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How does Shakespeare create dramatic tension inAct 2 Scene 1 and 2?

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How does Shakespeare create dramatic tension in Act 2 Scene 1 and 2? In this essay I will discuss how Shakespeare uses dramatic tension in Act 2 Scene 1 and 2, and the effects it has on the audience. In the first scene, Banquo and his son, Fleance, are on their way to bed after a leaving King Duncan in his room, in Macbeth's castle. On their way they meet Macbeth with a servant, in the courtyard. Banquo brings up in the conversation how he can't sleep properly after hearing the witches prophesy. Macbeth hints that he looks for Banquo's support in future, but Banquo makes it clear that he will only act honourably. As soon as Macbeth is alone, he imagines that he sees a dagger, which is leading him to Duncan's room. Macbeth's mind is in turmoil as whether to commit the murder or not. When he hears the signal his mind is made up, and he goes to Duncan's room to murder him. In the second scene, Lady Macbeth has finished making the preparations for Duncan's murder and is waiting for Macbeth to return. When Macbeth returns, he's distracted. He has murdered Duncan, and is now plagued with thoughts of his eternal damnation. Lady Macbeth instantly takes control of the situation and tells Macbeth to pull himself together, before someone finds out what he has done. He then reveals to daggers which he has brought away with him from Duncan's room, this potentially endangers the plan. When he refuses to take them back, as he can't face what he has done, Lady Macbeth agrees to do it for him. Once she returns, with blood-stained hands, the silence is disturbed by a succession of loud bangs at the Castle gates. They both panic and devise a plan, to put on their nightclothes and go to bed, which would alleviate all suspicion from them. ...read more.


Lady Macbeth herself has also had some wine, but she feels bold and fierce, not drunk and sleepy. Not only did Lady Macbeth drug the grooms, she made sure that they were fast asleep and that the doors to the King's bedchamber were open. Then she rang the bell to summon Macbeth. Because of all that she has done, she can practically see each step Macbeth takes. As she waits to discover if Macbeth has done the murder, she hears something, the screech of an owl. [5]"Hark! Peace! It was the owl that shrieked, the fatal bellman, Which gives the sternest good-night. He is about it". When she says "Hark!" she's telling herself to listen, and then when she says "Peace!" she's telling herself to be quiet, so that she can hear what she's listening for. The cry of an owl was thought to announce a death, and a "fatal bellman" was a night watchman who rang a bell at midnight to call a prisoner to his hanging. and she takes that as a good omen, because the owl is nature's own "fatal bellman". This creates tension as we suspect that Macbeth is committing murder. Lady Macbeth is glad to hear the cry of the owl, believing that it signifies, her husband must be "about it," committing the murder at that very moment. Now, where Macbeth waited for his wife's bell, she waits for the news that he has killed the King. Suddenly she hears Macbeth, [6]"Who's there? what ho!" Just as Lady Macbeth thinks she heard something, so now Macbeth thinks he hears someone, and he's trying to check it out. Immediately, Lady Macbeth assumes the worst, that the grooms have awakened before the murder has been done, and that all will be lost. This causes tension as Lady Macbeth doubts her husband which she has never done before, and becomes nervous, worrying the audience. ...read more.


He's unresponsive, and seems lost in his thoughts. She tells him to snap out of it, but he can't. As he is being led away, by Lady Macbeth, he says that, [22]"To know my deed, 'twere best not know myself". This means that if he fully understands what he has done, he will see what a monster he has become, and he doesn't want to know that monster. He is in denial. As we hear the knocking again, Macbeth wishes none of it had ever happened, and he calls out [23]"Wake Duncan with thy knocking! I would thou couldst!". This shows that Macbeth fells that he is still not to blame. This creates tension due to Macbeth's denial, he may lay the blame on Lady Macbeth, this would cause tension in their marriage and may cause her to control Macbeth, more than she already does. Throughout these two scenes Shakespeare creates tension by creating a dark, intense, sinister atmosphere, he sets the scene. This makes you expect that something sinister will take place. The doubt and then denial that plagues Macbeth, also causes some tension as to whether he will go ahead with the murder. This build up makes the scene much more intense. Macbeth's denial worries the audience that Macbeth will tell someone what he did, because he can't accept or live with his actions. The murder is a weight on his conscience. The breakdown of Iambic pentameter, stresses how everything Macbeth once had, pride and loyalty, has now been lost. Macbeth's obsession with blood and his wife's sudden doubt in him, causes the audience to worry if Macbeth will go mad and tell someone what he has done or get caught. These tensions make these scenes more dramatic which allows the audience to feel more involved, like in Macbeth's soliloquy. People get an insight into his mind, and deepest, darkest thoughts and feelings. These tensions make the play much more intense and believable. Therefore allowing people to shows some sympathy and associate more with the characters. ...read more.

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