Question 1: What does this scene show us about Macbeth and Lady Macbeth? Language?
This scene starts with Lady Macbeth sending a servant to bring her husband to he. While she is waiting for Macbeth, she discloses her concern for the worrying Macbeth and his fears. In her own soliloquy, she says, “Tis safer to be that which we destroy than by destruction dwell in doubtful joy.” This means that she knows that her husband is too fearful to gain any pleasure from the being King, and she wants to try and calm him down. She is still the practical advice giver like in the other act.
When Macbeth arrives, she asks him, “Why do you keep alone of sorriest fancies your companions making? … What’s done is done.” Macbeth explains that they have wounded the snake, not killed it. He here admits to growing fears of retribution for his actions. He also claims that he would rather be dead and be at peace, than to endure the “torture of mind” he is feeling, which is to be restless and uneasy all the time. Lady Macbeth, surprisingly, does not scorn his fearful words as in the earlier act, but gently warns him to appear bright and jovial amongst the guests at dinner. He then promises to disguise what
is in his heart and asks her to pay special attention to Banquo during the meal. (Macbeth’s state of mind is so clouded and confused that he seems to have forgotten for the moment that Banquo should be murdered before the dinner.) She tells him to stop worrying about Banquo and Fleance, but Macbeth knows this is impossible. In fact, Macbeth replies to his wife that his mind is “full of scorpions” and that “there shall be done a deed of dreadful note.”
When Lady Macbeth asks what is to be done and what he means, her husband leaves her in the dark, saying to her, “Be innocent of the knowledge till thou applaud the deed.” Now in this act he is in charge now, not his wife as in earlier the earlier act. He, however, is still confident that she will agree with the murders after they are accomplished and “applaud the deed.” The scene then ends with Macbeth once again asking for night to come quickly. But this time he wants the darkness to “cancel and tear to pieces that great bond (Banquo) which keeps me paled.”
Also now in this act, Macbeth is using different types the words and phrases from his normal self, almost like an evil or mysterious person, which is exactly how Lady Macbeth was acting earlier.
For example he says that the seeling night should come, meaning that the day would be covered, and also with a scarf meaning that day would be hidden meaning it would be night. And that is the time he is waiting for. Next he talks about nights black agents to their pray do rouse, meaning the murderers, as they are going to kill Fleance and Banquo at night. So now he basically sounds evil, like Lady Macbeth was earlier, and also uses words that the witches might use, and so he sounds evil and possessed by power. And being power hungry.
Question 2: How have they changed from earlier on in the play?
This short scene reveals a great deal about the relationship of the king and queen at this point in the play. Lady Macbeth, although still practical about their state of affairs, appears more kind and concerned than in previous scenes. She seems genuinely worried about Macbeth’s worrying for two reasons that are partially selfish; she knows he is finding no joy in his new position because of his fear and this, now makes her feel unhappy. And she is also afraid that his fear will cast suspicion upon both of them.
She offers calm advice to Macbeth, urging him to forget the past, saying, “What’s done is done.” She obviously is not doing battle with her conscience. She has been able to easily “wash away the blood” as she suggested earlier. But now it is not so easy. Lady Macbeth also warns her husband to put on a ‘mask’ at dinner in order to hide his troubled heart from his guests. Her words are as well, I think, a flashback to Duncan’s belief that you cannot see a traitor’s heart in his face. So now Lady Macbeth has become the hesitating one, and has almost swapped roles with Macbeth.
Macbeth though, is in complete contrast to his more tranquil wife, and is now a desperately haunted man, which is completely different from the image of the brave warrior in the first act. He is certain that they have only “scorched the snake”, and he is determined to kill it, he means his plans for the murders of Banquo and Fleance. He also lives in fear of being discovered throughout the day, and the darkness, which he has often called upon for protection offers no relief since he is haunted at night by terrible dreams. There is now no relief for Macbeth; he cannot escape from himself.
It is important to see that Macbeth has plotted the murders of Banquo and Fleance by himself without the help of his wife, who was the plotter and planner of Duncan’s murder. In fact, he does not even share his plans with her. He says he wants her to be “innocent of the knowledge,” so maybe this is so that she does not feel anymore frightened and scarred, but in Macbeth’s current state of mind, he has perhaps even begun to distrust his wife. There is certainly a new distance between them that Lady Macbeth has recognized. Although the scene between husband and wife, now the king and queen, is pleasant on the surface, I think there is now a division between them that can now be seen.
Macbeth is now operating his plans on his own, the true royal tyrant. He seems to no longer need his wife’s input as he did earlier, and the result is that he is hurling himself into even greater chaos at an