Acting in the Night: Macbeth and the Places of the Civil War

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Instead, it is called "The Scottish Play. The Three Witches incantations are not to be said before a show which must make rehearsal difficult for the superstitiously inclined. All the energies that are awakened in the work stay in the play. The first time we had the audience broken into three groups, three overlapping trajectories through the space, with multiple people playing multiple parts.

The audience is still split, into two groups, but they start together, then sometimes take different routes to get to the same place, where the two groups would see the same scene, but from different vantage points. For instance, no stage manager in a central place to feed cues to actors. Instead, actors are trained to respond to trumpet cues and other bits in the show.

Everybody moving all of the different ways," Roy said. I just wanted to go to California, and got a scholarship. I found this beautiful but somewhat bizarre country club. I didn't know how to relate to this place, or to going to college. I thought, I can use this space, the Stanford campus, as my playground. And so the first of We Players' non-traditional stagings of plays took place among the beautiful colonnades and trees of that campus. It keeps me growing and alive. I don't get to have a bag of tricks, because for every site the dynamics and challenges are so different that I have to develop new skills and responses to each site.

For instance, at Fort Point, she said, "How do we use the shifts of the wind, rather than being overpowered by them? Fort Point is a very cold place. It's three hours of screaming, bloody Shakespeare, with sword fights and treachery and witches and madness, and hiking up and down four stories of the year-old building, gusts of wind off the ocean to help rattle your nerves as Lady Macbeth tries to wash the blood off her hands and the ghost of Banquo disturbs the dinner party.

Especially for a play so dripping in theatrical superstitions. Some theater people think "Macbeth" is cursed, so don't utter its title. Instead, it is called "The Scottish Play. The Three Witches incantations are not to be said before a show which must make rehearsal difficult for the superstitiously inclined. All the energies that are awakened in the work stay in the play. The first time we had the audience broken into three groups, three overlapping trajectories through the space, with multiple people playing multiple parts.

The audience is still split, into two groups, but they start together, then sometimes take different routes to get to the same place, where the two groups would see the same scene, but from different vantage points. For instance, no stage manager in a central place to feed cues to actors. Instead, actors are trained to respond to trumpet cues and other bits in the show.

Everybody moving all of the different ways," Roy said. I just wanted to go to California, and got a scholarship. I found this beautiful but somewhat bizarre country club. I didn't know how to relate to this place, or to going to college. I thought, I can use this space, the Stanford campus, as my playground. And so the first of We Players' non-traditional stagings of plays took place among the beautiful colonnades and trees of that campus. It keeps me growing and alive. All he has to do not reveal his emotions, as she reminds him in the final lines of the scene. She assures him again, "Leave all the rest to me " [line 74].

You can see how throughout this entire scene, just by looking at the pronouns, how Lady Macbeth takes on herself the entire enterprise. She "unsexes" herself to became to stone-cold killer that she feared her husband was incapable of being. This is a short scene of about 30 lines to cover Duncan's arrival at the castle.

Shakespeare's Theater

It is designed to establish the tension between the outer appearance of civility and generosity and the inner deception and evil -- the same old "fair is foul" theme again. Macbeth's castle is very pleasant. Duncan is especially pleased to see the nests of the swallows built on the upper walls of the castle, which he believes symbolize the domesticity of the place.

Lady Macbeth plays the perfect hostess, welcoming the king and assuring him that his visit is no trouble: "We love having you stay with us. Here we begin with Macbeth contemplating the effects of the murder. This is a curious development since we just heard Lady Macbeth assure him, "Leave all the rest to me. What are the consequences of this act? What we have here is the portrait of a man who is conflicted, to put it mildly. Something has changed for Macbeth.

At line 2,. If the assassination. With his surcease, success; that but this blow. Once again we get a substitute for the actual killing. Here it is "assassination" and even more vaguely, "surcease. With the phrase "with his surcease, success," we get one of those Shakespearean plays on words, a kind of serious pun. At line 4 the word "blow" has a curious historical connection. We probably assume it refers to the action of striking a body with a knife, but the historian Garry Wills, in a provocative study of Macbeth as one of the Gunpowder plays, maintains it was meant to remind the audience of the plot to blow up the Houses of Parliament.

If we could catch the consequences of our actions, so that what we did was the "be-all and end-all" -- what we did was all there was to it -- we would "jump the life to come. We would act right "here, but here" without hesitation. You'll notice that the first two sentences have both started with the word "if. But Macbeth has this powerful imagination, and he cannot let it end here, and he envisions the rest of what will happen. At line 7 he continues the scenario:. We still [always] have judgment here; that we but teach.

