e1 macbeth review

Scene 1 Plot Summary: Thunder and lightning crash above a Scottish moor. Three haggard old women, the witches, appear out of the storm. In eerie, chanting tones, they make plans to meet again upon the heath, after the battle, to confront Macbeth. As quickly as they arrive, they disappear.
When shall we three meet again? In thunder, lightning, or in rain? To: Audience(each other)From: First WitchMeans: When should the three of us meet again? Will it be in thunder, lightning, or rain?
When the hurlyburly’s done, When battle’s lost and won. To: Audience(each other)From: Second WitchMeans: We’ll meet when the noise of the battle is over, when one side has won and the other side has lost.
That will be ere the set of sun. To: Audience(each other)From: Third WitchMeans: That will happen before sunset.
Where the place? To: Audience(each other)From: First WitchMeans:Where should we meet?
Upon the heath. To: Audience(each other)From: Second WitchMeans: Let’s do it in the open field.
There to meet with Macbeth. To: Audience(each other)From: Third WitchMeans: We’ll meet Macbeth there.
I come, Graymalkin. To: her cat spiritFrom: First WitchMeans: I’m coming, Graymalkin!
Paddock calls. To: Audience(each other)From: Second WitchMeans: My toad, Paddock, calls me.
Anon! To: her spiritFrom: Third WitchMeans: I’ll be right here!
Fair is foul, and foul is fair.Hover through the fog and filthy air. To: Audience(each other)From: Three WitchesMeans: Fair is foul, and foul is fair. Let’s fly away through the fog and filthy air.
Scene 2 Plot Summary: At a military camp near his palace at Forres, King Duncan of Scotland asks a wounded captain for news about the Scots’ battle with the Irish invaders, who are led by the rebel Macdonwald. The captain, who was wounded helping Duncan’s son Malcolm escape capture by the Irish, replies that the Scottish generals Macbeth and Banquo fought with great courage and violence. The captain then describes for Duncan how Macbeth slew the traitorous Macdonwald. As the captain is carried off to have his wounds attended to, the thane of Ross, a Scottish nobleman, enters and tells the king that the traitorous thane of Cawdor has been defeated and the army of Norway repelled. Duncan decrees that the thane of Cawdor be put to death and that Macbeth, the hero of the victorious army, be given Cawdor’s title. Ross leaves to deliver the news to Macbeth.
What bloody man is that? He can report,As seemeth by his plight, or the revoltThe newest state. To: MalcolmFrom: DuncanMeans: Who is this bloody man? Judging from his appearance, I bet he can tell us the latest news about the revolt.
This is the segeantWho is like a good and hardy soldier fought’Gainst my captivity. Hail, brave friend!Say to the king the knowledge of the broilAs thou didst leave it. To: DuncanFrom: MalcolmMeans: This is the brave sergeant who fought to keep me from being captured. Hail, brave friend! Tell the king what was happening in the battle when you left it.
Doubtful it stood;As two spent swimmers, that do cling together And choke their art. The merciless Macdonwald–Worthy to be a rebel, for to thatThe multiplying villanies of natureDo swarm upon him–from the Western IslesOf kerns and gallowglasses is supplied; And fortune, on his damned quarrel smiling,Show’d like a rebel’s *****: but all’s too weak:For brave Macbeth–well he deserves that name–Disdaining fortune, with his brandish’d steel,Which smoked with bloody execution, Like valour’s minion carved out his passageTill he faced the slave;Which ne’er shook hands, nor bade farewell to him,Till he unseam’d him from the nave to the chaps,And fix’d his head upon our battlements. To: DuncanFrom: CaptainMeans: For a while you couldn’t tell who would win. The armies were like two exhausted swimmers clinging to each other and struggling in the water, unable to move. The villainous rebel Macdonwald was supported by foot soldiers and horsemen from Ireland and the Hebrides, and Lady Luck was with him, smiling cruelly at his enemies as if she were his *****. But Luck and Macdonwald together weren’t strong enough. Brave Macbeth, laughing at Luck, chopped his way through to Macdonwald, who didn’t even have time to say good-bye or shake hands before Macbeth split him open from his navel to his jawbone and stuck his head on our castle walls.
O valiant cousin! worthy gentleman! To: CaptainFrom: DuncanMeans: My brave relative! What a worthy man!
