Macbeth Act II

Setting of Scene 1 Inverness; a courtyard within the castle; midnight
Fleance Banquo’s son
“husbandry (economy, thrift) in heaven” heaven is saving money since “their candles are all out” – the night is cloudy and pitch dark
the Macbeths got their wish for darkness to cover their evil deed Macbeth: “Stars, hide your fire”Lady Macbeth: “Come, thick night”
Banquo is tired, but fights his sleep he fears dreaming about the witches’ prediction that he is destined to be the father of kings “cursed thoughts”; unlike Macbeth, he rejects murderous thoughts
Banquo is a moral, religious man calls upon “merciful powers” to help him resist temptation (in contrast, Macbeth called upon the powers of darkness)
Verbal irony Macbeth tells Banquo that he and Lady Macbeth could have done more for Duncan had they been better prepared for his visit; Banquo thinks Macbeth is referring to the banquet he prepared for Duncan; in reality, Macbeth is referring to the murder plot
Macbeth cautiously asks for Banquo’s support Banquo responds cautiously stating that he would support Macbeth in all ventures, as long as they did not jeopardize his soul: when Banquo reaffirms his loyalty to goodness and detachment from evil, a great gulf opens between him and Macbeth; Macbeth now views him as an enemy
Juxtaposition placing two characters next to each other in comparison
Elements of juxtaposition 1. the characters must have significant elements in common2. they face a common occurrence3. they react differently to the occurrence4. one emerges stronger than the other
Macbeth is juxtaposed to Banquo Banquo emerges the morally superior of the two; in this way Shakespeare shows that Macbeth could have fought the temptation of the witches since Banquo, supposedly a less formidable character, is able to do so – no excuse for Macbeth; fate is NOT inexorable
Custom to serve guests a hot drink before they retired for the evening – a bell would signal that the drink was about to be served this bell is the pre-arranged signal between Macbeth and his wife to alert him that all is ready for him to enter Duncan’s chamber and kill him this bell, signaling death, is a reversal of the church bell that signals life – evil reverses symbols (fair is foul)
drink antithesis of the blood of Christ that brings eternal life; it will bring eternal damnation for Macbeth
Before he starts his second soliloquy, Macbeth imagines that he sees a bloody dagger leading him to Duncan’s room caused by Macbeth’s feverish imagination, his emotional exhaustion and strain
temporary victory over evil Macbeth says it is the dagger he WAS to use; sounds like he has changed his mind, but ultimately resolves to kill Duncan
Macbeth states that talking destroys the passion necessary to act one should reflect long and hard before making a major decision; here such reflection is seen as bad – evil reverses order
Setting of Scene 2 same as Scene 1, courtyard at Inverness
Lady Macbeth – vividly excited, stimulated by the wine at dinner anxiously awaiting news of the murder completed
owl bird of ill omen
the “fatal bellman” in Shakespeare’s time a bell near Newgate Prison tolled before a prisoner was executed; the sexton would recite Biblical verses urging the condemned man to repent and beg God’s mercy; irony –> Duncan is the condemned man, but he is innocent, yet not given the privilege that the guilty are given to repent of his sins and face death with a clean soul
Lady Macbeth states that she has done her part she has drugged the two servants in Duncan’s room and lay the daggers where Macbeth can grab them
tone one of nervous tension, fear of discovery, fear of failure, horror of the deed
first indication of Lady Macbeth’s vulnerability – first crack in her armor seen when she states that she would have killed Duncan herself if he had not so closely resembled her father as he slept
crickets believed to cry when a murder was committed
“sorry state” of Macbeth’s hands they are covered in blood – Macbeth appears to be in a catatonic state – completely shaken by the deed he has committed
Macbeth’s inability to say “Amen” to the prayer he heard marks the finality of his separation from God’s grace: IRONY the argument for not killing Duncan, that Macbeth could lose his soul, is the one he paid least attention to, yet it is the first fear he voices after the murder
Lady Macbeth cautions Macbeth not to think about the murder or it will drive them both mad astute observationshe speaks to him as a mother calming an overly emotional child
Second indication of Lady Macbeth’s vulnerability her admission that guilt and remorse have the potential power to drive her and her husband insane
Macbeth heard a voice accusing him of murdering sleep he realizes the consequences of his actions; his wish has been granted – he will live in darkness with no reprieve
Sleep is personified 1. that which unravels the cares of the day, like the unraveling of a knotted skein of wool2. the balm (soothing ointment) of hurt minds3. the refreshing bath of a laborer after a long day of work4. nature’s second course: life was believed to consist of two parts – food and sleep – and sleep is the most important
Macbeth acknowledges the madness of his act predicts the destruction of a normal life for him since the murder
Lady Macbeth vastly underestimates the power of guilt she thinks a little water will clear them of the deed – as if erasing the evidence of the murder will erase the guilt
Blood = guilt
Water = removal of guilt
Lady Macbeth exhibits complete self-control and immediate practicality horrified that Macbeth has not completed the deed
Macbeth refuses to reenter Duncan’s chamber too little too late
Lady Macbeth has practical response to knocking tells Macbeth that they must change into their night clothes or risk looking suspicious – they must appear to be innocent hosts awakened by the knocking
Macbeth wishes Duncan could answer the knocking immediate regret of his deed
Setting of Scene 3 Inverness
