Tension in Macbeth

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  • Topic: Macbeth, Emotion, Oxymoron
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  • Published : May 30, 2012
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Task: To describe how tension is made in Act 2, Scenes 1 and 2. English AFL
Final Draft
By Imani Anderson-Whittington

Shakespeare created a lot of tension in Act 2, scenes 1 and 2. The tension made is one of the effects caused by the varied sentence lengths, pathetic fallacy, animal sounds, alliterations, oxymorons, emotions portrayed by the characters, and rhyme.

Firstly, sentence structure is affective because it increases and decreases the ‘flow’ of the play and also, the rhyming scheme is affective as it gives pattern and rhythm. Macbeth said in his soliloquy, “I go and it is done. The bell invites me. Hear it not Duncan, for it is knell, that summons thee to heaven or hell.” This means, if Macbeth goes then Duncan will definitely die by Macbeth’s hands. The rhyming words ‘knell’ and ‘hell’ create a sense of rhythm and draws in the audiences more – therefore creating suspense. Secondly, Shakespeare used oxymorons. An oxymoron is a figure of speech that combines contradictory terms and therefore seems impossible. An example of one that is used in Act 2, scene 2 is when Lady Macbeth says, “My hands are of your colour; but I shame to wear a heart so white." She means that her hands are red (reference to the blood) too, but that she would be ashamed to have a heart as white (filled with guilt) as Macbeth's. It goes to show you how cold hearted Lady Macbeth is. The oxymoron has the effect of forming interest, creativity, tension and depth to a sentence and gives the play an uneasy atmosphere. Moreover, colour plays a special role in setting the atmosphere.  Red, of course is very important because of the amount of blood in the play.  It is also used to signify guilt, rage and hell. The reason it plays a big part is because both Macbeth and Lady Macbeth talk about the 'red misty hell' a lot and it makes the audience feel ‘perturbed’ and uncomfortable with the constant references to hell. Additionally, Shakespeare used onomatopoeias....
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