The Simplicity of a Difficult Text

In my last post I argued that while easier texts often seem more accessible, a difficult text can be more empowering because of how it challenges students. Below I write about how teacher and students can meet the challenge of Macbeth by recognizing it as a surprisingly simple story. 

The other day I was meeting with a student to help him prepare for an in-class essay on masculinity in Macbeth. We talked a lot about how Macbeth behaves both in the lead-up to killing Duncan and after he becomes king. The student had a good grasp on the character–how he changes over the course of the play, how he compares with other characters. But then, before leaving, he remarked that the play had a lot of unnecessary characters. He took a moment, counting on his fingers, and told me that there are really only six important characters in the play. “Only six?” I asked. “I don’t even think there’s that many. Listen to this.”  Continue reading