In the play, Macbeth is persuaded by the three witches and his wife to kill King Duncan so that he can become King. However there is a flaw in Macbeth’s plan as guilt overtakes him and ultimately causes him to suffer a violent death. If I were directing Act 2 Scene 2 of this play I would want to build on what had previously happened in the story. In Act 2 Scene 1; the build up to the murder, Macbeth was still not totally convinced as to whether or not he should commit the murder. By following on from the previous scene I could show the development of the characters emotions.
In Act 2 Scene 1, before going to kill King Duncan, Macbeth tests one of his friends, Banquo, to see how loyal he might be in the future. In this scene, we can see a contrast between Banquo and Macbeth. This is because Banquo tells Macbeth how the witches trouble him: ‘I dreamt last night of the three weird sisters’ Banquo asks Macbeth if the witches have troubled him, Macbeth lies and says: ‘I think not of them’. By saying this, it makes the audience fully aware that the character Macbeth is untrustworthy where as Banquo is seen as an honest man.
Act 2 Scene 1 also shows us how uneasy Macbeth is, whenever he thinks about the murder he looks and feels troubled. Macbeth is always questioning himself and this can be shown through his Character soliloquies, Macbeth’s questions relate to whether or not he should commit the crime, there is also that element of fear if he commits the murder but gets caught in the process. Macbeth knows that it is the wrong thing to do but his dominant wife keeps pressurizing him. Act 2 Scene 2 develops from the previous scene many of the character thoughts and actions are the same and will be required to highlight the intensity of this scene.
As this is to be shown to a Jacobean audience the killing of a King on stage would be regarded as appalling. Therefore the murder of King Duncan should be done off stage. In Jacobean times Killing the King would be regarded as the most serious crime, in that era the King was thought to be someone who had been appointed by God, he had a divine right to rule and therefore the killing of a King might have proved too shocking for a Jacobean audience. In Jacobean times society was rigid and there was a firm social order the murder of a King would destroy the order in which things worked.
After killing King Duncan Macbeth is remorseful for his deed he is panicky and does not know what to do. As the director of this play an image of Macbeth doing these things would be vital it could be shown to the audience by him dropping something he is holding e. g. a glass of water, he trembles at any noise e. g. creaking of doors, and is generally on the lookout for anyone he suspects knows what he has done he is constantly chattering to himself nervous with what he has done.
There would be no specific line being said by Macbeth and would not want the audience to hear anything that Macbeth was saying, I would just want them to be aware of him being in a nervous state of mind. In this part of the Scene I would have a direct spotlight on Macbeth and one on the Kings chamber both would be tinted red to show to the audience the deed that Macbeth has committed, another important thing at this point would be to fade everything out in the background and have a red spotlight focused in on Macbeth.
This would be done to signify the importance of the murder Macbeth has committed and to focus the audience’s attention only on Macbeth. As the background fades Macbeth should say a soliloquy telling the audience of his state of mind and whether or not the killing was the right thing to do, in his soliloquy he should be trembling due to the act he has committed and the words that he is saying should be said in a stuttering manner this will show the audience Macbeth’s state of mind.
Macbeth should say lines 61-65 in Act 2 scene 2 this will show the audience his state of mind. After killing King Duncan, Macbeth brings the two daggers used to kill Duncan. Lady Macbeth can be seen walking up and down the upper part of the stage in the shadows waiting for Macbeth she could also be muttering under her breath showing how nervous she is. She should be saying lines 1-3 Act 2 Scene 2 ‘ That which has made them drunk has made me bold, what hath quenched them has given me fire. By saying these lines again although they occur only once in the script shows Lady Macbeth’s nervous sate of mind but also shows that she is trying to tell herself to be strong. By hiding in the shadows it shows how vigilant she is. Lady Macbeth is appalled at Macbeth bringing the daggers back, she tells him that he is too soft, and when he refuses to take them back she is outraged. As a director I want to make it clear that Macbeth is being controlled by Lady Macbeth. It shows that Lady Macbeth is stronger of the two in the relationship, and she is the one who persuades Macbeth to commit the killing.
It shows the audience that as the stronger of the two Lady Macbeth can easily manipulate Macbeth, I would show this by Lady Macbeth talking to Macbeth in a loud, stern voice whereas Macbeth does not reply with that harshness and speaks to her in a soft tone, thus indicating that she is the stronger of the couple. . I think that at this point in the scene it would be best for Lady Macbeth and Macbeth to be centre stage, this is because it is a place were everyone can see them this would highlight how guilty they are as everyone’s eyes are upon them.
This part of Act 2 Scene 2 is a huge development in the play and it is important that the audience are aware of what the main characters are doing therefore they are placed centre stage. At the beginning of Act 2 Scene 2, the atmosphere is tense and unnerving. At the end of the scene, the tension will heighten further because Macbeth is regretting what he has done and is covered with the blood, as they are washing the blood off them I would want Macbeth to keep uttering the line: ‘Will all great Neptune’s oceans wash this blood clear from my hand. By saying this it shows the audience that Macbeth is growing mad with guilt and is also fearful. I feel that despite this line being in the script only once it is very significant to the murder that has been committed therefore I would want Lady Macbeth to keep saying this line as I feel it is of great importance. Shakespeare uses off stage sounds to create tension within Act 2 Scene 2: ‘I heard the owl scream and the crickets cry’ (Act2:2 line 1).
