What is an example of dramatic irony in Act 2, Scene 2 of Macbeth?

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litteacher8 | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Dramatic Irony is when the audience or reader knows more about something than a character.  In this scene, Macbeth and Lady Macbeth are discussing killing Duncan.

A good example in Act 2 is that Duncan is going to be killed, but he doesn’t know it!  Banquo and Macbeth’s conversation is another example, because Banquo does not realize that Macbeth is plotting his death.

Finally, Act 2 Scene 2 contains dramatic irony as well.  Macbeth and Lady Macbeth are running around furiously, trying to cover up Duncan’s murder.  The audience knows that they are imagining things because of their guilt and fear, but they think that there are supernatural messages all around them.

Me thought I heard a voice cry “Sleep no more!

Macbeth doth Murder sleep”—the innocent sleep, (Act 2, Scene 2, enotes etext p. 30)

Macbeth is concerned because he could not say “amen” and Lady Macbeth is frustrated and running scared because Macbeth is talking crazy talk.

Who was it that thus cried? Why, worthy


You do unbend your noble strength, to think

So brainsickly of things. (Act 2, Scene 2, enotes etext p. 30)

Both of them hear the knocking and get frustrated by it.  Lady Macbeth comments that it will be easy to wipe the blood off her hands, foreshadowing her later descent into madness as well.


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