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Complete Annotated Text
The following version of
Macbeth is based on the
text in the authoritative 1914 Oxford Edition of Shakespeare's
works, edited by W. J. Craig. The text numbers the lines,
including those with stage directions such as "Enter" and "Exit."
Please note that the character list (dramatis personae) below
includes descriptions and comments that did not appear in the
original manuscript of the play or in the Oxford edition.
Macbeth: Ambitious army
general in Scotland. His hunger for kingly power, fed by a
prophecy of three witches, causes him to murder the rightful king,
Duncan I of Scotland, and take his place. Macbeth presents a
problem for the audience in that he evokes both sympathy and
condemnation; he is both hero, in a manner of speaking, and
villain. The real-life Macbeth was an eleventh-century Scot who
took the throne in 1040 after killing King Duncan I, his cousin,
in a battle near Elgin in the Moray district of Scotland. Of his
reign, Fitzroy MacLean has written the following: "Macbeth
appears, contrary to popular belief, to have been a wise monarch
and to have ruled Scotland successfully and well for seventeen
prosperous years. In 1050 we hear that he went on a pilgrimage to
Rome and there [lavished money to the poor]." (Work cited:
MacLean, Fitzroy. A Concise
History of Scotland. New York: Beekman House, 1970, page
23.) In 1057, Duncan's oldest son, Malcolm, ended Macbeth's reign
by killing him in battle and later assuming the throne as Malcolm
Lady Macbeth: Wife of
Macbeth, who abets his murder. Her grandfather was a Scottish king
who was killed in defense of his throne against the king who
immediately preceded King Duncan I. On the surface, she appears
ruthless and hardened, but her participation in the murder of
Duncan gnaws at her conscience and she goes insane, imagining that
she sees the blood of Duncan on her hands.
Duncan I: King of
Malcolm, Donalbain: Sons
of King Duncan. Malcolm, the older son, is the Prince of
Cumberland. He becomes King of Scotland (as Malcolm III) at the
end of the play.
Banquo: Army general
murdered on Macbeth's orders to prevent Banquo from begetting a
line of kings, as predicted by the three witches whom Macbeth and
Banquo encounter on a heath. Banquo’s ghost later appears to
Macbeth. In Holinshed's
Chronicles, the historical work on which Shakespeare
based his play, the real-life Banquo is depicted as a conniver who
took part in the plot to assassinate King Duncan. Why did
Shakespeare portray Banquo as one of Macbeth's innocent victims?
Perhaps because James I, the King of England when the play
debuted, was a descendant of Banquo. It would not do to suggest
that His Royal Majesty's ancestor was a murderer.
Three Witches: Hags who
predict Macbeth will become king. Shakespeare refers to the three
witches as the weird sisters. Weird is derived from the
Anglo-Saxon word wyrd, meaning fate. Thus, the witches appear to
represent fate, a force that predetermines destiny. The Greek poet
Hesiod (eighth century BC) was the first writer to represent fate
as three old women. These three hags were actually goddesses.
Clotho was in charge of weaving the fabric of a person's life.
Lachesis determined a person's life span and destiny. Atropos cut
the threads of the fabric of life when it was time for a person to
die. No one—not even the mightiest god—could change the decisions
of the Fates. Collectively, the Greeks called them Moirae. Latin
speakers referred to them as Parcae. The given name Moira means
Hecate (HEK uh te):
Mistress of the witches' charms and queen of Hades. She is the
fourth witch in the play.
Macduff: Scottish nobleman
and lord of Fife who is known for his wisdom and integrity. He
becomes Macbeth's enemy. He and Macbeth cross swords at the end of
Lady Macduff: Wife of
Macduff. She is murdered on Macbeth’s orders.
Son of Macduff: One of the
Macduff children who are murdered on Macbeth’s orders.
Lennox, Ross, Menteith, Angus, Caithness: Scottish noblemen
Fleance (FLAY ahnce): Son
Siward (SE werd): Earl of
Northumberland, general of the English forces.
Young Siward: Son of
Seyton (SE tun): Officer
Sweno (SWAY noh or SWE
noh). King of Norway during the war against Scotland. Sweno,
referred to in Act I, Scene II, has no speaking part in the play.
The historical name of Sweno is Svein Knutsson, son of Cnut the
Great, or simply Canute, a king of Denmark beginning in 1018.
Later he also ruled England, Norway, and parts of Sweden.
English Doctor: He treats
the King of England (who does not appear in the play) for an
illness while Macduff and Malcolm are at the king’s palace
planning the overthrow of Macbeth.
Scottish Doctor: Doctor
who attends Lady Macbeth during her descent into madness.
First Apparition: A head
with arms. This apparition, conjured by the witches, warns Macbeth
to beware of Macduff.
Second Apparition: A
bloody child. This apparition, conjured by the witches, tells
Macbeth that no one born of woman can kill him.
Third Apparition: A
crowned child holding a tree. This apparition, conjured by the
witches, tells Macbeth that no one can defeat him until a forest,
Birnam Wood, marches against him. Macbeth is heartened, believing
it is impossible for a forest to march.
Sinel (SE neel): Macbeth's
deceased father. Macbeth refers to him when he says, "By Sinel's
death I know I am Thane of Glamis" (1.3.75). Glamis was a village
in the Tayside region of Scotland.
Minor Characters: Lords,
gentlemen, officers, soldiers, murderers, attendants, and
The protagonist (main
character) is Macbeth. In the tragedies of Shakespeare and the
playwrights of ancient Greece, the protagonist is usually a royal
or a noble who falls to ruin because of a personal flaw such as
pride, ambition, or greed.
An antagonist is a
person, a force, an emotion, an idea, or another thing that acts
in opposition to the protagonist. Sometimes a play has several
antagonists. Macduff is the obvious antagonist in Macbeth. He eventually
catches on to Macbeth's treachery and vows revenge against him.
Other antagonists include psychological and supernatural
forces—including Macbeth's conscience and the three witches.
Text of Macbeth
Notes and definitions of
archaic or difficult words, as well as difficult passages, appear
in boldfaced brackets after the words and passages.
Annotations by Michael
1, Scene 1: A desert place.
Act 1, Scene 2: A camp near Forres.
Act 1, Scene 3: A heath near Forres.
Act 1, Scene 4: Forres. The palace.
Act 1, Scene 5: Inverness. Macbeth's
Act 1, Scene 6: Before Macbeth's
Act 1, Scene 7: A room in Macbeth's
Act 2, Scene 1: Inverness. Court
within Macbeth's castle.
Act 2, Scene 2: The same.
Act 2, Scene 3: The same.
Act 2, Scene 4: Outside Macbeth's
Act 3, Scene 1: Forres. The palace.
Act 3, Scene 2: The palace.
Act 3, Scene 3: A park near the
Act 3, Scene 4: The same. A hall in
Act 3, Scene 5: A Heath.
Act 3, Scene 6: Forres. The palace.
Act 4, Scene 1: A cavern. In the
middle, a boiling cauldron.
Act 4, Scene 2: Fife. Macduff's
Act 4, Scene 3: England. Before the
Act 5, Scene 1: Dunsinane. A room in
Act 5, Scene 2: The country near
Act 5, Scene 3: Dunsinane. A room in
Act 5, Scene 4: Country near Birnam
Act 5, Scene 5: Dunsinane. Within the
Act 5, Scene 6: The Same. A Plain
before the Castle.
Act 5, Scene 7: The Same. Another
Part of the Plain.
Act 1, Scene 1
A desert heath [open area with shrubs].
Thunder and lightning. Enter three Witches.
FIRST WITCH: When shall we three meet
In thunder, lightning, or in
SECOND WITCH: When the hurlyburly’s [hurlyburly: noise and confusion of
When the battle’s lost and won.
THIRD WITCH: That will be ere the set of
FIRST WITCH: Where the place?
SECOND WITCH: Upon the heath.
THIRD WITCH: There to meet with Macbeth.
FIRST WITCH: I come, Graymalkin [name
of a cat]!
SECOND WITCH: Paddock [toad
or frog] calls. 12
THIRD WITCH: Anon [soon].
ALL: Fair is foul, and foul is fair:
[fair is . . . fair: Paradoxical foreshadowing
indicating that what appears fair to Macbeth will really turn
out to be foul.]
Hover through the fog and filthy air. [Exeunt.
[Exeunt: Stage direction
indicating that all characters leave the stage.]
Act 1, Scene 2
A Camp near Forres.
Alarum within. Enter KING DUNCAN, MALCOLM, DONALBAIN, LENNOX, with
Attendants, meeting a bleeding Sergeant.
[Alarum within: A trumpet sounds
a call to battle. Within
DUNCAN: What bloody man is that? He can
As seemeth by his plight, of the
The newest state.
MALCOLM: This is the sergeant
Who, like a good and hardy soldier fought
’Gainst my captivity. Hail, brave
Say to the king the knowledge of the broil
As thou didst leave it.
Sergeant: Doubtful it stood;
As two spent swimmers, that do cling
And choke their art [make it difficult to swim].
The merciless Macdonwald—
Worthy to be a rebel, for to that
The multiplying villanies of nature
Do swarm upon him—from the western
Of kerns [Irish foot soldiers]
and gallowglasses [mounted Irish
soldiers wielding axes] is supplied;
And fortune, on his damned quarrel smiling,
Show’d like a rebel’s whore: but all’s too weak;
For brave Macbeth,—well he deserves that
Disdaining fortune, with his brandish’d steel,
Which smok’d with bloody execution,
Like valour’s minion [darling;
favorite] carv’d out his passage
Till he fac’d the slave; 24
Which ne’er shook hands, nor bade farewell to
Till he unseam’d him from the nave to the chaps,
[unseamed . . . chaps:
Using his sword, Macbeth ripped open Macdonwald from belly to
And fix’d his head upon our battlements.
DUNCAN: O valiant cousin! worthy
Sergeant: As whence the sun ’gins his
storms and direful thunders break,
So from that spring whence comfort seem’d to
Discomfort swells. Mark, King of Scotland,
No sooner justice had with valour arm’d
Compell’d these skipping kerns to trust their
But the Norweyan [Norwegian]
lord surveying vantage,
[surveying vantage: Perceiving an
With furbish’d arms and new supplies of
Began a fresh assault.
DUNCAN: Dismay’d not this
Our captains, Macbeth and Banquo?
Sergeant: Yes; 40
As sparrows eagles, or the hare the lion.
If I say sooth [If I speak the
truth], I must report they were
As cannons overcharg’d with double cracks;
So they 44
Doubly redoubled strokes upon the foe:
Except they meant to bathe in reeking wounds,
Or memorize another Golgotha,
[memorize . . . Golgotha: Make
the battlefield as memorable as the place where Christ died.]
I cannot tell— 48
But I am faint, my gashes cry for help.
DUNCAN: So well thy words become thee as thy
They smack of honour both. Go, get him surgeons. [Exit.
Enter ROSS. 52
Who comes here?
MALCOLM: The worthy Thane of Ross.
[Thane: Man of elevated
rank who held land granted by the king.]
LENNOX: What a haste looks through his eyes! So should he
That seems to speak things strange.
ROSS: God save the king!
DUNCAN: Whence cam’st thou, worthy thane?
ROSS: From Fife, great king;
Where the Norweyan banners flout the
And fan our people cold. Norway himself,
With terrible numbers,
Assisted by that most disloyal traitor,
The Thane of Cawdor, began a dismal
Till that Bellona’s bridegroom, lapp’d in proof ,
[Bellona's . . .
bridegroom: Macbeth as the bridegroom of the goddess of war.]
[lapp'd in proof: Wearing armor.]
Confronted him with self-comparisons,
Point against point, rebellious arm ’gainst arm,
Curbing his lavish spirit: and, to
The victory fell on us.—
DUNCAN: Great happiness!
ROSS: That now
Sweno, the Norways’ king, craves
Nor would we deign him burial of his men
Till he disbursed, at Saint Colme’s Inch,
[Saint . . . Inch: Island in the Firth of Forth,
the estuary (firth) of the River Forth at Edinburgh, Scotland.
The island is named after Saint Columba (Colme).]
Ten thousand dollars to our general use.
DUNCAN: No more that Thane of Cawdor shall
Our bosom interest. Go pronounce his present
And with his former title greet Macbeth.
ROSS: I’ll see it done.
DUNCAN: What he hath lost noble Macbeth hath won.
Act 1, Scene 3
Thunder. Enter the three Witches.
FIRST WITCH: Where hast thou been,
SECOND WITCH: Killing
THIRD WITCH: Sister, where thou?
First Witch. A sailor’s wife had chestnuts in her
And munch’d, and munch’d, and munch’d: ‘Give me,’ quoth
‘Aroint thee, witch!’ the rump-fed ronyon
[Aroint thee: Remove yourself; go
away; get out of here.]
[ronyon: Ronion, a scabby or mangy creature]
Her husband’s to Aleppo [Syrian
city that was once an important link on a caravan route].
gone, master o’ the Tiger:
But in a sieve I’ll thither sail,
And, like a rat without a tail,
I’ll do, I’ll do, and I’ll do. 12
SECOND WITCH: I’ll give thee a wind.
FIRST WITCH: Thou’rt kind.
THIRD WITCH: And I another.
FIRST WITCH: I myself have all the
And the very ports they blow [blow
into; stop at],
All the quarters that they know
I’ the shipman’s card [compass].
I’ll drain him dry as hay: 20
Sleep shall neither night nor day
Hang upon his pent-house lid [upper
He shall live a man forbid.
Weary se’nnights [seven nights,
or a week] nine times nine
Shall he dwindle, peak and pine:
Though his bark [ship]
cannot be lost,
Yet it shall be tempest-tost.
Look what I have. 28
SECOND WITCH: Show me, show me.
FIRST WITCH: Here I have a pilot’s thumb [captain's thumb],
Wrack’d [wrecked] as
homeward he did come. [Drum within.
THIRD WITCH: A drum! a drum!
Macbeth doth come.
All. The weird sisters, hand in
Posters [riders; travelers]
of the sea and land,
Thus do go about, about: 36
Thrice to thine, and thrice to mine,
And thrice again, to make up nine.
Peace! the charm’s wound up.
Enter MACBETH and BANQUO. 40
MACBETH: So foul and fair a day I have not
BANQUO: How far is ’t call’d to Forres? What are
So wither’d and so wild in their attire,
That look not like th’ inhabitants o’ the
And yet are on’t? Live you? or are you aught [anything]
That man may question? You seem to understand
By each at once her choppy finger laying
Upon her skinny lips: you should be
And yet your beards forbid me to interpret
That you are so.
MACBETH: Speak, if you can: what are you?
FIRST WITCH: All hail, Macbeth! hail to thee, Thane of
SECOND WITCH: All hail, Macbeth! hail to thee, Thane of
THIRD WITCH: All hail, Macbeth! that shalt be king
BANQUO: Good sir, why do you start, and seem to
Things that do sound so fair? I’ the name of
Are ye fantastical [imaginary],
or that indeed
Which outwardly ye show? My noble partner
You greet with present grace and great
Of noble having and of royal hope,
That he seems rapt withal: to me you speak
If you can look into the seeds of time,
And say which grain will grow and which will
Speak then to me, who neither beg nor
Your favours nor your hate.
FIRST WITCH: Hail!
SECOND WITCH: Hail!
