In Act 2, scene 1, how does the setting affect the plot of the story in Macbeth?I'm just having some trouble finding any meaning in the setting. Please feel free to include a description of the...

1 Answer | Add Yours

litteacher8's profile pic

Posted on

In Act 2, the action moves to Inverness.  When the action moves to Macbeth’s castle, his influence on the story is shown and the story begins to be Macbeth-driven.

Inverness is the name of Macbeth’s castle.  It is described as having a “pleasant seat” by Duncan when he drives up to it in Act 1, Scene 6.  However, at that time the action still centers around Duncan, because they are not actually in the castle yet.  So Duncan’s lack of suspicion and optimism color his opinions of it.  Banquo agrees with Duncan at this point, saying that the martlets “do approve,” and both men seem to smell good things, hear good things, and see good things.

Once inside, at the beginning of Act 2, things shift.  Banquo is commenting that he can’t sleep.

A heavy summons lies like lead upon me,

And yet I would not sleep. Merciful powers,

Restrain in me the cursed thoughts that nature

Gives way to in repose! (Act 2, Scene 1, p. 26)

 When Macbeth shows up, Banquo asks who’s there and he wants to draw his sword but Macbeth answers that it is a “friend” (p. 26).  However, this too foreshadows the trouble to come as these two begin to suspect each other of betrayal after Macbeth murders Duncan.  Banquo tells Macbeth that he dreamt of the witches, and Macbeth lies.

I think not of them:

Yet, when we can entreat an hour to serve,

We would spend it in some words upon that business,

If you would grant the time. (Act 2, Scene 1, p. 27)

The next thing we know, Macbeth is hallucinating the dagger that will lead him to kill Duncan.  The fact that Duncan is at Macbeth’s castle is significant because Macbeth could not have killed him as easily otherwise, and this scene shifts the focus of the action from Duncan-centric to Macbeth-centric.  From here on out, Macbeth’s whims and bloodlust run the show.


We’ve answered 324,369 questions. We can answer yours, too.

Ask a question