As whence the sun ‘gins his reflectionShipwrecking storms and direful thunders break,So from that spring whence comfort seem’d to comeDiscomfort swells. Mark, king of Scotland, mark:No sooner justice had with valour arm’dCompell’d these skipping kerns to trust their heels,But the Norweyan lord surveying vantage,With furbish’d arms and new supplies of menBegan a fresh assault. To: DuncanFrom: CaptainMeans: But in the same way that violent storms always come just as spring appears, our success against Macdonwald created new problems for us. Listen to this, King: as soon as we sent those Irish soldiers running for cover, the Norwegian king saw his chance to attack us with fresh troops and shiny weapons.
Dismay’d not this Our captains, Macbeth and Banquo? To: CaptainFrom: DuncanMeans: Didn’t this frighten our captains, Macbeth and Banquo?
Yes;As sparrows eagles, or the hare the lion.If I say sooth, I must report they were As cannons overcharged with double cracks, so theyDoubly redoubled strokes upon the foe:Except they meant to bathe in reeking wounds,Or memorize another Golgotha,I cannot tell. But I am faint, my gashes cry for help. To: DuncanFrom: CaptainMeans: The new challenge scared them about as much as sparrows frighten eagles, or rabbits frighten a lion. To tell you the truth, they fought the new enemy with twice as much force as before; they were like cannons loaded with double ammunition. Maybe they wanted to take a bath in their enemies’ blood, or make that battlefield as infamous as Golgotha, where Christ was crucified, I don’t know. But I feel weak. My wounds must be tended to.
So well thy words become thee as thy wounds;They smack of honour both. Go get him surgeons To: CaptainFrom: DuncanMeans: Your words, like your wounds, bring you honor. Take him to the surgeons.
Who comes here? To: Malcolm or Who is entering (Ross and Angus)From: DuncanMeans: Who is this?
The worthy thane of Ross. To: DuncanFrom: MalcolmMeans: The worthy Thane of Ross.
What a haste looks through his eyes! So should he lookThat seems to speak things strange. To: Malcolm or DuncanFrom: LennoxMeans: His eyes seem frantic! He looks like someone with a strange tale to tell.
God save the king! To: DuncanFrom: RossMeans: God save the king!
Whence camest thou, worthy thane? To: RossFrom: DuncanMeans: Where have you come from, worthy thane?
From Fife, great king; Where the Norweyan banners flout the skyAnd fan our people cold. Norway himself,With terrible numbers,Assisted by that most disloyal traitorThe thane of Cawdor, began a dismal conflict; Till that Bellona’s bridegroom, lapp’d in proof,Confronted him with self-comparisons,Point against point rebellious, arm ‘gainst arm.Curbing his lavish spirit: and, to conclude,The victory fell on us. To: DuncanFrom: RossMeans: Great king, I’ve come from Fife, where the Norwegian flag flies, mocking our country and frightening our people. Leading an enormous army and assisted by that disloyal traitor, the thane of Cawdor, the king of Norway began a bloody battle. But outfitted in his battle-weathered armor, Macbeth met the Norwegian attacks shot for shot, as if he were the goddess of war’s husband. Finally he broke the enemy’s spirit, and we were victorious.
Great happiness! To: RossFrom: DuncanMeans: Great happiness!
That nowSweno, the Norways’ king, craves composition:Nor would we deign him burial of his menTill he disbursed at Saint Colme’s inch Ten thousand dollars to our general use. To: DuncanFrom: RossMeans: So now Sweno, the Norwegian king, wants a treaty. We told him we wouldn’t even let him bury his men until he retreated to Saint Colme’s Inch and paid us ten thousand dollars.
No more that thane of Cawdor shall deceiveour bosom interest: go pronounce his present death,And with his former title greet Macbeth. To: RossFrom: DuncanMeans: The thane of Cawdor will never again betray me. Go announce that he will be executed, and tell Macbeth that Cawdor’s titles will be given to him.
I’ll see it done. To: DuncanFrom: RossMeans: I’ll get it done right away.
What he hath lost noble Macbeth hath won. To: RossFrom: DuncanMeans: The thane of Cawdor has lost what the noble Macbeth has won.