THIRD WITCH: Hail! 68
FIRST WITCH: Lesser than Macbeth, and
SECOND WITCH: Not so happy, yet much
THIRD WITCH: Thou shalt get kings, though thou be
So, all hail, Macbeth and Banquo! 72
FIRST WITCH: Banquo and Macbeth, all
MACBETH: Stay, you imperfect speakers, tell me
By Sinel’s [Sinel: Macbeth's
father] death I know I am Thane of
But how of Cawdor? the Thane of Cawdor
A prosperous gentleman; and to be king
Stands not within the prospect of belief
No more than to be Cawdor. Say, from
You owe this strange intelligence? or
Upon this blasted heath you stop our way
With such prophetic greeting? Speak, I charge you. [Witches
BANQUO: The earth hath bubbles, as the water
And these are of them. Whither are they
MACBETH: Into the air, and what seem’d corporal [corporeal; made of flesh and blood]
As breath into the wind. Would they had
BANQUO: Were such things here as we do speak
Or have we eaten on the insane root [plant that causes madness when eaten; possibly henbane]
That takes the reason prisoner?
MACBETH: Your children shall be
BANQUO: You shall be king.
MACBETH: And Thane of Cawdor too; went it not
BANQUO: To the self-same tune and words. Who’s
Enter ROSS and ANGUS.
ROSS: The king hath happily receiv’d,
The news of thy success; and when he
Thy personal venture in the rebels’ fight,
His wonders and his praises do contend
Which should be thine or his. Silenc’d with
In viewing o’er the rest o’ the self-same
He finds thee in the stout Norweyan ranks,
Nothing afeard of what thyself didst make,
Strange images of death. As thick as hail
Came post with post, and every one did
Thy praises in his kingdom’s great
And pour’d them down before him.
ANGUS: We are sent
To give thee from our royal master thanks;
Only to herald thee into his sight,
Not pay thee.
ROSS: And, for an earnest of a greater
He bade [asked] me, from
him, call thee Thane of Cawdor: 112
In which addition, hail, most worthy
For it is thine.
BANQUO: What! can the devil speak true?
MACBETH: The Thane of Cawdor lives: why do you dress
In borrow’d robes?
ANGUS: Who was the thane lives yet;
But under heavy judgment bears that life
Which he deserves to lose. Whether he was
With those of Norway, or did line the
With hidden help or vantage [advantage],
or that with both
He labour’d in his country’s wrack [ruin], I know not;
But treasons capital [capital
treasons; major crimes], confess’d and
Have overthrown him.
MACBETH: [Aside.] Glamis, and Thane of
The greatest is behind. [To ROSS and ANGUS.] Thanks for your
[To BANQUO.] Do you not hope your children shall be
When those that gave the Thane of Cawdor to
Promis’d no less to them?
BANQUO: That, trusted home,
Might yet enkindle you unto the crown, 132
Besides the Thane of Cawdor. But ’tis
And oftentimes, to win us to our harm,
The instruments of darkness tell us
Win us with honest trifles, to betray’s
In deepest consequence.
Cousins, a word, I pray you.
MACBETH: [Aside.] Two truths are told,
As happy prologues [introductions;
prefaces] to the swelling act 140
Of the imperial theme. I thank you,
[Aside.] This supernatural soliciting
Cannot be ill, cannot be good; if ill,
Why hath it given me earnest of success,
Commencing in a truth? I am Thane of
If good, why do I yield to that suggestion
Whose horrid image doth unfix my hair
And make my seated heart knock at my ribs,
Against the use of nature? Present fears
Are less than horrible imaginings;
My thought, whose murder yet is but fantastical [imagined],
Shakes so my single state of man that
Is smother’d in surmise, and nothing is
But what is not.
BANQUO: Look, how our partner’s rapt.
MACBETH: [Aside.] If chance will have me king, why, chance
may crown me, 156
Without my stir.
BANQUO: New honours come upon him,
Like our strange garments, cleave not to their
But with the aid of use. 160
MACBETH: [Aside.] Come what come may,
Time and the hour runs through the roughest
BANQUO: Worthy Macbeth, we stay upon your
MACBETH: Give me your favour: my dull brain was
With things forgotten. Kind gentlemen, your pains
Are register’d where every day I turn
The leaf to read them. Let us toward the king.
[your pains . . . read them:
Macbeth thanks Ross and Angus, saying their efforts are
registered in his memory. Macbeth compares his memory to a book
in which he turns a page (leaf) to "read" about an incident from
Think upon what hath chanc’d; and, at more
The interim having weigh’d it, let us
Our free hearts each to other.
BANQUO: Very gladly.
MACBETH: Till then, enough. Come, friends.
Act 1, Scene 4
Forres. A Room in the
Flourish. Enter DUNCAN, MALCOLM, DONALBAIN, LENNOX, and
[Forres: Site of the king's
palace, about twenty-five miles from Macbeth's castle at
Inverness. Forres is in northeastern Scotland. After William I
became King of Scotland in 1165, the castle at Forres served as
a sort of hunting lodge for royalty. The real-life Macbeth and
Duncan were among those said to have used the castle. Nearby is
a curious tourist attraction, the Witches’ Stone, where accused
witches were burned.]
[Flourish: Sounding of trumpets
to herald the entrance of dignitaries.]
DUNCAN: Is execution done on Cawdor? Are
Those in commission yet
[Those in commission: Persons of
high rank summoned to hear the case against an accused person]
MALCOLM: My liege [lord],
They are not yet come back; but I have
With one that saw him die; who did report
That very frankly he confess’d his
Implor’d your highness’ pardon and set
A deep repentance. Nothing in his life
Became him like the leaving it; he died
As one that had been studied in his
To throw away the dearest thing he ow’d,
As ’twere a careless trifle.
DUNCAN: There’s no art
To find the mind’s construction in the
He was a gentleman on whom I built
An absolute trust.
Enter MACBETH, BANQUO, ROSS and ANGUS.
O worthiest cousin! 20
The sin of my ingratitude even now
Was heavy on me. Thou art so far before
That swiftest wing of recompense is slow
To overtake thee; would thou hadst less
That the proportion both of thanks and
Might have been mine! only I have left to
More is thy due than more than all can
MACBETH: The service and the loyalty I
In doing it, pays itself. Your highness’
Is to receive our duties: and our duties
Are to your throne and state, children and
Which do but what they should, by doing
Safe toward your love and honour.
DUNCAN: Welcome hither: I have begun to plant thee, and will
To make thee full of growing. Noble
[I have . . . growing: King
Duncan compares Macbeth to a plant that he will nurture.]
That hast no less deserv’d, nor must be
No less to have done so, let me infold
And hold thee to my heart.
BANQUO: There if I grow, 40
The harvest is your own.
DUNCAN: My plenteous joys
Wanton in fulness, seek to hide themselves
In drops of sorrow. Sons, kinsmen,
And you whose places are the nearest, know
We will establish our estate upon
Our eldest, Malcolm, whom we name
The Prince of Cumberland; which honour
Not unaccompanied invest him on,
But signs of nobleness, like stars, shall
On all deservers. From hence to Inverness,
And bind us further to you. 52
MACBETH: The rest is labour, which is not us’d for
[The rest . . . you: Compared
with serving you—which is an honor and a pleasure—everything
else I do is boring and tedious.]
I’ll be myself the harbinger [one
who goes ahead to alert others of the coming of a great person
or event], and make joyful
The hearing of my wife with your approach;
So, humbly take my leave. 56
DUNCAN: My worthy Cawdor!
MACBETH: [Aside.] The Prince of Cumberland! that is a
On which I must fall down, or else
For in my way it lies. Stars, hide your
Let not light see my black and deep
The eye wink at the hand; yet let that be
Which the eye fears, when it is done, to see.
DUNCAN: True, worthy Banquo; he is full so
And in his commendations I am fed;
It is a banquet to me. Let’s after him,
Whose care is gone before to bid us
It is a peerless kinsman. [Flourish. Exeunt.
Act 1, Scene 5
Enter LADY MACBETH, reading a letter.
They met me in the day of success; and I have learned by the
perfectest report, they have more in them than mortal knowledge.
When I burned in desire to question them further, they made
themselves air, into which they vanished. Whiles I stood rapt in
the wonder of it, came missives from the king, who all-hailed me,
‘Thane of Cawdor;’ by which title, before, these weird sisters
saluted me, and referred me to the coming on of time, with, ‘Hail,
king that shalt be!’ This have I thought good to deliver thee, my
dearest partner of greatness, that thou mightest not lose the dues
of rejoicing, by being ignorant of what greatness is promised
thee. Lay it to thy heart, and farewell.
Glamis thou art, and Cawdor; and shalt
What thou art promis’d. Yet do I fear thy
It is too full o’ the milk of human
To catch the nearest way; thou wouldst be
Art not without ambition, but
The illness [desire to do evil]
should attend it; what thou wouldst
That thou wouldst holily; wouldst not play
And yet wouldst wrongly win; thou ’dst have, great
That which cries, ‘Thus thou must do, if thou have
And that which rather thou dost fear to do
Than wishest should be undone. Hie thee
That I may pour my spirits in thine ear,
And chastise with the valour of my
All that impedes thee from the golden
Which fate and metaphysical aid [supernatural
aid; aid of the witches] doth
To have thee crown’d withal [with].
Enter a Messenger. 20
What is your tidings?
MESSENGER: The king comes here
LADY MACBETH: Thou’rt mad to say it.
Is not thy master with him? who, were’t
Would have inform’d for preparation.
MESSENGER: So please you, it is true: our thane is
One of my fellows had the speed of him [raced past Macbeth; overtook Macbeth],
Who, almost dead for breath, had scarcely
Than would make up his message.
LADY MACBETH: Give him tending [attention];
He brings great news.—[Exit Messenger.] The raven himself is
That croaks the fatal entrance of
Under my battlements. Come, you spirits
That tend on mortal thoughts! unsex me
And fill me from the crown to the toe top
Of direst cruelty; make thick my
Stop up the access and passage to remorse,
That no compunctious visitings [pricks
of conscience; feelings of guilt; fear of doing wrong] of
Shake my fell [deadly]
purpose, nor keep peace between
The effect and it! Come to my woman’s
And take my milk for gall, you murdering
Wherever in your sightless substances
You wait on nature’s mischief! Come, thick
And pall thee in the dunnest smoke of
That my keen knife see not the wound it
Nor heaven peep through the blanket of the
To cry, ‘Hold, hold!’
Enter MACBETH. 48
Great Glamis! worthy Cawdor!
Greater than both, by the all-hail
Thy letters have transported me beyond
This ignorant present, and I feel
The future in the instant.
MACBETH: My dearest love,
Duncan comes here to-night.
LADY MACBETH: And when goes hence?
MACBETH: To-morrow, as he purposes.
LADY MACBETH: O! never
Shall sun that morrow see.
Your face, my thane, is as a book where
May read strange matters. To beguile the
Look like the time; bear welcome in your
Your hand, your tongue: look like the innocent
But be the serpent under ’t. He that’s
Must be provided for; and you shall put
This night’s great business into my dispatch [my ability to deal with it quickly
Which shall to all our nights and days to
Give solely sovereign sway [kingly
power] and masterdom. 68
MACBETH: We will speak further.
LADY MACBETH: Only look up clear;
To alter favour [to change your
look; to change your resolve] ever is to
Leave all the rest to me. [Exeunt.
Act 1, Scene 6
The Same. Before the
Hautboys and torches. Enter DUNCAN, MALCOLM, DONALBAIN, BANQUO,
LENNOX, MACDUFF, ROSS, ANGUS, and Attendants.
[Hautboys (OH bwah): Musical
instruments resembling oboes. In this scene, hautboys are played
as the characters enter.]
DUNCAN: This castle hath a pleasant seat; the
Nimbly and sweetly recommends
Unto our gentle senses.
BANQUO: This guest of summer,
The temple-haunting martlet, does approve
[martlet: Martin, a bird that
sometimes constructs its nest on a building]
By his lov’d mansionry that the heaven’s
Smells wooingly here: no jutty, frieze,
Buttress, nor coign of vantage, but this bird
[no jutty . . . coign of vantage:
There is no convenient place, such as a jutty (an outcropping)
or coign (a corner) for the bird to construct its nest.
Nevertheless, it manages to build one anyway.]
Hath made his pendent bed and procreant
Where they most breed and haunt, I have
The air is delicate.
Enter LADY MACBETH.
DUNCAN: See, see, our honour’d hostess!
The love that follows us sometime is our
Which still we thank as love. Herein I teach
How you shall bid God ’eyld [reward]
us for your pains,
And thank us for your trouble.
LADY MACBETH: All our service, 20
In every point twice done, and then done
Were poor and single business, to contend
Against those honours deep and broad
Your majesty loads our house: for those of
And the late dignities heap’d up to them,
We rest your hermits [holy men
who pray for the king].
DUNCAN: Where’s the Thane of Cawdor?
We cours’d [followed; chased]
him at the heels, and had a purpose
To be his purveyor; but he rides well,
[purveyor: One who rides ahead to
prepare a castle or another place for the arrival of royalty]
And his great love, sharp as his spur, hath holp [helped]
To his home before us. Fair and noble
We are your guest to-night. 32
LADY MACBETH: Your servants ever
Have theirs, themselves, and what is theirs, in compt [count; account; reckoning],
To make their audit at your highness’
Still to return your own. 36
DUNCAN: Give me your hand;
Conduct me to mine host: we love him
And shall continue our graces towards him.
By your leave, hostess. [Exeunt.
Act 1, Scene 7
The Same. A Room in the
Hautboys and torches. Enter, and pass over the stage, a Sewer [server], and divers Servants
with dishes and service. Then, enter MACBETH.
[Hautboys (OH bwah): Musical
instruments resembling oboes. In this scene, hautboys are played
as the characters enter.]
MACBETH: If it were done when ’tis done, then ’twere
It were done quickly; if the
Could trammel up [prevent;
restrict] the consequence, and
With his surcease [death]
success; that but this blow
Might be the be-all and the end-all here,
But here, upon this bank and shoal of
We’d jump [jeopardize]
the life to come. But in these cases
We still have judgment here; that we but
Bloody instructions, which, being taught,
To plague the inventor; this even-handed
Commends the ingredients of our poison’d
To our own lips. He’s here in double
First, as I am his kinsman and his
Strong both against the deed; then, as his
Who should against his murderer shut the
Not bear the knife myself. Besides, this
Hath borne his faculties so meek, hath
So clear in his great office, that his
Will plead like angels trumpet-tongu’d
The deep damnation of his taking-off;
And pity, like a naked new-born babe,
Striding the blast, or heaven’s cherubin [angels], hors’d [riding]
Upon the sightless [unseen]
couriers of the air,
Shall blow the horrid deed in every eye,
That tears shall drown the wind. I have no
To prick the sides of my intent, but
Vaulting ambition, which o’er-leaps itself
And falls on the other.—
Enter LADY MACBETH.
How now! what news? 32
LADY MACBETH: He has almost supp’d: why have you left the
MACBETH: Hath he ask’d for me?
LADY MACBETH: Know you not he has?
MACBETH: We will proceed no further in this
He hath honour’d me of late; and I have
Golden opinions from all sorts of people,
Which would be worn now in their newest
Not cast aside so soon. 40
LADY MACBETH: Was the hope drunk,
Wherein you dress’d yourself? hath it slept
And wakes it now, to look so green and
At what it did so freely? From this
Such I account thy love. Art thou afeard
To be the same in thine own act and valour
As thou art in desire? Wouldst thou have
Which thou esteem’st the ornament of
And live a coward in thine own esteem,
Letting ‘I dare not’ wait upon ‘I would,’
Like the poor cat i’ the adage?
