Junior Macbeth in Quotations ©
'FAST TRACK' Cultural Heritage Series.
INTRODUCTION. Shakespeare is full of quotations. They are part of our heritage of English. But at first go, the whole plays are a bit, well, difficult. Much of the verse is well, a bit blank.
So here is the play of Macbeth with the action set out clearly, and with all the quotations that are now part of the English language, here like gems in their original setting.
Now you can discover these marvellous quotes, and know where they came from. Next you can read the whole play more easily, understanding what happens. Some notes are planned for the back, to explain the ancients words that can be pretty foggy to us today.
Half a loaf is better than no bread. Are you shocked that Shakespeare could be cut around like this? Consider the value it could be. Shakespeare can be for everyone His marvellous plays should not be restricted by uncomprehensibility to the elite who have tremendous cultural and educational advantages.
'Appetite grows by what it feeds on.' (Shakespeare said this.) It is good to taste good things early, rather than to have all desires, interests, thinking or goals moulded by what is infantile or trivial. The play is meant to be ACTED, even just by reading around the class. It can be played by anyone ten-years old and upward. No deadly serious analyses, pernickety studying or busy 'activities' that distract from what is to be enjoyed life-long. Be dramatic! Recite! Make a take-off! It will become unforgettable! Shakespeare should never be followed by being asked questions. It is the readers not the teachers, who ask the questions.
The play is in five Acts. It is a classical tragedy. Macbeth is a tragic hero, a magnificent man who is destroyed by his own fatal flaw. The story is based on a rather curious history of Britain written by Hollinshed. The real King Macbeth is buried on the island of Iona in Scotland.
Famous quotes are marked in blue. Adapt it as you like. Recommended for class reading and acting with great melodramatic expression. The narrator of the condensed Ōboring bitsÕ (? teacher) can adapt it and explain as suits the class. When students start shouting Shakespeare quotes in the playground, you know that the Great Bard has entered their souls. You need no other activities than Ōthe playÕs the thingÕ.
You will find that when children read dramatically and know the general sense, they can enjoy the long words with minimum explanation.
For general use, re-formatting is needed. vy
ACT 1. SCENE 1. A desert Heath in Scotland.
Thunder and lightning. Three witches come in. They talk in a very sinister way.
First witch: When shall we three meet again,
In thunder, lightning or in rain?
2nd witch: When the hurlyburly's done,
When the battle's lost and won.
3rd witch: That will be ere set of sun.
lst witch: Where the place?
2nd witch: Upon the heath, There to meet with Macbeth.
lst witch: I come, Graymalkin!
All: Fair is foul, and foul is fair:
Hover through the fog and filthy air. (And off they go, witch-like.)
SCENE 2 An army camp near Forres, in northeast Scotland.
Trumpets! King Duncan comes in, with his sons Malcolm and Donalbain, the Earl of Lennox and attendants. They meet a bleeding Sergeant.
Duncan: What bloody man is that?
The Sergeant has come from battles against invaders from Norway and Scots rebels. The merciless Macdonwald of the Western Isles brought Irish kerns and gallowglasses (soldiers and armor-bearers)but Macbeth chopped him in half with a battle-axe.
Sergeant: Brave Macbeth unseamed him from the nave to the chaps
And fixed his head upon our battlements.
Duncan: O valiant cousin! worthy gentleman!
The sergeant tells how Captain Macbeth and Captain Banquoe made the enemy run. Then Duncan sends for doctors to help him, because he has been badly hurt. Ross comes in, and says the Thane of Cawdor was a traitor, helping the enemy. Duncan says the Thane must die, and Macbeth will be made the Thane of Cawdor.
SCENE 3. A Heath.Thunder. Enter the three Witches.
Ist Witch: Where have you been, sister?
2nd Witch: Killing swine.
3rd Witch: Sister, where you?
lst Witch: A sailor's wife had chestnuts on her lap,
And munchd and munchd and munchd. 'Give me,' said I:
'Aroint thee, witch!' the rump-fed runyon cries.
Her husband's gone to Aleppo, master of the 'Tiger':
But in a sieve I'll thither sail,
And like a rat without a tail,
I'll do and I'll do and I'll do.
2nd witch: I'll give the a wind.
lst witch: Thou art kind.
3rd witch: And I another.
lst witch: I myself have all the other.
He shall live a man forbid.
Weary seven-nights nine times nine
Shall he dwindle, peak and pine:
Though his ship cannot be lost,
Yet it shall be tempest-tost. (Drums are heard.)
3rd Witch: A drum! a drum!
Macbeth doth come.
All the witches: The weird sisters, hand in hand
Posters of the sea and land,
Thus do go, about, about:
Thrice to thine and thrice to mine,
Three times again to make up nine.
Peace! The charm's wound up.
Enter MACBETH and BANQUO.
Macbeth: So foul and fair a day I have not seen.
Banquo. What are these,
So witherd and so wild in their attire,
That look not like the inhabitants of the earth,
And yet are on it? You seem to understand me
By each at once her choppy finger laying
Upon her skinny lips: you should be women
And yet your beards forbid me to interpret
That you are so.
Macbeth: Speak if you can: What are you?
Ist witch: All hail, Macbeth! hail to thee, Thane of Glamis!
2nd witch: All hail, Macbeth! hail to thee, Thane of Cawdor!
3rd witch: All hail, Macbeth! that shalt be king hereafter.
Banquo: To me you speak not.
If you can look into the seeds of time,
And say which grains will grow and which will not,
Speak then to me, who neither beg nor fear
Your favours or your hate.
lst witch: Lesser than Macbeth, and greater.
2nd witch: Not so happy, yet much happier.
3rd witch: Thou shalt get kings, though thou be none.
Macbeth asks the witches to tell them more. Macbeth knows he has been made Thane of Glamis, but does not know bout the Thane of Cawdor, and cannot believe he would be king. He asks the witches how they know and why they stop him of this blasted heath. The witches just vanish.
Banquo: The earth has bubbles, as the water has,
And these are of them. Where are they vanished?
