In Act 2 of "Macbeth," how do Macbeth, Lady Macbeth, and Donalbain react differently to Ducan's murder? 

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Jamie Wheeler eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Macbeth and Lady Macbeth's reactions are quite different.  Macbeth can hardly believe what he has done.  He expresses the horror of the murder and his nagging conscience to his wife.  He looks at his guilty hands and says, "This is a sorry sight."  But Lady Macbeth has no such guilt (yet).  She says, "A foolish thought to say a sorry sight" (2.2.18-19). 

Macbeth seems rather in a state of shock and hardly hears his wife's scornful protests.  Too vivid in his memory are the cries of the attacked.  He recalls:

One cried 'God bless us!' and 'Amen' the other;
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!' (2.2.14-27, 30). 

Lady Macbeth still dismisses him.  "Consider it not so deeply," she advises (2.2.28).

As for Donalbain, upon learning of the murder, his reaction is to flee.  Donalbain tells Malcolm:  

Let 's away;
Our tears are not yet brew'd.
[..]
To Ireland, I; our separated fortune
Shall keep us both the safer: where we are,
There's daggers in men's smiles: the near in blood,
The nearer bloody. (2.3.119-20, 134-47)