Bloody instruction, which being taught, return. If he thought for a moment that he could "trammel up the consequences," he reminds himself of what really happens: what I invent or teach will be returned upon me. Travel was difficult and you had to rely upon strangers to provide for and protect you.

Martha Stewart would never allow the murder of guests. But Macbeth pushes further in his imagination about the consequences at line So clear in his great office, that his virtues. Will plead like angels trumpet-tongued against. Duncan is portrayed as this saintly king who has governed well unlike the account in Holinshed's history. As a consequence his virtues, like angels, would loudly proclaim against the awful murder, which would, of course, be a "deep damnation.

In fact it would be as if the forces of heaven, the angels with loud speakers, would let everybody know what was going on and who was responsible. By the way, notice still one more euphemism for murder: "taking-off. Striding the blast, or heaven's cherubim horsed. The images get very dense and complex here, but the general idea is clear: everyone would know who was responsible. The idea here is that pity itself would respond to the murder. At line 22 we can imagine the baby astride the wind as if it were a horse, or once again we can see here with "blast" and with "blow" at line 24 those images of the Gunpowder explosion.

Shakespeare really gets carried away with the description, and he moves from the baby to the cherubim or angels riding upon the "sightless couriers," wind shown metaphorically as horses, without eyes but still delivering the message of the murder as couriers.

These angels, earlier described as "trumpet-tongued," would blow the "horrid deed" in every eye. When you are out in a strong cold wind, your eyes water, but with this heavenly onslaught, your tears would "drown the wind. Perhaps Macbeth has moved beyond his wife's assurance, "Leave all the rest to me," and is now contemplating doing the murder himself.

Or maybe all this agonizing about consequences is about his standing by while his wife commits the murder. His intention is not clear from the passage here. As Macbeth looks at the situation, he realizes he does not have sufficient motivation to do the act. At line 25 he envisions himself riding a horse, much like the "sightless couriers" above and preparing to jump over some kind of obstacle, as in a steeplechase race:. He needs something to force the horse into this jump, and the only spur he has his own ambition, which leaps too soon and too weakly, and fails to clear the obstacle and falls on the other side.

Remember that earlier image of jumping the life to come? Here's what really happens! But before Macbeth can finish his idea of failing in the jump, in comes Lady Macbeth, who is exactly the spur he needed. One of the reasons I like this scene so much is that it shows us how couples who have been together for a long time understand how he other work and can assume certain psychological roles with each other.

If Macbeth lacked some motivation to get past all of objections he just raised to the murder, here she is. Lady Macbeth is entirely focused on the task, what has to be done, and she's concerned because Macbeth left the dinner table. Worried about the propriety of the occasion, Macbeth demands to know if Duncan asked for him, and Lady Macbeth snaps, "Of course he has. Which would be worn now in their newest gloss,. The reference in the last two lines is probably to wearing new clothes, or possibly fashion accessories.

Regarding Arts, Macbeth

Once again we see Macbeth refer to his situation in terms of wearing something new and not his usual clothing. Lady Macbeth's reaction is immediate and visceral; she's really upset by this turn of events. At line 35 she rages:. Was the hope drunk. With which you dressed yourself? Hath it slept since? And wakes it now, to look so green and pale. At what it did so freely? From this time. Lady Macbeth doesn't want to hear this Macbeth; this is the "milk-of-human-kindness" Macbeth. Let's go back and find that Macbeth who had the sudden upsurge of excitement when the witches greeted him as "king hereafter.

In the next line she changes metaphors and asks if that elation he felt had fallen asleep and now awakened feeling "green," or sickly, and "pale" at the idea he had earlier contemplated. She equates his love for her with his willingness to do the act. Why don't you act in the same way to get the crown? You really want that "ornament of life," the crown, yet you, a big, brave military hero, behave like a "coward in thy own esteem," or opinion. You allow your fear to dominate your desire that the cat that wanted to spilled milk but was afraid of getting its paws wet.

Macbeth reacts to his wife's nagging by trying to shut her up at line "Prithee, peace! He reminds her that he is a hero; he's been out killing Norwegians and other thanes. He is the epitome of a man of action. She can't find a man more willing to act -- anyone who dares do more isn't really a man but a beast..

We are back to the letter he sent. In effect she demands, "If you call yourself a man now, then what beast was it that wrote the letter? Why did you tell me if you weren't going to do anything about it? She then switches to a different approach: "When you were willing to do it, then you were a man.