Macbeth: Into the air, and what seemed corporal
As breath into the wind. Would they had stayd!
Banquo: You shall be king.
Macbeth: Your children shall be kings.
Enter ROSS and ANGUS, who tell them that because Macbeth has fought so well in the battles, unafraid of the strange images of death that he himself did make, the king has made him Thane of Cawdor, instead of the former Thane who was a traitor.
Banquo: What! Can the devil speak true?
Macbeth (to himself): Glamis, and Thane of Cawdor:
The greatest comes behind.
Macbeth asks Banquo if he hopes that his children will be kings. Banquo warns him not to get fired up about getting a crown as well as being Thane of Cawdor.
Banquo: But it is strange:
And oftentimes, to win us to our harm,
The instruments of darkness tell us truths,
Win us with honest trifles, to betray us
In deepest consequences.
Macbeth (to himself): This supernatural soliciting cannot be ill, cannot be good.
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?
Present fears are less than horrible imaginings.
(Macbeth is beginning to think of murder to gain the crown, and Banquo and the others wonder at how rapt he looks.)
Macbeth (to himself): Come what may
Time and the hour run through the roughest day.
SCENE 4. A room in the palace.
Enter KING DUNCAN, with his sons, Malcolm and Donalbain, and attendants. Malcolm tells how the former Thane of Cawdor has been executed for treason.
Malcolm: Nothing in his life
Became him like the leaving it; he died
As one that had been studied in his death
To throw away the dearest thing he owed
As if it were a careless trifle.
Duncan: There's no art
To find the mind's construction in the face:
He was a gentleman on whom I built
An absolute trust.
Enter MACBETH, BANQUO, ROSS and ANGUS.
There are greetings and praises. Duncan makes his eldest son Malcolm the Prince of Cumberland, which was similar to the English title of Prince of Wales. The King tells Macbeth that he is going to Inverness, and will be staying with Macbeth in his castle. Macbeth leaves to tell his wife, but he is worried that Malcolm's new title will stand in his own way to be king.
Macbeth (to himself): Stars, hide your fires!
Let not light see my black and deep desires;
The eye wink at the hand; yet let that be
Which the eye fears, when it is done, to see. (He leaves)
Duncan: He is a peerless kinsman. (Flourish of trumpets. They all go out.)
SCENE 5. Inverness. The castle of Macbeth
Lady Macbeth enters, reading a letter from Macbeth. "They met me in the day of success, and I have learned by the perfectest report, that 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. While I stood rapt in the wonder of it, missives came 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 tell thee, my dearest partner of greatness, that thou mightst not lose the dues of rejoicing, by being ignorant of what greatness is promised thee. Lay it to thy heart, and farewell."
Lady M: Glamis thou art ! and Cawdor; and shall be
What thou are promised. Yet do I fear thy nature.
It is too full of the milk of human kindness
To catch the nearest way; thou wouldst be great,
Art not without ambition, but without
The illness should attend it; what thou wouldst highly
That thou wouldst holily; wouldst not play false
And yet wouldst wrongly win; thouldst have, great Glamis,
That which cries, 'Thus thou must do if thou have it,'
And that which rather thou doest fear to do
Than wishest to be undone. Hie thee hither
That I may pour my spirits in thine ear,
And chastise with the valour of my tongue
All that impedes thee from the golden round
Which fate and metaphysical aid doth seem
To have thee crowned withal.
A servant enters, bringing the message that the King comes here tonight.
Lady M. Give him tending; he brings great news! (Servant goes off.)
The raven himself is hoarse
That croaks the fatal entrance of Duncan
Under my battlements. Come, you spirits
That tend on mortal thoughts, unsex me here,
And fill me from the crown to the toe top full
Of direst cruelty. Make thick my blood,
Stop up the access and passage to remorse,
That no compunctious visitings of nature
Shake my fell purpose. Come to my woman's breasts,
And take my milk for gall, you murdering ministers.
Come, thick night, And pall thee in the dunnest smoke of hell,
That my keen knife see not the wound it makes,
Nor heaven peep through the blanket of the dark,
To cry, 'Hold, hold!'
Lady M. Great Glamis! Worthy Cawdor!
Greater than both, by the all-hail hereafter! Macbeth: My dearest love, Duncan comes here tonight.
Lady M: And when goes hence?
Macbeth: Tomorrow - as he purposes.
Lady M: O never shall sun that morrow see!
Your face, my thane, is as a book where men
May read strange matters. To beguile the time
Look like the time; look like the innocent flower
But be the serpent under it. He that's coming
Must be provided for; and you shall put
This night's great business into my dispatch;
Which shall to all our nights and days to come
Give solely sovereign sway and masterdom.
Macbeth (nervously): We will speak further.
Lady M: Leave all the rest to me. (They go out.)
SCENE 6. In front of the castle.
King Duncan arrives with his court, and instead of hearing Lady Macbeth's ravens, he admires the swallows that fly around the castle. Lady Macbeth welcomes him.
SCENE 7. A room in the castle.
Music and torches. Servants hurry around with dishes and go off. Macbeth enters.
Macbeth: If it were done when 'tis done, then 'twere well
It were done quickly; that only this blow
Might be the be-all and the end-all here,
We'd jump the life to come. But - he's here in double trust:
First as I am his kinsman and his subject, then as his host,
Who should against his murderers shut the door,
Not bear the knife myself. Besides, his virtues
Will plead like angels trumpet-tongued against
The deep damnation of his taking off;
And pity, like a naked new-born babe,
Striding the blast, or heaven's cherubin
Shall blow the horrid deed in every eye,
And tears shall drown the wind. I have no spur but only
Vaulting ambition, which o'erleaps itself -
Enter LADY MACBETH. Macbeth explains why he does not want to kill the king. Lady Macbeth is angry.
Lady M: Wouldst thou have that
Which thou esteemst the ornament of life,
And live a coward in thine own esteem,
Letting 'I dare not' wait upon 'I would"?
Macbeth: I dare do all that may become a man.
Who dares do more is none.
