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Macbeth - How does Shakespeare create tension in Act 2, scenes 1 and 2?

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Introduction

How does Shakespeare create tension in Act 2, scenes 1 and 2? Shakespeare's Macbeth is a play that develops around tension all the way through. Shakespeare manages to create tension in a variety of ways in terms of the thematic aspects, linguistic aspects and dramatic aspects. Act II (scenes I and 11) is the part of Macbeth where Lady Macbeth and her husband (Macbeth) actually carry out their plans and do the deed. Instead of planning and talking about killing King Duncan of Scotland, the Macbeths go ahead and actually do it. Tension is built up before the killing in scene I and also in scene II when Macbeth reappears having done the "deed". We can see the Macbeths' reactions and feelings to their crime and if the characters are uneasy or on edge, then it adds to the tension. Act II, scene 1, starts off at night, in fact after midnight. In Shakespeare's time midnight was considered to be the "witching hour". Shakespeare's use of the concept of darkness is an excellent way of creating tension because many people have a deep founded fear of the dark. The darkness can be seen in the language, "The moon is down" and in the Royal Shakespeare Company production of Macbeth an eerie atmosphere is created through dim lighting. ...read more.

Middle

know more than the characters do. Another key point at this moment in the play, where Macbeth and Banquo are speaking, is the tone they speak to each other in. They speak to each other in a very polite, formal way, which shows how nervous they are; this in turn communicates itself to the audience. The soliloquy is a very poignant part of Act II, scene I and for Shakespeare it is a crucial way in which he can create tension. Basically Macbeth thinks he sees a bloody dagger in mid air, which seems to be leading him to Duncan's chamber. Tension is created, as the audience can see that Macbeth is hallucinating, which will clearly make them think that Macbeth is being deeply psychologically affected by the plan to murder King Duncan. Macbeth himself even exclaims, "Or art thou a dagger of the mind, a false creation". The soliloquy includes the line "And on thy blade and dudgeon gouts of blood". These are very grim words, which add to the tension. Words such us "blood" and blade" are very strong connotations of violence. They create an evil, horrible image of death in the mind of those in the audience. ...read more.

Conclusion

This because it creates more dubiety about the murder - I would rather remain sceptical as to whether it has occurred or not. In Act II, scene II, Duncan's murder takes place. The audience would be over come with anticipation and extremely eager to find out what happens next. At this point they are questioning whether or not Macbeth has stooped low enough to kill his King. The scene starts off with a defiant Lady Macbeth stating, "That which hath made them drunk hath made me bold". She doesn't know whether Macbeth has followed through with their plans. She waits alone in anticipation on the stage. This creates suspense and is crucial to the dramatic aspect of the play. Macbeth on the other hand is off stage. Shakespeare structures it cleverly so that the audience sees characters on their own and together. He shows Macbeth's worry through his line, "Who's there". This shows Macbeth's great concern that someone is there who might disturb him and identify him as the murderer. Lady Macbeth starts to become agitated and her optimism is gradually fading. She wonders whether the plan might have failed - and Shakespeare shows this by Lady Macbeth saying lines such as "I laid their daggers ready" and "He could not miss them". These show her real desperation at this point. ...read more.

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