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Act II Scene II of Macbeth Directed in the Voice of Shakespeare

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This scene is vitally important for the setting for the rest of the play; the characters really show themselves to the audience. I wrote this scene to show many different feelings such as fear and boldness in the characters. This can be hard to portray. This scene is probably one of the most difficult of the whole play. It involves the killing of the King, Duncan. This murder will not be shown on the stage but merely mentioned by the actors because otherwise it would not be politically correct, this is because the King is very powerful these days.

As with the whole of this play, I will be using a boy to play the woman is this is historically correct. No women are allowed to act in Shakespeare’s theatres.

The whole of this scene should be said nearly whispering, this is because the scene is set in the castle at night whilst everyone else is asleep

For the first line of this scene, which is, ‘That which has made them drunk hath made me bold:’ I want you, Dom to emphasise the difference between the words, ‘them’ and, ‘me’. ‘them’ refers to the King’s servants who are supposed to be looking after him and This line means that Lady Macbeth has been drinking but not obviously as much as the King’s guards. Dom, I want you to act as if you are trying to convince yourself that you have been made bold by your drinking the alcohol.

The second line, ‘What hath quenched them hath given me fire. -Hark! -Peace!’ Is really just emphasising the first line, that it until you get to, ‘hark!’ At this moment, Lady Macbeth is startled by a noise. This shows that she is not actually bold as she sounds, she is actually easily frightened. Dom, I want you to pause after, ‘hark!’ and look all around the stage in a worried manner. It has to be very obvious that you have been frightened to show that Lady Macbeth has a softer side. When you say the word ‘Peace!’ I want it to be in a relaxed way, she has just realised that is was an owl that frightened her and she knows that that is nothing to worry about. The owl is explained in the third line, ‘It was the owl that shreik’d, the fatal bellman’

The fourth line should be said directly after the third line, ‘Which gives the sternest good night. He is about it.’ The fourth line is merely a continuation of the third. Lady Macbeth is explaining to herself not to be worried. Yet she is explaining it in a slightly worried and agitated manner. When Lady Macbeth talks about, ‘he’ in line four, she is talking about Macbeth. She is saying, ‘Macbeth is murdering King Duncan right now.’

When Lady Macbeth says, ‘The doors are open; and the surfeited grooms do mock their charge with snores: I have drugged their possets,’ She means that she has put a large amount of alcohol in the King’s servants’ drinks to make them fall asleep whilst Macbeth does his deed. ‘That Death and Nature do contend about them, Whether they live or die.’ This basically means the same as the previous lines. Dom, they should be said with an air of excitement for Macbeth but also with an air of worry. She is worried that the deed may not work correctly.

Line eight is the first line of this scene when Macbeth speaks, ‘who’s there? -what, ho!’ This is the sound of Macbeth thinking he heard a noise. In panic he says those lines. Tom, I want you to sound extremely scared. Macbeth will not be seen when he says these lines so they must be said off-stage.

Lady Macbeth then has a long speech to say but much of it is relevant, ‘Alack! I am afraid they have awak’d, And’tis not done: -th’attempt and not the deed Confounds us. -Hark! -I laid their daggers ready he could not miss ’em. -Had he not resembled My father as he slept, I had done’t.-My husband!’ At first Lady Macbeth is afraid that when Macbeth cried out, he woke up the guards. Then she thinks about why he cried out, she seems to come to the conclusion that Macbeth can’t find the servants’ daggers with which to kill the King. Right at the end of her speech, she must hear another noise but this time she is not so scared and she calls to the sound. Dom, I want you to cry, ‘My husband!’ as if you are not entirely sure that the sound actually is your husband. Yet at the same time I want you to be excited that it is your husband returning after he has done the deed.

At this point Macbeth enters looking guilty. He should walk towards his wife slowly. Tom, I want you to show the complete opposite reaction to that of which Lady Macbeth is using. Dom, I want you to run towards your husband and hug him. Tom, you should perhaps push Lady Macbeth away from you, then you should say, ‘I have done the deed. -Didst thou hear a noise?’ The first part should be said in a sad and guilty way, the second part should be said as any normal question.

‘I heard the owl scream and the crickets cry. Did you not speak?’ This should be said excitedly. The next few lines should be said quickly as to give an impression of tension between the two characters.



As I descended?



