Analyse the ways in which Shakespeare evokes contradictory feelings (in you) towards his characters:
In Scene 3, Macbeth showed a lot more of the brave and loyal side of his character than in Scene 2, when he spoke of how he felt that he had heard voices in his head and that he has lost not only himself, but his religion. All throughout Scene 3, Macbeth shows only strength in front of other characters, for example, when he slays the guards and explains why to everyone else on stage. He says, “Who can be wise, amazed, temp’rate, and furious, Loyal and neutral, in a moment? No man. Th’expedition of my violent love Outran the pauser, reason” (2.3.101-103). In these lines, Macbeth shows the other characters on stage that he is upset about Duncan’s death, and had to do something to avenge him, like kill the guards who hadn’t been able to protect him. This greatly contradicts Scene 2, where he showed little of anything but weakness. Macbeth spoke to his wife about how he could hear voices in his head telling him that he was a murderer and how he couldn’t go back into the room where Duncan lay dead because he was too guilt-ridden. His wife did not understand how he could feel such guilt and accused him of being cowardly, especially because Macbeth couldn’t fathom what he had done. He says, “I’ll go on no more. I am afraid to think what I have done; look on’t again, I dare not.” (2.2.54-56). The shift in what he shows of his character in the two scenes is big, but written so that it seemed like shifting between traits easily is just another one of the many things that Macbeth can do.
Comment on the significance of dialogue and ensemble scenes in affecting mood and positioning the audience.
In Scene 3 of Act 2, many characters come together to discuss the death of their former king, Duncan. Even though they are the hosts, Macbeth and his wife are not questioned as to how Duncan died and whether or not they had anything to do with it. It could be because no one wanted to question Macbeth, who was quite powerful and who the former king trusted. The audience knows that Macbeth is guilty, yet he manages to hide it and acts as though he was hurt and as though he wishes that he had never seen Duncan dead. He says, “Had I but died an hour before this chance, I had lived a blessed time,” (2.3.84-85). I think it’s clever how Shakespeare has allowed the audience to see a different side of Macbeth’s words than the characters in the play. While we see this line as Macbeth wishing that he had never killed Duncan, the characters in the play see this line as Macbeth wishing that he had never seen Duncan dead, and ultimately only adding to the respect that the other characters have for him.