Lady M: I have given suck, and know
How tender 'tis to love the babe that milks me:
I would, while it was smiling in my face
Have plucked my nipple from its boneless gums
And dashed the brains out, had I so sworn as you
Have done to this.
Macbeth: If we should fail -
Lady M: We fail! But screw your courage to the sticking place
And we'll not fail.
Macbeth: Bring forth men-children only;
For thy undaunted mettle should compose
Nothing but males. Away and mock the time with fairest show:
False face must hide what the false heart doth know'.
(Macbeth has decided to kill King Duncan, and they go out.)
ACT 2, SCENE 1
A court inside the castle at Inverness.
BANQUO and his son FLEANCE enter, with a servant carrying a torch before them. The night is starless, and Banquo has been having cursed thoughts that stop him sleeping. MACBETH enters, with a servant with another torch. Banquo is surprised to see him still up awake. Banquo and Fleance go off to bed. Macbeth sends off his servant to tell Lady Macbeth to strike on the bell when his drink is ready.
Macbeth: Is that a dagger which I see before me,
The handle towards my hand? Come, let me clutch thee:
I have thee not, and yet I see thee still. Art thou but
A dagger of the mind, a false creation
Proceeding from the heat-oppressed brain?
Thou marshall'st me the way that I was going.
I see thee still, And on thy blade and dudgeon gouts of blood
Which was not so before. (A bell rings.)
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. (Goes off.)
SCENE 2. The same.
LADY MACBETH enters. She has given drugged drink to Duncan's grooms to make them sleep. She hears Macbeth shout out, and she is worried whether he has missed seeing the daggers of the grooms, which she had laid ready for him to use to kill the king.
Lady M: Had he not resembled
My father as he slept, I had done it. My husband!
Macbeth: I have done the deed. Didst thou not hear a noise?
Lady M: I heard the owl scream and the crickets cry. Did you not speak?
Lady M: Now. (Macbeth looks at his hands)
Macbeth :This is a sorry sight.
Lady M: A foolish thought to say a sorry sight.
Macbeth: There's one did laugh in his sleep, and one cried 'Murder!'
That they did wake each other: I stood and heard them:
But they did say their prayers, and addressed them again to sleep. One cried 'God bless us!' and 'Amen' the other,
As they had seen me with these hangman's hands.
Listening to their fear, I could not say 'Amen',
When they did say, 'God bless us"
Lady M: Consider it not so deeply.
Macbeth: But wherefore could I not pronounce 'Amen'?
I had most need of blessing, and 'Amen' stuck in my throat.
Lady M: These deeds must not be thought
After these ways; so, it will make us mad.
Macbeth: Methought I heard a voice cry 'Sleep no more!
Macbeth does murder sleep;' the innocent sleep,
Sleep that knits up the ravelled sleeve of care,
The death of each day's life, sore labour's bath,
Balm of hurt minds, great nature's second course
Lady M: What do you mean?
Macbeth: Still it cried, 'Sleep no more!' to all the house:
'Glamis hath murdered sleep, and therefore Cawdor
Shall sleep no more, Macbeth shall sleep no more!'
Lady Macbeth tells him this is brainsickly. He must wash his hands, take back the daggers to the grooms, and smear them with blood as they sleep, so that it will look as if they have done the murder.
Macbeth: I'll go no more: I am afraid to think what I have done;
Look on it again, I dare not.
Lady M: Infirm of purpose!
Give me the daggers. The sleeping and the dead
Are but as pictures. 'Tis the eye of childhood
That fears a painted devil.
(She goes out to do it herself. Knocking outside.)
Macbeth: How is it with me, when every noise appals me?
Will all great Neptune's ocean wash this blood
Clean from my hand? No, this my hand will rather
The multitudinous seas incarnadine
Making the green one red.
LADY MACBETH comes in again.
Lady M: My hands are of your colour, but I shame To wear a heart so white. (More knocking.)
A little water clears us of this deed; how easy is it then!
(More knocking. She calls Macbeth to come to bed and put on his night-gown, so that those who are knocking will not find them up.)
Macbeth: To know my deed 'twere best not know myself. (More knocking)
Wake Duncan with thy knocking! I would thou could'st. (Goes out.)
SCENE 3. Also in the castle
More knocking. A PORTER comes in. He is drunk, and pretends that he is the porter of hell-gate, who turns the key. Porter:
Knock, knock, knock. Who's there, in the name of Beelzebub? Here's a farmer that hanged himself. (More knocking.) Knock, knock! Who's there, in the other devils name! Faith, here's an equivocator, who committed treason enough for God's sake, yet could not equivocate to heaven. (More knocking.) Knock, knock, knock! Who's there? Faith, here's an English tailor come here for stealing out of a French hose. (More knocking.) Knock, knock, knock! Never at quiet! But this place is too cold for hell. I'll devil-porter it no longer. I had thought to have let in some of all professions, that go the primrose way to the everlasting bonfire. (Knocking again.) At once! At once! I pray you, remember the porter.
(At last the Porter opens the gate. MACDUFF and LENNOX come in, and joke around with the porter. They ask for Macbeth. MACBETH enters.)
Macduff: Is the king stirring, worthy thane?
Macbeth: Not yet. (Macduff goes out to the king's room.)
Lennox: The night has been unruly: where we lay
Our chimneys were blown down; and as they say,
Lamentings heard i' the air; strange screams of death.
The obscure bird clamourld the livelong night:
Some say the earth was feverish and did shake.
Macbeth: Twas a rough night.
Macduff:O horror! horror! horror!
Macbeth and Lennox: What's the matter?
Macduff: Most sacrilegious murder hath broke ope
The Lord's anointed temple, and stole thence
The life o' the building!
Lennox: Mean you his majesty?
Macduff: Do not bid me speak. See, and then speak yourselves. (Macbeth and Lennox go out.) Awake! awake!
Ring the alarum bell. Murder and treason!
Banquo and Donalbain! Malcolm! Awake!
Shake off this downy sleep, death's counterfeit,
And look on death itself! Malcolm! Banquo!
