Macbeth: Novel Summary: Act 2, Scene 2-Act 2, Scene 3

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Act 2, Scene 2: After killing Duncan, Macbeth enters his private chambers where Lady Macbeth is anxiously awaiting him.  The shrieks of owls and the cries of crickets, both evil omens, pierce the air as Macbeth narrates to her the gruesome details of the murder.  He tells his wife that Donalbain cried "Murder!" and that Malcolm laughed in his sleep while Macbeth killed Duncan, but they both said their prayers again and went back to sleep.  Macbeth also tells his wife that he was unable to bless himself when he "had most need of blessing." (Act 2, Scene 2, Line 31) He thinks that he heard a voice saying, "Sleep no more! Macbeth does murder sleep." (Act 2, Scene 2, Lines 34-5) From this point on in the play, neither Macbeth nor his wife are able to have a good night's rest as they are plagued by the memories of their ghastly crime.

Suddenly, Lady Macbeth notices that her husband's hands are covered in blood and that he is still clutching the telltale dagger.  She orders him to wash up and hide all incriminating evidence.  Macbeth, however, is incapable of doing anything because he is in a state of shock, so Lady Macbeth is forced to take over.  She smears blood over the faces of Duncan's servants so that they will seem guilty of the crime.  When she returns, she promptly washes her hands and orders Macbeth to be calm.  The couple hears a loud knocking at the south entry and they fearfully retire to their chambers.
Act 2, Scene 3: A drunken porter stumbles through the hallways to answer the knocking at the gate.  By comparing himself to a devil-porter and the castle to the residence of Beelzebub (the devil), he implies that Inverness is an evil and sinister place.  Macduff and Lennox enter the castle and ask for Macbeth.  They ask to see the king, as Duncan had requested that he be awoken at a timely hour.  Macduff goes to the king's room to wake him up.  In the meantime, Lennox explains to Macbeth how there were earthquakes and storms raging the whole night.  In Elizabethan times, people believed that Nature mirrored human events; thus in this case, Nature has reflected the horrible murder of King Duncan.  Macduff reenters the room pale and shocked-he wakes up the whole castle to report the news that King Duncan has been murdered.
Lady Macbeth enters the room, feigning the countenance of one newly awoken.  She pretends to be horrified by the news that the king has been murdered in her own house and faints.  Malcolm and Donalbain are informed of the tragic news.  Instead of openly grieving for their father, they escape respectively to England and Ireland.  The heirs feel that the court thinks them to be the main suspects of the crime.  In addition, they risk their own lives by staying in Inverness, as they could be the murderer's next targets.  Thus, the royal heirs quickly flee Scotland.  Macbeth asks the rest of the court to reassemble in the hall to discuss this strange turn of events.

 

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