How Does Shakespeare Create Fear and Tension In Act II, Scenes I and II, Of Macbeth
How Does Shakespeare Create Fear and Tension In Act II, Scenes I and II, Of Macbeth

How Does Shakespeare Create Fear and Tension In Act II, Scenes I and II, Of Macbeth

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  • Published: October 22, 2017
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Shakespeare’s “Macbeth” is a tragedy set in 11th century Scotland, around the time at which the real Macbeth was alive. Shakespeare had at hand, during the period he was writing the play, Chronicles of England, Scotland and Ireland by Raphael Holinshed. Shakespeare had used this book in other history plays he wrote, in the book he found stories from Scotland, which he let his imagination run wild on. The book provided details of events, power, politics, characters and motivations. Shakespeare studied this text, altering and adding details to paint the overall picture that is “Macbeth”.

Macbeth had a good ten years of rule in Scotland but Shakespeare makes Macbeth a tyrant and focuses on his tortured mind, making the play darker and more mysterious. He does this by using strong adjectives when describing the scene and mood. For instance in Act I Scene I the location is “A Desolate Place” and the weather is dreary and horrible when the witches are in a scene with “Thunder and lightning” and the dark connotations with thunder and lightning come to mind, of witchcraft and demonic actions.Whenever the witches are on stage they are almost in a trance chanting and singing as if casting spells for example in (Act I Scene I Lines 1-4) “When shall we meet again? In thunder, lightning or in rain? ” and “When the hurly-burly’s done, when the battles lost or won. ” The witches call upon their “familiars”, “Gray malkin” and “Paddock”, Gray malkin is a cat which helps

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witches so their evil deeds, Paddock is in the form of a hedgehog or a toad.

Witches’ familiars were said to be “devils in disguise”.The period in which the play was performed nearly everyone believed in heaven and hell, and they lived in fear of eternal damnation, a punishment of witchcraft and demonic acts. People who went to see “Macbeth” saw in the play signs of two people demonically possessed. As we go into Act II Scene I Macbeth and Banquo meet three weird sisters who prophesise that Macbeth would be “Thane of Cawdor” and “King hereafter”. Macbeth then tells his wife, Lady Macbeth, of the witches’ prophecy and his coronation as the “Thane of Cawdor”.Now Duncan, King of Scotland, is coming to stay at Macbeth’s castle to celebrate their victory in battle.

Macbeth and Lady Macbeth are plotting to kill Duncan as Macbeth is next in line to the throne. Shakespeare opens Act II Scene I on the dead of midnight, the point at which, all evils things can come into the world. Banquo is very nervous and on edge. He is talking to his son, about not being able to sleep because he was thinking of the weird sisters’ prophecy as they said that Banquo’s son would one day become king.Banquo is very defensive and on his guard as Macbeth comes into the room with a servant, “Give me my sword- who’s there” (Act II Scene I Line 9), he hastily asks for his sword and adds fear and tension to the scene from the start because Banquo thinks people may be after him because they kno

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his children shall be Kings. Macbeth and Banquo immediately start talking about the three weird sisters’ prophecy; Macbeth is quite tense and dismissive as if he is trying to get somewhere.

The fear and apprehension grows as Macbeth manages to get away from Banquo, to attend to his evil deed.At the end of Scene I in Macbeth’s soliloquy he shows he is in a sort of trance or deranged state of mind and is talking to himself rapidly about dark and horrible things, such as “Tarquin” a roman prince who used to go out at night and rape women as if he is hyping himself up to kill Duncan as he is having second thoughts. Macbeth begins to question his senses as if he believes he is going mad, he even calls his brain “Heat-oppressed” during the times the first sign of madness was supposedly a raised temperature.Macbeth has all these horrible visions in his mind as if he is thinking about all the bad things he could do to Duncan “nature seems dead and wicked dreams abuse the curtained sleep” (Act II Scene I Line 50). Towards the end of his soliloquy he speaks of the stones talking to people for he says, “thy very stones pray of my whereabouts” (Act II Scene I Line 58), giving up Macbeth as the guilty party.

Shakespeare personifies the stones as it makes them seem human which adds a darker effect to the soliloquy.As a modern director during this part of the scene I would have Macbeth in the centre of the stage right at the very front, so the audience could see his facial expressions. I would have his face covered in darkness to give him the look as if he is starting to turn schizophrenic as one side is thinking darker thoughts to the other. When the bell rings in the background it is sort of a wake up call to him and hypes him up as he shouts some fighting talk to Duncan “the bell invites me.Hear it not Duncan for it is a knell that summons thee to heaven or to hell”, (Act II Scene I Line 62-64) he personifies the bell in this small piece as a bell couldn’t invite someone and during the period a bell ringing was a ritual when someone had died, making the scene more scary as there was no sound before the bell apart from Macbeth speaking.

I believe Shakespeare took the decision to have Duncan’s murder happen off stage to create more tension because you don’t see it happen Macbeth could have got the wrong person, and the whole thing could fall in on him.At the start of (Act II Scene II) Lady Macbeth is talking about her part and drugging the “possets” of the guards. Macbeth enters with the bloody daggers and is very wary but Lady Macbeth quickly turns very confident and happy when he is back until she finds out he brought the daggers back with him “Confounds us. Hark! I laid their daggers ready; he could not miss ’em” (Act II Scene II Line 11-12). Macbeth is

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