MACBETH – Act 2 summary

Scene 1

Characters: Banquo, Fleance (his son), Macbeth.

Location: A court within the castle.

Time: Around 1 in the morning (the day after the big drama in Act 1 scenes 6/7)

Events: Banquo can’t sleep. He, his son and Macbeth are all walking around the castle and B and M bump into each other. Banquo had a dream about the witches so they talk about them for a bit. M speaks to the audience about dagger – real or imaginary?

Quote(s): “Is this a dagger which I see before me, The handle toward my hand…Or art thou but a dagger of the mind, a false creation, proceeding from the heat-oppressed brain?” – Macbeth. This quote, as well as the sentences after it, are about a dagger that Macbeth is imagining. This dagger seems to be an image of death and I would argue is what convinces him to kill Duncan. 

Scene 2

Characters: Macbeth, Lady Macbeth.

Location: A courtyard in Macbeth’s castle.

Time: Right after Macbeth murders Duncan.

Events: Macbeth goes off to murder Duncan, using the daggers which belonged to Duncan’s guards (whom Lady Macbeth drugged up). He returns feeling very dirty and greatly disturbed by his actions. He says that at one point the guards cried “God bless us” and “Amen” and Macbeth was disturbed because he couldn’t say it back. He then talks about how he heard a voice saying “Macbeth murdered sleep (aka Duncan) and therefore Macbeth will sleep no more!” Lady Macbeth tells him to return the bloody daggers to the guards and Macbeth says he can’t do it, so she tells him to stop being a coward/sissy and she does it herself. Then they hear knocking on the door so pretend that they have been in their bedroom the whole time.

Quotes: “The sleeping and the dead are but as pictures. ‘Tis the eye of childhood that fears a painted devil.” Lady Macbeth 53. The sleeping and the dead can’t hurt you any more than an image can. Only a child would be afraid of scary pictures. 

“My hands are of your colour but I shame to wear a heart so white” – Lady Macbeth. I’m just as guilty as you but I would be ashamed to be so cowardly.

Scene 3

Characters: A Porter, Macduff, Macbeth, Lady Macbeth, Lenox, Banquo, Donalbain, Malcolm.

Location: A courtyard in the castle.

Time: The morning after Duncan was killed

Events: A Porter goes to answer the knocking at the gate, grumbling a lot about random stuff because he’s drunk (comic relief). Macduff and Lenox enter and Macbeth comes down to greet them. Macduff says that King Duncan asked for them and Macbeth offers to take them up to his bed. On the way, Lenox tells a tale about how that night “strange screams of death” filled the air and the earth shook like it had a fever. Macduff arrives again and cries “O horror!” and tells Macbeth and Lenox that Duncan is dead. He tells Banquo, Donalbain and Malcolm to wake up. Lady Macbeth is also awakened and she comes down, “realises” Duncan has been murdered and faints. They realise that the guards are covered in blood and have the murder weapon. Macbeth goes to kill the guards before they wake up. Malcolm and Donalbain become very suspicious of each other and also worried that they will either be killed or be accused of the murder. Malcolm says he will flee to England, Donalbain to Ireland. (During this scene, Macbeth and Lady Macbeth obviously pretend they know nothing about Duncan’s murder).

Quotes: “Lamentings heard i’ the air; strange screams of death, and prophesying with accents terrible of dire combustion, and confused events, new hatched to the woeful time” – Lenox 56. Cries of grief and sadness were heard in the air (talking about death), and they were predicting with confusing voices that terrible, chaotic things were going to happen. These things were going to begin a new age of sadness and confusion. 

NOTE: “He did command me to call timely on him: I have almost slipped the hour” – Macbeth. Basically, Macbeth was supposed to meet the king and was almost late. If he was early, then it might have prevented Duncan from being killed. I dunno if this is relevant but still…

Scene 4

Characters: Old Man, Rosse, Macduff

Location: Outside Macbeth’s castle

Time: Morning

Events: Rosse and Old Man (whoever that is) are talking outside the castle about the terrible night – the weather and the behaviour of animals etc.  Macduff arrives and tells Rosse that it is suspected to be the guards who killed Duncan, but how it could also be the King’s sons (Malcolm and Donalbain) ] because have fled from the scene. Macduff says how Macbeth is travelling to Scone to be crowned King and Rosse decides to go to see him be crowned. Macduff returns home to Fife instead of seeing Macbeth be crowned. (tension could arise later in the play coz of this).

Quotes: “Thou seest, the heavens, as troubled with man’s act, threatens his bloody stage” Rosse 5. You see the heavens as if they were disturbed by the deeds of man, threatening the earth which has been tainted with the blood of murder. Personification of heaven.

“Lest our old robes sit easier than our new!” – Macduff 37. Just like how old clothes are more comfortable than new ones, maybe Duncan’s way of ruling will be better than Macbeth’s. Metaphor.

“Gainst nature still: Thriftless Ambition, that wilt ravin up thine own life’s means” – Rosse 27. Another example of unnatural behaviour, Profitless Ambition, which will eat up the body which gives you life! Personification of Ambition.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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