Macbeth – Discuss the Dramatic Significance of Act 2 Scene 2 Analysis

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The setting of Macbeth was 11th century Scotland, a tumultuous and violent land. With constant battles for land control among feuding families and frequent invasions from foreign countries, stability was elusive.

Macbeth, born in 1005, married the king’s granddaughter. He possibly killed ineffective King Duncan at the age of 38. Elected king in 1040, Macbeth ruled for 17 years, bringing stability to Scotland. Sadly, he was killed on August 15, 1057.

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When the play was written, England was captivated by witches and witchcraft, even King James I was intrigued. Shakespeare incorporates witches into the story, despite the likely absence of actual witches.

In Act 1 Scene 2, Banquo is offered a bribe by Macbeth to keep quiet about the witches. However, Banquo refuses due to his loyalty to King Duncan. This foreshadows a future problem for Macbeth. Subsequently, Macbeth experiences a vision of the dagger he may use to kill the king. He is compelled to follow it towards Duncan’s bedchamber. Macbeth engages in a conversation with the dagger, but realizes it is a hallucination when he attempts to touch it unsuccessfully. This creates dramatic tension for the audience – will Macbeth choose to assassinate the king or remain loyal to Duncan?

Macbeth returns to the stage in Act 2 Scene 2, confessing his disbelief at having committed such a terrible act – the murder of the king in his sleep.

In Act 2 Scene 3, the porter must respond to the door while Macbeth is still in a state of shock. This intensifies the tension as it raises questions about whether Macbeth will be caught in the act or if he can successfully manipulate the murder to appear as though the guards are responsible. Additionally, there is uncertainty regarding whether the body will be discovered. This scene serves to fully engage and captivate the audience.

Act 2 Scene 2 demonstrates Lady Macbeth’s control over the situation, even though she had to get drunk to assist with the murder. Despite Macbeth’s usually strong and fearless persona, he appears weak, disoriented, and vulnerable after killing King Duncan, whom he served loyally. In the 11th century, being ordered around by one’s wife was considered weak, yet Macbeth needs his wife to direct him. While Macbeth feels immediate guilt for his actions, Lady Macbeth asserts dominance. To comfort Macbeth, she retrieves the daggers and smears the guards with blood. Unable to kill the king due to his resemblance to her father, Lady Macbeth must rely on alcohol to participate in the murder.

Macbeth and Lady Macbeth exhibit stark contrasts. In the face of the crisis, Lady Macbeth displays strength and takes charge while Macbeth appears feeble and disoriented. Overwhelmed by guilt, he asserts that he will never have peaceful sleep again and that even if he were to cleanse his hands in the vast ocean, it would transform into blood rather than purify his guilt-stained hands.

In Act 2 Scene 2, the director would employ dim lighting to create an atmosphere of mystery and unease. Macbeth, with bloodstained hands and garments, would either stand or lean against a wall, gazing into emptiness, bewildered by the unfolding events. Meanwhile, Lady Macbeth would already be positioned in the center of the room, issuing commands that Macbeth disregards. By occupying the middle of the room, Lady Macbeth assumes an authoritative role, appearing to control the entire space. Macbeth would be attired in dark clothing that accentuates the presence of blood, symbolizing his inherent evil and adding a dramatic effect. During his soliloquy about damnation and the loss of his ability to pray, Macbeth would remain in complete darkness, creating suspense for the audience regarding his actions and physical appearance.

Lady Macbeth should wear a lighter outfit compared to Macbeth to convey that she is not as wicked as him. While giving orders to Macbeth, she will speak rapidly and move about the room, demonstrating her panic but also her ability to handle the situation. On the other hand, Macbeth will address Lady Macbeth in a slow manner, reflecting his disorientation and contemplation of his recent actions.

The scene will be enhanced by the intermittent sounds made by owls, which will contribute to its spooky atmosphere. In addition, a black cat will be present on stage, freely behaving as it pleases, further adding to the eerie ambiance.

During Elizabethan times, plays were exclusively performed by men and the performances were more intense. The audience would be captivated by the tension, and the actors had to deliver exceptional performances to prevent objects being hurled at them. The stage would be adorned with hay, but there wouldn’t be a complete castle set – just a few walls to create the illusion of a castle. The blood on Macbeth’s hands would be simulated using paint or dye.

Polanski presents his version of Macbeth in a setting that resembles 11th century Scotland. Act 2 Scene 2 unfolds within the walls of a grand castle. This rendition is highly dramatic as it allows the audience to witness Macbeth committing regicide. The shocking act of Macbeth killing the king while he sleeps is emphasized as the crown rolls away, symbolizing his loss of the throne. Macbeth later returns to an expansive courtyard, evoking a sense of isolation. The performances from both Macbeth and Lady Macbeth are commendable, particularly during the relevant scenes where Lady Macbeth sheds tears and subsequently collapses, feigning unconsciousness.

In this version titled “Macbeth on the estate,” the story takes place in the present. Duncan holds the position as the leader of a gang who owns an estate. During a party thrown by Macbeth, where everyone becomes intoxicated, Macbeth murders Duncan and retreats to his bedroom. Due to the close proximity of the rooms and people being asleep, tension heightens. However, unlike other versions, this adaptation lacks additional exciting events that could enhance its dramatic impact, such as a police complaint regarding the noise. The combination of present-day setting with old language in this version is unsuccessful, resulting in a dull and boring atmosphere. Additionally, Macbeth and Lady Macbeth’s acting skills in this adaptation are subpar; Macbeth appears unconcerned after committing regicide, and Lady Macbeth’s feigned faint is unconvincing as she descends slowly to the ground.

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