Analysis of Act 2 Scene 2 of Macbeth

Analysis of Act 2 Scene 2 of Macbeth
Act 2, scene 2, in the play of Macbeth, is a fairly significant scene, in which to mark the changes of the two characters, Macbeth and Lady Macbeth. Their minds and feelings are portrayed in this scene. It helps to show the role, which they play and to what degree they have been affected by the witches? prophecies. Act 2, Scene 2, takes place in the home of Macbeth as a result to the murder of Duncan. It is interesting that Shakespeare chose to have the murder of Duncan taking place offstage. This scene is also significant in ways to show the reactions of the two characters to their crime and sin. The murder of Duncan possibly took place off stage to cause the dramatic impact to increase within the audience and let them imagine it as grotesquely as they wanted to. At the time, it would have seemed highly erratic, unacceptable and dishonourable to show the murder of a King and the audience would have been horrified at seeing such a thing taking place. Using hindsight, we see that as the play progresses and more murders take place, they begin to be revealed more on stage as the number of murders increase. The murder of Duncan takes place completely off-stage, the murder of Banquo takes place on stage but in complete darkness, whereas the murder of Lady Macduff and her children takes place under the light of the stage for the audience to see.
This gradual increase in visualisation of the murders can also help to show the change in Macbeth, the increase in ruthlessness of his character, his remorseless and unmerciful actions. Act 2 Scene 2 shows more dramatic tension than murder of Duncan. The reactions and dialogues of Macbeth and Lady Macbeth have to murder of Duncan has more relevance to the play than the deed itself. The scene begins with Lady Macbeth by herself. ? What hath quenched them hath given me fire ? In this line Lady Macbeth is saying that she has the energy and courage inspired by liquor to cope with what she has done to cause the murder of Duncan. She appears to be in a very uneasy and hesitant state, claiming to be bold and courageous yet jumps to the sound of an owl. Owls, are birds of night, and are recognised as ill omens. The owl is compared to a bellman, which is a person recognised as to ring the bell before an execution. It is possible; that Shakespeare meant Duncan to be killed at this exact point as in the previous scene Macbeth is on his way to kill Duncan. Lady Macbeth says ?He is about it?, using the term ?it? to relate to the murder. It is as if she?s too scared to say the word. It seems as if the word ?it? is more comforting to her than ?murder? to help her feel slightly more relaxed at knowing what she and her husband Macbeth have done. As Macbeth enters the room the tension and nervousness is immediately noticeable. From the use of dashes, we can see that the speech is very broken up. This shows the nerves of the two characters and we see hesitation in their speech. Lady Macbeth claims that she would have done the deed if Duncan had not looked like her father whilst sleeping. This shows weaknesses in her character; she was not able to do it herself as emotion and feelings overcame her. This show of weakness helps for us to see that Lady Macbeth could possibly be a downfall to Macbeth in the future or will not be able to cope with what is to come later during the play. The presence of dashes and broken, quick sentences still creates an impression of anxiety and unease while they are speaking. Whilst speaking with Lady Macbeth, Macbeth also refers to the murder as ?the deed?, to try and comfort himself by not making it sound as bad as it was. Lady Macbeth in these lines refers back to owls and to crickets. Just as owls, crickets are another creature of ill omen. At this point, Macbeth seems not so sure of himself, or his actions. He seemed not to know whether he agreed with his actions or regretted doing it. From looking at his hands we see this. He says, ?This is a sorry site?, showing regret, uncertainty and brings out some of the emotions left inside him. The couple speaks of a stir and disruption of the sleep of the King?s sons. This helps to show the disruption of nature. ?As they had seen me with these hangman?s hands. Listening their fear. I could not say ?Amen,? when they did say, ?God bless us!?? From this quotation, we see that Macbeth has realised that his actions were about to cause him to be outside the protection of God. He is unable to say ?Amen? as he knows what he is about to do is such an act of evil that God would never forgive him for such a thing. He refers to his hands as ?hangman?s hands.? A Hangman?s hands were bloody from pulling out the victims? entrails and then cutting up the body. Macbeth repeats the idea of not being able to say Amen, as if he?s obsessed with the idea that he?s done such a bad thing. Towards the end of the scene, Macbeth and Lady Macbeth begin to speak much of hands and cleanliness. Macbeth?s hands are covered in blood just as Lady Macbeth?s become. He can wash off the blood but can?t wash off the guilt. The sea would turn red trying to wash off the stains on his hands. Cleanliness is seen as an act of purification. By having dirty hands forever, he would never be pure. Lady Macbeth does not see it as this. She only looks at the physical aspects of the blood. ?A little water clears us of this deed; How easy is it then!? The last line of the scene, ?Wake Duncan with thy knocking: I would thou couldst!? Macbeth shows from this line that he regrets what he has done. As well as speaking much of hands, they also both speak of sleep. Using hindsight we see that both have trouble sleeping in the future. Sleeping helps to put right worries and to cleanse the body. Macbeth and Lady Macbeth would never be totally clean and found sleep did not help. Macbeth heard a voice saying his name, that he would sleep no more after doing such a deed. It may Macbeth?s own conscience that causes him to hear this. It could be that Macbeth?s mind has begun the step from good to evil and so his mind plays with his conscience or possibly it is the effect of the supernatural. Lady Macbeth believes he is being naïve like a child as it is just a picture or sound in his mind.

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