dramatic tensionHow does Shakespeare create dramatic tension in Act 2 Scene 1 and Act 2 Scene 2?

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mwestwood's profile pic

mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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In Act II, Scene 2, there is also tension created in the anxiety of Lady Macbeth, caused by her incipient guilt.  For, when she hears the owl shriek, she remarks that she has heard "the fatal bellman." Then, after Macbeth returns from his murderous deed, she tells her husband that she has heard the "owl scream and the crickets cry" (II,ii,14). She asks him if he has spoken, and they discuss what has transpired.  But, Lady Macbeth cautions Macbeth not to think about what they have done since "it will make us mad" (II,ii,32-33).  Her husband says he will go as he is afraid to think of what he has done.

Certainly, there are tensions between Lady Macbeth and her husband as well as her internal conflicts with guilt which will later lead to her madness.

kiwi's profile pic

kiwi | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator

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The scene is conducted at night and this would add to the supernatural feel of the scene. Tension is created in te recap by Banquo and Macbeth regarding what they experienced with the witches and the strange prophesies they were given.

The main source of tension is of course Macbeth's vision of the dagger. This is not made real to the audience and we are as bewildered by this 'dagger of the mind' as Macbeth is. As the dagger begins to bleed the audience shares Macbeth's fear and trepidation of what is to come. Then we are disturebed by his final rhyming couplet which highlights Macbeth's fatal decision.

Hear it not, Duncan, for it is a knell
That summons thee to heaven, or to hell

Act 2 scene 2 is the murder scene. The tension is begun with Macbeth and his wife starting at every sound as they follow through with their plan.

Macbeth is concerned that he has already been condemned by God before the deed has been discovered-

But wherefore could not I pronounce “Amen”?
I had most need of blessing, and “Amen”
Stuck in my throat.

Lady macbeth attempts to calm him and distract him from his destructive imaginings and there is irony in her words.

These deeds must not be thought
After these ways; so, it will make us mad.

Macbeth is appalled at the amount of blood on his hands - both literally and metaphorically. We also see the tension rise in te fact that Macbeth instantly regrets his actions-

Wake Duncan with thy knocking! I would thou couldst!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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