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Macbeth Coursework How does Shakespeare create dramatic tension in Act 2 Scene 2 of Macbeth? In Act 2 Scene 2, Lady Macbeth waits for the return of her husband from his 'deed'. The importance of the scene comes when (like her husband) Lady Macbeth's ambition for power leads her into an abnormal realm of inhumane behaviour. Whilst Macbeth becomes more fascinated with the witches, it becomes more apparent that his wife has become similar - with her unfeminine actions and thoughts. The contrast is powerful, yet both work together in the desperate campaign for power over Scotland, until the unfolding of the tragedy. Then, not content with being Thane of Glamis and Thane of Cawdor, the man strives to become the third of the witch's claims - a King. Shakespeare's use of metaphors emphasise the quick, and highly charged atmosphere that comes about after Macbeth descends from above, where he has just "done the deed". The fact that the audience don't see the actual murder take place heightens the tension further. Use of dialogue like "It was the owl that shrieked" - "the fatal bellman", shows that the comparison between the two is uncanny and the fact that Lady Macbeth has had time to compare the two whilst other thoughts are going through her mind, shows that she has planned at least some aspect of this. ...read more.


It is in Act II Scene II where we see Macbeth's strange behaviour and differing character. He is seen to be particularly weak and is constantly hearing and seeing images of the murder, and its consequences and he soon senses a depth of guilt. It is worse though, when Macbeth looks at his hands. He recognises the significance of the blood on his hands, by saying "Will all great Neptune's ocean wash this blood Clean from my hand? No, this my hand will rather The multitudinous seas incarnadine, Making the green one red." This co-incides with the 'knocking' on the door, which easily disturbs Macbeth's fragile state of mind - Coupled with the fact that Macduff (who is the person making the noise and who eventually murders Macbeth), it effectively represents the consequences that there will be for Macbeth, when his deed has been investigated. It is even more devastating when his wife mocks his fear and tells him she would be ashamed to have a heart as white as his. She then exploits the fact that she is most acquainted with Macbeth's disposition with Macbeth, by realising he will be incapable of overcoming this deed, and by once again, influencing him with remarks such as "a little water clears us of this deed", which is clearly a lie. ...read more.


Shakespeare also uses stage effects, for example the knocking on the door, is representative of not only the fact that Macbeth will actually be convicted of the murder later on in the play, but also that "knocking on the door" may be symbolic of Macbeth's death, as 'knocking on the door' can mean coming close to death. This idea is supported when we see the Kings as the divine right of God, i.e. King Duncan's power coming directly from God. Shakespeare also uses imagery and personification for effect. The uses of sleep and prayer as motifs where Duncan won't come back and not being able to "wash thy hands" even with the sea, greatly exaggerates the situation and utilises the fact that the murder reaches further than the imagination. He also uses repeated words and short phrases for effect. An example is when at the beginning of the play between the opening line and line 20, there is a rapid procession of words, using the urgency and indecisiveness of the characters to full effect. The short exchanges between Macbeth and his wife are evidence of the loss of control shown by Macbeth. It is during this again that Shakespeare makes Macbeth look at his hands and feel guilt and grievance for the murder of his King, a king who was revered by his subjects. ...read more.

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