And now if you carry it [the murder] out, you will be even more of a man. Lady Macbeth points out the common experience they have had at line 51 -- he with the greeting of the witches, she with the news of Duncan's arrival. They have made themselves, and that their fitness now. You were gun-ho to act when you first heard the witches but had neither the time nor place to carry it out.

Now, through some powerful force, Duncan puts himself in our hands, and the fact that he has made it easy to do the murder has made you suddenly incapable of acting. Everything is conspiring to make Macbeth do it. Just an observation: Macbeth has no problem killing many men during a battle; committing one immoral murder in peacetime to advance himself unnerves him. That's not so unusual. After all the vast majority of combat veterans do not return home and continue killing. Macbeth's wife now closes with the most devastating argument of all.

What can she find as an equivalent for herself to show her husband, who after all goes around unseaming enemies of the state, what she would be willing to do? We know from other places in the play that the Macbeths have no children and are eager to have them. In a memorable production in Ashland some years ago the actor and actress playing the Macbeths suggested by expressions and gestures that they had had a child who had recently died, so there was a gaping wound in their lives and having a child was a real issue with them. At line 54 she lets him have it:. How tender 'tis to love the babe that milks me.

Have plucked my nipple from his boneless gums,. And dash the brains out, had I so sworn as you. This is cold! Even as she celebrates the idea of motherhood and babies and nourishment notice the "milk of human kindness" makes one more appearance , she couples it with cold-blooded destruction with the most graphic act of violence.

Notice that the baby is a male especially important for a macho guy like Macbeth but that the violence is compounded by the way she describes "the brains," as an impersonal mess on the wall. We now understand why she had to call upon the spirits to "unsex" her. If she would be willing to do all of this, how can Macbeth balk at one measly little murder? Macbeth now shows the first sign of weakening. At line 59 he asks, "If we should fail?

Now the way Lady Macbeth answers him can vary, depending on where you place the emphasis. With the punctuation here, when she says, "We fail? There's no way we will fail. He asks for some kind of reassurance, and she declares, "We fail! Another way to read it is to put the emphasis on "we," as in "We, the two of us working together against the suckers of the world, fail? It's not going to happen. Lady Macbeth now envisions how it will happen. Duncan, an old man, will be worn out after his horseback ride and the big feast, and he will fall asleep quickly and soundly.

She'll make a special effort to get his bodyguards -- his two chamberlains -- good and drunk with wine so their brains will be no better than a "limbeck," a bottle of liquor. At line 67 she concludes:. His spongy officers, who shall bear the guilt. They will have a perfect opportunity to kill Duncan and will have scapegoats handy to blame. You notice the pronoun has changed. It's no longer "Leave all the rest to me.

Macbeth is convinced in a flash. This is what he wanted his wife to do for him from the beginning, figure out a plan and give him some reassurance about its success. He asks that she give birth to boys only since her "mettle" or inner qualities are best suited for males. Apparently Lady Macbeth's "unsexing" operation succeeded in getting rid of her feminine qualities. We know that Macbeth's is converted because he immediately picks up on the plan she has outlined and begins embellishing -- they will use the guards' knives to kill Duncan and will rub blood on them as evidence of their guilt.

Lady Macbeth agrees and encourages him, saying the two of them will play the grief-stricken subjects as well as anybody. Now it is Macbeth who takes control. Earlier she had warned him to hide his feelings; now he tells her at line "Away, and mock the time with fairest show. The last two lines here form a rhymed couplet, remember, to signal that the next scene is in a different place. Macbeth has taken ownership of the plot.

The pronouns have shifted from Lady Macbeth's "I" to now "we" for the two of them.

Folger Theatre

One last observation about the final line in which Macbeth, newly turned villain, now admits that he has a "false heart," the admission that he is a villain. Elsewhere in these lectures I have talked about the "Snively Whiplash" effect, named for the bad guy in the old Rocky and Bullwinkle Show on television, who was about as subtle in his evil as bulldozer.

You knew Snively was the villain because he twisted his moustache and cackled fiendishly. Shakespeare makes sure that even the most stupid person in the audience gets the idea that Macbeth is a bad man, "false heart," no matter how hard he pretends to be a good guy. Act II, Scene 1. This short scene, between two emotional highpoints, serves a couple of purposes. First, it establishes that Banquo does have a son, Fleance, through whom Banquo's line will be preserved to eventually become the Stuart kings of Scotland.

