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Macbeth. How Does Shakespeare create tension in Act 2 Scene 1? and Act 2 Scene 2?

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Lauren Dowse Thursday 4th February How Does Shakespeare create tension in Act 2 Scene 1? and Act 2 Scene 2? "Macbeth" by William Shakespeare is a play that creates a real sense of fear. Written for James I it is a controversial play based on the actions of his ancestors and steeped in the supernatural. The fact that the main themes are witchcraft, possession by evil spirits, the murder of a king and the violent obsessions of tyrant create a brutal and tense plot. Shakespeare keeps the audience in suspense by his development of character and a series or dramatic devices. Act 2 Scene 1 and 2 are particularly tense as Macbeth awaits Lady Macbeths signal to go to kill King Duncan and then later when the murder has been committed. These scenes are pirotal to the plot because without the murders taking place the repercussions won't take place. The opening dialogue sets the scene, It is past midnight, the moon has set, and the "candles" of heaven , the stars ,cannot be seen. Symbolically, the lightness that greeted Duncan's arrival at the castle in Act I has completely vanished, to be replaced by gloomy darkness. In this opening scene of Act II, the audience feels temporarily suspended from the action but in no way removed from the power of emotion as the innocent Banquo and his son pass the time of night. ...read more.


The references to "ghosts" too make it clear that Macbeths between hell and earth otherwise known as limbo. The soliloquy is broken by return to reality the bell "death knell" almost shocks him bringing him back to the present and to the "bloody business". Here Shakespeare appeals to the audiences senses by almost shocking because we know he and the audience are waiting for the bell but shocks both when it happens. Shakespeare uses images of death and a series of rhetorical questions to create a sense of self doubt, nervousness and fear which all help to create tension. "Is this a dagger I see before me, the handle towards my hand?" He uses three rhetorical questions which adds to the audiences concern over Macbeth's state of mind. Is he going insane or is he possessed? The tension is continued in Act 2 Scene 2. The audience never see Duncan's murder but presume it is brutal. Scene 2 is after the death of the king and shows the response of the characters. One factor that shows this is the use of speech; Shakespeare creates tension by the use of dialogue rather than images and soliloquy. At this point Lady Macbeth is on her own on stage .Lady Macbeth's opening words introduce a new level of emotional strength, the original leader is now waiting nervously on stage waiting to hear from Macbeth. ...read more.


The second area of Macbeth's concern is the bloodiness of the deed and in particular the fact that his own hands that show witness to the unnatural deed of murder. Again, for Lady Macbeth, blood is only like paint used to cover the picture of death and can be easily washed off. But Macbeth is aware of the deep stain beneath the surface. His ability for recognizing the length that he went to, which indicates his later remark that he is "in blood stepped in so far," is missing in Lady Macbeth. At this point, the knocking begins. Like the beating of the heart the noise is partly the knocking of their consciences and partly an actual knocking. Symbolically, the knocking is the knocking of justice, or of vengeance it then refers to the audiences sense of hearing the knocking becomes more frantic which then makes the tension rise. Shakespeare creates tension by using a series of dramatic devices which help to draw the audience in and create a realistic sense. Act 2 scenes 1 and 2 are pivotal to the play as without the murder Macbeth would not take power. This play has a significal historical context as James 1 was related to Banquo but also was obsessed and unnerved by the supernatural. It has comtempory significance and is still important in modern audience because it includes elements and flows in human nature such as betrayal, tragedy and ambition. ...read more.

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