What is an example of dramatic irony in act 2, scene 2 of Macbeth?

One example of dramatic irony from act 2, scene 2 of Macbeth is created when the audience realizes that, despite appearances, Lady Macbeth is actually rather sentimental while Macbeth is the strong one. She cannot bring herself to commit the murder because the sleeping Duncan resembled her father, and it is Macbeth himself who must do the deed. They do not seem to realize this, as she continues to insult and berate Macbeth throughout the scene.

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Dramatic irony is created when the audience knows more than one or more characters. Before Macbeth enters the scene, fresh from killing Duncan, Lady Macbeth reveals, "Had he not resembled / My father as he slept, I had done 't" (2.2.16–17). In other words, when it came time to actually do the deed, Lady Macbeth, despite her bravado and prayers to evil spirits to fill her up with manly cruelty and remorselessness, could not bring herself to kill Duncan. She says that he resembled her father while he was sleeping, a rather sentimental reason to be unable to kill him. Yet she also feels that "That which hath made [the chamberlains] drunk hath made [her] / bold" (2.2.1–2). She considers, somewhat proudly, how she "drugged / their possets" so that she and Macbeth could do whatever violence they wanted to the unprotected Duncan (2.2.8–9). Throughout the scene, she constantly tells Macbeth that he needs to stop dwelling on what they have done, that he is foolish to do so. However, importantly,

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Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on May 20, 2020