As from your graves rise up, and walk like sprites
To countenance this horror! Ring the bell. (Bell rings.)
LADY MACBETH enters. She asks why the hideous trumpet is waking everybody.
Macduff: O gentle lady!
'Tis not for you to hear what I can speak;
The repetition in a woman's ear
Would murder as it fell. (BANQUO comes in.)
O Banquo! Banquo! Our royal master's murdered!
Lady M: Woe, alas! What, in our house?
Banquo: Too cruel anywhere. (MACBETH and LENNOX come in.)
Macbeth: Had I but died an hour before this chance
I had lived a blessed time; for, from this instant,
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
Is left this vault to brag of.
(DUNCAN's SONS come in, asking what is the matter.)
Macbeth: The spring, the head, the fountain of your blood
Is stopped; the very source of it is stopped.
Macduff: Your royal father's murdered.
Lennox tells how it looks as if DuncanÕs servants murdered the king, because they were found asleep smeared with blood and with their daggers bloody.
Macbeth: O! yet I do repent me of my fury
That I did kill them.
Macduff asks why he did this deed. Macbeth replies that he was so disturbed when he saw the outrage.
Macbeth: Here lay Duncan,
His silver skin laced with his golden blood: there the murderers,
Steeped in the colours of their trade, their daggers
Unmannerly breeched with gore: Who could refrain?
Lady M: Help me hence, ho!
Macduff: Look to the lady.
Lady Macbeth faints and is carried out. Banquo, Macbeth, Macduff and Lennox decide to meet in the hall to question this most bloody piece of work. Duncan's sons Malcolm and Donalbain stay behind. They fear more treason, and Malcolm decides to escape to England, and Donalbain t oescape to Ireland, as they will be safer if they are apart.
Donalbain: Where we are,
There's daggers in men's smiles: the near in blood,
The nearer bloody. (They flee.)
ROSS and an old man come in. They talk of the signs and portents of the times. A falcon, high in the sky, has been killed by an owl looking for mice. Duncan's horses have turned wild in their stalls, and begun to eat each other. Macduff comes in. He says that suspicion has fallen on the kings' sons since they have fled, and it is thought that they bribed the guards to kill the king, to take the throne themselves. Duncan's body is being carried to Colmekill, on the island of Iona, the sacred burial place of Scottish kings, still to be seen, and Macbeth is to be crowned King at Scone, the traditional place of coronation.
ACT 3, Scene 1. A room in the palace at Forres. Banquo enters.
Banquo: Thou has it now: King, Cawdor, Glamis, all
As the weird women promised: and I fear
Thou playÕdst most foully for it; yet it was said
That I myself should be the root and father of many kings.
But hush! No more.
A sonnet and trumpets sound. Enter king macbeth with lady macbeth as Queen, with attendants. Macbeth commands Banquo to attend his royal banquet that night. Banquo says he is going riding with his son Fleance, and will return for the feast. Macbeth speaks of DuncanÕs sons, now in England and Ireland, as bloody cousins who will not confess their bloody parricide. Banquo leaves to go riding, and all others leave except Macbeth, who has sent a servant to fetch two men has has sent for. Macbeth is worried about Banquo, and what Banquo in turn might do to make sure that his sons become kings, as the witches had promised. He remembers the witchesÕ prophecies.
Macbeth (to himself): Upon my head they placed a fruitless crown,
And put a barren sceptre in my grip,
No son of man succeeding. If it be so,
For BanquoÕs issue I defiled my mind;
For them the gracious Duncan have I murdered,
Put rancours in the vessel of my peace
Only for them; and mine eternal jewel
Given to the common enemy of man
To make them kings. The seed of Banquo kings! WhoÕs there?
The servant brings in two murderers and is sent away. Macbeth reminds the two men how he has shown that it was Banquo, not Macbeth himself, who dealt evilly with them in the past, and it was Banquo whose heavy hand has bowed them to the grave, and beggared their families for ever. He asks if they are willing to kill their enemy, now they know who he is.
lst Murderer: I am one, my liege, whom the vile blows and buffets of the world
Have so incensed, that I am reckless what I do to spite the world.
2nd Murderer: And I another, so weary with disasters, tagged with fortune,
That I would set my life on any chance, to mend it, or be rid of Ōt.
The murderers agree to ambush Banquo and his son Fleance while they are out riding, and leave to carry out the deed.
Macbeth (to himself): It is concluded. Banquo, thy soulÕs flight,
If it find heaven, must find it out tonight.
Scene 2. Another room in the palace. lady Macbeth enters with a servant, and sends him to bring Macbeth.
Lady M: NoughtÕs had, allÕs spent,
Where our desire is got without content:
ŌTis safer to be that which we destroy
Than by destruction dwell in doubtful joy.
Enter macbeth. Lady Macbeth tells him to stop having sorry fancies about things that cannot be remedied.
Lady M: WhatÕs done is done.
Macbeth: We have scotched the snake, not killed it.
But let the frame of things disjoint, both the worlds suffer
Ere we will eat our meal in fear, and sleep in the affliction of these terrible dreams
That shake us nightly. Better be with the dead
Than on the torture of the mind to lie in restless ecstasy.
Duncan is in his grave; After lifeÕs fitful fever, he sleeps well. Nothing
Can touch him further.
Lady Macbeth tells him to sleek over his rugged looks and to be bright and jovial among his guests at the feast tonight. Macbeth hints at BanquoÕs planned death, and calls on sealing night to come and scarf up the tender eye of pitiful day.
Macbeth: Light thickens, and the crow makes wing to the rooky wood;
Good things of the day begin to droop and drowse,
While nightÕs black agents to their prey do rouse. Hold still,
Things bad begun make strong themselves by ill. They go out together.
scene 3. A road leading to the palace through a park.
three murderers enter. When banquo and fleance come in with a torch, the murderers set upon them, and kill Banquo, but Fleance escapes.
scene 4. A room of state in the palace.
