November 7, 2012

Macbeth - Act II

Scene 1

The last pangs of Macbeth's conscience before the actual murder take place in this scene. True Banquo can't sleep because of some foreboding feeling, and he tries to talk to Macbeth about the witches and their predictions. Macbeth asks Banquo to "cleave to his consent" (probably meaning the time he'll become king?), but his friend is too noble, he will "keep his bosom franchised and allegiance clear". Now this is a clear opposition of the two characters. They are very similar in their social position, but choose different ways. We'll see where it'll bring them.

The following monologue of Macbeth shows some signs of madness. He dreams of blood and a dagger, and it is clear that he is frightened of what he is going to do, but the decision is made, and he finishes like this:
I go, and it is done; the bell invites me.
Hear it not, Duncan; for it is a knell
That summons thee to heaven or to hell.

 Scene 2

The murder of the king happens off-stage, and we can observe only the spouse conspirators after the deed is done. Macbeth is very affected. He hears condemnatory voices and cannot pronounce "Amen!" and he is afraid to go back to the place of the murder to conceal the evidence. But he is not the most interesting character in this scene. Lady Macbeth - that's the one who completely fascinates me with her businesslike and down-to-earth approach. Just listen to this:
Who was it that thus cried? Why, worthy thane,
You do unbend your noble strength, to think
So brainsickly of things. Go get some water,
And wash this filthy witness from your hand.
Why did you bring these daggers from the place?
They must lie there: go carry them; and smear
The sleepy grooms with blood.

But she is not completely heartless. Despite all her determination and lust for power she cannot kill the king herself, because he reminds her of her father. Am I trying to find excuses for her? Not at all, I just admire her as the most powerful character in the play so far.

Scene 3

Donalbain and Malcolm disappear
The murder is discovered. Look how our conspirators behave themselves: Macbeth admits that in his grief he killed the guards, who now cannot defend themselves (very conveniently!), and lady Macbeth - faints! Who can believe that a woman who faints when hears of murder, have methodically planned it and performed part of this plan?

Noble lords are going to have a council and decide who is to blame, and valiant sons of Duncan - fly! They are so afraid of being killed too or probably of being accused of the murder, that they leave the country, leaving all their legacy and reign behind. How very convenient for the treacherous couple, now nobody can doubt it was his sons that killed Duncan

Scene 4

This scene brings us back to nature and we got to know what bad omens happened that night. Nature again reflects the deeds of men, and now it is
A falcon, towering in her pride of place,
Was by a mousing owl hawk’d at and kill’d.
 Meanwhile we have our suspicions confirmed - Duncan's sons were accused of the murder as soon as it became known that they fled, and Macbeth is already on his was to Scone to be invested. The lords are also leaving the unhappy Macbeth's castle, not very optimistic about the future and the new king. So, with Shakespeare's constancy in making his own predictions true, we can say, that bad things have only begun to happen.

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