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Macbet Act II Scene II

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Macbeth; Act 2 Scene 2 This scene was one of the most significant, as it the scene where Macbeth murders Duncan, but feels remorse and guilt afterwards. The murder is not shown so that it is left to the audience's imagination. Also, to signify that the murder has taken place, an owl shrieks. This was thought to be a sign of a bad omen, and it suggests that it is upsetting the natural balance of things (at that time people believed that everything had a natural order and to change this would change other things), as even the natural world knows that Duncan has been murdered. Shakespeare creates tension by setting the scene at night so that when Macbeth returned, Lady Macbeth did not know who it was at first and for a moment she thinks that Macbeth had not succeeded in killing Duncan and the attendants had woken up, and she says; "...th'attempt and not the deed confounds us..." meaning that if Macbeth only tried to murder Duncan and did not succeed then they would be ruined. Macbeth's character so far is shown as noble and loyal, as in act 1 scene 2 Macbeth is talked about as being; "A good and hardy soldier" (line 4). In reward for his greatness, Duncan awards Macbeth the title of Thane of Cawdor (as the witches predicted). Macbeth does have some ambition, because when the witches tell him he is going to be king, he wants to speak more to Banquo about it. ...read more.


The words 'I have done the deed' suggest that he cannot bring himself to admit what he has done. The words 'didst thou not hear a noise?' suggest that he expected to be caught, and that someone would have heard and come after him. His conversation with Lady Macbeth is that he is in some way shocked about what has happened. He says what he heard, and in lines 38-39, and 33-34, Lady Macbeth talks to him but he doesn't hear her as he is too deep in his own thoughts. Macbeth uses short, sharp sentences; like "... when?...As I descended?...Hark, who lies i'th'second chamber?...This is a sorry sight..." (lines 17, 19, 21 and 23), because he is repeating what happened, and he is very distraught about what he has done. This effects the audience by creating tension, as Macbeth seems to have gone mad. In lines 29-36 Macbeth says how he could not pronounce 'Amen' after someone cried 'God bless us'. This shows that Macbeth does not feel he deserves God's blessings, as he is too evil. In lines 38-46, Macbeth says that he heard a voice saying that he had murdered sleep. This shows his guilt that he will never be able to sleep again, and his remorse, as he shall never have peace from what he has done. Lady Macbeth's reaction is to tell him not to keep thinking about these thoughts, and to reassure him. She is aware that they must put the daggers back, so at this point she has no guilt or remorse. ...read more.


It is also the start of Macbeth's journey from good to evil. At this point his guilt is at its highest, and later he is a bloody tyrant. This is because Lady Macbeth reassures him that once this is done everything will be fine, so he kills because he feels he has to, but later he kills because he is angry (act 4 scene 2). Lady Macbeth also changes. In the beginning, she is in control and has no conscience, but in the end, she is so out of control and so guilty that she kills herself. Her change is also shown by her speech, as in act 2, scene 2, line 70, she says; "a little water clears us of this deed", whereas in act 5, scene 1, lines 44-45, she says:" all the perfumes in Arabia will not sweeten this little hand". Also, she begins to sleepwalk and acts out washing her hands. Finally, in act 5, scene 9, lines 37-38, Malcolm says about Lady Macbeth; "by self and violent hands took off her life". This has a double meaning for the audience, as it means Lady Macbeth killed herself, but it could also be interpreted and by her violence and her guilt (of her 'blood-stained' hands) she killed her soul. The ending of act 2 scene 2 creates dramatic tension by ending with Macbeth and Lady Macbeth both in different frames of mind; Lady Macbeth making sure they don't get caught and Macbeth lost in thought and guilty over what he has done. ...read more.

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