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Examine Act 2 Scene 2 in Detail. How does Shakespeare Create an Atmosphere of Suspense and Foreboding in this Scene?

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Introduction

English Examine Act 2 Scene 2 in Detail. How does Shakespeare Create an Atmosphere of Suspense and Foreboding in this Scene? The main theses in Act 2 Scene 2 are good and evil, light and dark, ambition, time, clothing, blood, sleep and chaos and order. The whole atmosphere of Macbeth is one of violence horror and fear, and this atmosphere is accomplished by use of darkness. Darkness symbolizes chaos, evil, treachery, disorder and going against nature which is seen as the light, innocence or the good. Macbeth and Lady Macbeth are creatures of the dark. The murder of the King is set at night; this immediately gives us a feeling of foreboding. The noises of the night, the shriek of the owl and the eerie noise of the crickets that herald death, increases the tension as Lady Macbeth waits for her husbands return. "It was the owl that shriek'd, the fatal bellman which gives that stern'st good-night". This quote shows Lady Macbeth comparing the bird of the night with the man who rings the bell outside prisoners' cells who are condemned to die. This is an ominous sign of things to come. Perhaps she is anticipating their future punishment. God symbolizes good and light and Macbeth after hearing the two servants in prayer tell his wife that he is unable to respond with "Amen". ...read more.

Middle

They add to the suspense and horror of the play. Through Macbeth's paranoia caused by the blood on his hands we see his guilt developing which leads to hallucinations. He fells that seeing them is like getting his eyes gauged out. He often repeats the word "murder" as if in a nightmare and says of his blood stained hands "What hands are here:" as if they were not his own. We can feel a sense of foreboding in this scene as we witness the beginning of his physiological deterioration. Lady Macbeth also has blood on her hands, which also has ominous overtones, as later the blood will come back to haunt her. The blood is real now but later it will symbolize their guilty consciousness which can not be washed away Chaos and order are also important themes; The Elizabethans believed that God gave everything a natural order with the King at the top. Even plants and animals were ranked according to their status in the hierarchy. A persons' health, mental and physical depended upon keeping this harmony and order. If this order is upset chaos will reign. In "Macbeth" in this scene we see him subverting God's natural order by killing the King and we realize that this will have dire consequences. ...read more.

Conclusion

They will feel a greater sense of foreboding because of this sympathy. Shakespeare uses language and imagery in this scene to create an atmosphere of suspense and foreboding. The language is rich in meaning and sound and full of pictures. For example when Macbeth declares that all the waters of the world can not wash away the blood, he says:- "This my hand will rather The multitudinous seas incarnadine, Making the green one red". The word multitudinous, meaning vastness, helps the audience imagine a vast sea stretching to the horizon and then we have a sudden close up image of a small area of water turning red, "incarnadine". This skill with language adds to the feeling of suspense as does the use of sinister words such as "hangmen", and "fatal bellman". The witches speak in rhyme often using a shorter line to give a sense that they are chanting spells. When Macbeth speaks like this he is linked to the evil of the witches. The syntax used tells us much about the speaker's mental state. Lady Macbeth's speech is jerky and broken while she waits for Macbeth. This jerky speech shows her agitation and it also build sup a great sense of suspense. The language of guilt is important in this scene, for example Macbeth repeating "Amen" and his dwelling on being unable to say this outside the servant's door shows this guilt. ...read more.

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