How does Shakespeare create tension in Act two, Scene two of Macbeth?Any ideas would be gratefully appreciated!

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lsumner | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Senior Educator

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Shakespeare creates tension in Act two, Scene two of Macbeth. Macbeth has murdered King Duncan and now he is hearing things. He questions Lady Macbeth to see if she has has heard the noise:

I have done the deed. Didn’t you hear a noise?
Macbeth is already regretting his decision. Is there really a noise or is he hearing things? He admits that he heard someone say that he would never sleep again:
I heard a voice cry, 'Sleep no more! Macbeth murders sleep,' the innocent sleep...

Lady Macbeth insults his fears. She claims that an owl did screech and crickets cried, but she insists that Macbeth has lost his courage.

You weaken your noble strength to think
About things in such a crazy way.

The reader senses the tension between Macbeth and Lady Macbeth. Is someone awake? Did someone hear Macbeth kill King Duncan? The tension grows as Lady Macbeth tells Macbeth to wash his bloody hands:

Go get some water, And wash this filthy witness from your hands. Why did you bring these daggers from the room? They must lie there. Go carry them, and smear The sleepy guards with blood.

The reader can visualize the bloody hands and dagger. Through the words of Macbeth and Lady Macbeth, the reader can see King Duncan lying dead in his innocent blood. Macbeth exclaims that he will not go back and look on his murderous deed. Shakespeare's use of imagery with the bloody details create tension for the reader, and no doubt for the characters.

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