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Describe why Act 2. Scene 2. Is a turning point in the play for Macbeth and Girl Macbeth. How should the stars playing these characters act to reveal the audience what they are feeling?
In the First Act we learn that Macbeth is considered a really noble, loyal, brave male. “For brave Macbeth … O worthy cousin, deserving gentlemen!” Macbeth was victorious in a fight on behalf of the kingdom and gets lots of appreciation from the king, and the other soldiers, and unidentified to him is quickly be provided the title, ‘Thane Of Cawdor’.
Banquo and Macbeth are travelling home and they came across 3 witches. These witches prophisize that Macbeth will become Thane of Cawdor which not long after he will end up being king. “All hail Macbeth! Hail to thee, thane of Cawdor! … All hail Macbeth! Thalt shalt be King hereafter.”
Macbeth doesn’t pay to much attention to them and continues with his journey, when he returns home, he discovers out that the King is coming to stay with him and Woman Macbeth in their castle.
Macbeth then discovers of the title and informs Woman Macbeth of the three witches prophesies, and then Lady Macbeth starts to hatch a strategy. Macbeth was so frightened of the idea of eliminating Duncan since in those days, individuals believed in something, which was called the magnificent right of kings. Which meant that they thought the king to have been selected by god. So an attack on King Duncan would have been considered sacrilege.
In Act one, Macbeth encounters as brave and faithful, however if he goes through with the murder, he will be permanently examining his shoulder, he will have to enjoy what he states and does, due to the fact that he could be discovered.
This would change his character entirely. Macbeth has to realise that there can be no going back as soon as the murder has actually been dedicated. James 1 would have understood and thought in the magnificent right of kings, so when the play was being composed, including it would have been more intriguing as the play was originally composed for James 1, who was king at the time.
Scene 2 has to be the most violent part of the play although we don’t actually see the murder in the written play, it is only included in the film version, which we recently watched, directed by Roman Polantski. It is interesting that Macbeth kills King Duncan offstage, the scene could be written this way because Shakespeare wanted us to concentrate on Macbeth’s reaction to the murder, rather than the murder itself. It’s a crucial part in the play as it the first of many murders. The murder takes place on the night of the King’s stay. Everything that happens in the play now is revolved around this scene.
This scene is important because it not only features the murder scene. It is also the start of the falling apart of the relationship between Macbeth and Lady Macbeth. There is a lot of tension when we see Lady Macbeth pacing about nervously, waiting for Macbeth to come back. We also see Lady Macbeth’s softer side too when she says “Had he not resembled my father as he slept, I had done’t” meaning if the King had not looked like her father she would have gone through with the murder herself. I imagine her to be looking quite sad at this point, yet nervous, for fear of still being caught. It reminds us that lady Macbeth still has some humanity because it might help the audience to understand why she does what she does at the end of the play. Lady Macbeth hears an owl screech while she is waiting for Macbeth and jumps, as she is clearly quite nervous even though earlier on in the play she says “That, which hath made them drunk, hath made me bold.”
This is obviously not the case. Lady Macbeth may say this half-jokingly and holding the cup up near to her face, which she drinks it. When Macbeth comes to meet his wife they are both nervous, yet they seem excited to, as they don’t speak in full sentences, it’s a short, sharp exchange of words. “When” , “Now” , “as, I descended” , “Aye”. His shows the audience that they are worried, nervous etc. They will at this maybe looking around them to see if there is anyone coming, or looking at each other trying to see what the other is thinking. Macbeth also still has hold of the daggers, which makes the tension in the scene increase. Macbeth can’t seem to believe he has committed such a crime as he says, “This is a sorry sight”. He is also referring to his hands, which are covered in blood, Macbeth must have been putting his head in his hands at this point for him not to notice, therefore holding them up in front of his face.
He can’t seem to forget about the murder after this point. He seems obsessed with what he has done and almost in a hypnotising state of mind. Lady Macbeth, although in a way mocks him, she stays calm and says to him “Go get some water and wash this filthy witness from your hands.” Lady Macbeth is probably pushing him to the fountain and is keeping an eye on him, as so, they won’t get caught. Macbeth knows that he might be able to get rid of the stain from his hands but not from his conscience. He says “Not all Neptune’s ocean can wash me clean”. Lady Macbeth makes fun of Macbeth for dwelling on the murder and has a go at him for being a coward. Macbeth and his wife seem to lose a connection with each other and Shakespeare has made it obvious that Macbeth is the weaker of the two characters and his and Lady Macbeth’s relationship isn’t going very well. He shows this by having Macbeth ramble on, and say long speeches.
But Lady Macbeth stays in control, she acts almost evil and without a conscience. The play seems to build up more tension by Macbeth saying that he thought he had heard a voice saying “Glamis hath murdered sleep, and therefore shall sleep no more: Macbeth shall sleep no more.” This could be Macbeth’s imagination, or him hearing another of the witches prophesies. The knocking on the door startles Macbeth, as he knows now, this could tell whether his crime is about to be found out or not. Lady Macbeth again keeps her head amongst all of this, although nervous they will be discovered. Lady Macbeth quickly returns the bloodstained daggers to Duncan’s grooms, and goes one further and says, “If he do bleed, I’ll guild the grooms with Duncan’s blood, for it must seem their guilt.”
Shakespeare has her do this to make the audience aware of how much more confident than Macbeth, Lady Macbeth is. Whereas Macbeth is still in shock of the crime he had committed. Shakespeare conveys that Lady Macbeth and Macbeth’s relationship is slowly deteriorating, as Macbeth seems to be acting crazily and Lady Macbeth seems evil and calculating and in control of the situation. The knocking still carrying on, lady Macbeth appears annoyed and urges her husband, to his chamber, where they can hide and come across as innocent to the murder if it is discovered. Shakespeare has once again let Lady Macbeth take control. Shakespeare has cleverly used language and structure of sentences manages to create a lot of tension and excitement in this scene. He uses the right language in the right places to make the characters and the play really believable.
Towards the end of the play Macbeth becomes overwhelmed by guilt and fear, he murders anyone he suspects might know. Eventually the heir to crown kills Macbeth, after Lady Macbeth has taken her own life as she is overcome by the guilt. King James and the rest of the Shakespearean audience would have wanted the murders and lies and drama, this is probably what they would have expected. Sacrilege was believed to have been punished by God. Macbeth and Lady Macbeth were the murderers so this would have added excitement; the witches added some eerieness and supernatural theme to the play. These are good choices for the play at that particular time, and it still makes it good today.
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