A banquet has been prepared. King Macbeth, Lady Macbeth and the court enter. After the banquet has begun, the first murderer comes in, and Macbeth goes to the door to speak to him.
Macbeth: ThereÕs blood upon thy face.
The First Murderer explains that Banquo lies in a ditch with twenty trenched gashes on his head, but Fleance has escaped.
Macbeth: Then comes my fit again. I had else been perfect;
But now I am cabinÕd, cribbÕd, confined, bound in
To saucy doubts and fears.
There the grown serpent lies. The worm thatÕs fled
Hath nature that in time will venom breed,
No teeth for the present. Get thee gone,
Tomorrow weÕll hear ourselves again.
The Murderer leaves, and Lady Macbeth calls her lord to return to the banquet.
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 MacbethÕs place. Macbeth has been saying how much they are missing Banquo, but then he cannot see where to sit, because the table is full. Lennox wonders what is disturbing Macbeth.
Macbeth: Which of you have done this?
Lennox: What, my good lord?
Macbeth to the Ghost: Thou canst not say I did it: never shake
Thy gory locks at me.
Ross: Gentlemen, rise; his Highness is not well.
Lady Macbeth tries to save the day: Sit, worthy friends: my lord is often thus,
And hath been fromhis youth: the fit is momentary.
(to Macbeth) Are you a man?
Macbeth: Ay, and a bold one, that dare look on that
Which might appal the devil.
Lady Macbeth: Why do you make such faces? When allÕs done
You look but on a stool.
Macbeth: Prithee, see there! Behold! Look! Lo! How say you?
Why, what care I? If thou canst nod, speak too. (Ghost disappears.)
If I stand here, I saw him!
Lady Macbeth: Fie, for shame!
Macbeth: Blood hath been shed ere now, in the olden time,
Ay, and since too, murders have been performed
Too terrible for the ear; the times have been
That when the brains were out, the man would die
And there an end; but now they rise again
With twenty mortal murders on their crowns
And push us from our stools.
Lady Macbeth: My worthy lord, your noble friends do lack you.
Macbeth: I do forget. Do not muse at me, my most worthy friends.
I have a strange infirmity which is nothing.
Macbeth calls the guests to drink to their absent friend Banquo. The ghost reappears.
Macbeth: Avaunt, and quit my sight! Let the earth hide thee!
Thy bones are marrowless, thy blood is cold.
Lady M : Think of this, good peers, only a thing of custom;
Only it spoils the pleasure of the time.
Macbeth: What man dare, I dare. Hence, horrible shadow!
Unreal mockery, hence! (The Ghost vanishes.) Why so, being gone,
I am a man again. Pray you, sit still.
But the feast has been spoiled by the disorder, and Lady Macbeth can keep the guests quiet no longer. She calls the party off, as Macbeth is growing worse and worse.
Lady M: At once goodnight;
Stand not upon the order of your going,
But go at once. A kind goodnight to all. The Lords leave with hasty goodbyes.
Macbeth: It will have blood, they say; blood will have blood.
I am in blood
Stepped in so far, that should I wade no more,
Returning were as tedious as go over.
Macbeth speaks with Lady Macbeth about Macduff, who has not come to the banquet. Macbeth has spies in the houses of all the lords. He is going to see the witches to find out more, and is determined to be as bloody as need be.
Scene 5. A Heath. Thunder
The three WITCHES meet HECATE, goddess of the Night. Hecate tells them go to the black pit of Acheron to prepare their cauldrons and spells. Hecate is going to catch a vapor drop from the corner of the moon, and distil it to raise artificial spiris that will draw Macbeth on to his destruction by the strength of their illusion.
Hecate: He shall spurn fate, scorn death, and bear
His hopes above wisdom, grace and fear;
And you all know, security
Is mortal's chiefest enemy.
(Song outside: Come away, come away, etc.)
Hark, I am called; my little spirit, see,
Sits in a foggy cloud, and waits for me. (Disappears.)
Ist Witch: Come, let's make haste, she'll soon be back again.
(Off they go.)
SCENE 6. A room in the palace at Forres.
LENNOX enters with another lord and they talk about how the sons of Duncan and Banquo have been blamed by Macbeth for their fathers' murders. The kingdom is in an evil state now that Macbeth is king. They long for Malcolm to be the true king.
ACT 4 SCENE 1. A cavern. A boiling cauldron in the middle. Thunder. Enter the 3 WITCHES.
Ist Witch: Thrice the brindled cat hath mewd.
2nd Witch. Thrice and once the hedge-pig whined.
3rd Witch: Harper cries: 'tis time, It is time.
Ist Witch: Round about the cauldron go,
In the poisoned entrails throw.
Toad with sweltered venom got
Boil thou first in the charmed pot.
All: Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn, and cauldron bubble.
2nd Witch: Eye of newt and toe of frog,
Wool of bat and tongue of dog,
Adders' fork and blind-worm's sting,
Lizard's leg and howlet's wing,
For a charm of powerful trouble,
Like a hell-broth boil and bubble.
All: Double, double, toil and trouble,
Fire, burn, and cauldron bubble.
3rd Witch: Scale of dragon, tooth of wolf,
Witches' mummy, maw and gulf
Of the ravind salt-sea shark,
Root of hemlock diggd in the dark,
Add thereto a tiger's chaudron
For the ingredients of our cauldron.
All: Double, double, toil and trouble,
Fire, burn,and cauldron bubble.
(You can read up the other horrid ingredients for yourself.
HECATE enters and commends them.)
Hecate: And now about the cauldron sing
Like elves and fairies in a ring,
Enchanting all that you put in. (Music and a song, Black Spirits, etc.)
2nd Witch: By the pricking of my thumbs,
Something wicked this way comes.
Macbeth: How now, you secret, black and midnight hags!
What is it you do?
All: A deed without a name.
Macbeth: I conjure you, by that which you profess,
However you come to know it, answer me.
Ist Witch: Speak.
2nd Witch: Demand.
3rd Witch: Say if thou'dst rather hear it from our mouths,
Or from our masters?
Macbeth: Call 'em. Let me see 'em.
