ISC Class 12 Macbeth Act 2 Summary
Macbeth Act 2 Scene 1 Summary
It is the continuation of the previous scene. Supper is over and it is midnight; the hour of murder is approaching. As Banquo is crossing the courtyard of the castle in order to proceed to his chamber, he is met by Macbeth. Banquo thinks of the witches, but he restraints his ‘cursed thoughts’. Macbeth prepares himself for his terrible feat.
Banquo admits that he feels uneasy over the thought of the witch’s prophesies, but when Macbeth joins them he talks to him politely and conveys to him Duncan’s compliments. He also passes on to him a diamond, a gift for Lady Macbeth from the king. Macbeth urges Banquo to side with him in future. This contrast between the two is kept up throughout the play. Macbeth, however, adds that they would talk further regarding the matter when they have more leisure. If he acts according to his wishes, adds Macbeth, it shall make honour for him. But Banquo, the honest man, replies ;
So I lose none
In seeking to augment it, but still keep
My blossoms franchis’d and allegiance clear,
I shall be counsell’d
Macbeth then sends away his servant to tell his mistress to ring the bell when his ‘drunk is ready’ Left alone, Macbeth’s heated imagination makes him see a bloodstained dagger, which points to the room where Duncan is sleeping. It is merely a hallucination, but it is so real that Macbeth tries to clutch “the aur- borne dagger”. Macbeth’s soliloquy shows that he has the imagination of a poet, that he is suffering from prices of conscience. It is an indication of the disintegration which will overtake his soul, as soon as the murder is done. The ringing of a bell is now heard and the soliloquy and the scene end with the words;
I go, and it is done: the bell invites me.
Hear it not, Duncan; for it is a knell
That summons thee to heaven, or to hell
The atmosphere of horror and Macbeth’s imaginative convulsion are Shakespeare’s own.
Macbeth Act 2 Scene 2 Summary
The scene is the same, and it follows the previous one. Lady Macbeth is alone on the stage. Her soliloquy tells us that she has taken wine which has “given her fire” and which will enable him to face the foul deed that is seen to be committed. The two grooms sleep soundly, as she had drugged their wine and so they would not come in the way. But she is afraid of the weakness of her husband, and says she would have herself murdered him, “if he had not resembled her father” in his sleep.
She is startled by the faintest noise. Her nerves are in jitters; her mind in wandering. Macbeth has done the deed in a state of frenzy. He is convulsed. He hears voices, he raves. He stares at herbhand and looks aghast. He cannot say ‘Amen’, he regrets he has murdered when he was asleep. Lady Macbeth tries to soothe his mind, but Macbeth does not heed her. He hears the knocking, hebwishesv that Duncin would awake. The repinings and repentance show the panged of his conscience.
Macbeth has murdered the king and his hands are soaked with blood. He tells his Queen that while the two grooms the attendants of the king – could pray and say ‘Amen’ he could not do so. The word stuck his throat. Lady Macbeth advises him not to think of these things in such a way, otherwise, it will make them mad. Lady Macbeth advises him to place the daggers in the hands of the grooms, and smear them with blood.
But Macbeth does not have the courage to donso, so Lady Macbeth herself goes onto the room, and does the needful. On return. she tells Macbeth that a, “little water clears them of the deed”, and so he must not be afraidaof it. The words are ironical, for no amount of water will ever be able to clear them of ghe deed, and it would spell ruin for them.
Loud knocking is now heard at the door, and they go in to put on their night gowns, lest their present dress should show the to be watchers, and create doubts. This is the famous murder-scene, and it seems to be have been written with a pen of fire.
The murder seems to be mirrored in the souls of the two agents – through them it seems to be visible to us. His conscience tells him that he will sleep no more and he wishes that the deed had never been done. But Lady Macbeth is calm and self – controlled and manages the affair with great skill.
Macbeth Act 2 Scene 3 Summary
The scene is divided into two parts – i. Porter’s speech, ii. Discovery of the murder of Duncan. The scene ii ends with the knocking at the door, so there must beba porter to answer the call. The porter has carousel til midnight and he is under the influence of wine. In the drunken state, he sees visions. He admits a farmer, an equivocation and a tailor to his he’ll.
They have committed sins. But as morning air blows and drunkenness passes, the porter comes to his real self and opens the door and Macduff and Lenox enter to awaken the king quite early according to his instructions. Macbeth also arrives, as if awakened by yhr knocking. They go into the room often king to carry out their mission.
They soon return horrified, for ghey have found the king murdered and lying in his own blood. Alarm bell is rung and a hue and cry raised. Macbeth goes into the room to see things for himself and murders the two grooms, as if in great anger. Lady Macbeth faints and has to be taken away. Banquo suggest that they should dress themselves properly, and then assemble to examine the matter in deed.
All go away and Malcolm and Donalbain, the two sons of the king, are left alone on the stage. They are quick to understand the situation and have some inkling of the truth. They realize that it is not safe for them to remain there any longer. They, therefore, decide to flee from the country at once. Malcolm is to go to England and Donalbain to Ireland. There they would able to plan out their future strategy in safety.
The contrast between the porter’s drunken, grumbling return to his normal workday routine after a night’s carousing and the pretence of Macbeth of awakening to ordinary, everyday reality, after his unknown night of horror, is ironic. Even more ironic isthmus fact that the porter ‘s whimsy of being keeper of Hell – gate is more true than he realizes: it is indeed a hell into which the castle of Macbeth has been transformed by his awful deed. His jesting acts as a relief from extreme tension, but it is thematically significant.
The second part of the scene is devoted to the discovery of the murder by Macduff, Macbeth’s gradual degeneration, his acting and his sense of guilty. Malcolm and Donalbain fearing that they also may get killed, decide to run away, Malcolm to England and his younger brother to Ireland.
Macbeth Act 2 Scene 4 Summary
Shakespeare interposes a quiet scene to relieve the tension of the previous scene. The scene is laid just outside Macbeth’s castle. Ross and an old Macbeth, and recount to each other the horrors and unnatural events that they have witnessed during the night. They speak about unnatural Tempest and irrational behavior of the animals.
The unnatural manifestations and behavior indicate the unnatural deed that is done. Macduff enters and reports that it has been accepted that the two guards killed Duncan on the orders of Malcolm and Donalbain who have run away. He also says that, Macbeth has gone to be crowned in Scone.
The oldman represents the common man and the murder is made more macabre by its uniqueness in his experience. The confusion in the natural world magnifies the crime committed by Macbeth. There is disorder in nature and strange and unnatural things take place. This is symbolic of the disorder in the state of Scotland, and the unnatural murder that has been committed during the night.