The Language of Fear

  1. Read the extract from Act 2 Scene 2 below.
  2. What is happening in this scene? Explain the circumstances, mood, time of day, and what is concerning the two characters in this scene?
  3. Look at the way Macbeth and Lady Macbeth complete each other’s lines. How has Shakespeare laid this out on the page?
  4. In iambic pentameter, there are ten syllables per line. Count out the syllables in each line. What has happened to the rhythm? Why do you think Shakespeare might have done this?
  5. Write in any actions or stage directions for the actors playing this scene.
  6. Act out the scene in pairs. Try it as many different ways as you can think of, and discuss what is most effective: fast/slow, whispered/loud voices, close together/far apart. Which versions worked the best? Who had the most power in each version – Macbeth or Lady Macbeth?


Lady Mac My husband?

Macbeth I have done the deed. Didst thou not hear a noise?

LADY MAC I heard the owl scream and the crickets cry.
Did not you speak?

Macbeth When?

Lady Mac Now.

Macbeth As I descended?

Lady Mac Ay.

Macbeth Hark!
Who lies i’ the second chamber?

Lady Mac Donalbain.

Macbeth This is a sorry sight.

Lady Mac A foolish thought, to say a sorry sight.

Macbeth There’s one did laugh in’s sleep, and one cried ‘Murder!’
That they did wake each other: I stood and heard them:
But they did say their prayers, and address’d them
Again to sleep.

Lady Mac There are two lodged together.

Macbeth One cried ‘God bless us!’ and ‘Amen’ the other;
As they had seen me with these hangman’s hands.
Listening their fear, I could not say ‘Amen,’
When they did say ‘God bless us!’

Lady Mac Consider it not so deeply.

Macbeth But wherefore could not I pronounce ‘Amen’?
I had most need of blessing, and ‘Amen’
Stuck in my throat.

Lady Mac These deeds must not be thought
After these ways; so, it will make us mad.

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