Ist Witch: Pour in sow's blood, that hath eaten
Her nine farrow; grease, that's sweaten
From the murderer's gibbet, throw
Into the flame.
All: Come, high or low;Thyself and office deftly show.
Thunder. First apparition of an ARMED HEAD.
Macbeth: Tell me, thou unknown power -
Ist Witch: He knows thy thought.
Hear his speech, but say thou nought.
Ist Apparition: Macbeth! Macbeth! Macbeth! beware Macduff:
Beware the Thane of Fife. Dismiss me. Enough. (It descends into the cauldron)
Macbeth: Whatever thou art, for thy good caution thanks;
Thou hast harped my fear aright. But one word more
Ist Witch: He will not be commanded: here's another,
More potent than the first.
Thunder. Second apparition, a BLOODY CHILD.
2nd Apparition: Macbeth! Macbeth! Macbeth!
Be bloody, bold and resolute; laugh to scorn
The power of man, for none of woman born
Shall harm Macbeth. (It descends back into the cauldron.)
Macbeth: Then live, Macduff: what need I fear from thee?
But yet I'll make assurance double sure. Thou shalt not live.
Thunder. Third apparition. A CHILD CROWNED with a tree in his hand.
Macbeth: What is this, that rises like the issue of a king,
And wears upon his baby brow the round
And crown of sovereignty?
All: Listen, but speak not to It.
3rd Apparition: Macbeth shall never vanquished be until
Great Birnam wood to high Dunsinane hill
Shall come against him. (Descends into the cauldron again.)
Macbeth: That will never be. 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?
All: Seek to know no more.
Macbeth: Let me know. Why sinks that cauldron? and what noise is this?
(Music of stringed instruments. The witches cry 'Show!')
Show his eyes and grieve his heart;
Come like shadows, so depart.
A show of EIGHT KINGS appears in turn, the last with a mirror in his hand, and BANQUO'S Ghost following after.
Macbeth: Filthy hags! Why do you show me this! Still more!
Start, eyes! What! Will the line stretch out to the crack of doom?
Another yet? A seventh! I'll see no more;
And yet the eighth appears, who bears a glass
That shows me many more; and some I see
That two-fold balls and treble sceptres carry.
Horrible sight! Now I see 'tis true;
For the blood-boltered Banquo smiles upon me,
And points at them for his. (Apparitions vanish).
What! Is this so?
lst Witch: Ay sir, all this is so.
Some, sisters, cheer we up his sprites,
And show the best of our delights.
Music. The Witches dance, and then vanish with Hecate. As Macbeth stands dazed, LENNOX comes in. He tells Macbeth that Macduff has already fled to England. Macbeth then decides that as soon as he thinks of any action, he will carry it out immediately. And his first thought is to command that Macduff's castle in Fife be seized, and his family, his babies, and all unfortunate souls that trace him in his line, are all to be killed by the sword.
SCENE 2. Macduff's castle in Fife.
LADY MACDUFF is anxious. Macduff has fled to England, leaving her alone with the children. A messenger arrives warning her to escape also, and then he flees, because he does not dare to stay any longer.
Lady Macduff: Whither should I fly? I have done no harm.
But I remember now
I am in this earthly world, where, to do harm
Is often praised, To do good sometime
Accounted dangerous folly; Why then, alas!
Do I put up that womanly defence
To say I have done no harm?
The Murderers enter, and kill her son, and chase her to kill her also.
SCENE 3. England, before the King's Palace.
Enter MALCOLM and MACDUFF. Macduff describes how in Scotland each new morning new widows howl, new orphans cry, new sorrows strike heaven on the face. Malcolm is still suspicious that Macduff too might be treacherous, although he recognises that this may be untrue. He decides to test him.
Malcolm: Angels are bright still, though the brightest fell;
Though all things foul would wear the brows of grace,
Yet grace must still look so. Macduff may be rightly just,
Whatever I shall think.
Macduff: Bleed, bleed, poor country!
For goodness dares not check thee!
Malcolm tells Macduff that it would not be good for Scotland if he himself were made king with Macduff's help, because he would be worse even than Macbeth.
Macduff: Not in the legions of horrid hell can come
A devil more damn'd in evils to top Macbeth.
Malcolm says that he himself would be more lustful than Macbeth if he were kingl; Macduff says that would not matter too much. Malcolm says that he has bottomless greed, and would take the lands and jewels of the lords, inventing unjust quarrels so that he could destroy them to get their wealth. Macduff says that this would be worse, but still, the country could bear with them, weighed with other graces.
Malcolm: But I have none; the king-becoming graces,
As justice, verity, temperance, stableness,
Bounty, perseverance, mercy, lowliness
Devotion, patience, courage, fortitude,
I have no relish of them. Nay, had I power I should
Pour the sweet milk of concord into hell,
Uproar the universal peace, confound
All unity on earth.
Macduff: 0 Scotland, Scotland!
Malcolm: If such a one is fit to govern, speak.
I am as I have spoken.
Macduff: Fit to govern!
No, not to live. O nation miserable,
Since that the truest issue of thy throne
By his own interdiction stands accursed
And does blaspheme his breed? Thy royal father
Was a most sainted king; the queen that bore thee,
Oftner upon her knees than on her feet,
Died evry day she lived. Fare thee well!
Those evils thou repeatest upon thyself
Have banished me from Scotland. O my breast,
My hope ends here!
Malcolm: Macduff, this noble passion,
Child of integrity, hath from my soul
Wiped the black scruples, reconciled my thoughts,
To thy good truth and honour.
MaIcolm tells how the devilish Macbeth has often tried to trap him into his power, so that he has learnt not to believe anyone easily. He does not really possess any of these taints and blames, he is not like that at all. He delights in truth, and would not betray anyone. These lies to Macduff were his first. He is about to invade Scotland with the help of Old Siward of Norway and ten thousand men, and now all of them can go together with Macduff.
MaIcolm: What I am truly
Is thine and my poor country's to command.
Why are you silent?
Macduff: Such welcome and unwelcome things at once
Are hard to reconcile.
