What mood is created in this scene with all Macbeth's talk of snakes, scorpions, etc.? (ACT 3)

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jseligmann eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Act 3, Scene 2, Macbeth is talking to Lady Macbeth just before the evening's big formal dinner. Macbeth is determined to free himself of all enemies and especially Banquo and Fleance. Banquo is more than suspicious of Macbeth, and the witches  said that Banquo's children would live to be kings, generation after generation. He wants Banquo and Fleance dead this very night.

The mood created by the following exchange is one of darkness and danger, anger, fear, determination and death:


O, full of scorpions is my mind, dear wife!

Thou know'st that Banquo and his Fleance lives.


But in them nature's copy's not eterne.


There's comfort yet; they are assailable.

Then be thou jocund. Ere the bat hath flown

His cloister'd flight; ere to black Hecate's summons

The shard-borne beetle with his drowsy hums

Hath rung night's yawning peal, there shall be done

A deed of dreadful note.


What's to be done?


Be innocent of the knowledge, dearest chuck,

Till thou applaud the deed. Come, seeling night,

Scarf up the tender eye of pitiful day,

And with thy bloody and invisible hand

Cancel and tear to pieces that great bond

Which keeps me pale! Light thickens, and the crow

Makes wing to the rooky wood:

Good things of day begin to droop and drowse,

Whiles night's black agents to their preys do rouse.

Thou marvell'st at my words, but hold thee still:

Things bad begun make strong themselves by ill.

So, prithee, go with me.