Scene 3 Summary: On the heath near the battlefield, thunder rolls and the three witches appear. One says that she has just come from “[k]illing swine” and another describes the revenge she has planned upon a sailor whose wife refused to share her chestnuts. Suddenly a drum beats, and the third witch cries that Macbeth is coming. Macbeth and Banquo, on their way to the king’s court at Forres, come upon the witches and shrink in horror at the sight of the old women. Banquo asks whether they are mortal, noting that they don’t seem to be “inhabitants o’ th’ earth” (1.3.39). He also wonders whether they are really women, since they seem to have beards like men. The witches hail Macbeth as thane of Glamis (his original title) and as thane of Cawdor. Macbeth is baffled by this second title, as he has not yet heard of King Duncan’s decision. The witches also declare that Macbeth will be king one day. Stunned and intrigued, Macbeth presses the witches for more information, but they have turned their attention to Banquo, speaking in yet more riddles. They call Banquo “lesser than Macbeth, and greater,” and “not so happy, yet much happier”; then they tell him that he will never be king but that his children will sit upon the throne (1.3.63-65). Macbeth implores the witches to explain what they meant by calling him thane of Cawdor, but they vanish into thin air.In disbelief, Macbeth and Banquo discuss the strange encounter. Macbeth fixates on the details of the prophecy. “Your children shall be kings,” he says to his friend, to which Banquo responds: “You shall be king” (1.3.84). Their conversation is interrupted by the arrival of Ross and Angus, who have come to convey them to the king. Ross tells Macbeth that the king has made him thane of Cawdor, as the former thane is to be executed for treason. Macbeth, amazed that the witches’ prophecy has come true, asks Banquo if he hopes his children will be kings. Banquo replies that devils often tell half-truths in order to “win us to our harm” (1.3.121). Macbeth ignores his companions and speaks to himself, ruminating upon the possibility that he might one day be king. He wonders whether the reign will simply fall to him or whether he will have to perform a dark deed in order to gain the crown. At last he shakes himself from his reverie and the group departs for Forres. As they leave, Macbeth whispers to Banquo that, at a later time, he would like to speak to him privately about what has transpired.
Where hast thou been, sister? To: Second and Third WitchFrom: First WitchMeans: Where have you been, sister?
Killing swine. To: First WitchFrom: Second WitchMeans: Killing pigs.
Sister, where thou? To: Each otherFrom: Third WitchMeans: And you, sister?
A sailor’s wife had chestnuts in her lap, And munch’d, and munch’d, and munch’d:– ‘Give me,’ quoth I: ‘Aroint thee, witch!’ the rump-fed ronyon cries. Her husband’s to Aleppo 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. To: Audience(each other) From: First WitchMeans: A sailor’s wife had chestnuts in her lap and munched away at them. “Give me one,” I said. “Get away from me, witch!” the fat woman cried. Her husband has sailed off to Aleppo as master of a ship called the Tiger. I’ll sail there in a kitchen strainer, turn myself into a tailless rat, and do things to him—
I’ll give thee a wind. To: Audience(each other)From: Second WitchMeans: I’ll give you some wind to sail there.
Thou’rt kind. To: Audience(each other)From: First WitchMeans: How nice of you!
And I another. To: Audience(each other)From: Third WitchMeans: And I will give you some more.
I myself have all the other, 15 And the very ports they blow, All the quarters that they know I’ the shipman’s card. I will drain him dry as hay: Sleep shall neither night nor day Hang upon his pent-house lid; He shall live a man forbid: Weary se’n nights nine times nine Shall he dwindle, peak and pine: Though his bark cannot be lost, Yet it shall be tempest-tost. Look what I have. To: Audience(each other)From: First WitchMeans: I already have control of all the other winds, along with the ports from which they blow and every direction on the sailor’s compass in which they can go. I’ll drain the life out of him. He won’t catch a wink of sleep, either at night or during the day. He will live as a cursed man. For eighty-one weeks he will waste away in agony. Although I can’t make his ship disappear, I can still make his journey miserable. Look what I have here.
Show me, show me. To: Audience(each other)From: Second WitchMeans: Show me, show me.
Here I have a pilot’s thumb, Wreck’d as homeward he did come. To: Audience(each other)From: First WitchMeans: Here I have the thumb of a pilot who was drowned while trying to return home.
A drum, a drum! Macbeth doth come. To: Audience(each other)From: Third WitchMeans: A drum, a drum! Macbeth has come.
The weird sisters, hand in hand, Posters of the sea and land, Thus do go about, about: Thrice to thine and thrice to mine And thrice again, to make up nine. Peace! the charm’s wound up. To: Audience(each other)From: Three WitchesMeans: We weird sisters, hand in hand, swift travelers over the sea and land, dance around and around like so. Three times to yours, and three times to mine, and three times again, to add up to nine. Enough! The charm is ready.
So foul and fair a day I have not seen. To: BanquoFrom: MacbethMeans: I have never seen a day that was so good and bad at the same time.