A DOCTOR enters, and tells how the good English king cures people of their diseases. How unlike Macbeth. He leaves. ROSS enters, and is welcomed.
Macduff: Stands Scotland where it did?
Ross: Alas! poor country; it cannot
Be called our mother, but our grave;
Where sighs and groans and shrieks that rend the air
Are made not marked; where violent sorrow seems
A modern ecstasy; the dead man's knell
Is there scarce asked for who; and good men's lives
Expire before the flowers in their caps.
Macduff asks about his family. At first Ross cannot bear to tell him but at last admits the truth.
Ross: Your castle was surprised; your wife and babes
Malcolm tells the silent Macduff to give his sorrow words, or his heart may break.
Macduff: My children too?
Ross: Wife, children, servants, all that could be found.
Macduff: And I must be away! My wife killed too?
Ross: I have said.
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 ones?
Did you say all? O hell-kite! All?
What! all my pretty chickens and their dam At one fell swoop?
Malcolm: Dispute it like a man.
Macduff: I shall do so; but I must also feel it like a man:
I cannot but remember such things were,
That were most precious to me. Sinful Macduff,
They were all struck down for me.
Malcolm: Let grief convert to anger; blunt not the heart, enrage it.
Receive what cheer you may
The night is long that never finds the day.
All is ready for the army to start for Scotland. The Scots attend the English king to say farewell, with Macduff determined on revenge.
ACT 5. SCENE 1. A room in Dunsinane Castle.
A DOCTOR enters with a waiting GENTLEWOMAN. They discuss how Lady Macbeth has been sleep-walking. Lady Macbeth comes in with a lighted candle, which she has by her continually, at her command.
Doctor: You see, her eyes are open.
Gentlewoman: Yes, but their sense is shut.
Doctor: What is it she does now? Look, how she rubs her hands.
Gentlewoman: I have known here to continue in this a quarter of an hour.
Lady M: Yet here's a spot! Out, damned spot! out, I say!
One; two; why then, tis time to do it. Hell is murky!
Fie, my lord, fie! a soldier and afeard? What need we fear who knows of 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?
Doctor: Do you mark that?
Lady M: The Thane of Fife had a wife; where is she now?
What! will these hands never be clean? No more of that my lord, No more of that; you mar all with this startling.
Doctor: Go to, go to, you have known what you should not.
Gentlewoman: She has spoke what she should not,
I am sure of that: Heaven knows what she has known.
Lady M: Here's the smell of the blood still: all the perfumes of Arabia will not sweeten this little hand. Oh! Oh! Oh!
Doctor: What a sigh is there! The heart is sorely charged.
Gentlewoman: I would not have such a heart in my bosom for the dignity of the whole body.
Doctor: Well, well, well.
Gentlewoman: Pray God it be, sir.
Doctor: This disease is beyond my practice: yet I have known those which have walked in their sleep who have died holily in their beds.
Lady M: Wash your hands, put on your night-gown,
look not so pale. I tell you yet again, Banquo's buried;
he cannot come out of his grave.
Doctor: Even so?
Lady M: 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: Foul whisperings are abroad. Unnatural deeds
Do breed unnatural troubles; infected minds
To their deaf pillows will discharge their secrets;
She needs the divine than the physician.
God, God forgive us all! Look after her.
I think, but dare not speak.
Gentlewoman: Good-night, good doctor. (They leave.)
SCENE 2. The country near Dunsinane.
Enter, with drums and colours, the lords MENTEITH, CAITHNESS, ANGUS,
LENNOX and soldiers. They are going to meet Malcolm, his uncle Siward, and
Macduff with the English army near Birnam wood.
Menteith: What does the tyrant?
Caithness: Great Dunsinane he strongly fortifies.
Some say he's mad; others that lesser hate him
Do call it valiant fury.
Angus: Now does he feel his secret murders sticking on his hands.
Those he commands move only in command,
Nothing in love. Now does he feel his title
Hang loose about him, like a giant's robe
Upon a dwarfish thief. (They march on towards Birnam Wood.)
SCENE 3. A room in Dunsinane Castle.
MACBETH enters with DOCTOR and attendants. Macbeth does not want to hear any more reports. He knows he is safe from fear till Birnam wood comes to Dunsinane. Since he need fear no man that's born of woman, he need not fear the boy Malcolm, or the fact that his thanes are deserting him to join the 'English epicures'. A servant enters.
Macbeth: The devil damn thee black, thou cream-faced loon!
Where did you get thou that goose look?
Servant: There is ten thousand
Macbeth: Geese, villain?
Servant: Soldiers, sir.
Macbeth is furious at the Ōlily-livered boy' and orders him to take his face hence, but when he is alone, he shows the depression underlying his furies.
Macbeth: I have lived long enough: my way of life
Is fallen into the sear, the yellow leaf;
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, breath,
Which the poor heart would fain deny and dare not.
Macbeth calls for Seyton, and insists on wearing his armour, although it is not needed yet. He orders his horsement to ride around the country, and hang all that talk of fear. He then asks the doctor about his patient. The doctor says that she is not so sick, but troubled with thick-coming fancies that keep her from her rest.
Macbeth: Cure her of that:
Canst thou not minister to a mind diseased,
Pluck from the memory a rooted sorrow,
Raze out the written troubles of the brain,
And with some sweet oblivious antidote
Cleanse the stuffed bosom of that perilous stuff
That weighs upon the heart?
Doctor: Therein the patient must minister to himself.
Macbeth: Throw physic to the dogs; I'll none of it.
He asks the Doctor to cure the land of its disease, and purge it of the English.
Doctor to himself: Were I from Dunsinane away and clear
Profit again should hardly draw me here.
SCENE 4. The Country near Birnam Wood.
Marching soldiers enter with drum and colours and their leaders, MALCOLM, OLD SIWARD and his son, MACDUFF, MENTEITH, CAITHNESS, ANGUS, LENNOX and ROSS. Malcolm orders every soldier to cut down a bough from the trees of the wood, to carry as camouflage, so that Macbeth cannot count their numbers or see them clearly. Macbeth's people, great and small, have been abandoning him, and none serve with him now unless they are forced to. Macduff's army marches off towards the castle.
