Macbeth - William Shakespeare Response Journal: Act 2

Essay by strawberry_qteeHigh School, 11th gradeA+, February 2004

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This act commences with the murder of King Duncan. It is in this act that the reader is first convinced of Macbeth's weakness, as contrasted by Lady Macbeth's strength. Whereas Macbeth feels remorse for his actions, and wishes that his king could once more wake, Lady Macbeth contemplates on how to place the guilt on someone else. The scenes portray the true feelings and intentions of the characters.

As a character, Banquo is a potential ally and enemy to Macbeth's scheming, because of his knowledge of the witches' prophecy. Macbeth appears to be suspicious of Banquo's intentions, and attempts to mask his desire to discuss the prophecies with the witches. This suggests that Macbeth is conspiring to take further action to ensure that the throne will remain in his bloodline. This violence will most likely be directed towards Fleance, Banquo's son, whom the witches predicted would sit on the throne of Scotland.

This second act is particularly focused on Duncan's murder. The incident itself is unseen by the audience, as Shakespeare chooses to display the scenes leading up to the murder, and those after the murder has taken place. The characters are all seen entering Duncan's bedroom, and emerging effectively changed. This technique of not allowing the audience to witness the horrific murders can be seen throughout the entire play.

Lady Macbeth's reaction to the deceased Duncan is particularly remarkable. She claims that she would have murdered him herself if he had only not resembled her father sleeping. Her comparison of Duncan to her father suggests that in spite of her desire for power and her harsh reprimand of Macbeth, she views her king as an authority figure to whom she must show loyalty.

Just as the murder scene is omitted from the play, the most direct...