How far is’t call’d to Forres? What are these So wither’d and so wild in their attire,That look not like the inhabitants o’ the earth, And yet are on’t? (to Witches) Live you? or are you aught That man may question? 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. To: Macbeth and witchesFrom: BanquoMeans: How far is it supposed to be to Forres? (he sees the WITCHES) What are these creatures? They’re so withered-looking and crazily dressed. They don’t look like they belong on this planet, but I see them standing here on Earth. (to the WITCHES) Are you alive? Can you answer questions? You seem to understand me, because each of you has put a gruesome finger to her skinny lips. You look like women, but your beards keep me from believing that you really are.
Speak, if you can: what are you? To: Three WitchesFrom: MacbethMeans: Speak, if you can. What kind of creatures are you?
All hail, Macbeth! hail to thee, thane of Glamis! To: MacbethFrom: First WitchMeans: All hail, Macbeth! Hail to you, thane of Glamis!
All hail, Macbeth, hail to thee, thane of Cawdor! To: MacbethFrom: Second WitchMeans: All hail, Macbeth! Hail to you, thane of Cawdor!
All hail, Macbeth, thou shalt be king hereafter! To: MacbethFrom: Third WitchMeans: All hail, Macbeth, the future king!
Good sir, why do you start; and seem to fear Things that do sound so fair? (to the Witches) I’ the name of truth, Are ye fantastical, or that indeed Which outwardly ye show? My noble partner You greet with present grace and great prediction Of noble having and of royal hope, That he seems rapt withal: to me you speak not. If you can look into the seeds of time, And say which grain will grow and which will not, Speak then to me, who neither beg nor fear Your favours nor your hate. To: Macbeth and WitchesFrom: BanquoMeans: My dear Macbeth, why do you look so startled and afraid of these nice things they’re saying? (to the WITCHES) Tell me honestly, are you illusions, or are you really what you seem to be? You’ve greeted my noble friend with honors and talk of a future so glorious that you’ve made him speechless. But you don’t say anything to me. If you can see the future and say how things will turn out, tell me. I don’t want your favors and I’m not afraid of your hatred.
Hail! To: Macbeth and BanquoFrom: First WitchMeans: Hail!
Hail! To: Macbeth and BanquoFrom: Second WitchMeans: Hail!
Hail! To: Macbeth and BanquoFrom: Third WitchMeans: Hail!
Lesser than Macbeth, and greater. To: BanquoFrom: First WitchMeans: You are lesser than Macbeth but also greater.
Not so happy, yet much happier. To: BanquoFrom: Second WitchMeans: You are not as happy as Macbeth, yet much happier.
Thou shalt get kings, though thou be none: So all hail, Macbeth and Banquo! To: Banquo(mainly) and MacbethFrom: Third WitchMeans: Your descendants will be kings, even though you will not be one. So all hail, Macbeth and Banquo!
Banquo and Macbeth, all hail! To: Banquo and MacbethFrom: First WitchMeans: Banquo and Macbeth, all hail!
Stay, you imperfect speakers, tell me more: By Sinel’s death I know I am thane of Glamis; But how of Cawdor? the thane of Cawdor lives, A prosperous gentleman; and to be king Stands not within the prospect of belief, No more than to be Cawdor. Say from whence You owe this strange intelligence? or why Upon this blasted heath you stop our way With such prophetic greeting? Speak, I charge you. To: The WitchesFrom: MacbethMeans: Wait! You only told me part of what I want to know. Stay and tell me more. I already know I am the thane of Glamis because I inherited the position when my father, Sinel, died. But how can you call me the thane of Cawdor? The thane of Cawdor is alive, and he’s a rich and powerful man. And for me to be the king is completely impossible, just as it’s impossible for me to be thane of Cawdor. Tell me where you learned these strange things, and why you stop us at this desolate place with this prophetic greeting? Speak, I command you.
The earth hath bubbles, as the water has, And these are of them. Whither are they vanish’d? To: MacbethFrom: BanquoMeans: The earth has bubbles, just like the water, and these creatures must have come from a bubble in the earth. Where did they disappear to?
Into the air; and what seem’d corporal melted As breath into the wind. Would they had stay’d! To: BanquoFrom: MacbethMeans: Into thin air. Their bodies melted like breath in the wind. I wish they had stayed!
Were such things here as we do speak about? Or have we eaten on the insane root That takes the reason prisoner? To: MacbethFrom: BanquoMeans: Were these things we’re talking about really here? Or are we both on drugs?
Your children shall be kings. To: BanquoFrom: MacbethMeans: Your children will be kings.