MACBETH: Prithee [I pray thee;
please], peace. 52
I dare do all that may become a man;
Who dares do more is none.
LADY MACBETH: What beast was’t, then,
That made you break this enterprise to
When you durst do it then you were a man;
And, to be more than what you were, you
Be so much more the man. Nor time nor place
Did then adhere, and yet you would make
[Nor time . . . both: Earlier, we did not have a time
and place to murder Duncan. But you were ready to plan and
execute the deed.]
They have made themselves, and that their fitness
Does unmake you. I have given suck, and
How tender ’tis to love the babe that milks
I would, while it was smiling in my
Have pluck’d my nipple from his boneless
And dash’d the brains out, had I so sworn as
Have done to this.
MACBETH: If we should fail,— 68
LADY MACBETH: We fail!
But screw your courage to the
And we’ll not fail. When Duncan is asleep,
Whereto the rather shall his day’s hard
Soundly invite him, his two chamberlains [bodyguards]
Will I with wine and wassail [drinking
toast, such as "to your health"] so
That memory, the warder [guard;
doorkeeper; watcher] of the
Shall be a fume [Lady Macbeth
will turn their memories into fumes so that they cannot recall
what happened], and the receipt of
A limbeck [that which distills]
only; when in swinish sleep
Their drenched natures lie, as in a death,
What cannot you and I perform upon
The unguarded Duncan? what not put upon [lay blame upon] 80
His spongy officers, who shall bear the
Of our great quell [murder of
MACBETH: Bring forth men-children only;
For thy undaunted mettle should
Nothing but males. Will it not be receiv’d,
[Bring forth . . . but males:
Give birth only to boys, for your extraordinary resolution and
courage deems it so.]
When we have mark’d with blood those sleepy
Of his own chamber and us’d their very
That they have done’t? 88
LADY MACBETH: Who dares receive it other,
As we shall make our griefs and clamour
Upon his death?
MACBETH: I am settled, and bend up
Each corporal agent to this terrible feat.
[bend up . . . feat: Use every
muscle and fiber of my body to carry out this terrible deed.]
Away, and mock the time with fairest show:
False face must hide what the false heart doth know.
Act 2, Scene 1
Inverness. Court within
Enter BANQUO and FLEANCE, with a Servant bearing a torch before
BANQUO: How goes the night, boy?
FLEANCE: The moon is down; I have not heard the
BANQUO: And she goes down at twelve.
FLEANCE: I take’t, ’tis later, sir.
BANQUO: Hold, take my sword. There’s husbandry in heaven;
Their candles are all out. Take thee that
[There's husbandry . . . out:
Heaven is thrifty, for it extinguished all the candles (stars).]
A heavy summons lies like lead upon me,
[A heavy . . . me: I am
And yet I would not sleep: merciful
Restrain in me the cursed thoughts that
Gives way to in repose. 12
Enter MACBETH, and a Servant with a torch.
Give me my sword.—
MACBETH: A friend. 16
BANQUO: What, sir! not yet at rest? The king’s a [in]
He hath been in unusual pleasure, and
Sent forth great largess to your offices.
This diamond he greets your wife withal [with], 20
By the name of most kind hostess; and shut
In measureless content.
MACBETH: Being unprepar’d,
Our will became the servant to
Which else should free have wrought.
BANQUO: All’s well.
I dreamt last night of the three weird
To you they have show’d some truth.
MACBETH: I think not of them:
Yet, when we can entreat an hour to serve,
We would spend it in some words upon that
If you would grant the time. 32
BANQUO: At your kind’st leisure.
MACBETH: If you shall cleave to [adhere to; approve] my consent, when
It shall make honour for you.
BANQUO: So I lose none 36
In seeking to augment it, but still keep
My bosom franchis’d and allegiance clear,
I shall be counsell’d.
[So I lose . . . counsell'd: As
long as I do not lose my honor in seeking to increase it—and as
long as I remain a faithful subject—I will do as you suggest.]
MACBETH: Good repose the while! 40
BANQUO: Thanks, sir: the like to you. [Exeunt BANQUO
MACBETH: Go bid thy mistress, when my drink is
She strike upon the bell. Get thee to bed. [Exit
Is this a dagger which I see before
The handle toward my hand? Come, let me clutch
I have thee not, and yet I see thee still.
Art thou not, fatal vision, sensible
To feeling as to sight? or art thou
A dagger of the mind, a false creation,
Proceeding from the heat-oppressed brain?
I see thee yet, in form as palpable
As this which now I draw. 52
Thou marshall’st me [lead me]
the way that I was going;
And such an instrument I was to use.
Mine eyes are made the fools o’ the other
Or else worth all the rest: I see thee
And on thy blade and dudgeon [handle]
gouts [drops; splashes; spurts]
Which was not so before. There’s no such
It is the bloody business which informs
Thus to mine eyes. Now o’er the one
Nature seems dead, and wicked dreams abuse
The curtain’d sleep; witchcraft celebrates
Pale Hecate’s offerings; and wither’d murder,
[Hecate (HEK uh te): In
Greek mythology, protector of witches]
Alarum’d by his sentinel, the wolf,
Whose howl’s his watch, thus with his stealthy
With Tarquin’s ravishing strides, toward his
[Tarquin: Ancient Roman who became
infamous for his rape of another man's wife]
Moves like a ghost. Thou sure and firm-set
Hear not my steps, which way they walk, for
Thy very stones prate of my whereabout,
And take the present horror from the time,
Which now suits with it. Whiles I threat he
Words to the heat of deeds too cold breath gives. [A bell
I go, and it is done; the bell invites me.
Hear it not, Duncan; for it is a knell
That summons thee to heaven or to hell.
Act 2, Scene 2
Enter LADY MACBETH.
LADY MACBETH: That which hath made them drunk hath made me
What hath quench’d them hath given me fire.
Peace! It was the owl that shriek’d, the fatal
Which gives the stern’st good-night. He is about
The doors are open, and the surfeited
Do mock their charge with snores: I have drugg’d their
[surfeited . . . snores: The
well-fed servants who are supposed to watch over the king have
[possets: Hot drinks of curdled
milk and spices]
That death and nature do contend about
Whether they live or die.
MACBETH: [Within.] Who’s there? what,
LADY MACBETH: Alack! [Expression
of dismay or alarm] I am afraid they have
And ’tis not done; the attempt and not the
Confounds us. Hark! I laid their daggers
He could not miss them. Had he not
My father as he slept I had done ’t. My
MACBETH: I have done the deed. Didst thou not hear a
LADY MACBETH: I heard the owl scream and the crickets
Did not you speak?
LADY MACBETH: Now.
MACBETH: As I descended? 24
LADY MACBETH: Ay.
Who lies i’ the second chamber?
LADY MACBETH: Donalbain. 28
MACBETH: [Looking on his hands.] This is a sorry
LADY MACBETH: A foolish thought to say a sorry
MACBETH: There’s one did laugh in ’s sleep, and one cried
That they did wake each other: I stood and heard
But they did say their prayers, and address’d
Again to sleep.
LADY MACBETH: There are two lodg’d
MACBETH: One cried ‘God bless us!’ and ‘Amen’ the
As they had seen me with these hangman’s
Listening their fear, I could not say
When they did say ‘God bless us!’
LADY MACBETH: Consider it not so
MACBETH: But wherefore [why]
could not I pronounce ‘Amen?’
I had most need of blessing, and ‘Amen’
Stuck in my throat.
LADY MACBETH: These deeds must not be
After these ways; so, it will make us mad.
MACBETH: Methought I heard a voice cry ‘Sleep no
Macbeth does murder sleep,’ the innocent
Sleep that knits up the ravell’d sleave of
The death of each day’s life, sore labour’s
Balm [soothing ointment; salve]
of hurt minds, great nature’s second
Chief nourisher in life’s feast,—
LADY MACBETH: What do you mean? 52
MACBETH: Still it cried, ‘Sleep no more!’ to all the
‘Glamis hath murder’d sleep, and therefore
Shall sleep no more, Macbeth shall sleep no
LADY MACBETH: Who was it that thus cried? Why, worthy
You do unbend your noble strength to think
So brainsickly of things. Go get some
And wash this filthy witness [blood]
from your hand.
Why did you bring these daggers from the
They must lie there: go carry them, and
The sleepy grooms with blood.
MACBETH: I’ll go no more:
I am afraid to think what I have
Look on ’t again I dare not.
LADY MACBETH: Infirm of purpose!
Give me the daggers. The sleeping and the
Are but as pictures; ’tis the eye of
That fears a painted devil. If he do
I’ll gild [smear with blood]
the faces of the grooms withal [besides;
For it must seem their guilt. [Exit. Knocking
MACBETH: Whence is that knocking? 72
How is’t with me, when every noise appals
What hands are here! Ha! they pluck out mine
Will all great Neptune’s ocean wash this
[Neptune: In ancient mythology,
the Roman name for Poseidon, the Greek god of the sea]
Clean from my hand? No, this my hand will
The multitudinous seas incarnadine [red],
Making the green one red.
Re-Enter LADY MACBETH.
LADY MACBETH: My hands are of your colour, but I
To wear a heart so white.—[Knocking within.] I hear a
At the south entry; retire we to our
A little water clears us of this deed;
How easy is it, then! Your constancy
Hath left you unattended. [Knocking within.] Hark! more knocking.
Get on your night-gown, lest occasion call
And show us to be watchers. Be not lost
So poorly in your thoughts. 88
MACBETH: To know my deed ’twere best not know myself.
Wake Duncan with thy knocking! I would thou couldst!
Act 2, Scene 3
Knocking within. Enter a Porter.
PORTER: Here’s a knocking, indeed! If a man were porter of
hell-gate he should have old [a
lot of] turning the key. [Knocking within.] Knock, knock,
knock! Who’s there, i’ the name of Beelzebub [the devil]? Here’s a farmer
that hanged himself on the expectation of plenty [a farmer who hanged himself when an
expected bounty of profits did not materialize]: come in
time; have napkins enough about you; here you’ll sweat for ’t.
[Knocking within.] Knock, knock! Who’s there i’ the other devil’s
name! Faith, here’s an equivocator, that could swear in both the
scales against either scale [equivocator
. . . scale: One who distorts the truth, telling one version to
suit his purpose and then telling another version later that
refutes the first version]; who committed treason enough
for God’s sake, yet could not equivocate to heaven: O! come in,
equivocator. [Knocking within.] Knock, knock, knock! Who’s there?
Faith, here’s an English tailor come hither for stealing out of a
French hose: come in, tailor; here you may roast your goose.
[Knocking within.] Knock, knock; never at quiet! What are you? But
this place is too cold for hell. I’ll devil-porter it no further:
I had thought to have let in some of all professions, that go the
primrose way to the everlasting bonfire. [Knocking within.] Anon,
anon! [Soon, soon!] I
pray you, remember the porter. [Opens the
Enter MACDUFF and
MACDUFF: Was it so late, friend, ere you went to
That you do lie so late?
PORTER: Faith, sir, we were carousing till the second cock [middle of the night]; and
drink, sir, is a great provoker of three
MACDUFF: What three things does drink especially
PORTER: Marry [by the
Blessed Virgin Mary], sir, nose-painting [causing the end of the nose to turn
red], sleep, and urine. Lechery, sir, it provokes, and
unprovokes; it provokes the desire, but it takes away the
performance. Therefore much drink may be said to be an equivocator
with lechery; it makes him, and it mars him; it sets him on, and
it takes him off; it persuades him, and disheartens him; makes him
stand to, and not stand to; in conclusion, equivocates him in a
sleep, and, giving him the lie, leaves
MACDUFF: I believe drink gave thee the lie last
PORTER: That it did, sir, i’ the very throat o’ me: but I requited
[repaid] him for his lie;
and, I think, being too strong for him, though he took up my legs
sometime, yet I made a shift to cast him.
MACDUFF: Is thy master
Our knocking has awak’d him; here he
LENNOX: Good morrow [morning],
MACBETH: Good morrow, both. 16
MACDUFF: Is the king stirring, worthy
MACBETH: Not yet.
MACDUFF: He did command me to call timely on
I have almost slipp’d the hour. 20
MACBETH: I’ll bring you to him.
MACDUFF: I know this is a joyful trouble to
But yet ’tis one.
MACBETH: The labour we delight in physics
[The labour . . . pain: The labor
we delight in causes pain.]
This is the door.
MACDUFF: I’ll make so bold to call,
For ’tis my limited service. [Exit.
LENNOX: Goes the king hence
MACBETH: He does: he did appoint so.
LENNOX: The night has been unruly: where we
Our chimneys were blown down; and, as they
Lamentings heard i’ the air; strange screams of
And prophesying with accents terrible
Of dire combustion and confus’d events
New hatch’d to the woeful time. The obscure
Clamour’d the livelong night: some say the
Was feverous and did shake.
MACBETH: ’Twas a rough night.
LENNOX: My young remembrance cannot
A fellow to it. 40
MACDUFF: O horror! horror! horror! Tongue nor
Cannot conceive nor name thee!
MACBETH & LENNOX: What’s the
MACDUFF: Confusion now hath made his
Most sacrilegious murder hath broke ope
The Lord’s anointed temple [Duncan's
body], and stole thence
The life o’ the building [Duncan's
MACBETH: What is ’t you say? the
LENNOX: Mean you his majesty?
MACDUFF: Approach the chamber, and destroy your
With a new Gorgon: do not bid me
[Gorgon: In Greek mythology, any
of three sisters with snakes growing from their heads instead of
hair. So terrifying was their appearance that it turned
onlookers into stone.]
See, and then speak yourselves. [Exeunt MACBETH and
Ring the alarum-bell. Murder and treason!
Banquo and Donalbain! Malcolm!
Shake off this downy sleep, death’s counterfeit [sleep imitates death],
And look on death itself! up, up, and see
The great doom’s image! Malcolm! Banquo!
As from your graves rise up, and walk like
To countenance this horror! Ring the bell. [Bell
Enter LADY MACBETH.
LADY MACBETH: What’s the business,
That such a hideous trumpet calls to
The sleepers of the house? speak, speak!
MACDUFF: O gentle lady!
’Tis not for you to hear what I can speak;
The repetition in a woman’s ear 68
Would murder as it fell.
O Banquo! Banquo!
Our royal master’s murder’d! 72
LADY MACBETH: Woe, alas!
What! in our house?
BANQUO: Too cruel any where.
Dear Duff, I prithee, contradict
And say it is not so.
Re-Enter MACBETH and LENNOX.
MACBETH: Had I but died an hour before this
I had liv’d a blessed time; for, from this
There’s nothing serious in mortality,
All is but toys; renown and grace is dead,
The wine of life is drawn, and the mere lees [sediment; dregs]
Is left this vault to brag of. 84
Enter MALCOLM and DONALBAIN.
DONALBAIN: What is amiss?
MACBETH: You are, and do not know ’t:
The spring, the head, the fountain of your
Is stopp’d; the very source of it is
MACDUFF: Your royal father’s
MALCOLM: O! by whom?
LENNOX: Those of his chamber, as it seem’d, had done
Their hands and faces were all badg’d [stained; smeared] with
So were their daggers, which unwip’d we
Upon their pillows: they star’d, and were distracted; no man’s
Was to be trusted with them. 96
MACBETH: O! yet I do repent me of my
That I did kill them.
