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What the characters say to each other and what they say in their soliloquies adds to the amount of tension in the first two scenes of act two of Macbeth. A prime example of this is that Macbeth lies to Banquo during the early part of act two. In line 21 of scene one, Macbeth tells Banquo that he, ” Thinks not of them.” He is referring to the witches that he and Banquo met earlier in the play, who told them the prophecies.
We know that Macbeth was lying when he said this because after hearing the prophecy that he will be king after Duncan, all he has thought about was whether or not to kill the king and whether or not the prophecies could be trusted. All he has been thinking about was the witches so telling Banquo that he has not thought of them once is a blatant lie. This adds to the tension because the audience knows that Macbeth isn’t telling the truth to his supposed best friend and therefore that he has something to hide.
All through scenes one and two, Macbeth seems to have a problem with saying the word, murder. In scene one, line 48, Macbeth calls his plans to kill Duncan the, “Bloody business,” and later on in scene two, line 14, he tells Lady Macbeth that he has, “Done the deed.” This could indicate that Macbeth doesn’t really want to call it a murder because that’s what it really is. He calls it the assassination, the deed etc.
because he does not want to admit to himself that he’s planing to murder someone. This adds to tension because I think it shows that Macbeth is not in a sound state of mind and a little in denial.
Macbeth’s soliloquy in scene 1 is a mass of tension and tells the truth about Macbeth’s feelings towards what he and his wife have been planning. In lines 34 to 39, Macbeth asks a lot of questions i.e.: “Is this a dagger I see before me, the handle toward my hand?” and, “Art thou not, fatal vision, sensible to feeling as to sight?” I think that this shows Macbeth’s confusion over what to do about Duncan, his indecision. He would feel under a lot of pressure from Lady Macbeth and I think he’d be very stressed. This increases the tension by highlighting that Macbeth had begun to lose his sanity a little bit.
Shakespeare knew that using your imagination could be a powerful tool when wanting to add excitement and intrigue to a scene. The audience does not see many of the key events of scenes one and two but find out about them by listening to the characters talking. One of the most obvious events that happens “off stage” is Duncan’s death at the hands of Macbeth. At the end of scene one, we hear Macbeth say, “I go, and it is done. The bell invites me. Hear it not, Duncan, for it is a knell that summons thee to heaven or to hell.”
This is where, after scene upon scene of Macbeth’s hesitancy, he finally decides that he wants all the power and wealth of being king too much and sets off to Duncan’s room. At the beginning of scene two, we see Lady Macbeth alone somewhere Duncan’s room. Then Macbeth arrive and says, “I have done the deed.”
This leaves a big part of action out and gives the audience a chance to make their own ideas of how Duncan died. Did he wake up just as Macbeth went to stab him? Did he scream? Did Macbeth stop to consider what he was about to do? All these questions and more are answered in the minds of every single person watching the play. This is a good way of making the play more interesting because it puts the audience in the director’s chair for a few minutes. It also means that while Lady Macbeth is waiting for her spouse to come to her, there is still a possibility that Macbeth is really a good guy and changed his mind.
Macbeth and his wife completely contrast each other when the issue of guilt over Duncan’s murder arises in scene two. Macbeth wants to express how bad he is feeling to Lady Macbeth. He feels that killing Duncan is an inexcusable sin and he deserves everything he gets. This is shown in line 23, “This is a sorry sight.” Macbeth is looking at his hands which are covered in his victim’s blood and it is finally sinking in that things will never be the same again.
Lady Macbeth, on the other hand, is the opposite. When Macbeth tells her of his inability to say “Amen”, she rather insensitively replies with, “Consider it not so deeply.” She is far to preoccupied with not getting caught to be concerned with Macbeth’s little dramas.
Throughout the entire play, certain words seem to crop up all of the time. Blood happens to be one of them and in this scene, Shakespeare shows the two main characters using the word blood in opposite ways to show their guilt or lack of it as the case may be. Lady Macbeth uses ” … A little water clears us of this deed.” She is saying that if they wash the blood off of their hands, they are in the clear. What she has not realised is the emotional and mental repercussions of their crime as she is concentrating too much on the physical side of it.
Macbeth is still feeling really distraught and uses blood as a metaphor. He says, “Will all Neptune’s ocean wash this blood clean from my hand? No: this my hand will rather the multitudinous seas incarnadine, making the green one red.” . He is saying that if put his hand into the ocean, the amount of blood [guilt] on his hands will turn all of the water on Earth red.
I think Shakespeare made the couples reactions so different because he is beginning to show how Macbeth has fallen. At the start of the play, he is this great soldier who was a hero throughout the country for his performance in battle. Now he’s his snivelling wreck who has committed treason and murder. As much as he is weak, Lady Macbeth is strong.
She is completely determined to go through with the deed until the end and, at this point in the play, is totally in charge of both herself and her husband. But what we do not see is how Lady Macbeth is reacting mentally to what they have done. This would make me want to keep watching so that I could see what happened when Duncan’s body was found so I could see if Lady Macbeth starts to show remorse and to see if Macbeth gets over his grief and starts to get stronger.
Macbeth’s language shows not only his state of mind but is a clear insight into his mind. For example, if a person uses long, complicated words in conversation, it shows intellect. Macbeth is asking a lot of questions to himself which shows that he cannot decide what his next move should be. He talks a lot about evil and things that people were frightened of. He makes references to nature being dead, witchcraft, rapists and ghosts. I think that he is trying to convince himself that him killing Duncan is a less important crime when there is so much more evil in the world. Almost as if he’s trying to justify it as not such an incredible sin.
In scene two, Macbeth tells Lady Macbeth that as he was making his way to her he heard a voice say, ” Sleep no more! Macbeth does murder sleep.” As sleep is what keeps your mind sane, he’s saying that he’s upset that the voice said that he would never sleep again. The voice itself shows that Macbeth is very unhinged. The voice could be something that wasn’t really, he was hearing things, or it could have been conjured by the witches to help push him over the edge.
Macbeth’s language shows that he feels incredibly guilty and that he is very close to losing his sanity all together. This creates an electrifying atmosphere on stage between Lady Macbeth and Macbeth.
The scene ends with a lot of questions unanswered. This would make me want to keep watching so that I could see what happened when Duncan’s body was found so I could see if Lady Macbeth starts to show remorse and to see if Macbeth gets over his grief and starts to get stronger. Shakespeare used dramatic tension in an imaginative way by leaving so much unknown at the end of scene two which automatically left the audience desperate to see what the couple’s fate would be.
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