This indicates that nature is reflecting Macbeth’s deed as he has disturbed the natural order of things. The words ‘scream’ and ‘cry’ indicates that the animals are in some sort of pain due to this disturbance, much like what people in the Jacobean era would have felt if the King had been assassinated. I will establish this atmosphere also by using off stage sounds to create tension like the squeaking of animals this will create an eerie atmosphere, the sound will add to the mood of the scene
I would like the audience to see this scene from the perspective of Macbeth and Lady Macbeth, I will try to establish this through heart beat sounds which are loud this will show the audience how uneasy and panicky the two Macbeth’s are. This will be used when Lady Macbeth is awaiting the return of Macbeth, when they are washing blood of their hands, knocking at the door of the castle and at any other time when there is little dialog and Macbeth looks panicky.
The weather also plays a great deal in describing the events that have taken place it shows the evil and greed that have overtaken Macbeth I will try to show this through Thunder and Lightening noises in the background while both Macbeth and Lady Macbeth are speaking however I will do it in such a way that it does not interrupt their speaking this effect will add to the atmosphere surrounding the scene showing that nature has been affected. The lightening can be a sign from God showing that Macbeth has killed the person closest to him (as it was thought in Jacobean times) .
Shakespeare has set the scene at night as darkness is associated with evil. I will also set the scene in total darkness using one light source to show the character and a very dim light to show the background. By using one light source it will emphasize the characters sinister nature. I think that the lighting in this scene plays a huge role and will show the audience how tense the scene actually is for example when Macbeth comes back with the daggers the lighting will be bright signifying the importance of the daggers and the blood on them.
However in the rest of the scene spotlights will be on Macbeth and Lady Macbeth only focusing the audience’s attention on them. As we have seen throughout the play so far, Lady Macbeth is the dominant character I want to be able to show the audience this I will show Lady Macbeth’s dominance by her controlling the conversation that Macbeth and herself are having her head can be lifted up to show that she thinks nothing of anyone, her voice can be firm yet feminine like, and she can have her hands on her hips to signify that she fears nothing. Her character here is seen as an evil person with no conscience.
Her face expression will be normal (cool under pressure) to show that she has no fear inside her and disgusted at the fact her husband is afraid. We know that her character does not feel guilty and has no conscience, because when Macbeth is telling her about the men’s fears when they were saying ‘God bless us’ and that he could say ‘Amen’, we know that Macbeth is feeling guilty about the murder. Lady Macbeth’s reply to this is: ‘Consider it not so deeply’ (Act 2:2 lines 28); she is telling him not to think about the murder. To associate her to evilness and dominance, she will be dressed in dark colours.
Macbeth is the weaker of the two characters and it can be seen that he is regretting the murder that he has recently committed; this can be shown through facial expressions, constantly muttering to himself, being uneasy about everything that is happening in the surroundings nearby. Further attention can be drawn to Macbeth’s guilt as he can be seen kneeling on the floor, weeping and generally uneasy about everything this will be concentrated on when Macbeth brings the daggers back to Lady Macbeth he will kneel on the floor when he says ‘ This is a sorry sight. ‘ Indicating it is miserable sight and he is sorry for ever committing it.
By kneeling down it shows he is breaking down with guilt and fear. The other point at which Macbeth can be seen kneeling and weeping is when he and Lady Macbeth are washing the blood off their hands in particular when he says the following line ‘Will all great Neptune’s ocean wash this blood clean from my hand? ‘ (Line 63-64 Act 2 Scene 2). This will affect the scene as the audience will be able to tell that Macbeth is breaking down the guilt is unbearable and is weighing down upon him, he is not getting any support from his wife as she thinks that Macbeth is weak and she is not paying any attention towards him.
The tone of Macbeth’s voice should be low and it will start to break down, this will show that he is losing control. I think this will affect the scene, because the audience will realize that Macbeth has a conscience and is feeling bad about the murder, and only committed the crime because he was persuaded by his wife and the witches. He should have no facial expression he should be totally blank as he does not know what to do, the blank face also shows how frightened he is.
Macbeth will be wearing dark clothes to signify sin, fear, his clothes will be covered in blood and a red tinted faint spotlight will be upon him every time he speaks. As the scene progresses, Macbeth is losing control over himself. The significance of Macbeth not being able to say ‘Amen’ has a great effect on the play, because we know that Macbeth has disturbed the natural order and this is known at as a great sin. By saying ‘Amen’, he wanted the blessing of God to commit his sin.
But as he was about to kill the person known closest to God (the King had the divine right to rule), he could not be given a blessing, this also relates to the voice he heard: ‘Macbeth does murder sleep… ‘ (Act 2:2 line 33), there are two meaning to this, one is Macbeth will never be able to sleep again and the other is he has killed the sleeping King. As he is not able to say the word Amen Macbeth can be shown coughing and spluttering as if the word is stuck in his throat and he can’t get it out, by doing this it would have two meanings showing that he is breaking down with fear and showing he cannot say the word amen any more.
At the end of the scene a loud knocking noise is heard by the gate of the castle Macbeth and Lady Macbeth quickly go back to their room as they think that someone has come to get them for the murder of King Duncan, this shows how uneasy and fearful they are that at any large sound they feel that someone has come to get them for the King’s murder. The atmosphere will be tense at the end of the scene and in some ways unbearable to both Macbeth and Lady Macbeth this can be shown by the audience being able to hear loud heartbeat sounds.
As the loud heartbeat sound encompasses the stage and Macbeth and Lady Macbeth retire to their bedroom darkness will fall upon the stage, their will be no lighting and it will become totally pitch black indicating that scene has ended. This will also give a chance for the stage director to come and place props and change the set around if necessary. The following scene would need to start in a similar fashion with a high degree of tension in order to continue the theme of Act 2 Scene 2.