"Macbeth" William Shakespeare: Re-read Act 2 and examine some of the methods which Shakespeare uses in this Act to create a feeling of tension on stage following Duncan's murder.
Act 2 in Macbeth deals with the murder of King Duncan by Macbeth and the situation created following his death. The murder takes place in Scene 1 of Act 2. Scenes 2, 3 and 4 describe what happened after the death. Shakespeare creates tension with several methods in these 4 scenes very effectively.
Shakespeare builds up tension gradually through scene one before we reach the murder. Later on, in scene 2 he creates even more tension by presenting what happened after Macbeth killed King Duncan. "An owl shrieks" Shakespeare uses the owl to create tension at the start of scene 2. The owl was thought to be a bird of ill omen just like the raven we saw earlier in the play. Here, Shakespeare personifies the owl with the night watchman who rings the bell outside the cells of prisoners who are about to be executed. This creates tension because combined with the dark corridors of the palace they create a frightening image that sends chills down our spines. The dialogue between Lady Macbeth and Macbeth is in short quick phrases. These help Shakespeare to emphasize the anxiety that runs through the characters at that exact moment and add to the tension of the scene. We see Lady Macbeth losing her courage and drinking to regain it. Macbeth has returned holding the daggers which he used to commit the murders and shows that he is regretting what he did. This state of mind of the characters adds to the anxiety that the audience is feeling because they don't know if Lady Macbeth and Macbeth will be able to keep it together and not betray themselves when the others come.
Later, Shakespeare uses one of his most common devices to increase tension on stage, a knock on the door. This is...