[I do repent . . . them: Macbeth
says he killed the servants out of rage after he discovered that
they murdered Duncan.]
MACDUFF: Wherefore [why]
did you so?
MACBETH: Who can be wise, amaz’d, temperate and
Loyal and neutral, in a moment? No man:
The expedition of my violent love
Outran the pauser, reason. Here lay
His silver skin lac’d with his golden
And his gash’d stabs look’d like a breach in
For ruin’s wasteful entrance: there, the
Steep’d in the colours of their trade, their
Unmannerly breech’d with gore: who could
That had a heart to love, and in that
Courage to make’s love known?
LADY MACBETH: Help me hence, ho!
MACDUFF: Look to the lady. 112
MALCOLM: [Aside to DONALBAIN.] Why do we hold our
That most may claim this argument for ours?
DONALBAIN: [Aside to MALCOLM.] What should be
Here where our fate, hid in an auger-hole,
May rush and seize us? Let’s away: our
Are not yet brew’d.
[Why do we . . . brew'd: Malcolm
and Donalbain whisper their concerns to each other. Malcolm asks
why they are not speaking out about the murder of their father.
Donalbain, suspecting foul play, says they should not say
anything but instead run away.]
MALCOLM: [Aside to DONALBAIN.] Nor our strong
Upon the foot of motion. 120
[Upon . . . motion: They have not
even had time to express their sorrow—that is, to put it in
BANQUO: Look to the lady: [LADY MACBETH is carried
And when we have our naked frailties hid,
That suffer in exposure, let us meet,
[we have our naked . . . meet:
Banquo and others have not yet had time to dress.]
And question this most bloody piece of
To know it further. Fears and scruples shake
In the great hand of God I stand, and
Against the undivulg’d pretence I fight
[undivulg'd pretence: Undisclosed
reason for the murder]
Of treasonous malice. 128
MACDUFF: And so do I.
ALL: So all.
MACBETH: Let’s briefly put on manly
And meet i’ the hall together. 132
ALL: Well contented. [Exeunt all but MALCOLM and
MALCOLM: What will you do? Let’s not consort with
To show an unfelt sorrow is an office
Which the false man does easy. I’ll to
DONALBAIN: To Ireland, I; our separated
Shall keep us both the safer: where we
There’s daggers in men’s smiles: the near in
The nearer bloody. 140
MALCOLM: This murderous shaft that’s shot
Hath not yet lighted, and our safest way
Is to avoid the aim: therefore, to horse;
And let us not be dainty of leave-taking,
But shift away: there’s warrant in that
Which steals itself when there’s no mercy left.
Act 2, Scene 4
The Same. Without [Outside] the
Enter ROSS and an Old Man.
OLD MAN: Threescore and ten [seventy] I can remember
Within the volume of which time I have
Hours dreadful and things strange, but this sore
Hath trifled [made unimpressive
or insignificant] former knowings [knowledge and impressions of
ROSS: Ah! good father,
Thou seest, the heavens, as troubled with man’s
Threaten his bloody stage: by the clock ’tis
And yet darknight strangles the travelling lamp [sun].
Is ’t night’s predominance, or the day’s
That darkness does the face of earth
When living light should kiss it?
OLD MAN: ’Tis unnatural,
Even like the deed that’s done. On Tuesday
A falcon, towering in her pride of
Was by a mousing owl hawk’d at and kill’d.
ROSS: And Duncan’s horses,—a thing most strange and
Beauteous and swift, the minions [favorites]
of their race,
Turn’d wild in nature, broke their stalls, flung
Contending ’gainst obedience, as they
Make war with mankind.
OLD MAN: ’Tis said they eat each other.
ROSS: They did so; to the amazement of mine
That look’d upon ’t. Here comes the good
How goes the world, sir, now?
MACDUFF: Why, see you not? 28
ROSS: Is ’t known who did this more than bloody
MACDUFF: Those that Macbeth hath
ROSS: Alas, the day!
What good could they pretend? 32
MACDUFF: They were suborn’d [incited;
Malcolm and Donalbain, the king’s two
Are stol’n away and fled, which puts upon
Suspicion of the deed. 36
ROSS: ’Gainst nature still!
Thriftless ambition, that wilt ravin up
Thine own life’s means! Then ’tis most
The sovereignty will fall upon
MACDUFF: He is already nam’d, and gone to Scone [town where Scottish coronations were
To be invested.
ROSS: Where is Duncan’s body?
MACDUFF: Carried to Colmekill [burial site for Scottish kings];
The sacred storehouse of his predecessors
And guardian of their bones.
ROSS: Will you to Scone?
MACDUFF: No, cousin, I’ll to
ROSS: Well, I will thither.
MACDUFF: Well, may you see things well done there: adieu [good-bye]!
Lest our old robes sit easier than our
ROSS: Farewell, father. 52
OLD MAN: God’s benison [blessing]
go with you; and with those
That would make good of bad, and friends of foes!
Act 3, Scene 1
Forres. A Room in the
BANQUO: Thou hast it now: King, Cawdor, Glamis,
As the weird women promis’d; and, I
Thou play’dst most foully for ’t; yet it was
It should not stand in thy posterity,
But that myself should be the root and
Of many kings. If there come truth from
As upon thee, Macbeth, their speeches
Why, by the verities on thee made good,
May they not be my oracles as well,
And set me up in hope? But, hush! no
[May they . . . hope?: Might not
the witches' predictions concerning me also be right?]
Sennet sounded. Enter MACBETH, as king; LADY MACBETH, as queen;
LENNOX, ROSS, Lords, Ladies, and Attendants.
[Sennet: Sounding of trumpets
upon the entrance or exit of royalty]
MACBETH: Here’s our chief guest.
LADY MACBETH: If he had been forgotten
It had been as a gap in our great
And all-thing unbecoming.
MACBETH: To-night we hold a solemn supper,
And I’ll request your presence.
BANQUO: Let your highness 20
Command upon me; to the which my duties
Are with a most indissoluble tie
For ever knit.
MACBETH: Ride you this
BANQUO: Ay, my good lord.
MACBETH: We should have else desir’d your good
Which still hath been both grave and
In this day’s council; but we’ll take
Is’t far you ride?
BANQUO: As far, my lord, as will fill up the
’Twixt this and supper; go not my horse the better,
[go not . . . better: If my horse
does not go fast enough]
I must become a borrower of the
For a dark hour or twain [two].
MACBETH: Fail not our feast.
BANQUO: My lord, I will not.
MACBETH: We hear our bloody cousins are
In England and in Ireland, not confessing
Their cruel parricide [the
murder of a parent], filling their
With strange invention [lies];
but of that to-morrow,
When therewithal we shall have cause of
Craving us jointly. Hie [go]
you to horse; adieu [farewell]
Till you return at night. Goes Fleance with
BANQUO: Ay, my good lord: our time does call upon
MACBETH: I wish your horses swift and sure of
And so I do commend you to their backs.
Farewell. [Exit BANQUO.
Let every man be master of his time
Till seven at night; to make society
The sweeter welcome, we will keep ourself
Till supper-time alone; while then, God be with you! [Exeunt
all but MACBETH and an Attendant.
Sirrah, a word with you. Attend those men
Our pleasure? 52
ATTENDANT: They are, my lord, without the palace
MACBETH: Bring them before us. [Exit Attendant.] To be thus
But to be safely thus. Our fears in Banquo
Stick deep, and in his royalty of
Reigns that which would be fear’d: ’tis much he
And, to that dauntless temper of his mind,
He hath a wisdom that doth guide his
To act in safety. There is none but
Whose being I do fear; and under him
My genius is rebuk’d, as it is said
Mark Antony’s was by Caesar [Julius
Caesar, the ancient Roman general and dictator] . He chid
the sisters [reprimanded the
When first they put the name of king upon
And bade them speak to him; then,
They hail’d him father to a line of kings.
Upon my head they plac’d a fruitless
And put a barren sceptre [staff
that symbolizes a king's authority] in my gripe [grasp],
Thence to be wrench’d with an unlineal hand,
[Thence . . . hand: The witches
prophesied that Macbeth's offspring would not inherit his crown.
Instead, the crown would go to the son of a man (Banquo) who is
not in the line of royal succession (unlineal)].
No son of mine succeeding. If ’t be so,
For Banquo’s issue [offspring]
have I fil’d my mind;
For them the gracious Duncan have I
Put rancours in the vessel of my peace
Only for them; and mine eternal jewel [soul]
Given to the common enemy of man,
To make them kings, the seed of Banquo
Rather than so, come fate into the list,
And champion me to the utterance! Who’s
Re-Enter Attendant, with two Murderers.
Now go to the door, and stay there till we call. [Exit
Was it not yesterday we spoke together?
FIRST MURDERER: It was, so please your
MACBETH: Well then, now
Have you consider’d of my speeches?
That it was he in the times past which held you
So under fortune, which you thought had
[it was . . . fortune: It was
Banquo who caused your ill fortune.]
Our innocent self. This I made good to you
In our last conference, pass’d in probation with
How you were borne in hand, how cross’d, the
Who wrought with them, and all things else that
To half a soul and to a notion craz’d
Say, ‘Thus did Banquo.’ 92
FIRST MURDERER: You made it known to
MACBETH: I did so; and went further, which is
Our point of second meeting. Do you find
Your patience so predominant in your
That you can let this go? Are you so
To pray for this good man and for his
Whose heavy hand hath bow’d you to the
And beggar’d yours for ever? 100
FIRST MURDERER: We are men, my
MACBETH: Ay, in the catalogue ye go for
As hounds and greyhounds, mongrels, spaniels,
Shoughs, water-rugs, and demi-wolves, are
[Shoughs . . . demi-wolves: Types
of dogs. Shoughs: shaggy or woolly dogs; water-rugs: dogs that
take to the water; demi-wolves: dogs that are part wolf.]
[clept: known; called]
All by the name of dogs: the valu’d file
Distinguishes the swift, the slow, the
The housekeeper, the hunter, every one
According to the gift which bounteous
Hath in him clos’d; whereby he does
Particular addition, from the bill [classification]
That writes them all alike: and so of men.
Now, if you have a station in the file,
Not i’ the worst rank of manhood, say it;
And I will put that business in your
Whose execution takes your enemy off,
Grapples you to the heart and love of us,
Who wear our health but sickly in his
Which in his death were perfect.
SECOND MURDERER: I am one, my liege [lord],
Whom the vile blows and buffets of the
Have so incens’d that I am reckless what
I do to spite the world.
FIRST MURDERER: And I another,
So weary with disasters, tugg’d with
That I would set my life on any chance,
To mend it or be rid on ’t.
MACBETH: Both of you
Know Banquo was your enemy. 128
SECOND MURDERER: True, my lord.
MACBETH: So is he mine; and in such bloody
That every minute of his being thrusts
Against my near’st of life: and though I
With bare-fac’d power sweep him from my
And bid my will avouch [affirm;
avow] it, yet I must not,
For certain friends that are both his and
Whose loves I may not drop [jeopardize],
but wail his fall 136
Whom I myself struck down; and thence it
That I to your assistance do make love,
[That I . . . love: That I ask
for your help]
Masking the business from the common eye
For sundry [various]
weighty reasons. 140
SECOND MURDERER: We shall, my lord,
Perform what you command us.
FIRST MURDERER: Though our lives—
MACBETH: Your spirits shine through you. Within this hour at
I will advise you where to plant
Acquaint you with the perfect spy o’ the
The moment on ’t; for ’t must be done
And something from the palace; always
That I require a clearness [freedom
from suspicion]: and with him—
To leave no rubs nor botches in the work—
[no rubs . . . botches: No
mistakes; no evidence implicating Macbeth]
Fleance his son, that keeps him company,
Whose absence is no less material to me
Than is his father’s, must embrace the fate [must also die]
Of that dark hour. Resolve yourselves
I’ll come to you anon.
SECOND MURDERER: We are resolv’d, my
MACBETH: I’ll call upon you straight: abide within.
It is concluded: Banquo, thy soul’s
If it find heaven, must find it out to-night. [Exit.
Act 3, Scene 2
The Same. Another Room in
Enter LADY MACBETH and a Servant.
LADY MACBETH: Is Banquo gone from
SERVANT: Ay, madam, but returns again
LADY MACBETH: Say to the king, I would attend his
For a few words.
SERVANT: Madam, I will. [Exit.
LADY MACBETH: Nought’s had, all’s
Where our desire is got without content: ’Tis safer to be that
which we destroy
Than by destruction dwell in doubtful joy.
['Tis safer . . . joy: Lady
Macbeth says it is better to be the thing destroyed than the
destroyer. Apparently, her conscience is beginning to unnerve
Enter MACBETH. 12
How now, my lord! why do you keep alone,
Of sorriest fancies your companions
Using those thoughts which should indeed have
With them they think on? Things without all
Should be without regard: what’s done is
MACBETH: We have scotch’d [injured;
wounded] the snake, not kill’d
She’ll close [recover]
and be herself, whilst our poor malice
Remains in danger of her former tooth [fangs of a snake].
But let the frame of things disjoint, both the worlds suffer,
Ere we will eat our meal in fear, and sleep
[But let . . . fear: But we
should not let the situation bother us to the point that we must
eat our meals in fear.]
In the affliction of these terrible dreams
That shake us nightly. Better be with the
Whom we, to gain our peace, have sent to
Than on the torture of the mind to lie
In restless ecstasy. Duncan is in his
After life’s fitful fever he sleeps
Treason has done his worst: nor steel, nor
Malice domestic, foreign levy [troops],
Can touch him further.
LADY MACBETH: Come on; 32
Gentle my lord, sleek o’er your rugged
[sleek o'er: Smooth over; get rid
Be bright and jovial among your guests
MACBETH: So shall I, love; and so, I pray, be
Let your remembrance apply to
Present him eminence, both with eye and
Unsafe the while, that we
Must lave [wash] our
honours in these flattering streams,
And make our faces vizards [masks
that hide what is felt in the heart] to our
Disguising what they are.
LADY MACBETH: You must leave this.
MACBETH: O! full of scorpions is my mind, dear
Thou know’st that Banquo and his Fleance
LADY MACBETH: But in them nature’s copy’s not eterne.
[But in . . . eterne: But they
will not live forever.]
MACBETH: There’s comfort yet; they are
Then be thou jocund. Ere the bat hath
His cloister’d [secretive;
hidden] flight, ere, to black Hecate’s
The shard-borne beetle with his drowsy
[shard . . . beetle: The outer
wings of beetles are called shards. Shard-borne means airborne by these wings.]
Hath rung night’s yawning peal, there shall be
A deed of dreadful note.
LADY MACBETH: What’s to be done? 52
MACBETH: Be innocent of the knowledge, dearest chuck [endearing and/or attractive woman],
Till thou applaud the deed. Come, seeling night,
[seeling: Falconry term meaning
to sew together the lids of a falcon. Seeling is used figuratively here.]
Scarf up [seal up; blindfold]
the tender eye of pitiful day,
And with thy bloody and invisible
Cancel and tear to pieces that great bond
Which keeps me pale! Light thickens, and the
Makes wing to the rooky wood;
[rooky: Full of crow-like birds;
darkness, as suggested by the appearance of a crow]
Good things of day begin to droop and
Whiles night’s black agents to their preys do
Thou marvell’st at my words: but hold thee
Things bad begun make strong themselves by
So, prithee [I pray thee],
go with me. [Exeunt. 64
Act 3, Scene 3
The Same. A Park, with a
Road leading to the Palace.
