Macbeth: Summary & Analysis Act 2, Scene 1 Banquo, who has come to Inverness with Duncan, wrestles with the witches' prophecy. He must restrain himself from the \u201ccursed thoughts\u201d that tempt him in his dreams (II i 8). When Banquo raises\u00a0the subject\u00a0of the prophecy as Macbeth enters the scene, Macbeth pretends that he has given little thought to the witches' prophesy. After Banquo and his son Fleance leave the scene, Macbeth imagines that he sees a bloody dagger pointing toward Duncan's chamber. Frightened by the apparition of a "dagger of the mind," he prays that\u00a0the world\u00a0will "hear not steps" as he completes his bloody plan (38, 57). The bell rings\u2014a signal from Lady Macbeth\u2014and he\u00a0triggers\u00a0toward Duncan's room. Act 2, Scene 2 Lady Macbeth waits fitfully for Macbeth to return from killing Duncan. Upon hearing a noise within, she worries that the bodyguards have awakened before Macbeth has had\u00a0an opportunity\u00a0to plant the evidence on them. Macbeth enters, still carrying the bloody daggers with which he killed Duncan.\u00a0he's\u00a0deeply shaken: as he entered Duncan's chamber, he heard the bodyguards praying\u00a0and will\u00a0not say "Amen"\u00a0once they\u00a0finished their prayers. Lady Macbeth\u2019s counsels to think "after these ways\u201d as \u201cit will make mad" (32). Nonetheless, Macbeth also tells her that he also thought he heard a voice saying, "\u2019 sleep no more, \/ Macbeth does murder sleep... Glamis hath murdered sleep,\u00a0and thus\u00a0Cawdor \/ Shall sleep no more, Macbeth shall sleep no more" (33-41). Lady Macbeth again warns him\u00a0to not\u00a0consider\u00a0such "brain-sickly of things" and tells him\u00a0to scrub\u00a0the blood from his hands (44). Seeing the daggers he carries, she chastises him for bringing them in and tells him to plant them on the bodyguards\u00a0consistent with\u00a0the plan. When Macbeth, still horrified by the crime he has just committed, refuses to reenter Duncan\u2019s chamber, Lady Macbeth herself brings the daggers back in. While she is gone, Macbeth hears a knocking and imagines that he sees hands plucking at his eyes.\u00a0he's\u00a0guilt-stricken and mourns: \u201cWill all great Neptune\u2019s ocean wash this blood \/ Clean from my hand?\u201d (58-59)? When Lady Macbeth hears his words upon reentering, she states that her hands are of\u00a0an equivalent\u00a0color but her heart remains shamelessly unstained. \u201cA little water,\u201d she continues, \u201cwill clear of th deed\u201d (65).\u00a0because the\u00a0knocking persists,\u00a0the 2\u00a0retire\u00a0to place\u00a0on their nightgowns so as\u00a0to not\u00a0arouse suspicion when others arrive. Act 2, Scene 3 In a scene of comic relief, the Porter hears knocking at the gate and imagines that\u00a0he's\u00a0the porter at the door to Hell. He imagines admitting a farmer who has committed suicide after\u00a0a nasty\u00a0harvest, an "equivocator" who has sinned by swearing to half-truths, and an English tailor who stole cloth\u00a0to form\u00a0fashionable clothes and visited brothels. Since\u00a0it's\u00a0"too cold for hell" at the gate, he opens the door\u00a0rather than\u00a0continuing with\u00a0an extended\u00a0catalog of sinners (16). Outside stand Macduff and Lennox, who scolds him for taking\u00a0goodbye\u00a0to reply\u00a0to their knocking. The Porter claims that he was tired after drinking until late and delivers\u00a0a brief\u00a0sermon on the ills of drink. Macbeth enters and Macduff asks him whether the king is awake yet. On hearing that the king\u00a0remains\u00a0asleep, Macduff leaves to wake him. While\u00a0he's\u00a0gone, Lennox tells Macbeth that the weather by night was\u00a0filled with\u00a0strange events: chimneys were blown