Secondly, Shakespeare wants to give us a moment of calm before he begins to build the suspense again. Thirdly, he wants to establish the contrast between the moral choices of Banquo and Macbeth. As you read this scene notice how Banquo reacts when Macbeth enters and what Duncan has given Lady Macbeth.

Finally notice how Macbeth and Banquo dance around the prophecy of the witches. This short scene provides a momentary calm. It establishes a contrast between Macbeth and Banquo: Banquo is tired and will sleep soundly, especially after he offers a little prayer to the "merciful powers" at lines 8 -- 10; Macbeth, psyched up by the confrontation with his wife, roams the halls of the palace.

We get very different views of children: Lady Macbeth "dashing the brains out," and Macbeth hoping for "men-children" contrast with Banquo and his son, who seem perfectly natural. Dad even lets his boy carry the big sword for him. These are the same thoughts that Macbeth and his wife had tried to raise in their powerful evocations of the night in contemplating evil. When Macbeth comes in, Banquo instinctively calls for his sword as if something dangerous is approaching.

Of course, Banquo doesn't realize how right he is to suspect Macbeth. King Duncan has been generous to everyone at the castle, even giving Lady Macbeth a diamond. It's just a reminder that Macbeth can't claim ingratitude drives him to the murder. Duncan's generosity and his pleasure in visiting the Macbeths make his murder all the more horrible.

At line 20 Banquo first brings up the witches: "I dreamt last night of the three weird sisters. Banquo agrees. Perhaps then Macbeth realizes that he won't be able to sound Banquo out more fully before he commits the murder in just a few minutes. Perhaps he suddenly wonders how Banquo will react?

It's almost as if Macbeth panics and really wants to test Banquo's allegiances here. Banquo's answer is not negative, but he makes it clear that whatever Macbeth is asking, Banquo will be careful not to do anything which compromises his honor or violates his oath of allegiance to Duncan. So much for the forlorn hope Macbeth had that Banquo, the kind of Everyman in this play, would support him. I think the close friendship between Macbeth and Banquo ceases at that moment. Clearly Macbeth cannot trust him. In this exchange Macbeth has acted toward Banquo as his wife had acted toward him in the previous scene in trying to manipulate him to act.

Obviously he is not as skilled in this endeavor as his wife is. He sends the messenger out to tell his wife to strike upon the bell when "my drink is ready," which is, of course, the signal for when she has drugged the bodyguards. In the second half of this scene Macbeth will hallucinate a dagger. Look at the description and find where the appearance of the dagger changes. How does it change? What's the significance of the hallucination and this change? This scene of the imaginary dagger was a real favorite of old-time actors.

It gave them a chance to ham it up and overact as they envision this scary knife that only they could seen. Some productions try to supply a spooky dagger with light projections or a prop on a wire. All these are mistakes, nor does Macbeth have to go ballistic over the appearance of the thing. The language makes it clear that Macbeth knows what the source of the fantasy is.

The scene reveals some important things for us. The dagger has its handle toward his hand, but when he tries to grab it, he fails, and at line 36 he asks:. Even in the midst of his delusion he has enough sense to question why he's having this particular vision.

Then at line 46 we get an important shift in the appearance of the knife, something that's usually skipped over in production. The dagger is suddenly covered with blood: "I see thee still. Given how much trouble Macbeth has in the next scene with all the blood the murder creates, he should pay attend to his vision.

But he dismisses it at line "There's no such thing. Now at line 49 Macbeth goes into another one of those evocations of the night. It is as if Macbeth is saying, "If the sun's not shining, I don't need to worry about morality. If it's too dark to see what my hand is doing, I'm safe.

Macbeth Summary

Whose howl's his watch, thus with his stealthy pace,. With Tarquin's ravishing strides, towards his design. The word "abuse" here is revealing. Your notes tell you it means "deceive," but more importantly it was a technical term used to describe a witch's spell. So here the "wicked dreams" put a spell on sleep that thinks it's safe behind a curtain. So Shakespeare, in addition to using details from English and Scottish witchcraft, goes back and borrows from the Greeks as well.

At line 52 Shakespeare personifies "murder," creating a character who represents the crime. Murder has a watchdog or "sentinel," which is a wolf, an animal which still evoked fright even though there were no wolves left in England at that time. The howl of the wolf is likened to the regular call of the watchman who cried out on the hour throughout the night. At line 55 Shakespeare now compares murder, sneaking through the dark, with the Roman despot Tarquin who stalked and raped the Roman matron Lucrece. Shakespeare had written a long poem about Lucrece whose only recourse after she was attacked was to kill herself.