Macbeth has suddenly realised something, ‘ Who lies in the second chamber?’ Tom, I want you to make him suddenly even more scared than before. Lady Macbeth answers; ‘Donalbain’ and Macbeth should seem even more worried. After a short pause he should say his line, ‘This is a sorry sight’ and instantly Lady Macbeth walks over towards him and comforts him saying; ‘A foolish though to say a sorry sight.’

The next few lines have been dealt with in a previous rehearsal so we will not deal with it again. We will pick up the text again at line forty-five, ‘Go, get some water, And wash this filthy witness from your hand.’ Lady Macbeth is now in charge of Macbeth. Yet she is speaking in a caring way, comforting her husband who has just killed the King. She is telling him to wash the blood of King Duncan from his hand. Whilst she is saying this she notices that Macbeth didn’t leave the Kings’ servant’s daggers with the servants, ‘Why did you bring these daggers from the place? They must lie there: go, carry them, and smear The sleepy grooms with blood.’ Lady Macbeth has seen a flaw in their plan, If the daggers do not lie with the servants then Macbeth and his wife will be found to be the murderers. She is commanding Macbeth to take the daggers and place them near the King’s servants, because it must look as if the servants have killed the King. Dom, you need to suddenly become angry with your husband. There has to be a major change between your comforting voice from before and your angry, commanding voice of now.

Unfortunately for Lady Macbeth, Macbeth says, ‘I’ll go no more: I am afraid to think what I have done; Look on’t again I dare not.’ Tom, Macbeth should say this in such a way that it makes Lady Macbeth sure that he will never return to the scene of the crime.

With this Lady Macbeth gets angry and she almost shouts, ‘Infirm of purpose! Give me the daggers.’ Dom, I want you to wrench the daggers from Tom’s hands and stride to the other end of the stage. Then, still talking angrily, you say, ‘The sleeping, and the dead, are but as pictures; ’tis the eye of childhood that fears a painted devil. If he do bleed, I’ll guild the faces of the grooms withal, for it must seem their guilt.’ Lady Macbeth should then walk out in a slightly defiant manner.

Macbeth starts to hear knocking; the audience can also hear this knocking so Lady Macbeth must produce the sound whilst she is offstage. Macbeth says, ‘Whence is that knocking? -How is’t with me, when every noise appals me? What hands are here? Ha! They pluck out mine eyes.’ When Macbeth mentions his hands, he should look at them and perhaps hold them up to the light. He then says, ‘Will all great Neptune’s ocean wash this blood from my hand? No, this my hand will rather the multitudinous seas incarnadine, making the green one red.’ He is saying that even though water may wash the blood from his hands the guilt of what he has done will never wash off.

At this point, Lady Macbeth should enter, she should walk in triumphantly showing her hands to her husband, ‘My hands are of your colour; but I shame to wear a heart so white.’ She is not just talking about her hands, she is also saying that she also has the guilt of Macbeth because she took part in the killing of the King. She then says, ‘I hear a knocking at the south entry: – retire we to our chamber.’ Again, Lady Macbeth is in control of Macbeth.

‘A little water clears us of this deed: How easy is it then!’ Lady Macbeth is saying that even though they have to live with the guilty conscience of murdering Duncan, no one will ever find out because they covered up so well. She goes on to say, ‘Your constancy hath left you unattended. Hark! More knocking. Get on your night-gown, let occasion call us, and show us to be watchers. -Be not lost so poorly in your thoughts.’ This means that Lady Macbeth has noticed that Macbeth has changed his personality since he has killed the King. She then says that they had better change before someone lets the person who is knocking inside. If Macbeth and Lady Macbeth are found wearing their day clothes it will arouse suspicion. Lady Macbeth should sound worried for Macbeth but also at the same time she should sound dominant to Macbeth.

The final lines by Macbeth really finish off the scene. ‘To know my deed, ’twere best not to know myself.’ Macbeth says this to Lady Macbeth. It means that Macbeth would rather loose consciousness than to think about what he has done to the King. He should say this in a forlorn and guilty way. He then shouts, ‘Wake Duncan with thy knocking:’ This is to be shouted towards the place where the knocking is coming from. He ends the scene by muttering quietly to himself, ‘I would thou couldst!’ These last lines are saying. Try and wake up Duncan with your knocking: I wish you could.

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