In this piece of coursework I am going to respond to the questions asked. In the lead up to this scene, the audience are waiting for Macbeth to kill Duncan, they have been since the beginning of the play, when Macbeth first thought about killing Duncan. Also they have met lady Macbeth and know that she is evil. She also doubts Macbeth’s courageous to carry out the murder. Therefore, the audience wonder whether he will kill Duncan or not, this builds tension.
Act 2, Scene 2 is an important scene because it reinforces the relationship between Macbeth and lady Macbeth. Lady Macbeth seems to be the “boss” of Macbeth and she clearly organises the murder. But Macbeth is now seen as the evil one as he commits treason. Everything that happens in the rest of the play is a result of the murder of Duncan. There is no going back for Macbeth and everyone is against him.
I will now breakdown the seen and talk about different sections of it. In one of the first lines it says “It was the owl that shriek’d, the fatal bellman”, It is believed that death is imminent when the owls shriek is heard and gives the audience an idea that the murder will be committed soon. Also it says “The surfeited grooms do mock their charge with snores”, this implies that the grooms are almost mocking the king as they are asleep and snoring whilst the king is about to be murdered.
Lady Macbeth says she would’ve committed the murder if the king hadn’t have resembled her father in his sleep, I think this is a cowardly excuse to make Macbeth look like the coward in front of the audience. I think that it gets pretty tense when Macbeth and Lady Macbeth have this conversation, “Lady Macbeth: did not you speak. Macbeth: when? Lady Macbeth: now. Macbeth: as I descended? Lady Macbeth: ay.” They are very simple one-word answers and make the atmosphere tense.
I think it is an important part of the scene when Macbeth can’t say the word “amen”. I think he regrets killing the king and has a sub-conscious guilt, also he says, “I am afraid to think what I have done” which also proves he feels guilty. Because he could not say Amen he will probably go to hell.
At the part when somebody knocks at the castle’s gate. Macbeth is surprised and horrified, he says, “Whence is that knocking”, Macbeth and the audience are afraid that he will get caught red handed, especially because Macbeth now regrets committing treason. We get a sense of guilt when Macbeth says, “Will all great Neptune’s ocean wash this blood clean from my hands?” This quote is a hyperbole meaning that the blood has stained his hands forever and nothing can wash it off.
When lady Macbeth returns she is very cold. The audience are shocked by it. But she is still following the plan, “A little water clears us of this deed”. However, later on in the play she goes mad. She isn’t as tough as she made out and she cannot forgive her self for playing the role she did in this murder. Also Macbeth is still regretting it as he says “Wake Duncan with thy knocking! I would thou couldst!” This would make the audience feel nervous of what is going to happen to the Macbeth’s as they are both regretting it.
Finally, I think this is a very successful scene as it gets the audience feeling mixed emotions. At the start of the scene the audience disliked the Macbeth’s for killing the king, then at the end of the scene they are nervous about the Macbeth’s getting caught because they regret committing treason. I think that the Macbeth’s should confess that they killed the king as it was the wrong thing to do and they let the power get to their head’s. I think it got very tense at times, like when Macbeth returned from killing the king, it was all very quiet and the conversation between the Macbeth’s was very plain and not much was being said.