So in these eight lines Shakespeare packs a lot of information. So, without having solved the question of the imaginary dagger, which might warn him of consequences, but after evoking the power of the night, Macbeth at line 56 sets out to commit the ultimate crime:. Hear not my steps, which way they walk, for fear.

Which now suits with it. Whilst I threat, he lives:. Words to the heat of deed too cold breath gives. Macbeth is ready to act; he has psyched himself up, and because it is night, the consequences will not be great. But even the environment conspires against him, the stones warning of his approach.

He ends up with that same imperative of the soldier we had seen earlier -- just do it! You thought about it enough, now act! The bell rings on cue, and he sets out at line 62 to act. It is also a Snively Whiplash reminder so that even the slowest member of the audience, who has not followed all of Macbeth's pretending to be good and moral ponderings on the event, will now know he is about to commit evil. The rhyme words emphasize the message: "knell," the bell rung for the dead; and "hell. This is the murder of Duncan, one of the triumphs of Shakespeare's imagination.

It presents the horror of the murder in an unusual way, one that will heighten what is done. The scene will also reveal some profound psychological differences between husband and wife, fault lines in their relationship. As you look over the scene, as yourself why have we moved all the way from Lady Macbeth's "Leave all the rest to me " to "what cannot you and I perform" now to " He is about it"? Why is Lady Macbeth not upstairs sticking the knife into Duncan's flesh?

Then ask yourself what to make of Macbeth's reaction to committing the murder. This scene is justifiably famous for the creation of suspense. We never see the murder, only a kind of parallel action, which actually has the effect of making the horror greater. Early in his career Shakespeare had written a series of action dramas, including Titus Andronicus , a particularly bloody one. In that play Shakespeare was careful to show every act of death and mutilation on stage.

A young playwright, Shakespeare had exercised no restraint at all. Now we see the mature playwright at work: no blood or body, but Shakespeare showing us the psychological effects of the action. In the opening 13 lines Lady Macbeth isn't upstairs in the action, but she is psyched.

She has been hitting the booze, and she is supersensitive to sounds. She hears the owl at line 3, another animal associated with witchcraft. When a person was about to be executed the authorities had a special person walk up and down outside the prison the night before, ringing a bell and crying out to remind the poor wretch inside that he needed to make his peace with his god.

Judi Dench - Speaking Shakespeare

Lots of people in the audience had undoubtedly heard the bellman. At line 4 she tells us, "He is about it. At line 5 following Lady Macbeth, like a good wife, worries that her husband has screwed up. At line 8, when she hears him cry out, her anxiety increases.

As she tells us if he bungles the murder and is caught, they will both lose their heads. She did all the preparation; he "Could not have missed 'em. When Macbeth returns from upstairs, he and his wife have a heated, almost frantic exchange between lines13 -- Here Shakespeare is using the very brevity and terseness of the language to emphasize the fact that both of these people are very agitated and their emotions are raw. The exchange takes the form of a series of questions and answers. Notice how sometimes Macbeth doesn't even answer the question his wife asks, suggesting that he is very distracted.

What begins to emerge is that they have very different reactions to the event -- she's excited by the success, he's devastated by what he's done. Macbeth: I have done the deed. Didst thou not hear a noise? Lady M. Didst thou not speak? Macbeth: When? Macbeth: As I descended? Macbeth: Hark! Who lies in the second chamber? Macbeth: This is a sorry sight. Notice how at line 18 she answers his question, and he jumps to a whole new topic. People under extreme stress will act like this, unable to move logically from one point to another.

At line 22 Macbeth finally begins to tell her what happened, not in terms of the principal action of plunging the knife into Duncan's flesh repeatedly, but in terms of what happened, supposedly, on the way up and back down from Duncan's room. It is as if by not mentioning the actual killing Macbeth heightens the horror. Now in the exchange between Macbeth and his wife, which runs between line 22 and about It is as if we had two different worlds trying to communicate.

He has this powerful imagination that builds on the event, making it ever more complex and shocking. We saw what his imagination could generate with his sense of sight and the air-borne dagger before; His sense of hearing proves to be even more fertile. She has no imagination, at least none that she shares with him; she will seek to treat the event in the most mundane and literal fashion possible.

He tells her that someone laughed in his sleep and another one cried "Murder! I stood and heard them. So far, so good. But now Macbeth begins to expand this exchange at line One cried, "God bless us! As they had seen me with these hangman's hands:. List'ning to their fear, I could not say, "Amen.


