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Macbeth - What dramatic effect does Shakespeare aim for in Act 2, scene 2, and how does he achieve it?

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Introduction

What dramatic effect does Shakespeare aim for in Act 2, scene 2, and how does he achieve it? William Brandreth Act 2 scene 2 is like the lighting of the fuse, in the story of Macbeth's self-destruction and downfall. Up to this scene Macbeth is a loyal hero, after leading Duncan's army to victory over Macdonwalds. After leading Scotland to victory Macbeth is visited by three witches, who give prophecies about him becoming Thane of Cawdor, and the King. After Macbeth is given the honour of thane of Cawdor he begins to think that the witches may be true, and he can become King. However Macbeth's hopes are dashed when Duncan pronounces that his son Malcolm will be his heir. Up to act 2 scene 2 Lady Macbeth has been the controlling force in the relationship with her husband. Evidence of this is how Macbeth sends her the letter showing his ideas of murdering Duncan; this shows how that Macbeth knows if he cannot do the murder himself, Lady Macbeth will persuade him to. This shows that Lady Macbeth is the controlling power in the relationship. However in act 2 scene 2 we see the first sign of a change in power. ...read more.

Middle

Macbeth would have been looking down on Lady Macbeth, and the effect of this would be that all again could see Macbeth's daggers including Lady Macbeth, however she is too overcome with the actual murder that she fails to notice to start with that Macbeth has the daggers, and they are separated and therefore more isolated. So the tension would be even more as they are further apart and arguing. At the beginning of act 2 scene 2 we see a soliloquy with Lady Macbeth. She has been drinking 'That which hath made them drunk hath made me bold.' Also Lady Macbeth seems to stagger around onstage, not totally in control of what see is doing. This is perhaps a sign that Lady Macbeth is finding it harder to commit the murder than she first though it would be, so she needs some drink to help her through. Lady Macbeth is talking to herself about things, 'it was the owl that shrieked, the fatal bellman.' This is and example of pathetic fallacy, Lady Macbeth has heard and owl shriek, like the fatal bellman, who used to ring a bell outside the condemned cell at Newgate prison, to signify that there would be an execution the next day, and the screeching owl is mimicking that. ...read more.

Conclusion

The scene also provides the starting point for us to see how Macbeth takes over from lady Macbeth in the relationship, and he then takes on to organising the killing and she is left not knowing what is going on. Shakespeare manages achieve getting across the importance of this scene by using a variety of methods that all link together. The use of pathetic fallacy, showing the wrongdoing of the murder also links in with making Macbeth and Lady Macbeth feel more insecure, and adds to the tension between them as they are both struggling to get the murder over with, whether fighting against each other or themselves. The physical actions on stage of the characters also add dramatically to the effect of the scene. The drunken state of Lady Macbeth, combined with the insecure blood covered Macbeth who is holding the daggers. They both move around up and downstage, and physically embracing each other in some versions trying to sort out what is going on. All this adds together to create a scene, which is full of things going on both on stage and within the characters, and as the play progresses we see these factors get more and more imposing on Macbeth and Lady Macbeth until the murder in this scene leads them both to death. ...read more.

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