Enter three Murderers.
FIRST MURDERER: But who did bid thee join with
THIRD MURDERER: Macbeth. 4
SECOND MURDERER: He needs not our mistrust, since he
Our offices and what we have to do
[delivers . . . office: Gives us
To the direction just [right;
FIRST MURDERER: Then stand with
The west yet glimmers with some streaks of
Now spurs the lated traveller apace
To gain the timely inn; and near
The subject of our watch. 12
THIRD MURDERER: Hark! I hear horses.
BANQUO: [Within.] Give us a light there,
SECOND MURDERER: Then ’tis he: the rest
That are within the note of
Already are i’ the court.
[The rest . . . court: The other
guests are already in the palace.]
FIRST MURDERER: His horses go about.
THIRD MURDERER: Almost a mile; but he does
So all men do, from hence to the palace
Make it their walk.
SECOND MURDERER: A light, a light!
THIRD MURDERER: ’Tis he.
FIRST MURDERER: Stand to ’t.
Enter BANQUO and FLEANCE, with a torch.
BANQUO: It will be rain to-night.
FIRST MURDERER: Let it come down. [They set upon
BANQUO: O, treachery! Fly, good Fleance, fly, fly,
Thou mayst revenge. O slave! [Dies. FLEANCE
THIRD MURDERER: Who did strike out the
FIRST MURDERER: Was ’t not the way?
THIRD MURDERER: There’s but one down; the son is
SECOND MURDERER: We have lost
Best half of our affair.
FIRST MURDERER: Well, let’s away, and say how much is
Act 3, Scene 4
The Same. A Room of State
in the Palace.
A Banquet prepared. Enter MACBETH, LADY MACBETH, ROSS, LENNOX,
Lords, and Attendants.
MACBETH: You know your own degrees [ranks of nobility]; sit down:
at first and last,
The hearty welcome. 4
LORDS: Thanks to your majesty.
MACBETH: Ourself will mingle with society
And play the humble host.
Our hostess keeps her state, but in best
We will require her welcome.
LADY MACBETH: Pronounce it for me, sir, to all our
For my heart speaks they are welcome.
Enter First Murderer, to the
MACBETH: See, they encounter thee with their hearts’
Both sides are even: here I’ll sit i’ the midst:
Be large in mirth; anon, we’ll drink a measure
The table round. [Approaching the door.] There’s blood upon thy
MURDERER: ’Tis Banquo’s, then.
MACBETH: ’Tis better thee without than he
Is he dispatch’d?
MURDERER: My lord, his throat is cut; that I did for
MACBETH: Thou art the best o’ the cut-throats; yet he’s
That did the like for Fleance: if thou didst it,
Thou art the nonpareil [one who
is without equal].
MURDERER: Most royal sir, 24
Fleance is ’scap’d.
MACBETH: Then comes my fit again: I had else been
Whole as the marble, founded as the rock,
As broad and general as the casing air [surrounding air]: 28
But now I am cabin’d, cribb’d, confin’d, bound
To saucy doubts and fears. But Banquo’s safe?
MURDERER: Ay, my good lord; safe in a ditch he
With twenty trenched gashes on his
The least a death to nature.
MACBETH: Thanks for that.
There the grown serpent [Banquo]
lies: the worm that’s fled [Fleance]
Hath nature that in time will venom
No teeth for the present. Get thee gone; to-morrow
[Hath nature . . . present:
Fleance has no teeth to inject venom. But, in time, he will
develop teeth and venom.]
We’ll hear ourselves again. [Exit
LADY MACBETH: My royal lord,
You do not give the cheer: the feast is sold 40
That is not often vouch’d, while ’tis a-making,
’Tis given with welcome: to feed were best at home;
From thence, the sauce to meat is ceremony;
Meeting were bare without it. 44
[the feast is . . . without it:
The feast is a failure if the host does not make the guests feel
welcome. They would be better off eating at home. Away from
home, they should receive the host's attention, which is like
gravy on meat.]
MACBETH: Sweet remembrancer!
Now good digestion wait on appetite,
And health on both!
LENNOX: May it please your highness sit? [The Ghost of
BANQUO enters, and sits in MACBETH’S
MACBETH: Here had we now our country’s honour
Were the grac’d person of our Banquo present;
[Here had . . . present: If
Banquo were present, we would have all the men of honor in our
country under one roof.]
Who may I rather challenge for unkindness
Than pity for mischance! 52
ROSS: His absence, sir,
Lays blame upon his promise. Please ’t your
To grace us with your royal company.
MACBETH: The table’s full. 56
LENNOX: Here is a place reserv’d, sir.
LENNOX: Here, my good lord. What is ’t that moves your
MACBETH: Which of you have done
LORDS: What, my good lord?
MACBETH: Thou canst not say I did it: never
Thy gory locks at me.
ROSS: Gentlemen, rise; his highness is not
LADY MACBETH: Sit, worthy friends: my lord is often
And hath been from his youth: pray you, keep
The fit is momentary; upon a thought
He will again be well. If much you note
You shall offend him and extend his passion:
[If much . . . passion: If you
stare at him, you will offend him and make his fit last longer.]
Feed and regard him not. Are you a man?
MACBETH: Ay, and a bold one, that dare look on
Which might appal the devil. 72
LADY MACBETH: O proper stuff!
This is the very painting of your fear;
This is the air-drawn dagger which, you said,
Led you to Duncan. O! these flaws and
Impostors to true fear—would well become
A woman’s story at a winter’s fire,
Authoriz’d by her grandam. Shame itself!
Why do you make such faces? When all’s
You look but on a stool.
MACBETH: Prithee, see there! behold! look! lo! how say
Why, what care I? If thou canst nod, speak too.
If charnel-houses and our graves must
[charnel-houses: Places where the
bodies of the dead are kept before burial]
Those that we bury back, our monuments
Shall be the maws [mouth, jaws,
or stomach] of kites. [Ghost disappears: LADY
MACBETH: What! quite unmann’d in folly?
MACBETH: If I stand here, I saw
LADY MACBETH: Fie, for shame!
MACBETH: Blood hath been shed ere [before] now, i’ the olden time,
Ere human statute purg’d the gentle weal;
[ere . . . weal: Before the
enactment of laws regulating human conduct]
Ay, and since too, murders have been
Too terrible for the ear: the times have been,
That, when the brains were out, the man would
And there an end; but now they rise again,
With twenty mortal murders on their
[With . . . crowns: The murderers
struck Banquo twenty times on the head.]
And push us from our stools: this is more
Than such a murder is.
LADY MACBETH: My worthy lord,
Your noble friends do lack you. 100
MACBETH: I do forget.
Do not muse at me, my most worthy friends;
I have a strange infirmity, which is nothing
To those that know me. Come, love and health to
Then, I’ll sit down. Give me some wine; fill
I drink to the general joy of the whole table,
And to our dear friend Banquo, whom we miss;
Would he were here! to all, and him, we
And all to all.
LORDS: Our duties, and the pledge.
MACBETH: Avaunt! [Go away.
Leave. Get out of here.] and quit my sight! Let the earth
hide thee! 112
Thy bones are marrowless, thy blood is cold;
Thou hast no speculation in those eyes
Which thou dost glare with.
LADY MACBETH: Think of this, good peers,
But as a thing of custom: ’tis no other;
Only it spoils the pleasure of the time.
MACBETH: What man dare, I dare:
Approach thou like the rugged Russian
The arm’d [thick-skinned]
rhinoceros, or the Hyrcan tiger;
[Hyrcan tiger: Tiger native to
Hyrcania, in present-day northern Iran]
Take any shape but that, and my firm nerves
Shall never tremble: or be alive again,
And dare me to the desert with thy sword;
If trembling I inhabit then, protest me
The baby of a girl. Hence, horrible shadow!
[If trembling . . . girl: If I
exhibit fear, call me a baby.]
Unreal mockery, hence! [Ghost vanishes.
Why, so; being gone, 128
I am a man again. Pray you, sit still.
LADY MACBETH: You have displac’d [spoiled; ruined] the mirth, broke the good
With most admir’d disorder.
MACBETH: Can such things be 132
And overcome us like a summer’s cloud,
Without our special wonder [amazement]?
You make me strange
Even to the disposition that I owe,
When now I think you can behold such
And keep the natural ruby of
[You make . . . cheeks: It
baffles me how you can behold such sights so calmly.]
When mine are blanch’d [pale;
whitened] with fear.
ROSS: What sights, my lord?
LADY MACBETH: I pray you, speak not; he grows worse and
Question enrages him. At once, good-night:
Stand not upon the order of your going,
But go at once.
LENNOX: Good-night; and better health 144
Attend his majesty!
LADY MACBETH: A kind good-night to all! [Exeunt Lords and
MACBETH: It will have blood, they say; blood will have
[It will . . . blood: The ghost
will seek bloody revenge.]
Stones have been known to move and trees to
Augurs and understood relations have
[Augurs . . . relations: Omens
and their meanings]
By maggot-pies and choughs and rooks brought
[maggot-pies: Magpies, birds with
black and white feathers]
[choughs: Birds with black
feathers and red legs; they resemble crows]
[rooks: Birds resembling crows]
The secret’st man of blood. What is the night?
LADY MACBETH: Almost at odds with morning, which is
MACBETH: How sayst thou, that Macduff denies his person
At our great bidding?
[How sayst . . . bidding: Why
didn't Macduff come to our banquet?]
LADY MACBETH: Did you send to him, sir?
MACBETH: I hear it by the way; but I will
There’s not a one of them but in his house
I keep a servant fee’d [paid].
I will to-morrow—
And betimes [soon] I
will—to the weird sisters [the
More shall they speak; for now I am bent to
By the worst means, the worst. For mine own good
All causes shall give way: I am in blood
Stepp’d in so far, that, should I wade no more,
Returning were as tedious as go o’er. 164
Strange things I have in head that will to hand,
Which must be acted ere they may be scann’d [analyzed].
LADY MACBETH: You lack the season of all natures,
MACBETH: Come, we’ll to sleep. My strange and self-abuse
Is the initiate fear that wants hard use:
[My strange . . . use: My
problems stem from the fact that I am new at committing murder.
"Hard use"—that is, further experience—in this regard will make
me less sensitive.]
We are yet but young in deed. [Exeunt.
Act 3, Scene 5
Thunder. Enter the three Witches, meeting HECATE.
FIRST WITCH: Why, how now, Hecate! [In Greek mythology, the protector of
witches] You look angerly [angry].
HECATE: Have I not reason, beldams [ugly old women] as you
Saucy and overbold? How did you dare
To trade and traffic with Macbeth
In riddles and affairs of death;
And I, the mistress of your
The close contriver of all harms,
Was never call’d to bear my part,
Or show the glory of our art?
And, which is worse, all you have
Hath been but for a wayward son,
Spiteful and wrathful; who, as others do,
Loves for his own ends, not for you.
But make amends now: get you gone,
And at the pit of Acheron [In
Greek mythology, one of five rivers in hell (Hades)]
Meet me i’ the morning: thither he
Will come to know his destiny:
Your vessels and your spells
Your charms and every thing beside.
I am for the air; this night I’ll spend
Unto a dismal and a fatal end:
Great business must be wrought ere [conducted before]
Upon the corner of the moon
There hangs a vaporous drop profound;
I’ll catch it ere it come to ground:
And that distill’d by magic sleights
Shall raise such artificial sprites
As by the strength of their illusion
Shall draw him on to his confusion:
He shall spurn fate, scorn death, and
His hopes ’bove [above]
wisdom, grace, and fear;
And you all know security
Is mortals’ chiefest enemy. [Song within, ‘Come away, come
Hark! I am call’d; my little spirit,
Sits in a foggy cloud, and stays for me.
FIRST WITCH: Come, let’s make haste; she’ll soon be back
Act 3, Scene 6
Forres. A Room in the
Enter LENNOX and another Lord.
LENNOX: My former speeches have but hit your
Which can interpret further: only, I
[Which . . . further: Which you
can use to draw conclusions]
Things have been strangely borne. The gracious
Was pitied of Macbeth: marry [By
the Virgin Mary], he was dead:
And the right-valiant Banquo walk’d too late;
Whom, you may say, if ’t please you, Fleance
For Fleance fled: men must not walk too late.
Who cannot want the thought how monstrous
It was for Malcolm and for Donalbain
To kill their gracious father? damned
How it did grieve Macbeth! did he not straight
In pious rage the two delinquents tear,
That were the slaves of drink and thralls [slaves] of
Was not that nobly done? Ay, and wisely
For ’twould have anger’d any heart alive
To hear the men deny ’t. So that, I say,
He has borne all things well; and I do think
That, had he Duncan’s sons under his
As, an ’t [if it]
please heaven, he shall not,—they should find
What ’twere to kill a father; so should Fleance.
But, peace! for from broad words, and ’cause he
His presence at the tyrant’s feast, I
Macduff lives in disgrace. Sir, can you tell
Where he bestows himself?
LORD: The son of Duncan [Malcom],
From whom this tyrant holds the due of
Lives in the English court, and is receiv’d
Of the most pious Edward with such grace
[Edward: Edward the Confessor,
who reigned as the king of England in the House of Wessex from
1042 to 1066.]
That the malevolence of fortune nothing
Takes from his high respect. Thither
[nothing . . . respect: Malcolm
is treated with great respect.]
Is gone to pray the holy king, upon his aid
To wake Northumberland and war-like Siward:
That, by the help of these—with him above
To ratify the work—we may again 36
Give to our tables meat, sleep to our nights,
Free from our feasts and banquets bloody knives,
Do faithful homage and receive free honours;
All which we pine for now. And this
Hath so exasperate [exasperated]
the king that he
Prepares for some attempt at war.
LENNOX: Sent he to Macduff?
LORD: He did: and with an absolute, ‘Sir, not
The cloudy messenger turns me his back,
And hums, as who should say, ‘You’ll rue the
That clogs me with this answer.’
LENNOX: And that well might 48
Advise him to a caution to hold what distance
His wisdom can provide. Some holy angel
Fly to the court of England and unfold
His message ere he come, that a swift
May soon return to this our suffering country
Under a hand accurs’d!
LORD: I’ll send my prayers with him!
Act 4, Scene 1
A Cavern. In the middle,
a boiling Cauldron.
Thunder. Enter the three Witches.
FIRST WITCH: Thrice the brinded [gray or tawny with patches of dark hues] cat hath
SECOND WITCH: Thrice and once the hedge-pig [hedgehog]
THIRD WITCH: Harper cries: ’Tis time, ’tis
[Harper: Name of an animal that
is the third witch's companion and assistant]
FIRST WITCH: Round about the cauldron go;
In the poison’d entrails [intestines;
Toad, that under cold stone 8
Days and nights hast thirty-one
Swelter’d venom sleeping got,
[swelter'd venom: Venom that is
sweated out. Venom called bufotoxin can be found in the skin and
glands of some toads.]
Boil thou first i’ the charmed pot.
ALL: Double, double toil and
Fire burn and cauldron bubble.