You shall be king. To: MacbethFrom: BanquoMeans: You will be the king.
And thane of Cawdor too: went it not so? To: BanquoFrom: MacbethMeans: And thane of Cawdor too. Isn’t that what they said?
To the selfsame tune and words. Who’s here? To: MacbethFrom: BanquoMeans: That’s exactly what they said. Who’s this?
The king hath happily received, Macbeth, The news of thy success; and when he reads Thy personal venture in the rebels’ fight, His wonders and his praises do contend Which should be thine or his: silenced with that, In viewing o’er the rest o’ the selfsame day, He finds thee in the stout Norweyan ranks, Nothing afeard of what thyself didst make, Strange images of death. As thick as tale Came post with post; and every one did bear Thy praises in his kingdom’s great defence, And pour’d them down before him. To: MacbethFrom: RossMeans: The king was happy to hear of your success, Macbeth. Whenever he hears the story of your exploits in the fight against the rebels, he becomes so amazed it makes him speechless. He was also shocked to learn that on the same day you fought the rebels you also fought against the army of Norway, and that you weren’t the least bit afraid of death, even as you killed everyone around you. Messenger after messenger delivered news of your bravery to the king with praise for how you defended his country.
We are sent To give thee from our royal master thanks; Only to herald thee into his sight, Not pay thee. To: MacbethFrom: AngusMeans: The king sent us to give you his thanks and to bring you to him. Your real reward won’t come from us.
And, for an earnest of a greater honour, He bade me, from him, call thee thane of Cawdor: In which addition, hail, most worthy thane! For it is thine. To: MacbethFrom: RossMeans: And to give you a taste of what’s in store for you, he told me to call you the thane of Cawdor. So hail, thane of Cawdor! That title belongs to you now.
What, can the devil speak true? To: Angus, RossFrom: BanquoMeans: Can the devil tell the truth?
The thane of Cawdor lives: why do you dress meIn borrow’d robes? To: Angus and RossFrom: MacbethMeans: The thane of Cawdor is still alive. Why are you giving me his title?
Who was the thane lives yet; But under heavy judgment bears that life Which he deserves to lose. Whether he was combined With those of Norway, or did line the rebel With hidden help and vantage, or that with both He labour’d in his country’s wrack, I know not; But treasons capital, confess’d and proved, Have overthrown him. To: MacbethFrom: AngusMeans: The man who was the thane of Cawdor is still alive, but he’s been sentenced to death, and he deserves to die. I don’t know whether he fought on Norway’s side, or if he secretly aided the rebels, or if he fought with both of our enemies. But his treason, which has been proven, and to which he’s confessed, means he’s finished.
Glamis, and Thane of Cawdor: The greatest is behind. To: HimselfFrom: MacbethMeans: It’s just like they said—now I’m the thane of Glamis and the thane of Cawdor. And the best part of what they predicted is still to come.
Thanks for your pains. To: Ross and AngusFrom: MacbethMeans: Thank you for the news.
Do you not hope your children shall be kings, When those that gave the thane of Cawdor to me Promised no less to them? To: BanquoFrom: MacbethMeans: Aren’t you beginning to hope your children will be kings? After all, the witches who said I was thane of Cawdor promised them nothing less.
That trusted home Might yet enkindle you unto the crown, Besides the thane of Cawdor. But ’tis strange: And oftentimes, to win us to our harm, The instruments of darkness tell us truths, Win us with honest trifles, to betray’s In deepest consequence. (to Ross and Angus) Cousins, a word, I pray you. To: Macbeth, Angus, and RossFrom: BanquoMeans: If you trust what they say, you might be on your way to becoming king, as well as thane of Cawdor. But this whole thing is strange. The agents of evil often tell us part of the truth in order to lead us to our destruction. They earn our trust by telling us the truth about little things, but then they betray us when it will damage us the most. (to ROSS and ANGUS) Gentlemen, I’d like to have a word with you, please.
Two truths are told, As happy prologues to the swelling act Of the imperial theme. — I thank you, gentlemen.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 Cawdor: 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, Shakes so my single state of man that function Is smother’d in surmise, and nothing is But what is not. To: HimselfFrom: MacbethMeans: So far the witches have told me two things that came true, so it seems like this will culminate in my becoming king. (to ROSS and ANGUS) Thank you, gentlemen. (to himself) This supernatural temptation doesn’t seem like it can be a bad thing, but it can’t be good either. If it’s a bad thing, why was I promised a promotion that turned out to be true? Now I’m the thane of Cawdor, just like they said I would be. But if this is a good thing, why do I find myself thinking about murdering King Duncan, a thought so horrifying that it makes my hair stand on end and my heart pound inside my chest? The dangers that actually threaten me here and now frighten me less than the horrible things I’m imagining. Even though it’s just a fantasy so far, the mere thought of committing murder shakes me up so much that I hardly know who I am anymore. My ability to act is stifled by my thoughts and speculations, and the only things that matter to me are things that don’t really exist.