SCENE 5. Inside Dunsinane Castle.
MACBETH, SEYTON and soldiers enter with drum and colours.
Macbeth: Hang out our banners on the outside walls;
The cry is still, 'They come'; our castle's strength
Will laugh a siege to scorn; here let them lie
Till famine and the ague eat them up. (A cry of women within.) What is that noise?
Seyton: It is the cry of women, my good lord. (Goes out to see.)
Macbeth: I have almost forgot the taste of fears.
The time has been my sense would have cooled to hear a night-shriek. I have supped full with horrors. (Seyton re-enters.)
Seyton: The queen, my lord, is dead.
Macbeth: She should have died hereafter;
There would have been a time for such a word.
Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow
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 candle!
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 fury,
A messenger enters, saying that he thought he saw Birnam wood beginning to move, while he was standing watch. Macbeth threatens to hang him alive on the next tree till famine cling him, if what he says is false, but if it is true, he does not care if the messenger does the same to him.
Macbeth: I begin to doubt the equivocation of the fiend
That lies like truth; 'Fear not till Birnam wood
Do come to Dunsinane.' Arm. arm and out!
I begin to be aweary of the sun,
And wish the estate of the world were now undone.
Ring the alarum-bell! Blow, wind! come, wrack!
At least we'll die with armour on our back. (They leave.)
SCENE 6. A plain before the castle.
MALCOLM, OLD SIWARD, etc. enter with their army carrying branches. It is now time to throw down these heavy screens and show what they are. Malcolm gives orders for the battle.
Macduff: Make all our trumpets speak; give them all breath,
Those clamorous harbingers of blood and death.
SCENE 7. Another part of the plain. Alarums. MACBETH enters.
Macbeth: They have tied me to a stake; I cannot fly
But bear-like I must fight, the course. What's he
That was not born of woman? Such a one
Am I to fear, or none.
YOUNG SIWARD enters. He fights Macbeth and is killed. Macbeth goes off, and MACDUFF enters, with alarums, seeking Macbeth to kill him in revenge.
Macduff: I cannot strike at wretched kerns, whose arms
Are hired to bear their staves.
(Macduff goes off to find Macbeth. MALCOLM and OLD SIWARD pass through on their way to enter the castle, which Macbeth's retainers have given up - many of them having already gone over to the other side. Macbeth returns, refusing to surrender and preferring to keep on killing others rather than to commit suicide in his desperate situation. Macduff finds him at last.
Macduff: Turn, hell-hound, turn!
Macbeth: Of all men else, I have avoided thee;
But get thee back, my soul is too much charged
With blood of thine already.
Macduff: I have no words; my voice is in my sword.
(They fight. Macbeth taunts him, because he himself is invulnerable.)
Macbeth: I bear a charmed life, which will not yield
To one of woman born.
Macduff: Despair thy charm,
And let the angel whom thou still hast served tell thee,
Macduff was from his mother's womb untimely ripped.
(ie a Caesarean birth)
Macbeth curses him, and those juggling fiends who palter with us in a double sense, that keep the word of promise to our ear, and break it to our hope. He refuses to fight Macduff. Macduff then calls on him to yield, and tells him that he will be put on show like our rare monsters, painted upon a pole, with underwrite 'Here you may see the tyrant.' Macbeth refuses to yield to this, to be baited with the rabble's curse.
Macbeth: Lay on, Macduff,
And damned be him that first cries, 'Hold, enough!'
They go off, fighting. MALCOLM, OLD SIWARD, ROSS, Thanes and soldiers enter with a flourish of drums and flags.. Ross tells Old Siward that his son is killed - he only lived but till he was a man, but like a man he died. Old Siward is only concerned that his wounds were in the front, and is pleased that they were, but Malcolm is saddened for his death. Macduff comes in, carrying the head of Macbeth, and hails Malcolm as king of Scotland. All present hail Malcolm as king. Malcolm gives his thanes the new title of earls, and calls for the return of all the exiles who had fled the dead butcher and his fiend-like queen - now reported to have taken her own life. Malcolm is determined to do everything needful in measure, time and place.
Malcolm: So thanks to all at once and to each one,
Whom we invite to see us crowned at Scone.
What Shakespeare means to me
How different Shakespeare's world and culture seems to our own. Here in MACBETH we see people full of energy, experiencing life to the full, with passion and reflection both, aware of both good and evil. What would it be like if Macbeth were really translated into the modern culture - how much of its grandeur and awareness of greatness would be lost, perhaps, as in some modern translations of the Bible, which can reduce anything to smallness and triviality.
I would like the next generations to discover the pleasures of the past that cannot be advertised on television - the taste of words, the full experience of being alive without chemical additives, the fascination of human character and its development, and the serious challenges of moral choices and dilemmas. For the Elizabethans of Shakespeare's time, being alive was important, and death was important. Death was not just other people's bodies being gunned down on the screen, and destruction solved nothing. The loss of a human being was important for the survivors and even more for the one who died, and at the end of each tragic play, the living had to continue.
Victor Hugo said that a good story should have character for the men, emotion for the women, and action for the vulgar mob.
A good way to enjoy MACBETH is to allot the parts, and then read them with as much melodramatic expression as you possibly can.
Reading aloud with as much expression as you can is also a good way to work out the words you do not know (or look up a glossary or dictionary if you want to be more precise.)
BACKGROUND TO LOOK UP IF IT INTERESTS YOU
The full text of the whole play
Witchcraft in Europe 400 years ago
Scottish history in the Middle Ages
Elizabethan ideas about the Divine Right of Kings
Observe the delight of the Elizabethan English in their own language, and their incredibly rich vocabulary, their ideas of good and evil, and the nature of conscience, their ideas of how the devil attempted to seduce men to their damnation, their ideas about the nature of men and women, and Shakespeare's psychology and psychiatry, compared to our own.