It is after midnight. Banquo unexpectedly meets Macbeth and gives his host rich presents from the king.
He and Macbeth briefly discuss the witches' prophecies -- but it is now clear that there is little trust
between the two men.
Macbeth, left alone, has a series of sudden ghostly visions of bloody daggers pointing the way to Duncan's
THE MENTAL SIDE OF MURDER
Murder is never an easy thing, even for a battle-hardened man like Macbeth. When someone is
superstitious, however, it is even more difficult.
The ancient peoples believed there was a direct link between nature and the goodness of one's actions.
This was especially so when it came to authorities who enjoyed God's favour -- people such as kings.
Even before Macbeth went to Duncan's bedchamber to murder the king, nature was described as
Then Macbeth saw visions. A ghostly dagger appeared, apparently leading the way. In another vision,
the dagger was covered in blood.
And then the noises began: the howling of wolves, owls screeching, sounds on the stairs. Even Lady
Macbeth appeared disturbed -- although she maintained an heroic front.
Macbeth shrank before the tumult. He fled the murder scene, taking the daggers with him and refusing
to return. Lady Macbeth was therefore left to do the mopping up after the murder.
We see too the first signs of regret. Macbeth wished that his actions could be undone -- and he
wondered whether his hands would ever again be clean.
This latter wish would also affect Lady Macbeth. Towards the end of the play, we find her sleepwalking
and attempting to wash her own hands clean of Duncan's blood.
Have you looked at the questions
in the right column?