Look, how our partner’s rapt. To: Ross and AngusFrom: BanquoMeans: Look at Macbeth—he’s in a daze.
If chance will have me king, why, chance may crown me, Without my stir. To: HimselfFrom: MacbethMeans: If fate wants me to be king, perhaps fate will just make it happen and I won’t have to do anything.
New honors come upon him, Like our strange garments, cleave not to their mould But with the aid of use. To: Ross and AngusFrom: BanquoMeans: Macbeth is not used to his new titles. They’re like new clothes: they don’t fit until you break them in over time.
Come what come may, Time and the hour runs through the roughest day. To: HimselfFrom: MacbethMeans: One way or another, what’s going to happen is going to happen.
Worthy Macbeth, we stay upon your leisure. To: MacbethFrom: BanquoMeans: Good Macbeth, we’re ready when you are.
Give me your favour: my dull brain was wrought With things forgotten. Kind gentlemen, your pains Are register’d where every day I turn The leaf to read them.(Aside to Banquo) Let us toward the king. Think upon what hath chanced, and, at more time, The interim having weigh’d it, let us speak Our free hearts each to other. To: BanquoFrom: MacbethMeans: I beg your pardon; I was distracted. Kind gentlemen, I won’t forget the trouble you’ve taken for me whenever I think of this day. Let’s go to the king. (speaking so that only BANQUO can hear) Think about what happened today, and when we’ve both had time to consider things, let’s talk.
Very gladly. To: MacbethFrom: BanquoMeans: Absolutely.
Till then, enough. (To Ross and Angus) Come, friends. To: Banquo and Ross and AngusFrom: MacbethMeans: Until then, we’ve said enough. (to ROSS and ANGUS) Let’s go, my friends.
Scene 4 Summary: At the king’s palace, Duncan hears reports of Cawdor’s execution from his son Malcolm, who says that Cawdor died nobly, confessing freely and repenting of his crimes. Macbeth and Banquo enter with Ross and Angus. Duncan thanks the two generals profusely for their heroism in the battle, and they profess their loyalty and gratitude toward Duncan. Duncan announces his intention to name Malcolm the heir to his throne. Macbeth declares his joy but notes to himself that Malcolm now stands between him and the crown. Plans are made for Duncan to dine at Macbeth’s castle that evening, and Macbeth goes on ahead of the royal party to inform his wife of the king’s impending arrival.Analysis: Act 1, scenes 1-4These scenes establish the play’s dramatic premise—the witches’ awakening of Macbeth’s ambition—and present the main characters and their relationships. At the same time, the first three scenes establish a dark mood that permeates the entire play. The stage directions indicate that the play begins with a storm, and malignant supernatural forces immediately appear in the form of the three witches. From there, the action quickly shifts to a battlefield that is dominated by a sense of the grisliness and cruelty of war. In his description of Macbeth and Banquo’s heroics, the captain dwells specifically on images of carnage: “he unseamed him from the nave to th’ chops,” he says, describing Macbeth’s slaying of Macdonwald (1.2.22). The bloody murders that fill the play are foreshadowed by the bloody victory that the Scots win over their enemies.Our initial impression of Macbeth, based on the captain’s report of his valor and prowess in battle, is immediately complicated by Macbeth’s obvious fixation upon the witches’ prophecy. Macbeth is a noble and courageous warrior but his reaction to the witches’ pronouncements emphasizes his great desire for power and prestige. Macbeth immediately realizes that the fulfillment of the prophecy may require conspiracy and murder on his part. He clearly allows himself to consider taking such actions, although he is by no means resolved to do so. His reaction to the prophecy displays a fundamental confusion and inactivity: instead of resolving to act on the witches’ claims, or simply dismissing them, Macbeth talks himself into a kind of thoughtful stupor as he tries to work out the situation for himself. In the following scene, Lady Macbeth will emerge and drive the hesitant Macbeth to act; she is the will propelling his achievements. Once Lady Macbeth hears of the witches’ prophecy, Duncan’s life is doomed.Macbeth contains some of Shakespeare’s most vivid female characters. Lady Macbeth and the three witches are extremely wicked, but they are also stronger and more imposing than the men around them. The sinister witches cast the mood for the entire play. Their rhyming incantations stand out eerily amid the blank verse spoken by the other characters, and their grotesque figures of speech establish a lingering aura. Whenever they appear, the stage directions deliberately link them to unease and lurking chaos in the natural world by insisting on “Thunder” or “Thunder and lightning.”Shakespeare has the witches speak in language of contradiction. Their famous line “Fair is foul, and foul is fair” is a prominent example (1.1.10), but there are many others, such as their characterization of Banquo as “lesser than Macbeth, and greater” (1.3.63). Such speech adds to the play’s sense of moral confusion by implying that nothing is quite what it seems. Interestingly, Macbeth’s first line in the play is “So foul and fair a day I have not seen” (1.3.36). This line echoes the witches’ words and establishes a connection between them and Macbeth. It also suggests that Macbeth is the focus of the drama’s moral confusion.