Drunken porter vehicle for comic reliefinterrupts or relieves the main action since the strain on the audience of listening to the murder scenario must be cancelled so that new action can beginthe audience welcomes the opportunity to laugh before tensing up for viewing the discovery of Duncan’s body
Drunken porter imagines he is the keeper of the gates of hell ushering condemned souls into hell all liars and cheats who thought they could get away with their misdeeds; in the end, they all must pay – ominous implications in message for Macbeth
1. the greedy farmer who had hoarded grain hoping that prices would go up because of a bad harvest the next year, and who hung himself when the harvest turned out to be good this parallels Macbeth’s greed for greatness and the despair and dead wish that results – not content with titles he already had
2. the equivocator – a liar who could make two contradictory statements and swear they both were true, but he could not fool God or talk his way into heaven this parallels Macbeth as master of doubletalk, but God is wise to him
3. the tailor who is enriched himself by stealing fabric from his customers this parallels Macbeth stealing the throne from its rightful owner (Duncan, then Malcolm)
Macduff and Lennox two noblemenarrive to escort Duncan back to Forres
Turbulent weather believed to announce the death of a great man
Death of Duncan “masterpiece of confusion”evil produces chaos
Duncan: “the Lord’s anointed temple” stresses Jacobean belief that the king was chosen and blessed by God
Macduff compares the horror of the murder scene to looking on a Gorgon in Greek mythology one of three sisters – to look upon any one of them would turn a person to stoneobvious reference to the weird sisters and the dire consequences of heeding their words
Dramatic irony Macduff states to Lady Macbeth that news of Duncan’s death is too horrid to be faced by a delicate woman’s ear (audience knows she devised the plan to kill Duncan and then entered the death chamber to smear blood over the attendants and plant the daggers on them)
Macbeth reacts to the “news” of Duncan’s murder with an air of hypocritical grief and indignation He says he wishes he had died an hour before the king’s murder so that he would not now know such grief. He states that now there is nothing of worth left in life; all are trifles because, with the king’s murder, virtue is dead: speech sounds rehearsed, too eloquent for one supposedly “shocked” by horrific news
Macbeth looks suspicious luckily for him, the room is in such chaos that his suspicious eloquence goes virtually unnoticed
Macbeth’s clever glibness inappropriate and highly suspicious
Incompleteness without the king 1. Malcolm and Donalbain are incomplete without their father2. Scotland is incomplete without its leader3. Macbeth is incomplete since he has cut himself off from the moral source of his life
Macbeth declares that, allowing love to over power reason, he has killed the two attendants, in rage of revenge for their murder of his beloved king Macduff is immediately suspicious of Macbeth as he has now removed the only possible witnesses
Macbeth is again dangerously close to self-incrimination -prior to the announcement of Duncan’s death, his manner of speech was abrupt, numbed by his crime and could barely utter more than two words at a time-after the announcement, he turns absurdly eloquent, showing guilty panic rather than deeply felt loss and concern
Lady Macbeth “faints” to draw attention away from Macbeth’s wordy performance
Malcolm and Donalbain appear to suspect Macbeth of feigned grief since Macbeth seems more grief-stricken than they, Duncan’s own sons
Banquo responds to the murder with a sturdy affirmation of faith he states that the murder must be investigated and that he suspects treason
Banquo is like a rock of order in a sea of confusion he has unknowingly set himself up as Macbeth’s enemy
Malcolm will flee to England and Donalbain to Ireland they fear that there is a killer among them and that they are his next target – intelligent decision
Setting of Scene 4 just outside Inverness, dawn
Ross and an anonymous old man are conversing the old man states that in 70 years he has seen many dreadful and strange things, but nothing compared to what occurred on the night of Duncan’s murder
The Old Man might represent: 1. the common people of Scotland – those who are affected by Duncan’s murder and the action of the play, although they are not part of it2. an orderly and godly civilization, speaking from the point of view of balance and moderation3. the embodiment of a calm, tranquil wisdom after the savage hysteria of the previous scene4. a sense of continuity with the past, in contrast to the “hurly-burly” rush of the events of the murder plan
Old man wonders if darkness at dawn is because… …the powers of darkness have become stronger than the powers of light, or, the day is hiding its face in shame
On the night of Duncan’s murder, an owl killed a falcon (not natural enemies) and Duncan’s horses (tamed and trained) attacked and ate each other it was widely believed that chaos in the social and political order was reflected in the chaos of the natural or cosmic order; so heinous an act is the killing of the monarch that the forces of the world are wretched by it
Macduff states that the general opinion is that Malcolm and Donalbain paid the attendants to kill Duncan proof is that they fled Scotland after the murder (faulty logic); Ross rightfully wonders what the sons had to gain from their father’s death “thriftless ambition”
Macbeth is to be… ….crowned king
Macduff’s suspicion of Macbeth is further revealed when he states that he fears that Scotland will not be as fortunate under Macbeth as it had been under Duncan
As Macbeth ascends the throne, he must contend with the following forces: 1. his outraged imagination2. his country’s disturbance3. the suspicious enmity of Macduff4. Banquo’s virtue and vow to uncover the murderer