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Consider the scenes in which Duncan is murdered Act 2 scene 1 and 2. How do the language, characters and imagery create an atmosphere of fear and tension?

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Amy Gallivan 10j Mrs Watkins English coursework Macbeth Question Consider the scenes in which Duncan is murdered Act 2 scene 1 and 2. How do the language, characters and imagery create an atmosphere of fear and tension? In August 1606 the play, "Macbeth" was performed for King James 1st of England. It is a dramatic, suspense filled murder tale written by one of the best writers of the 17th century, William Shakespeare. It is an old story that Shakespeare has twisted to involve evil, witchcraft and the supernatural, which were very popular at the time. The play begins with the King's army engaged in battle against Norway; a battle for which Macbeth and his best friend Banqo are commended and praised by the king for their bravery in the great victory. However, on their way from the battleground the two men encounter three witches - "the weird sisters" - whose prophecy for Macbeth was not only that he would become thane of Cawdor, but also King. They then predicted that Banqo's children would also become Kings. These prophesies play on Macbeth's mind and when he is named thane of Cawdor he begins to think of the "golden round". When his wife lady Macbeth hears of the news, she instantly forms a plan in her mind. When further news arrives that king Duncan is on his way to Macbeth's castle for a banquet, she sees an opportunity and her plan becomes a clear possibility. ...read more.


Macbeth then performs a soliloquy. The language Shakespeare uses in this passage creates an atmosphere, as you can tell that Macbeth is disturbed by the vision from what he is saying. Shakespeare uses phrases such as "fatal vision" , "heat oppressed" meaning disturbed, "gouts of blood" and "bloody business" to build a picture of death, danger and mystery. Macbeth ends the soliloquy by hearing the bell which his wife rings as a signal and saying "hear it not, Duncan for it is a knell that summons thee to heaven or to hell." This is an important statement as until now we have not yet heard whether Macbeth intends to kill Duncan. This tells us his decision has been made. At the beginning of scene two, Lady Macbeth has a short soliloquy in which Shakespeare uses language to show that she does not have any remorse for what her husband is about to do. It is clear that she has no conscience when she states "death and nature do contend about them whether they live, or die", showing that she did not care if the servants died. When Macbeth re-enters the scene he is already regretting what he has done. Dwelling on the fact that when he heard somebody in the next chamber praying before he went to sleep Macbeth could not say Amen at the end "I had most need of blessing and 'amen' stuck in my throat". ...read more.


At the beginning of scene one in act two, we see the imagery begin with Banqo and his son Fleance discussing the night. The words "the moon is down" and "the candles are out" instantly gives the image of darkness. Also the dramatic talk of weapons mentioned in the lines "give me my sword" and "Hold, take my sword" conjure up images of danger. During Macbeth's soliloquy he has hallucinations, such as seeing a dagger in front of him covered in blood. This produces images of murder and death. Often it is what Shakespeare does not write that creates the image. He does not describe the murder at all, just the aftermath, so when Macbeth enters in the next scene with the daggers, covered in blood, the readers mind immediately begins to form pictures of the murder. When Macbeth and Lady Macbeth begin to describe the scene of the murder giving little bits of information like the fact that the two people in the next chamber had woken the picture becomes clearer. After the murder has taken place, Macbeth expresses the extent of his guilt by asking "will all great Neptune's ocean wash this blood clean from my hand?" The image created by Shakespeare of a vast ocean shows the audience how overwhelmed Macbeth is at what he has done. Shakespeare creates atmosphere for his audience through the use of his characters, language and imagery. He describes things so well that the audience really feel the fear,tension, mystery and suspense of the play. ...read more.

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