Is execution done on Cawdor? Are not Those in commission yet return’d? To: MalcolmFrom: DuncanMeans: Has the former thane of Cawdor been executed yet? Haven’t the people in charge of that come back?
My liege, They are not yet come back. But I have spoke With one that saw him die: who did report That very frankly he confess’d his treasons, Implored your highness’ pardon and set forth A deep repentance: 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 ’twere a careless trifle. To: DuncanFrom: MalcolmMeans: My king, they haven’t come back yet. But I spoke with someone who saw Cawdor die, and he said that Cawdor openly confessed his treasons, begged your highness’s forgiveness, and repented deeply. He never did anything in his whole life that looked as good as the way he died. He died like someone who had practiced how to toss away his most cherished possession as if it were a worthless a piece of garbage.
There’s no art To find the mind’s construction in the face: He was a gentleman on whom I built An absolute trust. To: MalcolmFrom: DuncanMeans: There’s no way to read a man’s mind by looking at his face. I trusted Cawdor completely.
O worthiest cousin! 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 deserved, That the proportion both of thanks and payment Might have been mine! Only I have left to say, More is thy due than more than all can pay. To: MacbethFrom: DuncanMeans: My worthiest kinsman! Just this moment I was feeling guilty for not having thanked you enough. You have done so much for me so fast that it has been impossible to reward you properly. If you deserved less, then perhaps my payment would have matched your deeds! All I can say is that I owe you more than I can ever repay.
The service and the loyalty I owe, In doing it, pays itself. Your highness’ part Is to receive our duties; and our duties Are to your throne and state children and servants, Which do but what they should, by doing every thing Safe toward your love and honour. To: DuncanFrom: MacbethMeans: The opportunity to serve you is its own reward. Your only duty, your highness, is to accept what we owe you. Our duty to you and your state is like the duty of children to their father or servants to their master. By doing everything we can to protect you, we’re only doing what we should.
Welcome hither: I have begun to plant thee, and will labour To make thee full of growing. (To Banquo) Noble Banquo, That hast no less deserved, nor must be known No less to have done so, let me enfold thee And hold thee to my heart. To: Macbeth and BanquoFrom: DuncanMeans: You are welcome here. By making you thane of Cawdor, I have planted the seeds of a great career for you, and I will make sure they grow. (to BANQUO) Noble Banquo, you deserve no less than Macbeth, and everyone should know it. Let me bring you close to me and give you the benefit of my love and good will.
There if I grow, The harvest is your own. To: DuncanFrom: BanquoMeans: Then if I accomplish anything great, it will be a credit to you.
My plenteous joys, Wanton in fulness, seek to hide themselves In drops of sorrow. Sons, kinsmen, thanes, And you whose places are the nearest, know We will establish our estate upon Our eldest, Malcolm, whom we name hereafter The Prince of Cumberland; which honour must Not unaccompanied invest him only, But signs of nobleness, like stars, shall shine On all deservers.(To Macbeth) From hence to Inverness, And bind us further to you. To: Macbeth and BanquoFrom: DuncanMeans: My joy is so overwhelming it brings tears to my eyes. My sons, relatives, lords, and all those closest to me, I want you to witness that I will bestow my kingdom on my eldest son, Malcolm. Today I name him the prince of Cumberland. But Malcolm isn’t going to be alone in receiving honors—titles of nobility will shine like stars on all of you who deserve them. (to MACBETH) And now, let’s go to your castle at Inverness, where I will become even more obliged to you because of your hospitality.
