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Macbeth Building Suspense in Act 2

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Shakespeare uses many images and situations in order to build suspense. Act II is the act that the murder of the king takes place because of this the suspense that is built in this act is particularly important. In scene one,(lines 33-61) the dagger soliloquy builds suspense while Macbeth is waiting for the time to come when he is going to kill the king. One of the ways that he builds suspense in this soliloquy is by giving the audience the fear that Macbeth might get caught before he has even committed the crime. “Hear not my steps, which way they walk, for fear/ Thy very stones prate of my whereabout,/ And take the present horror from the time,/ Which now suits with it.” (lines 57-60) Scene II is full of suspense. Shakespeare uses visual and auditory images in this scene to add to the anticipation of the inevitable discovering of the body. Some examples of these images are when the constant knocking interrupts their conversation throughout the scene.

This makes the characters fearful and the audience curious as to what is going to happen. To add to the suspense of the images Shakespeare added a time problem in this scene. The two characters must rush against the clock. The have to wash the blood off their hands, place the bloody knife’s near the sleeping grooms, and appear to have been sleeping all before anyone else discovers what has happened. “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.” (lines45-49)

The suspense in the third and final scene in this act is significant because this is the scene where the body of the king is finally discovered. Everyone is trying to figure out what happened and find out where to place the blame. This is suspenseful because Macbeth has to act surprised and come up with an on the spot excuse for killing the grooms without incriminating himself. “Who can be wise, amazed, temprate and furious,/ Loyal and neutral, in a moment? No man./ The expedition of my violent love/ Outrun the pauser, reason. Here lay Duncan,/ His silver skin laced with his golden blood,/ And his gashed stabs looked like a breach in nature/ For ruin’s wasteful entrance: there, the murderers,/ Steeped in the colors of their trade, their daggers…” (lines108-114)

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