Macbeth: Act 2 Scene 2




Macbeth is one of the well-known plays written by William Shakespeare. Three evil witches have told Macbeth, the main character, that he will one day become King of Scotland. Though the witches tell his friend Banquo that his children will rule forever after Macbeth. The thought of becoming King of Scotland makes Macbeth feel wonderful and powerful, but his evil wife, Lady Macbeth, asks him why he should not become King now. Macbeth knows he cannot, because his loyal friend and ruler King Duncan is on the throne. Eventually Macbeth understands Lady Macbeth’s idea, but is emotionally torn as to whether to follow his loving wife, or obey his King. Act 2 scene 2 shows the events after the murder of King Duncan, and how Macbeth becomes emotionally disturbed as he notices what he has done to become King of Scotland.


In this scene we notice that although Macbeth is a very brave, strong character in battle, he cannot bring himself to the idea of killing King Duncan, the person who he has staked his life for in battle. Macbeth finds it harder for himself to gather up the strength and force to kill such a loyal, kind King, who has appreciated his efforts before, by granting him Thane of Cawdor, as well as already being the Thane of Glamis.


Lady Macbeth, in this scene, holds most of the power in the relationship, because she is so infused by evil that she can manipulate Macbeth and almost control his emotions and make him feel that if he does not kill Duncan, he will never be King of Scotland, which is the position that he is desperate for. She orders Macbeth to kill King Duncan, she also orders Macbeth to wash the royal blood off his hands, even though he feels he can never properly remove it from his body.


“Will all Great Neptune’s ocean wash this blood


Clean from my hand? No:”


This was intended to show the audience that Macbeth is feeling so guilty for what he has done, that he feels he can never forget his actions. This allows the audience to see that Macbeth cannot cope with the consequences of his evil actions!


Although Lady Macbeth has requested that all good and kindness inside her be replaced with evil so powerful that she can never conceive children, there is still that little amount of love inside that makes her want to protect her husband. She will not commit the murder because King Duncan reminds her of her father when he is asleep in his bed.


“Had he not resembled


My father as he slept, I had done’t”.


This shows that she must still possess some kindness, so not to kill a man with the resemblance of a family member. Though this small amount of compassion is largely over shadowed by the pure evil inside of her, and makes her able to plot King Duncan’s death.


From this scene we also see that mighty warrior Macbeth has become somewhat unsettled.


“Whence is that knocking?


How is’t with me, when every noise appals me?


What hands are here? Ha: they pluck out mine eyes”. This quote shows that after committing the murder Macbeth only realises what evil he has truly done. When someone knocks on the castle door to enter, Macbeth becomes paranoid and nervous, thinking that someone has seen his evil and has arrived to take him away for execution. He feels that his own hands are not his, because he had so much love for King Duncan that he would not them to do such a thing.


After killing the guards Macbeth becomes obsessed by not being able to say, “Amen”, as he knows it would be blasphemy to end such a horrific deed with such holy language. He wants to almost end this chapter of his life, so that it will be over and never again remind him of the truly evil act that he carried out.


Macbeth hears a voice in his head telling him that by murdering an honest, generous God-like King, and two of his innocent protectors, just to cover his evil tracks, he has murdered sleep and that he shall never sleep again.


“Sleep no more:


Macbeth does murder sleep”.


“Glamis hath murdered sleep”.


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