Macbeth: the morning after Duncan, the king, has been murdered Lennox and Macduff arrive at Macbeth’s home to collect the king. When Macbeth is speaking to Lennox and Macduff, Macbeth isn’t saying enough to make them feel welcomed at his home. Macduff is polite and asks whether the king is awake yet and Macbeth answers with “not yet” suggesting that he is not in the mood for talking. He is probably extremely nervous at the moment in time and is pale and sweating a lot. He is also not talking much because he is thinking of what will happen when they find the king. “Will they blame him? What is he going to do if it is him?” In Shakespeare’s writings he uses ten syllables in every line but in the case of Macbeth, he uses stichomythias, which are short broken lines. When Macbeth is transporting them to the king’s room he says “the labour we delight in physics” which is an old proverb. He uses this because he is so nervous and he can’t think of anything to say, so he says a proverb which isn’t his own words.
Once they reach the king’s room Lennox asks Macbeth if the king is leaving on that day, and Macbeth says “he does – he did appoint so”. In some ways many people think that Macbeth is giving the whole murder away by saying this because he could mean two things. The first meaning is, that when he says “he did appoint so” he means that he did appoint to go but he’s dead so he’s not really going anywhere. The second meaning is that, he is just agreeing with Lennox’s question about if the king is leaving.
Macduff is sent to awaken the king, and while that is going on, Lennox is trying to obtain a conversation out of Macbeth, so he talks about how bad the weather was that night. All Macbeth can answer with is “’twas a rough night” because he is too concerned about what will happen when Macduff finds the kings dead body, and he is also agreeing with Lennox because is was a rough night, well for him at least.
Once the king was found dead there is confusion everywhere in the air, except for Macbeth who isn’t acting very well and Lady Macbeth who is pretending to wake up. Everybody’s speech is both short and precise or just tangled up so it makes no sense but Macbeth’s parts are all poetic and sounds prepared, unnatural and a bit complex because he is not as shocked. Macbeth says “Had I but died an hour before this chance, I had lived a blessed time” in this quotation Macbeth is saying that, if he had died then he wouldn’t feel guilty anymore. Macbeth also says that when the king was alive he was the wine in the wine bottle but now he’s dead only the sediment is left at the bottom.
The king’s sons have just woken up and Donalbain is asking about what has happened. Instead of Macbeth telling the sons the quick straight fact, he uses four metaphors “the spring, the head, the fountain, the source” because these all represent kingliness.
After Lennox has suspected the guards of killing the king Macbeth interrupts and says “O yet I do repent me of my fury, that is did kill them”. Macbeth killed the guards because they are the key witnesses and Macbeth doesn’t want to be found out. After Macduff asks why he killed them Macbeth answers with rhetorical question using antithesis, which are opposite, for example “temperate and furious, loyal and neutral”. Macbeth described why he killed the guards by saying “his silver skin laced in golden blood” using gold and silver showing how much he admired him, saying that he killed them out of love.
Lady Macbeth sees the dead guards and faints. Macbeth is not going to help his wife because of is nerves when he should be taking control because it’s his home.
Banquo decides to set up a meeting and Macbeth is not keen on this idea so he says “let’s briefly put on manly readiness” because he is trying to by time because he doesn’t want to be found out.
Lennox: Lennox greets Macbeth in any normal way because he doesn’t know that the king is dead yet. He is trying to compose a conversation with Macbeth but he feels unwelcome because Macbeth isn’t saying much. Lennox then speaks of what had happened that night on the weather “where we lay, our chimneys were blown down” and “strange screams of death” talking about a bad omen of nature, meaning that in that time they thought that if the weather was extremely bad something bad was going to happen. Bad weather has also occurred in Shakespeare’s “Julius Caesar” just before he dies. Another omen that is in Macbeth and Julius Caesar is “the obscure bird (M)” and “Hooting and shrieking (JC)” which is an owl of the night.
Macduff is saying that the king is dead and Lennox says a genuine “what’s the matter?” because he, unlike Macbeth doesn’t know about the king being murdered.
The incident is being told the sons of the king and Lennox says that the guard seemed to have killed him because the have blood all over them. But he doesn’t actually know who the murder is.
Macduff: Macduff is the first to see the king dead and is shocked beyond belief. He says “horror, horror, horror!” because, he is exceedingly shocked and also back in the days the theatre was like a stadium and the actor had to face three directions so that everyone could feel the impact. His words are also disorganized because he is so distraught he can’t think straight. He says “confusion” meaning that there is utter chaos and he mentions the divine right of kings, which is someone that has been chosen by God to rule, by saying “most sacrilegious”. Furthermore he adds that the king’s body is like an anointed temple and that temple has been attacked.
Because Macduff is lost for words he tells them to go see it for themselves and says that the dead king is a “new Gorgon” which is a mythological creature that turns people into stone when they look at her. Macduff then take control by ringing the alarm bell to wake everyone up so they know the news.
Lady Macbeth then acts and asks what’s happened and why the bell is ringing. This is where he tells her that the news would be unbearable to a woman’s ears. This is dramatic irony because the audience knows more that the character speaking.
When Macbeth is describing to the king’s sons on the incident he is to long and complex, so Macduff is brief and to the point and says “your royal father’s murdered”.
Macbeth has just killed the guards and Macduff is very suspicious on why he killed them, by saying “wherefore did you so?” Macduff is probably looking confused at the moment. Macduff then takes control of the situation when Lady Macbeth faints.
Lady Macbeth: Lady Macbeth enters pretending to have just woken up and says “what’s the business” as though she doesn’t have a clue to what’s happening.
When Macduff tells Lady Macbeth that the king has been murdered, she says “what, in our house” which many people think that she gives the murder and she’s more concerned about her reputation away by saying that. The other, but unlikely explanation is that she is just asking for details.
After Macbeth’s long speech Lady Macbeth says “Help me hence, ho!” and faints, this is an example of alterative interpretation because I can mean two things. Firstly it can mean that she is faking the faint to draw attention away from Macbeth because he was acting unnatural, secondly it could have meant that all the killing and pressure had gone to her head and she just couldn’t take it anymore so she just passed out.
Banquo: when Banquo is first told of the murder he reacts with shock but disbelief and he says “I prithee contradict thyself, and say it is not so” meaning that he wants Macduff to say that he is actually alive and it was all just a joke.
Banquo takes control at the end because Macbeth isn’t doing anything and he organizes a meeting because he thinks the guards weren’t the murderers and he doesn’t believe Macbeth’s story. This is because he is thinking back to when him and Macbeth when to the witches. Banquo doesn’t believe Macbeth’s story when he says “undivulged pretence” and that’s why he organizes a meeting.
Donalbain and Malcolm: They first come in taken aback because their father has just been murdered and they use stichomythia and are probably pale with grief and they can only ask, what happened and who did it.
Later on they speak quietly to each other because they have suspicions that Macbeth has killed their father, because they are saying that if you are genuinely shocked then you wouldn’t talk much but Macbeth is speaking a lot so he mush be in on it. So they decide to go to different countries because they are scared of being killed themselves and they think the murderers are still alive.