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In what ways is the feeling of horror revealed and made impressive at the beginning of...

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forshame417 | Student, Grade 10 | eNoter

Posted February 18, 2012 at 9:39 AM via web

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In what ways is the feeling of horror revealed and made impressive at the beginning of Scene Two.

I belive one way would be when Lady Macbeth says, "It was the owl that shrieked, the fatal bellman, Which gives the stern’st good-night", but that's all I can find.

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fezziwig | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Assistant Educator

Posted February 19, 2012 at 1:18 AM (Answer #1)

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The Act in question here is Act II, scene ii; this is the murder scene, and there is much that Shakespeare does in this Act to develop the feeling of horror.

Added to the quote from Lady Macbeth you have used, she states that "Had he not resembled / My father as he slept, I had done't." These lines reveal the horror of the fact that Lady Macbeth actually goes into Duncan's chamber with the intent of murdering him; the thought of this is quite horrific.

But what really develops the horrific atmosphere of this scene is the short lines shortly after Macbeth returns after murdering Duncan; note the lines and how abrupt they are. Macbeth comes back and states,

Macbeth:

I have done the deed. Didst thou not hear a noise?

Lady Macbeth:

I heard the owl scream and the crickets cry.

Did not you speak?

Macbeth:

When?

Lady Macbeth:

Now.

Macbeth:

As I descend?

Lady Macbeth:

Ay.

Macbeth:

Hark!

These short lines, when read in quick succession as they should be, develop a horrific feeling. The hearts of the Macbeths are racing with fear at this point, for not only do the short lines quicken our heart beats, but the fact that they heard such sounds are truly terrifying. Lady Macbeth hears the "owl scream" and Macbeth hears someone speaking; Shakespeare truly knows how to arouse fear in the audience in this scene.

And then Macbeth's state of mind adds to the horror of the scene for he is truly shaken by what he has done, and indirectly states it by saying

Macbeth has murdered sleep.

Lady Macbeth responses by asking

What do you mean?

And Macbeth answers with

Still it cried 'Sleep no more!' to all the house;

'Glamis hath murdered sleep, and therefore Cawdor

Shall sleep no more, Macbeth shall sleep no more.'

It is obvious that at this point Macbeth is in a state of hysteria; he even brings with him from the murder scene the daggers, which when Lady Macbeth commands him to take back, he states

I'll go no more

I am afraid to think of what I have done;

Look on't again I dare not.

While Lady Macbeth is returning the daggers, Macbeth hears a knocking at the south entry of his castle, which is unnerving for him and the audience; thus the horror of this scene is heighten at this point, for all hell is about to break loose when that door is opened.

 

 

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