Key scenes for Macbeth

Before the murder (Act one, Scene seven)

Did Macbeth really want to kill Duncan? The following evidence suggests Macbeth was acting of his own free will.

His excuses show he does still really want the crown. He says he is enjoying the feeling of being famous and powerful.

Lady Macbeth's persuasion quickly works on him. It does not take him long to submit to Lady Macbeth's taunts, even though they are so harsh.

By the end, he has taken over the planning himself. He temporarily loses his doubt and fear.

After the murder (Act two, Scene three)

Which emotions might Macbeth be feeling four hours after the murder? In this scene he shows a strange mixture, and it is hard to tell sometimes because his speech is so ambiguous.

Fear and shock

At the start of the scene, Macbeth is tense and edgy. He is trapped between the door and Lennox's speech, and seems unable to say more than brief, formal statements.

Guilt and regret

Many of Macbeth's words suggest he is feeling these emotions after the murder.

Threat, menace, power and control

What Macbeth says has a lot of menace in it. By the end of the scene he could be enjoying the shock and distress he has caused. His words have a dark double meaning.