SECOND WITCH: Fillet of a fenny snake,
[fillet of fenny snake: Slice of
a snake that inhabits fens (swamps, bogs)]
In the cauldron boil and bake;
Eye of newt, and toe of frog, 16
[eye of Newt: Eye of a type of
salamander (an amphibian with a tail) that spends part of its
time in the water and part of its time on land. The young newt
(larval stage) is called an eft. It is bright red with black
spots. The adult newt is generally olive green with red spots
circumscribed with black spots. In mythological tales, the
salamander was a creature that was said to be able to live in
Wool of bat, and tongue of dog,
Adder’s fork, and blind-worm’s sting,
[adder’s fork: Forked tongue of
an adder, a poisonous snake]
[blind-worm: Legless lizard
common in Great Britain. When fully grown, it is usually about a
Lizard’s leg, and howlet’s wing,
[howlet's wing: Wing of a baby
For a charm of powerful trouble, 20
Like a hell-broth boil and bubble.
ALL: Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn and cauldron bubble.
THIRD WITCH: Scale of dragon, tooth of
Witches’ mummy [dried out,
preserved body], maw and gulf
Of the ravin’d salt-sea shark,
[maw and gulf of ravined salt-sea
shark: Mouth and stomach of a hungry (ravined) shark]
Root of hemlock digg’d i’ the dark,
Liver of blaspheming Jew, 28
Gall of goat, and slips of yew
Sliver’d in the moon’s eclipse,
Nose of Turk, and Tartar’s lips,
[Tartar: Fierce Mongolian or
Turkic warrior of the Middle Ages]
Finger of birth-strangled babe 32
Ditch-deliver’d by a drab,
[ditch- . . . drab: Born in a
ditch to a prostitute]
Make the gruel thick and slab [sticky]:
Add thereto a tiger’s chaudron [intestines;
For the ingredients of our cauldron.
ALL: Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn and cauldron bubble.
SECOND WITCH: Cool it with a baboon’s
Then the charm is firm and good. 40
HECATE: O! well done! I commend your
And every one shall share i’ the gains.
And now about the cauldron sing, 44
Like elves and fairies in a ring,
Enchanting all that you put in. [Music and a song, ‘Black
SECOND WITCH: By the pricking of my
Something wicked this way comes. 48
MACBETH: How now, you secret, black, and midnight
What is ’t you do?
ALL: A deed without a name.
MACBETH: I conjure you, by that which you
Howe’er you come to know it,—answer
Though you untie the winds and let them fight
Against the churches; though the yesty [frothy and/or turbulent] waves
Confound and swallow navigation up;
Though bladed corn be lodg’d and trees blown
Though castles topple on their warders’ heads;
Though palaces and pyramids do slope
Their heads to their foundations; though the
Of Nature’s germens [seeds]
tumble all together, 64
Even till destruction sicken; answer me
To what I ask you.
FIRST WITCH: Speak.
SECOND WITCH: Demand. 68
THIRD WITCH: We’ll answer.
FIRST WITCH: Say if thou’dst rather hear it from our
Or from our masters’?
MACBETH: Call’em: let me see ’em. 72
FIRST WITCH: Pour in sow’s blood, that hath
Her nine farrow [baby pigs];
grease, that’s sweaten
From the murderer’s gibbet throw ditch-delivered
Into the flame. 76
ALL: Come, high or low;
Thyself and office deftly show.
Thunder. First Apparition of an armed Head.
MACBETH: Tell me, thou unknown
FIRST WITCH: He knows thy thought:
Hear his speech, but say thou nought.
FIRST APPARITION: Macbeth! Macbeth! Macbeth! beware
Beware the Thane of Fife [Macduff].
Dismiss me. Enough. [Descends.
MACBETH: Whate’er thou art, for thy good caution
Thou hast harp’d my fear aright. But one word
FIRST WITCH: He will not be commanded: here’s
More potent than the first. 88
Thunder. Second Apparition, a bloody
SECOND APPARITION: App. Macbeth! Macbeth!
MACBETH: Had I three ears, I’d hear thee.
SECOND APPARITION: Be bloody, bold, and resolute; laugh to
The power of man, for none of woman born
Shall harm Macbeth. [Descends.
MACBETH: Then live, Macduff: what need I fear of
But yet I’ll make assurance double
And take a bond of fate: thou shalt not live;
That I may tell pale-hearted fear it lies,
And sleep in spite of thunder.
Thunder. Third Apparition, a Child crowned, with a tree in his
What is this,
That rises like the issue of a king,
And wears upon his baby brow the round
And top of sovereignty? 104
ALL: Listen, but speak not to ’t.
THIRD APPARITION: Be lion-mettled, proud, and take no care
[lion-mettled: Courageous as a
Who chafes, who frets, or where conspirers are: Macbeth shall
never vanquish’d be until 108
Great Birnam wood to high Dunsinane hill
Shall come against him. [Descends.
[Macbeth shall . . . him: Macbeth
shall never be conquered until the trees of Birnam Wood march
against him, which appears to be an impossibility.]
MACBETH: That will never be:
Who can impress the forest, bid the tree
Unfix his earth-bound root? Sweet bodements! [Sweet prophecies!]
Rebellion’s head, rise never till the wood
Of Birnam rise, and our high-plac’d Macbeth
Shall live the lease of nature, pay his
To time and mortal custom. Yet my heart
Throbs to know one thing: tell me—if your art
Can tell so much,—shall Banquo’s issue ever
Reign in this kingdom? 120
ALL: Seek to know no more.
MACBETH: I will be satisfied: deny me
And an eternal curse fall on you! Let me know.
Why sinks that cauldron? and what noise is this?
[Hautboys (OH bwah): Instruments
resembling oboes are heard playing offstage.]
FIRST WITCH: Show!
SECOND WITCH: Show!
THIRD WITCH: Show!
ALL: Show his eyes, and grieve his
Come like shadows, so depart.
A show of Eight Kings; the last with a glass [mirror] in his hand: Banquo’s
MACBETH: Thou art too like the spirit of Banquo;
Thy crown does sear mine eyeballs: and thy
Thou other gold-bound brow, is like the first:
A third is like the former. Filthy hags!
Why do you show me this? A fourth! Start, eyes!
What! will the line stretch out to the crack of
Another yet? A seventh! I’ll see no more:
And yet the eighth appears, who bears a glass [mirror]
Which shows me many more; and some I see
That two-fold balls and treble sceptres
[two-fold . . . sceptres: Symbols
of the kingdoms of England, Scotland, and Ireland, which united
under King James I. James succeeded Queen Elizabeth I in 1603.]
Horrible sight! Now, I see, ’tis true;
For the blood-bolter’d Banquo smiles upon me,
[blood-bolter'd Banquo: Macbeth
sees the bloody wounds inflicted by the murderers to Banquo's
And points at them for his. [Apparitions
What! is this so? 144
FIRST WITCH: Ay, sir, all this is so: but
Stands Macbeth thus amazedly?
Come, sisters, cheer we up his sprites [spirits; mood],
And show the best of our delights. 148
I’ll charm the air to give a sound,
While you perform your antick round,
[antick round: odd, strange,
That this great king may kindly say,
Our duties did his welcome pay. [Music. The Witches dance,
and then vanish with HECATE. 152
MACBETH: Where are they? Gone? Let this pernicious
Stand aye accursed in the calendar!
Come in, without there!
Enter LENNOX. 156
LENNOX: What’s your Grace’s will?
MACBETH: Saw you the weird sisters?
LENNOX: No, my lord.
MACBETH: Came they not by you? 160
LENNOX: No indeed, my lord.
MACBETH: Infected be the air whereon they
And damn’d all those that trust them! I did hear
The galloping of horse: who was’t came by?
LENNOX: ’Tis two or three, my lord, that bring you
Macduff is fled to England.
MACBETH: Fled to England!
LENNOX: Ay, my good lord. 168
MACBETH: Time, thou anticipat’st [anticipates] my dread exploits;
The flighty purpose never is o’ertook
Unless the deed go with it; from this moment
The very firstlings of my heart shall be
The firstlings of my hand. And even now,
[The very . . . hand: The
desires or plans I am thinking about will be put into action. ]
To crown my thoughts with acts, be it thought and
The castle of Macduff I will surprise;
Seize upon Fife; give to the edge of the
His wife, his babes; and all unfortunate souls
That trace him in his line. No boasting like a
This deed I’ll do, before this purpose cool:
But no more sights! Where are these
Come, bring me where they are. [Exeunt.
Act 4, Scene 2
Fife. MACDUFF’S Castle.
Enter LADY MACDUFF, her Son, and ROSS.
LADY MACDUFF: What had he done to make him fly the
ROSS: You must have patience,
LADY MACDUFF: He had none:
His flight was madness: when our actions do not,
Our fears do make us traitors.
ROSS: You know not 8
Whether it was his wisdom or his fear.
LADY MACDUFF: Wisdom! to leave his wife, to leave his
His mansion and his titles [material
possessions] in a place
From whence himself does fly? He loves us
He wants the natural touch; for the poor wren,
The most diminutive of birds, will fight—
Her young ones in her nest—against the owl.
All is the fear and nothing is the
As little is the wisdom, where the flight
So runs against all reason.
ROSS: My dearest coz [cousin],
I pray you, school yourself [be
calm]: but, for your
He is noble, wise, judicious, and best knows
The fits o’ the season. I dare not speak much further:
[fits o' the season: What is
But cruel are the times, when we are traitors
And do not know ourselves, when we hold
From what we fear, yet know not what we fear,
But float upon a wild and violent sea
Each way and move. I take my leave of you:
Shall not be long but I’ll be here
Things at the worst will cease, or else climb
To what they were before. My pretty cousin,
Blessing upon you!
LADY MACDUFF: Father’d he is, and yet he’s
ROSS: I am so much a fool, should I stay
It would be my disgrace, and your discomfort:
I take my leave at once. [Exit.
LADY MACDUFF: Sirrah [Mister],
your father’s dead: 36
And what will you do now? How will you live?
SON: As birds do, mother.
LADY MACDUFF: What! with worms and flies?
SON: With what I get, I mean; and so do
LADY MACDUFF: Poor bird! thou’dst never fear the net [net for catching birds] nor
[birdlime: Sticky preparation
applied to tree limbs to catch birds.]
The pit-fall nor the gin.
[pit-fall: Pitfall, a concealed
hole in the ground for trapping small animals]
[gin: animal trap with a wire
SON: Why should I, mother? Poor birds they are not set
My father is not dead, for all your
LADY MACDUFF: Yes, he is dead: how wilt thou do for a
SON: Nay, how will you do for a husband?
LADY MACDUFF: Why, I can buy me twenty at any
SON: Then you’ll buy ’em to sell
LADY MACDUFF: Thou speak’st with all thy wit; and yet, i’
With wit enough for thee.
SON: Was my father a traitor, mother?
LADY MACDUFF: Ay, that he was.
SON: What is a traitor?
LADY MACDUFF: Why, one that swears and
SON: And be all traitors that do so?
LADY MACDUFF: Every one that does so is a traitor, and must
be hanged. 56
SON: And must they all be hanged that swear and
LADY MACDUFF: Every one.
SON: Who must hang them?
LADY MACDUFF: Why, the honest
SON: Then the liars and swearers are fools, for there are
liars and swearers enow to beat the honest men, and hang up
LADY MACDUFF: Now God help thee, poor monkey! But how wilt
thou do for a father?
SON: If he were dead, you’d weep for him: if you would not,
it were a good sign that I should quickly have a new
LADY MACDUFF: Poor prattler, how thou
Enter a Messenger.
MESSENGER: Bless you, fair dame! I am not to you
Though in your state of honour I am perfect.
I doubt some danger does approach you
If you will take a homely man’s advice,
Be not found here; hence, with your little ones.
To fright you thus, methinks, I am too savage;
To do worse to you were fell
Which is too nigh your person. Heaven preserve
I dare abide no longer. [Exit.
LADY MACDUFF: Whither should I fly?
I have done no harm. But I remember
I am in this earthly world, where, to do harm
Is often laudable, to do good sometime
Accounted dangerous folly; why then, alas!
Do I put up that womanly defence, 80
To say I have done no harm?
What are these faces?
MURDERER: Where is your
LADY MACDUFF: I hope in no place so
Where such as thou mayst find him.
MURDERER: He’s a traitor.
SON: Thou liest, thou shag-hair’d
MURDERER: What! you egg.
Young fry of treachery! [Stabbing him.
SON: He has killed me, mother:
Run away, I pray you! [Dies. [Exit LADY MACDUFF,
crying ‘Murder,’ and pursued by the
Act 4, Scene 3
England. Before the
Enter MALCOLM and MACDUFF.
MALCOLM: Let us seek out some desolate shade, and
Weep our sad bosoms empty. 4
MACDUFF: Let us rather
Hold fast the mortal [deadly;
fatal] sword, and like good men
Bestride our down-fall’n birthdom [homeland—that is, Scotland]; each new
New widows howl, new orphans cry, new
Strike heaven on the face, that it resounds
As if it felt with Scotland and yell’d out
Like syllable of dolour [grief;
MALCOLM: What I believe I’ll wail,
What know, believe, and what I can redress,
As I shall find the time to friend, I will.
What you have spoke, it may be so perchance.
This tyrant, whose sole name blisters our
Was once thought honest: you have lov’d him
He hath not touch’d you yet, I am young; but
You may deserve of him through me, and wisdom
To offer up a weak, poor, innocent
To appease an angry god.
MACDUFF: I am not treacherous.
MALCOLM: But Macbeth is.
A good and virtuous nature may
In an imperial charge. But I shall crave your
That which you are my thoughts cannot transpose [change];
Angels are bright still, though the brightest
Though all things foul would wear the brows of
Yet grace must still look so.
MACDUFF: I have lost my hopes.
MALCOLM: Perchance even there where I did find my
Why in that rawness left you wife and child—
Those precious motives, those strong knots of love—
Without leave-taking? I pray you,
Let not my jealousies be your dishonours,
But mine own safeties: you may be rightly
[Why in that . . . safeties:
Malcolm questions Macduff's purpose in coming to England. He is
unsure whether Macduff was involved in the plot against Duncan.]
Whatever I shall think.
MACDUFF: Bleed, bleed, poor country!
Great tyranny, lay thou thy basis sure,
For goodness dares not check thee! wear thou thy
The title is affeer’d! Fare thee well, lord:
[The title . . . afeer'd: Macbeth
bears the title of king, bestowed on him in a legal proceeding.
Affeer'd means assured
I would not be the villain that thou think’st
For the whole space that’s in the tyrant’s
And the rich East to boot. 44
MALCOLM: Be not offended:
I speak not as in absolute fear of you.
I think our country sinks beneath the yoke;
It weeps, it bleeds, and each new day a
Is added to her wounds: I think withal,
There would be hands uplifted in my right;
[hands . . . right: People ready
to stand with Malcolm]
And here from gracious England have I offer
Of goodly thousands: but, for all
When I shall tread upon the tyrant’s head,
Or wear it on my sword, yet my poor country
Shall have more vices than it had before,
More suffer, and more sundry ways than
By him that shall succeed.
MACDUFF: What should he be?
MALCOLM: It is myself I mean; in whom I
All the particulars of vice so
That, when they shall be open’d, black Macbeth
Will seem as pure as snow, and the poor state
Esteem him as a lamb, being compar’d
With my confineless harms. 64
MACDUFF: Not in the legions
Of horrid hell can come a devil more damn’d
In evils to top Macbeth.
