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Act 2 Summary

Scene 1

It is late at night, and Banquo is having trouble sleeping because he can't stop thinking about the witches. Macbeth, of course, is still awake because he is preparing to kill Duncan, and the two meet by chance in the hall of his castle. They discuss the witches' prophecy; Banquo indicates that he has dreamed about them, and Macbeth lies, "I think not of them." Once Macbeth is alone, he hallucinates a dagger like the kind he plans to use to kill the king. The dagger becomes bloody, and Macbeth recognizes that the hallucination is likely the result of his stress and the guilt he feels about killing the king. The dagger seems, too, to represent fate: Macbeth says to the dagger, "Thou marshal'st me the way I was going." He hears the bell that indicates the time, and he leaves the stage to kill the king.

Scene 2

Lady Macbeth awaits the return of her husband, having drugged the grooms that protect Duncan's room. Macbeth enters, saying, "I have done the deed." They are both very much on edge, and Macbeth has brought the murder weapons out rather than planting them on the grooms, whom the Macbeths intended to frame. Lady Macbeth berates Macbeth once more for his weakness and compares him to a child that "fears a painted devil." When she exits to place the weapons near the grooms and Macbeth is left alone, it is clear that he feels guilt for his actions; he notes that "all great Neptune's ocean" could not wash the blood from his hands. After Lady Macbeth returns and the two hear a knocking at the door, they quickly retire to bed so that they can pretend to have been asleep.

Scene 3

A porter pretends to be working at the gate to hell, but he finally opens the door for Macduff and more of Duncan's retinue. Lennox, a thane, reports...

(The entire section is 482 words.)