Tension in Act 2 Scene 2 of William Shakespeare's Macbeth

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Tension in Act 2 Scene 2 of William Shakespeare's Macbeth

Macbeth was written in1605; this was a period where there was a great

interest in witchcraft and the supernatural. Many people including

James I were scared and confused by ideas of the supernatural. The

opening scene would in itself create tension amongst the audience, as

it would suggest a play full of evil and lies, and also a theme of

opposites and contrasts which occurs in the play, 'Fair is foul, and

foul is fair', 'so fair and foul a day'. This also links in with the

appearance and reality of Macbeth.

At the end of Act 2 Scene 1, and just following on from his soliloquy,

Macbeth has been preparing himself to murder Duncan. There was a

strong belief of the Divine Right of Kings, which was extremely more

important than now. The position of a king was like that of God and

any attempt to usurp his position was regarded as an offence against

God and the divine order of thing. This would also have a massive

impact; the audience will be left wondering if he will actually commit

the murder and if he will be found out. Shakespeare leaves the

audience in suspense at the start of act 2 scene 2 by not allowing

them to found out if he has done it or not. Lady Macbeth also appears

to be scared;

"And 'tis not done: the attempt and not the deed Confounds us. Hark! I

laid their daggers ready ;"

She appears to think the worst about the crime, that she the deed will

not be done, and that the duo will be caught. Following on from scene

1, Banquo is unable to sleep; thoughts of the witches have invaded his

dreams. "Yet I would not sleep". This links to later on in the play,


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completely fearless, this contrasts with Act 2 scene 2, where Macbeth

is panicking and terrified of what he had just done.

Shakespeare's use of language and structure manages to create tension

right up to the murder of Duncan and in places after that. It is

gradually built up until the death; he uses a lot of dramatic irony,

in a previous scene, the audience already know that Macbeth has been

made 'thane of Cawdor' before Macbeth even knows himself. This is

creating dramatic irony, which also creates tension later on in the


To conclude, I would say that Shakespeare uses many different ways in

order to create tension on this scene. I personally think that this

scene is dramatic because he uses language and themes that link

together in order to create tension and combined with a story line of