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They say more to each other, asking for God's blessing as if they has seen Macbeth with his "hangman's hands. In executions for serious crimes against the state, the hangman often stopped the victim from dying, revived him so that he could watch while the hangman cut him open and pulled out his intestines. When the victim finally died of shock and loss of blood, his body was often cut up into quarters and sent to be displayed in various parts of the city as a warning to others. This is where we get the phrase: "Hang, drawn [cut open] and quartered. Lady Macbeth's solution to her husband's dilemma is simple: "don't think about it!

But he cannot let it go. At line 30 he ponders its significance: "But wherefore could I not pronounce 'Amen'? Her message throughout the play up to now has been, "Come on, be a man! The dead can't hurt you. She fears for both of them. Underneath her mask of being tough and not bothered by the events, she really is. In the end she will be the one who does go mad. Macbeth auditory hallucination continues. Now besides the two guys who woke up we get this detail at line Macbeth does murder sleep" -- the innocent sleep,.

Sleep that knits up the raveled sleave of care,. The death of each day's life, sore labor's bath,. Balm of hurt minds, great nature's second course,. Don't you hate walking through a house in the night and having lengthy expositions coming at you from the dark? Of course, Macbeth does murder sleep in the sense that we never see or hear of him sleeping through the rest of the play, but we do get a number of references from him and his wife about the trouble he will have getting a good night's sleep.

Banquo had prayed that he be protected from the wicked dreams that come in the night; it's too late for Macbeth. Lady Macbeth was willing to cut her husband some slack before; after all, he had done what she wanted. But this is too much: "What do you mean? Of course, we can see how Macbeth in stabbing Duncan in his sleep would think that he had murdered sleep.

Once he had done it to another, how could he ever sleep peacefully himself? Lady Macbeth blows up, as she tries to deal with what he says in a literal sense at line "Who was it that thus cried? She'll get to the bottom of the mystery. All he has to do is wash his hands to get rid of "this filthy witness" from his hands. Then she realizes that he still has the bloody daggers in his hand.

He has screwed up, as she feared. He was supposed to have left them upstairs and to have smeared the sleepy grooms with blood. She orders him to go back and finish the job. Macbeth refuses at line "I'll go no more. As long as Macbeth did not have to see the wound he made in the dark, he was all right.

Now he is terrified of thinking about the consequences of his action. He cannot bear to look at it again. So gutsy Lady Macbeth finally gets her chance to jump in at line Give me the daggers. The sleeping and the dead. Are but as pictures. That fears a painted devil. If he do bleed,. She gives her husband a couple of shots, attacking his manhood once again. We know that Macbeth is terrified, but what does it take for Lady Macbeth to go upstairs and finish the job?

We even get a serious pun in the last two lines here -- the play on "gild" and "guilt. At this point we get an intrusion, a knocking at the door. It's a simple device, but psychologically what an impact! The Macbeths have been behaving as if they were the only people in the world; they are in the midst of a terrible, bloody act. The knocking is a sudden, dramatic device to remind both of them that they are accountable to the outside world, which is at the door and wants in now.

Macbeth freaks out at line How is it with me when every noise appalls me? What hands are here? They pluck out mine eyes! Will all great Neptune's ocean wash this blood. Clean from my hand? No: this my hand will rather. When Macbeth looks at his hands and wonders about cleaning them, he thinks in terms of using the ocean. However, even that would not be enough to cleanse the guilt from him.


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  • The blood will turn the green sea to red in that wonderful word "incarnadine. He had warned himself before the murder that committing the crime was like drinking the same poison you use to kill someone. His final words in the scene also express regret as he says to whoever is knocking at the door: "Wake Duncan with thy knocking!

    I would thou couldst! Scene 2, you'll notice, doesn't end with that rhymed couplet that I told you signals the conclusion of most scenes. That's because Shakespeare did not consider this as a separate scene but as a continuation. The Porter is the doorman for the castle, and we see him, hung over, playing a little game of being the Porter at the gates of Hell.

    Read his short scene in the first 22 lines of the scene and notice anything unusual about who he lets in. This scene shows how far Shakespeare had come in the development of his art. I pointed out that this wasn't very effective and is almost always cut. By contrast, the Porter's scene is one of the very best comic relief scenes that Shakespeare wrote. The emotional intensity of the previous scene is very high, with the Macbeths scurrying around to hide their guilt and the insistent knocking at the gate, threatening discovery. Now, Shakespeare uses the Porter to create a different view of the same issues.