Tension in Act 2, Scenes 1 and 2 of William Shakespeare's Macbeth

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Tension in Act 2, Scenes 1 and 2 of William Shakespeare's Macbeth

Shakespeare's Macbeth is a play that develops around tension all the way through. Shakespeare manages to create tension in a variety of ways in terms of the thematic aspects, linguistic aspects and dramatic aspects.

Act II (scenes I and 11) is the part of Macbeth where Lady Macbeth and her husband (Macbeth) actually carry out their plans and do the deed. Instead of planning and talking about killing King Duncan of Scotland, the Macbeths go ahead and actually do it. Tension is built up before the killing in scene I and also in scene II when Macbeth reappears having done the "deed". We can see the Macbeths' reactions and feelings
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For me, it wouldn't be the sort of command you would shout unless you were disturbed by something - and of course we know that Banquo is extremely fearful due to either his worry about the witches' prophecies or it is a possibility that he suspects Macbeth. Banquo's worry about the witches was something shared by the society in Shakespearian times, who were very fearful of the supernatural. Therefore the references to the supernatural would have increased tension amidst the audience.

The actual theme of killing the King certainly creates the utmost tension in itself. In Shakespearian times the King was seen as next to God, so to murder the King i.e. commit treason would be a wicked sin, for which the killer would be cut off from God.

There is a stark contrast in Banquo's and Macbeth's manner. Banquo speaks his mind and is open about his feelings whereas Macbeth hides his true feelings. When Banquo says "I dreamt last night of the three weird sisters", Macbeth's response is "I think not of them". The audience knows this is a blatant lie and Macbeth isn't telling his friend Banquo of his true feelings and what he is really feeling inside. Shakespeare uses dramatic irony here to create tension, where we (the audience) know more than the characters do.

Another key point at this moment in the play,
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