down, birds screeched all night,\u00a0the world\u00a0shook, and ghostly voices were heard prophesying ominously. A stunned Macduff returns with the news that the king is dead. He tells them\u00a0to travel\u00a0see for themselves and calls to the servants to ring the\u00a0tocsin. Lady Macbeth and Banquo enter and Macduff informs them of the king's death. Macbeth and Lennox return and Macbeth laments the king's death, proclaiming that he wishes he were dead\u00a0rather than\u00a0the king. When Malcolm and Donalbain arrive, Lennox blames the regicide on the guards by pointing to the incriminating bloody evidence. Macbeth states that he has already killed the bodyguards\u00a0during a\u00a0grief-stricken rage. At\u00a0now, Lady Macbeth feigns shock and faints. Aside, Malcolm and Donalbain confer\u00a0and choose\u00a0that their lives\u00a0could also be\u00a0in danger\u00a0which\u00a0they ought to\u00a0flee Scotland. As Lady Macbeth is being helped off-stage, Banquo counsels the others to convene and discuss the murder at hand. Left behind on stage, Malcolm decides that he will flee to England while Donalbain will\u00a0attend\u00a0Ireland. Act 2, Scene 4 Ross and an old man discuss the unnatural events that have taken place recently: days are as dark as nights, owls hunt falcons, and Duncan's horses have gone mad and eaten\u00a0one another. When Macduff enters, Ross asks whether the culprit has been discovered. Macduff tells him that the bodyguards killed the king. The hasty flight on the part of\u00a0Malcolm and Donalbain, however, has also cast suspicion on\u00a0the 2\u00a0sons. Ross comments that Macbeth will surely be named\u00a0subsequent\u00a0king, to which Macduff responds that he has already been named and has gone to Scone to be crowned. Ross leaves for Scone\u00a0to ascertain\u00a0the coronation while Macduff heads home to Fife. Analysis Macbeth's famous soliloquy at\u00a0the start\u00a0of this act introduces\u00a0a crucial\u00a0theme: visions and hallucinations caused by guilt. The "dagger of the mind" that Macbeth sees\u00a0isn't\u00a0"ghostly" or supernatural\u00a0such a lot\u00a0as a manifestation of the inner struggle that Macbeth feels as he contemplates the regicide. It "marshal the way was going," leading him toward the bloody deed he has resolved to commit, haunting\u00a0and maybe\u00a0also taunting him (II i 42).\u00a0an equivalent\u00a0is often\u00a0said for the ghostly voice that Macbeth hears after he kills Duncan,\u00a0also\u00a0because of the\u00a0ghost of Banquo that appears in Act 3. Indeed,\u00a0most\u00a0of the supernatural elements\u00a0during this\u00a0play could be\u2014and often are\u2014read as psychological\u00a0instead of\u00a0ghostly occurrences. (But if\u00a0this is often\u00a0the case, one also wonders about the witches: are they, too, products of Macbeth's fevered mind?\u00a0the very fact\u00a0that merely\u00a0formulate\u00a0to the Macbeth\u2019s dormant ambitions\u00a0would appear\u00a0to verify\u00a0this concept, but\u00a0this is often\u00a0countered by\u00a0the very fact\u00a0that Banquo also sees\u00a0an equivalent witch and hears them speak.) The "dagger of the mind"\u00a0is merely\u00a0one among\u00a0many psychological manifestations\u00a0within the\u00a0play.\u00a0because the\u00a0bodyguards mutter \u201cGod bless us\u201d in their drunken stupor, Macbeth finds that\u00a0he's\u00a0unable to utter the prayer word \u201cAmen.\u201d A psychological literary analyst may perceive this as a physical inability\u00a0to talk, caused by Macbeth's paralyzing doubt about the correctness of the murder. The inner world of the psyche thus imposes itself on the physical world.\u00a0an equivalent\u00a0is often\u00a0said for the voice that Macbeth hears crying "Macbeth shall sleep no more" (II ii 41).