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What dramatic effect does Shakespeare aim for in Act II Sc 2 and how does he achieve it?

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Introduction

What dramatic effect does Shakespeare aim for in Act II Sc 2 and how does he achieve it? Shakespeare's 'Macbeth' was written some time between 1603 and 1606 and was his eighth tragedy in as many years, and has proved to be one of his most renowned plays of all time. It is a tragic tale of betrayal, malevolence and mystery, where a heroic soldier by the name of Macbeth becomes enwrapped in witchcraft and begins to believe the words of Hecate (the witches' god). He starts a spate of murders initially with Duncan the King of Scotland and then becomes lonely and looses everything. The scene I am going to concentrate on is Act II Sc 2; the aftermath of the murder and the climax of the play. I will look and analyse the dramatic effect that Shakespeare aims for in this scene, and how he achieves it. 'Macbeth' was written in the seventeenth century; just as James I became King, after the death of Queen Elizabeth. James was very interested in witchcraft and Scotland and hence the themes of the play, also some of James' ancestors feature in the play, such as Banquo. First Witch "When shall we three meet again? In thunder, lightning, or in rain?" This quote opens the play and is crucial to the setting of the play. ...read more.

Middle

Shakespeare introduces an unusual character at this point, the porter, whose humour and strangeness takes the edge off the tense atmosphere of the scene before it. Shakespeare using a variety of dramatic devices throughout 'Macbeth' to absolute the play. One of his most popular devices is the soliloquy; this is used to show the audience a character's feelings and emotions through a personal speech, and can sometimes show madness - This is taken from Macbeth's soliloquy at the end of Act II Sc 1; Macbeth "I go and it is done. The bell invites me. Hear it not, Duncan, for it is a knell That summons thee to heaven or to hell" This is showing Macbeth in an almost manic mood; as he professes to himself that he will murder the King, however only the audience have heard this and so adds tension, as the audience sits helpless, forced to watch. Shakespeare uses soliloquy to change the viewpoint of a scene. Viewpoint changes a lot during the play, as seen in Act II; at the end of Sc 1 all attention is focused on Macbeth, and his willingness to kill. However when Sc 2 begins the viewpoint changes to Lady Macbeth as it opens with her calm and controlled but then quickly turns and becomes jumpy and worried, completely out of character, this captures the audience's attention; Lady Macbeth "What hath quench'd them, hath give me fire. ...read more.

Conclusion

However later on as we see, she becomes obsessed with the hand washing, and eventually kills herself because of her guilt. Lady Macbeth "Out, damned spot! Out, I say! One, two. Why then 'tis time do't. Hell is murky. Fie, my lord, fie, a soldier, and afeard?" All of Shakespeare's plays were written as poetry not prose, and throughout them he used a system called iambic pentameter, or blank verse. Iambic meaning five, which indicates that sentences were usually spoken in five beats, with the predominant beat falling on the second syllable. However when characters spoke in iambic, they were usually high-ranked on the hierarchy. For example when Macbeth speaks to the murderers in Act III Sc 1, he does so in prose, "Ay, in catalogue ye go for men, As hounds, and greyhounds, mongrels, spaniels, curs, Shoughs, water-rugs, and demi-wolves are clept All by the name of dogs" Also when people were nervous they would in effect 'share' their lines - meaning that the iambic pentameter was shared between two characters, as shown here in Act II Sc 2, Lady Macbeth "Did you not speak? Macbeth When Lady Macbeth Now Macbeth As I descended?" Not only does this create tension, it also moves the plot along very quickly. Notice how descended is used and not "come down" so that it fits the iambic rule. I have thoroughly enjoyed studying Shakespeare's 'Macbeth' ...read more.

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