ACT 2 SCENE 1
It is after midnight as Banquo comes in with his young son, Fleance. Fleance states that it is after midnight, and his father replies that although it is late he doesn’t want to sleep because lately he has been dreaming of ‘cursed thoughts’.
Macbeth enters, and Banquo is surprised to see him still up. He tells Macbeth that the King is already in bed, having enjoyed the evening- “What, sir, not yet at rest? The king’s abed. He hath been in unusual pleasure.”
“I dreamed last night of the three weird sisters”- Banquo tells Macbeth that he dreamt of the witches, and says that they have told Macbeth some sort of truth, although Macbeth then states that he hasn’t thought about them at all. He suggests that they talk about the witches at another time.
“If you shall cleave to my consent, when ‘tis, it shall make honour for you”- Macbeth is implying that if Banquo cooperates with him, he will be rewarded.
Banquo and Fleance leave, and Macbeth is alone in the hall. Suddenly he hallucinates and thinks he sees a dagger in the air, its handle pointing towards his hand and its tip pointing towards where Duncan sleeps. “Come, let me clutch thee: I have thee not, and yet I see thee still.”- Macbeth tries to grab the dagger but he cannot, and then begins to wonder whether it is real or if it is a hallucination. Quote- “a dagger of the mind, a false creation, proceeding from the heat-oppressed brain.”
Macbeth thinks he sees blood on the dagger, but soon decides that the vision is just a manifestation of his unease over killing Duncan.
The night around him seems thick with horror and witchcraft (see soliloquy), but Macbeth resolves to do his bloody deed regardless. Just then, a bell summons him to the evil deed.
ACT 2- SCENE 2
As Macbeth leaves the hall, Lady Macbeth enters. She remarks on her boldness and determination- “that which hath made them drunk, hath made me bold, what hath quenched them, hath given me fire.” She imagines that Macbeth is killing Duncan as she speaks.
She worries about the deed and wonders how Macbeth could possibly go wrong. She has given them enough wine to drug them, and put out their daggers herself.
“Had he not resembled my father as he slept, I had done’t”- Lady Macbeth is saying that she would have killed Duncan herself if he hadn’t looked like her father as he slept.
Macbeth enters and tells her that the deed is done. He is shaken because he heard the grooms awaken and say a prayer before going back to sleep. When they said ‘amen’, he tried to say it with them but found that the word stuck in his throat. He also says that when he killed Duncan, he thought he heard a voice say “Sleep no more, for Macbeth murders sleep.”
At first Lady Macbeth tries to console her husband and try to make him not feel guilty, but then she becomes angry when she realizes that he didn’t leave the daggers with the grooms, so as to frame them with his murder. She tells him too “go get some water and wash this filthy witness from your hand”.
She realizes that he has forgotten to leave the daggers with the grooms, but Macbeth refuses to go back into the room- “I’ll go no more. I am afraid to think what I have done, look on’t again, I dare not.” Lady Macbeth then takes the daggers back into the room herself, saying that she would be ashamed to be as cowardly as Macbeth.
As Lady Macbeth leaves, Macbeth hears a mysterious knocking. The sound frightens him, and he asks desperately, “will all great Neptune’s ocean wash this blood clean from my hand?” This shows that he is feeling guilt and remorse, and that he regrets killing Duncan. Lady Macbeth also hears the knocking, and says they must put on their night-clothes and go to bed so whoever it is will think they have been asleep.
“To know my deed, ‘twere best not know myself. Wake Duncan with thy knocking: I would thou couldst.” Macbeth is regretting the murder that he has commited and wishes Duncan were sill alive. He wishes that the