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How does Shakespeare create dramatic tension in Act 2, scene 2 of Macbeth?

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Introduction

Macbeth How does Shakespeare create dramatic tension in Act 2, scene 2 of 'Macbeth'? Although we do not actually witness the murder of King Duncan, Act 2 scene 2 is a very violent and intense part of Macbeth. The bloody details supplied by the audience's imagination are much worse than anything that could be done onstage; which is why the murder of Duncan is performed offstage. It is also not shown on stage to focus the audience's attention on the characters. The scene takes place at night, where the darkness creates an atmosphere that represents what is unnatural, cruel and evil. The dramatic tension of this scene brings the audience to the edge of their seats with anticipation, awaiting the news of King Duncan's death. In Act 2, scene 2 only two characters are on stage, Macbeth and Lady Macbeth. The strained discussion between them produces a dramatically tense scene. An example of this is, "My hands are of your colour; but I shame to wear a heart so white." Lady Macbeth is shown to be a strong, domineering woman without remorse or guilt. Macbeth on the other hand is seen to be the victim of fate and has no apparent control or agency over his actions. ...read more.

Middle

Tension is also created through the stagecraft of this scene. In this scene Shakespeare uses blood to bring a brutal murderous atmosphere into the play. Macbeth carries two bloody daggers onto the stage after he has committed the murder of king Duncan, "Enter Macbeth (with two bloody daggers)" The daggers and Macbeth's bloody hands symbolise death and are the very visual sign of his guilt. However, although Macbeth has committed a ferocious murder, he is filled with remorse and this brings the audience to doubt his fault. The audience is pulled apart by two contrasting emotions; not sure whether to pity Macbeth or wish him caught. Lady Macbeth runs on and off stage continuously creating a frantic atmosphere. At Lady Macbeth's first departure off stage, knocking begins. This creates dramatic tension because the audience feels the panic and distress of Macbeth. The knocking begins shortly after the murder has been committed and Lady Macbeth has gone. This contributes to the panic and distress of Macbeth because he fears that the knocking means that the murder has been discovered already. Macbeth is petrified of not only being discovered, but also of the punishments god might have in mind for him. ...read more.

Conclusion

Macbeth has murdered sleep and therefore he won't be able to sleep anymore. Shakespeare uses the term "murdered sleep" because it relates well to this scene. Macbeth has killed Duncan in his sleep and in this act he managed to kill everything that was ever good in him; sleep being the only innocent left in him. The audience don't know if they want Macbeth captured or not, this creates a tense and bewildered atmosphere. In conclusion Act 2, scene 2 is filled with tension and suspense. In the end of this scene, the audience are left with mixed emotions; unsure if they are to feel sympathy for Macbeth or if they should loathe him for his dirty deed. The audience are left in a state of anxiety and anticipation, dying to know what will happen next. Expectations should be widely spread across the room, the spectators suspecting the worst consequences for Lady Macbeth and Macbeth. In the end of this scene, Lady Macbeth rushes off stage, where Macbeth quickly follows muttering to himself, wishing king Duncan would return to life, "Wake Duncan with thy knocking: I would thou couldst." Macbeth regrets committing the murder and wishes he could bring him back to life. These final words in this scene leave the audience hanging in a state of tension. Kezia Kristine Krog 10 Palm ...read more.

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