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How does Shakespeare make Act 2, Scenes 2 and 3 so exciting and dramatic

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Introduction

How does Shakespeare make Act 2 Scenes 2 and 3 of Macbeth so exciting and dramatic? Macbeth is one of many plays and sonnets, written by William Shakespeare, and performed between 1606 and 1611. The play sees a reversal of fortune for King Macbeth of Scotland, following the regicide of King Duncan. Shakespeare uses a combination of themes and dramatic devices in order to excite his audience; many of which would have been particularly poignant in 17th Century Britain. I will explore the extent of these conventions in this essay. Historians know that Shakespeare based Macbeth on fact: 11th Century Scotland was indeed a violent and troubled country, which was divided into territories, which feuding families and clans fought to control. Political murder and regicide were commonplace at the time. 17th Century Britain was very much a patriarchal society; the typical stereotype of 'man', borne out of history would have been strived to be upheld. King James I succeeded Queen Elizabeth I in 1603, and was already King of Scotland at the time. Macbeth is said to have been performed before King James in 1606. One of the underlying themes of the play is Witchcraft, and the supernatural. King James was fascinated by Witchcraft; in 1597 he published 'Demonology'. A book on the subject, and ordered it's immediate printing after taking the throne. He was also a firm believer in the divine right of kings: that kings were second only to God, and that it was him who had entrusted his power in them to rule the country. ...read more.

Middle

Ambiguity is evident at the beginning of scene 3, because Macbeth begins to equivocate. In reply to Lennon's reference to the unnatural happenings of the previous night Macbeth simply states that "'twas a rough night". Shakespeare uses this equivocation in order to confuse the audience: is Macbeth referring to the murder of King Duncan?, or is he simply agreeing with Lennon? The word "rough" is effective, because it relates directly to Lennox's description of the "unruly" night, where "lamentings" could be "heard i'th'air, strange screams of death". The fact that Lennox uses the word 'death' is ironic because the audience knows that Duncan has recently been murdered. Lennox' speech is of great importance because it uses the supernatural in order to render the brutality of the regicide - thus highlighting the theme of guilt. Lennox goes on to describe "prophesying with accents terrible", by using the word "prophesying", Lennox makes reference to the supernatural, which is quite ironic, because Macbeth's future has in fact been prophesised by the Witches. Whether or not the Witches knew or intended that Macbeth murder Duncan is not known, however it is not important because of the fact that it is only him and Banquo that know about it. The fact that the natural order has been disrupted brings attention to the scale of the King Duncan's murder; to suggest that murdering a King would physically disrupt nature would have really excited the audience - especially King James, who was a believer in the divine right of kings. ...read more.

Conclusion

At first Macbeth agrees. But later Macbeth wavers in his decision, however Lady Macbeth is sure that being King is what Macbeth really wants and that this is the best for both of them. So, in response to Macbeth's uncertainty, Lady Macbeth manipulates him by questioning his manhood and his love for her. She is successful because regardless of his own conscience Macbeth carries out their plan of murder. Lady Macbeth is used purposely in order to further the theme of man, by playing on Macbeth's emotions. Her desire to be "unsexed here", would have thought to be a very profound request for a woman of noble birth to make. Through wishing to have her gender removed so that she could commit the ultimate crime: regicide, does show having the intent to do so is so unnatural and forbidden that she must have her sex removed and become a man in order to perform it. When Macbeth returns to their chamber she goes back to the murder scene and cleverly smears the grooms with Duncan's blood. However, her morals had prevailed just a while before as revealed through her comment that she would have killed Duncan herself had he not "resembled her father as he slept". The almost superhuman strength Lady Macbeth rallies for the occasion and her artful and sly ability are shown through her meticulous attention to detail regarding the murder. Even her name is ironic: the word 'Lady' brings with it certain connotations of good and saintly characteristics, however, this is a far cry from the character that Shakespeare manipulates for the audience. ...read more.

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