, / Speak then to me." - Banquo
    Remember to include short quotations as part of your sentence, rather than dropping them mid-sentence
  5. "Thou shalt not live, / That I may tell pale-hearted fear it lies / And sleep in spite of thunder." - Macbeth
    Be sure to quote accurately. To "sleep in spite of thunder" is an accurate quotation, whereas "sleeping in spite of thunder" is not
  6. "Our high-placed Macbeth / Shall live the lease of nature, pay his breath / To time, and mortal custom." - Macbeth
    Sometimes only a few quoted words are needed in order to provide the evidence for the point being made. Try not to quote several single words in a sentence, however, unless these are in a list (the first answer would be very clumsy even if it were correct)
  7. "His two chamberlains / Will I with wine and wassail so convince, / That memory, the warder of the brain, / Shall be a fume." - Lady Macbeth
    An ordinary word, such as "memory" or "wine", does not require quotation marks unless it is being used in an unusual way
  8. "Be this the whetstone of your sword. Let grief / Convert to anger; blunt not the heart, enrage it." - Malcolm
    Here, the idea of grief being a sharpening tool for a sword is first explained, then supported with a quotation
  9. "When the hurly-burly's done, / When the battle's lost, and won." - 2nd Witch
    Here evidence has been combined through a short quotation and some paraphrasing to make the point that the witches do not much care who wins the battle
  10. "Your face, my thane, is as a book, where men / May read strange matters." - Lady Macbeth
    Avoid using quotations as entire sentences without any explanation, as in the third answer here

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