\u00a0an awesome\u00a0sense of guilt will prevent \u201cinnocent sleep\u201d from giving Macbeth respite from his tormented conscience. While he has consigned Duncan to\u00a0rest, he lives now in eternal anxiety. Macbeth In addition to his troubled existence, Macbeth's perturbed sleep\u00a0also can\u00a0be read as a metaphor for the troubled state of the country. In Macbeth\u2014as with many other Shakespearean plays\u2014there\u00a0may be a\u00a0close and mirrored relationship between the king\u00a0and therefore the\u00a0country. In scene 4,\u00a0for instance, Ross reports that "by the clock \u2018tis day, \/ And yet night strangles the traveling lamp" (II iv 6-7). This image of the darkness strangling\u00a0the sunshine\u00a0of day\u00a0may be a\u00a0meteorological manifestation of the murder of Duncan;\u00a0the sunshine\u00a0of nature is suffocated\u00a0even as\u00a0Duncan's life is extinguished. Victorian writer\u00a0Ruskin\u00a0called such mirroring of a character's\u00a0mental state\u00a0in inanimate natural objects "pathetic fallacy." Inanimate natural objects too,\u00a0an identical\u00a0mirroring occurs. The old man describes Duncan's noble horses eating\u00a0one another\u00a0and an owl eating a falcon--events that echo the slaughter of Duncan by Macbeth. Thus the unnatural death of Duncan plunges the country into both physical and spiritual turmoil. The image of an owl hunting a falcon\u00a0is a component\u00a0of a greater framework of symbolism surrounding birds\u00a0within the\u00a0play. When Duncan approaches Inverness in Act 1,\u00a0for instance, he comments on the martlets that he sees nesting on the castle walls. He takes this as\u00a0an honest\u00a0sign\u2014martlets are lucky birds. Lady Macbeth, on\u00a0the opposite\u00a0hand, mentions earlier\u00a0during this\u00a0scene that ravens are croaking on the battlements. She takes this as a harbinger of Duncan's death. Duncan, the trusting optimist, sees lucky birds, whereas Lady Macbeth sees ominous ones. One sign\u00a0doesn't\u00a0exclude the other: for Duncan, "fair" becomes "foul"\u00a0because the\u00a0lucky martlets metamorphose into the deadly ravens. In Act 2, characters discuss or see birds in almost every scene. While Lady Macbeth is\u00a0expecting\u00a0Macbeth\u00a0to end\u00a0killing Duncan,\u00a0for instance, she hears an owl hooting and calls the owl a "fatal bellman"\u2014a bird whose call is\u00a0sort of a\u00a0bell tolling for Duncan's death (II ii 3). The owl could\u00a0even be\u00a0"fatal" as an instrument of Fate,\u00a0even as\u00a0Macbeth is in some ways an instrument of Fate through the intervention of the\u00a0Fates\u00a0(keeping in mind that "wyrd" derives from the\u00a0Old English\u00a0word for "fate").\u00a0during this\u00a0respect, one observes a mirroring between Macbeth\u00a0and therefore the\u00a0owl: both hunt at night; the owl is observed killing a falcon,\u00a0even as\u00a0Macbeth kills Duncan. Throughout Macbeth, dreams, symbols, fantasy, and visions impinge upon the "real world." The witches' fantastic prophecy is realized. The "dagger of the mind" points the\u00a0thanks to\u00a0a murder committed with\u00a0a true\u00a0dagger. And\u00a0within the\u00a0Porter scene, the Porter imagining that he guards the gate to Hell ironically creates a gate of \u201creal\u201d hell caused by regicide. When the Porter opens the gate for the thanes, he mentions that he and his friends were out "carousing till the second cock" (II iii 23). This statement calls to mind the cock that crows\u00a0within the\u00a0New Testament\u00a0after Peter betrays Jesus by denying knowledge of him (Matthews 26; Luke 22). In Macbeth, the betrayal occurs\u00a0during a\u00a0more active form as Macbeth murders Duncan after the crows of the cock.