MALCOLM: I grant him bloody, 68
Luxurious, avaricious, false, deceitful,
Sudden, malicious, smacking of every sin
That has a name; but there’s no bottom, none,
In my voluptuousness: your wives, your
Your matrons, and your maids, could not fill up
The cistern of my lust; and my desire
All continent impediments would o’erbear
That did oppose my will; better
Than such an one to reign.
MACDUFF: Boundless intemperance
In nature is a tyranny; it hath been
Th’ untimely emptying of the happy throne,
And fall of many kings. But fear not yet
[Boundless intemperance . . .
kings: Lust (boundless intemperance) has caused the downfall of many
kings, but you still have the opportunity to do as you please
without appearing to be unchaste.]
To take upon you what is yours; you may
Convey your pleasures in a spacious plenty,
And yet seem cold, the time you may so
We have willing dames enough; there cannot be
That vulture in you, to devour so many
As will to greatness dedicate themselves,
Finding it so inclin’d. 88
MALCOLM: With this there grows
In my most ill-compos’d affection such
A stanchless [unstoppable;
insatiable] avarice that, were I king,
I should cut off the nobles for their
Desire his jewels and this other’s house;
And my more-having would be as a sauce
To make me hunger more, that I should forge
Quarrels unjust against the good and
Destroying them for wealth.
MACDUFF: This avarice
Sticks deeper, grows with more pernicious root
Than summer-seeming lust, and it hath been
The sword of our slain kings: yet do not fear;
Scotland hath foisons [plentiful
supplies] to fill up your will,
Of your mere own; all these are portable,
[Of your . . . own: As your
[portable: Able to be dealt
with—that is, bearable, endurable]
With other graces weigh’d. 104
MALCOLM: But I have none: the king-becoming
As justice, verity, temperance, stableness,
Bounty, perseverance, mercy, lowliness,
Devotion, patience, courage, fortitude,
I have no relish of them, but abound
In the division of each several crime,
Acting it many ways. Nay, had I power, I should
Pour the sweet milk of concord into hell,
Uproar the universal peace, confound
All unity on earth.
MACDUFF: O Scotland, Scotland!
MALCOLM: If such a one be fit to govern,
I am as I have spoken.
MACDUFF: Fit to govern!
No, not to live. O nation miserable,
With an untitled tyrant bloody-scepter’d,
With . . . -scepter'd: With the
murderous tyrant Macbeth sitting on the throne]
When shalt thou see thy wholesome days again,
Since that the truest issue of thy throne
By his own interdiction stands accurs’d,
[the truest . . . accurs'd:
Malcolm, the true heir to the throne, condemns himself with his
And does blaspheme his breed? Thy royal
Was a most sainted king; the queen that bore
Oft’ner upon her knees than on her feet,
Died every day she liv’d. Fare thee well!
These evils thou repeat’st upon thyself
Have banish’d me from Scotland. O my breast,
Thy hope ends here!
[In the following passage, Malcolm says he was not telling the
about himself. In fact, he says, he is not a pleasure-seeker who
after women or seeks material gain. Rather, he is a man of
who is ready to fight for his country.]
MALCOLM: Macduff, this noble passion,
Child of integrity, hath from my soul
Wip’d the black scruples, reconcil’d my thoughts
To thy good truth and honour. Devilish Macbeth
[Macduff . . . honour: Malcolm
says Macduff's words have persuaded him (Malcolm) to overcome
his faults and weaknesses.]
By many of these trains hath sought to win me
Into his power, and modest wisdom plucks
From over-credulous haste; but God above
Deal between thee and me! for even now
I put myself to thy direction, and
Unspeak mine own detraction, here abjure
The taints and blames I laid upon myself,
For strangers to my nature. I am yet
Unknown to woman, never was forsworn,
Scarcely have coveted what was mine own;
At no time broke my faith, would not betray
The devil to his fellow, and delight
No less in truth than life; my first false
Was this upon myself. What I am truly, 148
Is thine and my poor country’s to command;
Whither indeed, before thy here-approach,
Old Siward, with ten thousand war-like men,
Already at a point, was setting forth. 152
Now we’ll together, and the chance of goodness
Be like our warranted quarrel. Why are you
MACDUFF: Such welcome and unwelcome things at
’Tis hard to reconcile. 156
Enter a Doctor.
MALCOLM: Well; more anon [soon].
Comes the king forth, I pray you?
DOCTOR: Ay, sir; there are a crew of wretched souls
That stay his cure; their malady convinces [Archaism for defeats, conquers, overcomes].
[there are a crew . . . cure:
There are so many sick people that the doctor has not had time
to tend to the ailing king.]
The great assay of art; but, at his touch,
Such sanctity hath heaven given his hand,
They presently amend.
MALCOLM: I thank you, doctor. [Exit
MACDUFF: What’s the disease he means?
MALCOLM: ’Tis call’d the evil:
A most miraculous work in this good king,
Which often, since my here-remain in
I have seen him do. How he solicits heaven,
Himself best knows; but strangely-visited
All swoln [swollen] and
ulcerous, pitiful to the eye,
The mere despair of surgery, he cures; 172
Hanging a golden stamp about their necks,
Put on with holy prayers; and ’tis spoken
To the succeeding royalty he leaves
The healing benediction [blessing].
With this strange virtue, 176
He hath a heavenly gift of prophecy,
And sundry [various]
blessings hang about his throne
That speak him full of grace.
MACDUFF: See, who comes here? 180
MALCOLM: My countryman; but yet I know him
MACDUFF: My ever-gentle [ever
gentlemanly, ever noble] cousin, welcome
MALCOLM: I know him now. Good God, betimes [immediately]
The means that make us strangers!
ROSS: Sir, amen.
MACDUFF: Stands Scotland where it did?
ROSS: Alas! poor country; 188
Almost afraid to know itself. It cannot
Be call’d our mother, but our grave; where
But who knows nothing, is once seen to smile;
Where sighs and groans and shrieks that rent the
Are made, not mark’d; where violent sorrow seems
A modern ecstasy [mental
instability]; the dead man’s knell
Is there scarce ask’d for who; and good men’s
Expire before the flowers in their caps,
Dying or ere [before]
MACDUFF: O! relation
Too nice [precise; exact],
and yet too true!
MALCOLM: What’s the newest grief? 200
ROSS: That of an hour’s age doth hiss the
[That . . . speaker: The griefs
occur so frequently that an hour-old grief is received as old
Each minute teems [brings forth]
a new one.
MACDUFF: How does my wife?
ROSS: Why, well. 204
MACDUFF: And all my children?
ROSS: Well too.
MACDUFF: The tyrant has not batter’d at their
ROSS: No; they were well at peace when I did leave
MACDUFF: Be not a niggard of your speech: how goes
ROSS: When I came hither to transport the
Which I have heavily borne, there ran a rumour
Of many worthy fellows that were out; 212
[that were out: Rising up;
Which was to my belief witness’d [verified]
For that I saw the tyrant’s power a-foot.
Now is the time of help; your eye in Scotland
Would create soldiers, make our women
To doff their dire distresses.
MALCOLM: Be ’t their comfort,
We are coming thither. Gracious England hath
Lent us good Siward and ten thousand men;
An older and a better soldier none
That Christendom gives out.
ROSS: Would I could answer
This comfort with the like! But I have
That would be howl’d out in the desert air,
Where hearing should not latch [latch
onto; catch; listen to] them.
MACDUFF: What concern they?
The general cause? or is it a fee-grief
[fee-grief: Grief or complaint
regarding an estate (fee) due to or owned by one person]
Due to some single breast?
ROSS: No mind that’s honest
But in it shares some woe, though the main part
Pertains to you alone. 232
MACDUFF: If it be mine
Keep it not from me; quickly let me have it.
ROSS: Let not your ears despise my tongue for
Which shall possess them with the heaviest
That ever yet they heard.
MACDUFF: Hum! I guess at it.
ROSS: Your castle is surpris’d; your wife and
Savagely slaughter’d; to relate the
Were, on the quarry of these murder’d deer,
[quarry: Literally, a heap of
deer killed in a hunt. Here, deer
is a metaphor for Macduff's family.]
To add the death of you.
MALCOLM: Merciful heaven!
What! man; ne’er pull your hat upon your
Give sorrow words; the grief that does not speak
Whispers the o’er-fraught [overburdened;
heavy] heart and bids it break.
MACDUFF: My children too?
ROSS: Wife, children, servants, all 248
That could be found.
MACDUFF: And I must be from thence!
My wife kill’d too?
ROSS: I have said. 252
MALCOLM: Be comforted:
Let’s make us medicine of our great revenge,
To cure this deadly grief.
MACDUFF: He has no children. All my pretty
Did you say all? O hell-kite! All?
[hell-kite: A kite is a bird of
What! all my pretty chickens [children]
and their dam [mother]
At one fell swoop?
[At one . . . swoop: Killed in
one deadly attack]
MALCOLM: Dispute it like a man. 260
MACDUFF: I shall do so;
But I must also feel it as a man:
I cannot but remember such things were,
That were most precious to me. Did heaven look
And would not take their part? Sinful Macduff!
They were all struck for thee. Naught [nothing] that I am,
Not for their own demerits, but for mine,
Fell [deadly] slaughter
on their souls. Heaven rest them now! 268
MALCOLM: Be this the whetstone [sharpener] of your sword: let
Convert to anger; blunt not the heart, enrage
MACDUFF: O! I could play the woman with mine
And braggart with my tongue. But, gentle
Cut short all intermission; front to front
Bring thou this fiend of Scotland and myself;
Within my sword’s length set him; if he ’scape,
Heaven forgive him too! 276
MALCOLM: This tune goes manly.
Come, go we to the king; our power is ready;
Our lack is nothing but our leave. Macbeth
Is ripe for shaking, and the powers above
Put on their instruments. Receive what cheer you
The night is long that never finds the day.
Act 5, Scene 1
Dunsinane. A Room in the
Enter a Doctor of Physic [physician]
and a Waiting-Gentle-woman.
DOCTOR: I have two nights watched with you, but can perceive
no truth in your report. When was it she last
GENTLE-WOMAN: Since his majesty went into the field, I have
seen her rise from her bed, throw her night-gown upon her, unlock
her closet, take forth paper, fold it, write upon ’t, read it,
afterwards seal it, and again return to bed; yet all this while in
a most fast sleep. 4
DOCTOR: A great perturbation in nature, to receive at once
the benefit of sleep and do the effects of watching! In this
slumbery agitation, besides her walking and other actual
performances, what, at any time, have you heard her
GENTLE-WOMAN: That, sir, which I will not report after
DOCTOR: You may to me, and ’tis most meet you
GENTLE-WOMAN: Neither to you nor any one, having no witness
to confirm my speech. 8
Enter LADY MACBETH, with a taper.
Lo you! here she comes. This is her very guise; and, upon my life,
fast asleep. Observe her; stand close.
DOCTOR: How came she by that light?
GENTLE-WOMAN: Why, it stood by her: she has light by her
continually; ’tis her command. 12
DOCTOR: You see, her eyes are open.
GENTLE-WOMAN: Ay, but their sense is shut.
DOCTOR: What is it she does now? Look, how she rubs her
GENTLE-WOMAN: It is an accustomed action with her, to seem
thus washing her hands. I have known her to continue in this a
quarter of an hour. 16
LADY MACBETH: Yet here’s a spot.
DOCTOR: Hark! she speaks. I will set down what comes from
her, to satisfy my remembrance the more
LADY MACBETH: Out, damned spot! out, I say! One; two: why,
then, ’tis time to do ’t. Hell is murky! Fie, my lord, fie! a
soldier, and afeard? What need we fear who knows it, when none can
call our power to account? Yet who would have thought the old man
to have had so much blood in him?
[What need . . . account: Since
Macbeth and I hold all the power as king and queen, we don't
care whether someone knows what we did.]
DOCTOR: Do you mark that? 20
LADY MACBETH: The Thane of Fife [Macduff] had a wife: where is she now? What! will
these hands ne’er be clean? No more o’ that, my lord, no more o’
that: you mar all with this starting.
DOCTOR: Go to, go to; you have known what you should
GENTLE-WOMAN: She has spoke what she should not, I am sure
of that: Heaven knows what she has known.
LADY MACBETH: Here’s the smell of the blood still: all the
perfumes of Arabia will not sweeten this little hand. Oh! oh!
DOCTOR: What a sigh is there! The heart is sorely
GENTLE-WOMAN: I would not have such a heart in my bosom for
the dignity of the whole body.
DOCTOR: Well, well, well.
GENTLE-WOMAN: Pray God it be,
DOCTOR: This disease is beyond my practice: yet I have known
those which have walked in their sleep who have died holily in
LADY MACBETH: Wash your hands, put on your night-gown; look
not so pale. I tell you yet again, Banquo’s buried; he cannot come
out on ’s grave.
DOCTOR: Even so?
LADY MACBETH: To bed, to bed: there’s knocking at the gate.
Come, come, come, come, give me your hand. What’s done cannot be
undone. To bed, to bed, to bed.
DOCTOR: Will she go now to bed?
DOCTOR: Foul whisperings are abroad. Unnatural
Do breed unnatural troubles; infected
To their deaf pillows will discharge their
More needs she the divine than the physician.
God, God forgive us all! Look after her;
Remove from her the means of all annoyance [harm; injury],
And still keep eyes upon her. So, good-night:
My mind she has mated [puzzled;
confused], and amaz’d my sight.
I think, but dare not speak.
GENTLE-WOMAN: Good-night, good doctor. [Exeunt.
Act 5, Scene 2
The Country near
Enter, with drum and colours [flag],
MENTEITH, CAITHNESS, ANGUS, LENNOX, and Soldiers.
MENTEITH: The English power is near, led on by
His uncle Siward, and the good
Revenges burn in them; for their dear causes
Would to the bleeding and the grim alarm [call to arms]
Excite the mortified [extremely
ANGUS: Near Birnam wood 8
Shall we well meet them; that way are they
CAITHNESS: Who knows if Donalbain be with his
LENNOX: For certain, sir, he is not: I have a
Of all the gentry: there is Siward’s
And many unrough youths that even now
Protest their first of manhood [are
just reaching manhood].
MENTEITH: What does the tyrant?
CAITHNESS: Great Dunsinane he strongly
Some say he’s mad; others that lesser hate him
Do call it valiant fury; but, for certain,
He cannot buckle his distemper’d cause
Within the belt of rule. 20
[He cannot . . . rule: He cannot
maintain control over his kingdom.]
ANGUS: Now does he feel
His secret murders sticking on his hands;
Now minutely revolts upbraid his faith-breach;
[minutely . . . breach:
Each minute, people condemn him for his evil deeds. Minutely here is
pronounced MIN it le.]
Those he commands move only in
Nothing in love; now does he feel his title
[Those he . . . love: Those in
his command obey his orders, but not out of love; they do his
bidding only because he is their superior.]
Hang loose about him, like a giant’s robe
Upon a dwarfish thief.
MENTEITH: Who then shall blame
His pester’d senses to recoil and start,
When all that is within him does condemn
Itself for being there?
CAITHNESS: Well, march we on,
To give obedience where ’tis truly ow’d;
Meet we the medicine of the sickly weal [ailing welfare of the country],
And with him pour we in our country’s purge
Each drop of us. 36
LENNOX: Or so much as it needs
To dew the sovereign flower and drown the weeds.
[To dew . . . weeds: To bring new
life to Scotland and death to Macbeth]
Make we our march towards Birnam. [Exeunt, marching.
Act 5, Scene 3
Dunsinane. A Room in the
Enter MACBETH, Doctor, and Attendants.
