Examining The Dramatic Impact of Act 2 Scene 2 of “Macbeth” Considering The Significance of The Scene In The Play As A Whole. In the scene before Act 2 Scene 2, Lady Macbeth and Macbeth decide to make a huge decision, and kill King Duncan. Killing the king was a very sacrilegious thing to do, as the king was known to be appointed by God. Lady Macbeth pushed “loyal” Macbeth into killing The king, she patronizes Macbeth with her cunning ways, offending his manhood, his courage and his loyalty to his word to her.
Macbeth, seduced by her ways, agrees to go on with this horrendous plan. Lady Macbeth is obviously showing signs of nervousness creating tension, as she awaits for Macbeth to come back with the news that either he had succeeded with their mischievous plan or had failed. Lady Macbeth tries to hide her fear by convincing herself that she would not fail. We get a peek at Lady Macbeth’s softer side. She says that she would have killed Duncan herself, but the he looked too much like her father.
Gentle women in the 1600s were usually known to be a loving housewife, tender, gentle, lady like, demure and obedient. Lady Macbeth was quite the opposite of this, she behaved more like witches. She had called upon spirits to “unsex” her form her femininity, and have her absorb the aspects and features of masculinity, so she can have the courage and strength to pursue with her plan of manipulating Macbeth into killing the king. She also talks very openly about murder, the audience would have a reaction of terror and fear of Lady Macbeth.
As she waits she hears a screech of an owl, and she takes that as a good omen, the screech of an owl was known to be nature’s own ‘fatal bellman’. A ‘fatal bellman’ would emphasize the idea of death/ execution, suggesting the murder has been committed in the audience’s minds, which makes it all the more eerie. This particular part of the scene is one of the climaxes of the play. When Macbeth and his wife are re-united they are both highly charged with nervous energy and excitement. Macbeth and his wife at first do not speak in sentences.
Their speech is syncopated and highly charged emotions tell the audience all is not well. Macbeth mentions to his wife how his mind was playing tricks on him, he claims that before the murder had been done, he hallucinated a floating dagger much similar to his, leading into Duncan’s chamber. The fact that Macbeth still had hold of the daggers after he had done the deed intensifies the tension felt in the scene. His hands were covered in blood, which would make the drama explosive. Blood is the essence of life.
However, in this play, it is used as a symbol of death, murder, and treason also how Macbeth feels, he constantly sees blood, being reminded of the horrific murder. The image of blood enhances the gruesome and horrible atmosphere of the play. Shakespeare conveys the message that the sight of blood illustrates an end to life in a barbaric and an inhuman manner. Macbeth describes the horrors of the murder and cannot seem to believe he has committed such an evil crime. He mentions how he cannot say religious phrases such as “Amen” leaving him to have a slight feel of possession by evil omens.
The fact that Macbeth can no longer communicate with God suggests that he’s losing his religion. He also introduces the fact of him not being able to sleep, because he had killed Duncan while asleep, Macbeth describes sleep as a natural thing, since he had done something very unnatural, he would get no more sleep. Thoughts of the murder plague his mind. He appears very troubled by his deeds. While Lady Macbeth in a way, mocks him, she remains power-hungry and simply tells him to go get some water, and wash the filthy witness from his hands.
Macbeth does not agree with her. He knows he will never be cleansed of this vile deed. Macbeth mentions that not all great Neptune’s ocean could wash his hands clean. Lady Macbeth mocks her husband for dwelling upon the murderous act, this is very ironic because in the scene after, Lady Macbeth starts to see a fake image of blood on her hands, which she tries frantically to wash away, but cannot. Macbeth had crossed upon a mistake though, he had brought back the bloody daggers with him.
Lady Macbeth and Macbeths feelings and relationship starts to seem to go the opposite direction from one another. Shakespeare makes it obvious to the audience that Macbeth has the weaker touch and that the relationship is rapidly falling apart. He shows this by the nervous ramblings of Macbeth, he appears to have lost all insight, whereas Lady Macbeth appears to have become more cunning, devious and in control. Overall, this creates sympathy towards Macbeth, because of how he’s being treated by his wife.
Now someone has to go back and put the daggers onto the drunken guards. Lady Macbeth tries to trick Macbeth into doing one of her dirty deeds yet again, but, this time, he refuses, this is another climax point, Macbeth shows signs of him starting to stand up for himself, and tells Lady Macbeth that he isn’t going to be pushed around by her anymore. Leading Lady Macbeth into doing her own dirty work. The repetition of knocks increases the tension. Macbeth mentions how he wishes that if only the knocking woke Duncan up, showing signs of regret.
Once Lady Macbeth returns to her husband, she appears agitated and quickly ushers her disturbed husband to his chamber, where they can rid themselves of the signs of their horrific acts. Macbeth constantly shows signs of regret for what evil acts he allowed his wife to convince him to do, he feels remorse and regrets ever getting involved in such a despicable crime. His ambition blinded him and clouded his mind and his rational thinking. In a few moments of weakness he had destroyed the fame and the trust that took him a lifetime to achieve, leaving him with feelings of guilt and emptiness.