MACBETH: Bring me no more reports; let them fly
Till Birnam wood remove to
I cannot taint with fear. What’s the boy
Was he not born of woman? The spirits that know
All mortal consequences have pronounc’d me thus:
‘Fear not, Macbeth; no man that’s born of
Shall e’er have power upon thee.’ Then fly, false
And mingle with the English epicures [persons devoted to the pleasures of the senses]:
The mind I sway by and the heart I bear
Shall never sag with doubt nor shake with
Enter a Servant.
The devil damn thee black, thou cream-fac’d loon [pale-faced loon]!
Where gott’st thou that goose look?
[The servant is pale because he
fears the army outside.]
SERVANT: There is ten
MACBETH: Geese, villain?
SERVANT: Soldiers, sir.
MACBETH: Go, prick [cut]
thy face, and [use the blood to]
over-red thy fear,
Thou lily-liver’d boy. What soldiers, patch [fool]?
Death of thy soul! those linen cheeks of thine
Are counsellors to fear. What soldiers, wheyface [white face]?
SERVANT: The English force, so please you.
MACBETH: Take thy face hence. [Exit Servant.] Seyton!—I am
sick at heart 24
When I behold—Seyton, I say!—This push [attack led by Macduff and Malcolm]
Will cheer me ever or disseat [unseat]
I have liv’d long enough: my way of life
[way: According to English critic
Samuel Johnson (1709-1784), Shakespeare may have intended to
write may in line 27 to
strike a contrast with the autumn imagery in line 28.]
Is fall’n into the sear [state
of being dried up], the yellow
And that which should accompany old age,
As honour, love, obedience, troops of friends,
I must not look to have; but, in their stead,
Curses, not loud but deep, mouth-honour [lip service; insincere allegiance],
Which the poor heart would fain [eagerly;
willingly] deny, and dare not.
SEYTON: What is your gracious
MACBETH: What news more?
SEYTON: All is confirm’d, my lord, which was
MACBETH: I’ll fight till from my bones my flesh be
Give me my armour. 40
SEYTON: ’Tis not needed yet.
MACBETH: I’ll put it on.
Send out more horses, skirr [conduct
a quick search] the country round;
Hang those that talk of fear. Give me mine
How does your patient, doctor?
DOCTOR: Not so sick, my lord,
As she is troubled with thick-coming fancies,
That keep her from her rest. 48
MACBETH: Cure her of that:
Canst thou not minister to a mind diseas’d,
Pluck from the memory a rooted sorrow,
Raze out the written troubles of the
[Pluck . . . brain: Here,
Shakespeare exhibits his knowledge of psychological
disturbances, foreshadowing the theories of twentieth-century
researchers. He orders the doctor to identify the deep-seated
cause of Lady Macbeth's mental debility. Obviously, she suffers
guilt. But why does she feel guilty when she earlier had no
qualms about murdering Duncan?]
And with some sweet oblivious antidote
Cleanse the stuff’d bosom of that perilous stuff
Which weighs upon the heart?
DOCTOR: Therein the patient 56
Must minister to himself.
MACBETH: Throw physic to the dogs; I’ll none of
Come, put mine armour on; give me my staff.
Seyton, send out.—Doctor, the thanes fly from
Come, sir, dispatch.—If thou couldst, doctor,
The water of my land, find her disease,
[cast . . . land: Literally, to
examine urine to detect signs of illness. Here, Macbeth says he
wants the doctor to examine the urine of his country to find out
why people are rising against him.]
And purge it to a sound and pristine health,
I would applaud thee to the very
That should applaud again.—Pull’t off, I say.—
What rhubarb, senna [plant with
medicinal properties], or what purgative [cleansing]
Would scour these English hence? Hear’st thou of
DOCTOR: Ay, my good lord; your royal
Makes us hear something.
MACBETH: Bring it after me.
I will not be afraid of death and bane
Till Birnam forest come to
DOCTOR: [Aside.] Were I from Dunsinane away and
Profit again should hardly draw me here. [Exeunt.
Act 5, Scene 4
Country near Birnam
Enter, with drum and colours [flag],
MALCOLM, Old SIWARD and his Son, MACDUFF, MENTEITH, CAITHNESS,
ANGUS, LENNOX, ROSS, and Soldiers marching.
MALCOLM: Cousins, I hope the days are near at
That chambers will be safe. 4
[That . . . safe: That Scottish
homes will once again be safe and secure]
MENTEITH: We doubt it nothing.
SIWARD: What wood is this before us?
MENTEITH: The wood of Birnam.
MALCOLM: Let every soldier hew him down a
And bear’t before him: thereby shall we shadow [hide]
The numbers of our host [army],
and make discovery
Err in report of us.
SOLDIER: It shall be done. 12
SIWARD: We learn no other but the confident
Keeps still in Dunsinane, and will endure
Our setting down before ’t.
MALCOLM: ’Tis his main hope; 16
For where there is advantage to be given,
Both more and less [nobles and
commoners] have given him the revolt,
And none serve with him but constrained [forced] things
Whose hearts are absent too. 20
MACDUFF: Let our just censures
Attend the true event, and put we on
[Let . . . event: We have just
grievances, but now it is time to let our swords do the talking
SIWARD: The time approaches 24
That will with due decision make us know
What we shall say we have and what we owe.
[What we . . . owe: What we claim
to own and what we really do own. Here, own means possess.]
Thoughts speculative their unsure hopes relate,
But certain issue strokes must
[certain . . . arbitrate: The
strokes of our weapons will decide our future.]
Towards which advance the war. [Exeunt, marching.
Act 5, Scene 5
Dunsinane. Within the
Enter, with drum and colours, MACBETH, SEYTON, and Soldiers.
MACBETH: Hang out our banners on the outward
The cry is still, ‘They come;’ our castle’s
Will laugh a siege to scorn; here let them lie
Till famine and the ague [fever]
eat them up;
Were they not forced [reinforced]
with those that should be ours,
We might have met them dareful, beard to
And beat them backward home. [A cry of women
What is that noise?
SEYTON: It is the cry of women, my good lord.
MACBETH: I have almost forgot the taste of
The time has been my senses would have cool’d
To hear a night-shriek, and my fell [scalp] of hair
Would at a dismal treatise [dismal
conversation; minor disturbance] rouse and
As life were in ’t. I have supp’d full with
Direness, familiar to my slaughterous thoughts,
Cannot once start me.
Wherefore was [what was the reason for] that
SEYTON: The queen, my lord, is dead.
MACBETH: She should have died hereafter;
[She . . . hereafter: She would
have died sooner or later.]
There would have been a time for such a word.
[There would . . . word:
Eventually there would have been a time to speak of her death.]
To-morrow, and to-morrow, and
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,
To the last syllable of recorded time;
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief
Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
And then is heard no more; it is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and
Enter a Messenger.
Thou com’st to use thy tongue; thy story
MESSENGER: Gracious my lord,
I should report that which I say I saw,
But know not how to do it.
MACBETH: Well, say, sir.
MESSENGER: As I did stand my watch upon the
I look’d towards Birnam, and anon [soon], methought,
The wood began to move.
MACBETH: Liar and slave!
MESSENGER: Let me endure your wrath if’t be not
Within this three mile may you see it coming;
I say, a moving grove.
MACBETH: If thou speak’st false,
Upon the next tree shalt thou hang
Till famine cling thee; if thy speech be sooth [true],
I care not if thou dost for me as much.
I pull in [I gather]
resolution and begin
To doubt the equivocation of the
[To . . . fiend: To believe the
That lies like truth; ‘Fear not, till Birnam
Do come to Dunsinane;’ and now a wood
Comes toward Dunsinane. Arm, arm, and out!
If this which he avouches does
There is nor flying hence, nor tarrying here.
[There is . . . here: I cannot
run away or stay here.]
I ’gin [begin] to be
aweary of the sun,
And wish the estate o’ the world were now
Ring the alarum-bell! Blow, wind! come, wrack [ wreck; ruin]!
At least we’ll die with harness [armor]
on our back. [Exeunt.
Act 5, Scene 6
The Same. A Plain before
Enter, with drum and colours [flag],
MALCOLM, Old SIWARD, MACDUFF, &c., and their Army, with
MALCOLM: Now near enough; your leavy screens [leafy branches] throw
And show like those you are. You, worthy
Shall, with my cousin, your right-noble son,
Lead our first battle; worthy Macduff and we
Shall take upon ’s [upon us]
what else remains to do,
According to our order. 8
SIWARD: Fare you well.
Do we but find the tyrant’s power to-night,
Let us be beaten, if we cannot fight.
MACDUFF: Make all our trumpets speak; give them all
Those clamorous harbingers of blood and death. [Exeunt.
Act 5, Scene 7
The Same. Another Part of
Alarums. Enter MACBETH.
MACBETH: They have tied me to a stake; I cannot fly,
But bear-like I must fight the course. What’s
[They have . . . course: Macbeth
compares himself to a bear tied to a stake. In London in
Shakespeare's time, so-called bear-baiting was a popular sport.
Keepers of a bear first tied the animal to a stake, then
released dogs to fight with it.]
That was not born of woman? Such a one
Am I to fear, or none.
Enter Young SIWARD.
Young SIWARD: What is thy
MACBETH: Thou’lt be afraid to hear it.
Young SIWARD: No; though thou call’st thyself a hotter
Than any is in hell.
MACBETH: My name’s Macbeth. 12
Young SIWARD: The devil himself could not pronounce a
More hateful to mine ear.
MACBETH: No, nor more fearful.
Young SIWARD: Thou liest, abhorred tyrant; with my
I’ll prove the lie thou speak’st. [They fight and Young
SIWARD is slain.
MACBETH: Thou wast born of woman:
But swords I smile at, weapons laugh to scorn,
Brandish’d by man that’s of a woman born.
Alarums. Enter MACDUFF.
MACDUFF: That way the noise is. Tyrant, show thy
If thou be’st slain [are slain]
and with no stroke of mine,
My wife and children’s ghosts will haunt me
I cannot strike at wretched kerns [foot soldiers], whose arms
Are hir’d to bear their staves [spears]:
either thou, Macbeth,
Or else my sword with an unbatter’d edge
I sheathe again undeeded [unused].
There thou shouldst be; 28
By this great clatter, one of greatest note
Seems bruited. Let me find him, fortune!
[bruited: Given away his
And more I beg not. [Exit. Alarums.
Enter MALCOLM and Old SIWARD.
SIWARD: This way, my lord; the castle’s gently
The tyrant’s people on both sides do fight;
The noble thanes do bravely in the war;
The day almost itself professes
And little is to do.
MALCOLM: We have met with foes
That strike beside us.
SIWARD: Enter, sir, the castle. [Exeunt.
MACBETH: Why should I play the Roman fool, and die
On mine own sword? whiles I see lives, the
[Why should . . . sword: Why
should I kill myself, as the ancient Romans did when all seemed
Do better upon them. 44
MACDUFF: Turn, hell-hound, turn!
MACBETH: Of all men else I have avoided
But get thee back, my soul is too much
With blood of thine already.
MACDUFF: I have no words;
My voice is in my sword, thou bloodier villain
Than terms can give thee out! [They
MACBETH: Thou losest labour:
As easy mayst thou the intrenchant air
With thy keen sword impress as make me bleed:
[As easy . . . bleed:
Macbeth is saying that he is like the air—he cannot be
cut. He is invulnerable (intrenchant).]
Let fall thy blade on vulnerable
I bear a charmed life, which must not yield
To one of woman born.
MACDUFF: Despair thy charm;
And let the angel whom thou still hast
Tell thee, Macduff was from his mother’s womb
[Macduff . . . ripp'd: Macduff
was removed from his mother's womb in a cesarean procedure.]
MACBETH: Accursed be that tongue that tells me
For it hath cow’d my better part of
And be these juggling fiends no more believ’d,
That palter with [mislead]
us in a double sense;
That keep the word of promise to our ear,
And break it to our hope. I’ll not fight with
MACDUFF: Then yield thee, coward,
And live to be the show and gaze o’ the time:
We’ll have thee, as our rarer monsters are,
Painted upon a pole, and underwrit [under which is written],
‘Here may you see the tyrant.’
MACBETH: I will not yield,
To kiss the ground before young Malcolm’s feet,
And to be baited with the rabble’s
Though Birnam wood be come to Dunsinane,
And thou oppos’d, being of no woman born,
Yet I will try the last: before my body
I throw my war-like shield. Lay on,
And damn’d be him that first cries, ‘Hold, enough!’ [Exeunt,
Retreat. Flourish [playing of
trumpets]. Re-Enter, with drum and colours [flag], MALCOLM, Old SIWARD,
ROSS, Thanes, and Soldiers.
MALCOLM: I would the friends we miss were safe
SIWARD: Some must go off; and yet, by these I
So great a day as this is cheaply bought.
MALCOLM: Macduff is missing, and your noble
ROSS: Your son, my lord, has paid a soldier’s
He only liv’d but till he was a man;
The which no sooner had his prowess confirm’d
In the unshrinking station where he fought,
But like a man he died.
SIWARD: Then he is dead? 92
ROSS: Ay, and brought off the field. Your cause of
Must not be measur’d by his worth, for then
It hath no end.
SIWARD: Had he his hurts
ROSS: Ay, on the front.
SIWARD: Why then, God’s soldier be he!
Had I as many sons as I have hairs,
I would not wish them to a fairer death:
And so, his knell [funeral bell]
is knoll’d [rung].
MALCOLM: He’s worth more sorrow,
And that I’ll spend for him.
SIWARD: He’s worth no more; 104
They say, he parted well, and paid his score:
And so, God be with him! Here comes newer
Re-Enter MACDUFF, with MACBETH’S head.
MACDUFF: Hail, king! for so thou art. Behold, where
The usurper’s cursed head: the time is free:
I see thee compass’d [encircled]
with thy kingdom’s pearl [honorable
That speak my salutation in their minds;
Whose voices I desire aloud with mine; 112
Hail, King of Scotland!
ALL: Hail, King of Scotland!
MALCOLM: We shall not spend a large expense of
Before we reckon with your several loves,
And make us even with you. My thanes and
Henceforth be earls, the first that ever
In such an honour nam’d. What’s more to do,
Which would be planted newly with the
As calling home our exil’d friends abroad
That fled the snares of watchful tyranny;
Producing forth the cruel ministers
Of this dead butcher and his fiend-like
Who, as ’tis thought, by self and violent hands
Took off her life; this, and what needful else
That calls upon us, by the grace of Grace
We will perform in measure, time, and
So, thanks to all at once and to each one,
Whom we invite to see us crown’d at Scone. [Flourish.
Michael J. Cummings
Michael J. Cummings
taught English and literature at the Pennsylvania College of
Technology in Williamsport, Pa., and at public schools in
Pennsylvania and New York. He also worked as a journalist for
seventeen years, five of which he was managing editor of the
national publication GRIT when it had a circulation of more than
one million. He earned a bachelor's degree in English at King's
College in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., and pursued further studies at
Lycoming College in Williamsport and at Elmira College in Elmira,
N.Y. In addition, he attended two training workshops at the
American Press Institute. He served for a time as a member of the
board of directors of the Pennsylvania Associated Press Managing
Editors. Cummings is the author of more than one thousand
freelance articles and several books. He has written more than one
hundred Internet literature guides for students and teachers. His
Internet site on Shakespeare has been recommended by The New York
Times and the BBC.