The rest is labour, which is not used for you: I’ll be myself the harbinger and make joyful The hearing of my wife with your approach; So humbly take my leave. To: DuncanFrom: MacbethMeans: I’m not happy unless I can be working for you. I will go ahead and bring my wife the good news that you are coming. With that, I’ll be off.
My worthy Cawdor! To: MacbethFrom: DuncanMeans: My worthy Cawdor!
The Prince of Cumberland! that is a step On which I must fall down, or else o’erleap, For in my way it lies. 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. To: HimselfFrom: MacbethMeans: Malcolm is now the prince of Cumberland! To become king myself, I’m either going to have to step over him or give up, because he’s in my way. Stars, hide your light so no one can see the terrible desires within me. I won’t let my eye look at what my hand is doing, but in the end I’m still going to do that thing I’d be horrified to see.
True, worthy Banquo; he is full so valiant, 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 welcome: It is a peerless kinsman. To: BanquoFrom: DuncanMeans: You’re right, Banquo. Macbeth is every bit as valiant as you say, and I am satisfied with these praises of him. Let’s follow after him, now that he has gone ahead to prepare our welcome. He is a man without equal.
Scene 5 Summary: In Inverness, Macbeth’s castle, Lady Macbeth reads to herself a letter she has received from Macbeth. The letter announces Macbeth’s promotion to the thaneship of Cawdor and details his meeting with the witches. Lady Macbeth murmurs that she knows Macbeth is ambitious, but fears he is too full of “th’ milk of human kindness” to take the steps necessary to make himself king (1.5.15). She resolves to convince her husband to do whatever is required to seize the crown. A messenger enters and informs Lady Macbeth that the king rides toward the castle, and that Macbeth is on his way as well. As she awaits her husband’s arrival, she delivers a famous speech in which she begs, “you spirits / That tend on mortal thoughts, unsex me here, / And fill me from the crown to the toe top-full / Of direst cruelty” (1.5.38-41). She resolves to put her natural femininity aside so that she can do the bloody deeds necessary to seize the crown. Macbeth enters, and he and his wife discuss the king’s forthcoming visit. Macbeth tells his wife that Duncan plans to depart the next day, but Lady Macbeth declares that the king will never see tomorrow. She tells her husband to have patience and to leave the plan to her.
‘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 mightst 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 be What thou art promised: yet do I fear thy nature; It is too full o’ the milk of human kindness To catch the nearest way: thou wouldst be great; Art not without ambition, but withoutThe illness should attend it: what thou wouldst highly, That wouldst thou holily; wouldst not play false, And yet wouldst wrongly win: thou’ldst have, great Glamis, That which cries ‘Thus thou must do, if thou have it; And that which rather thou dost fear to do Than wishest should 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 crown’d withal. To: Herself, AudienceFrom: Lady MacbethMeans: “The witches met me on the day of my victory in battle, and I have since learned that they have supernatural knowledge. When I tried desperately to question them further, they vanished into thin air. While I stood spellbound, messengers from the king arrived and greeted me as the thane of Cawdor, which is precisely how the weird sisters had saluted me before calling me ‘the future king!’ I thought I should tell you this news, my dearest partner in greatness, so that you could rejoice along with me about the greatness that is promised to us. Keep it secret, and farewell.”You are thane of Glamis and Cawdor, and you’re going to be king, just like you were promised. But I worry about whether or not you have what it takes to seize the crown. You are too full of the milk of human kindness to strike aggressively at your first opportunity. You want to be powerful, and you don’t lack ambition, but you don’t have the mean streak that these things call for. The things you want to do, you want to do like a good man. You don’t want to cheat, yet you want what doesn’t belong to you. There’s something you want, but you’re afraid to do what you need to do to get it. You want it to be done for you. Hurry home so I can persuade you and talk you out of whatever’s keeping you from going after the crown. After all, fate and witchcraft both seem to want you to be king.
What is your tidings? To: Servant (Messenger)From: Lady MacbethMeans: What news do you bring?
The king comes here to-night. To: Lady MacbethFrom: Servant(Messenger)Means: The king is coming here tonight.
Thou’rt mad to say it: Is not thy master with him? who, were’t so, Would have inform’d for preparation. To: Servant(Messenger)From: Lady MacbethMeans: You must be crazy to say that! Isn’t Macbeth with the king, and wouldn’t Macbeth have told me in advance so I could prepare, if the king were really coming?
So please you, it is true: our thane is coming: One of my fellows had the speed of him, Who, almost dead for breath, had scarcely more Than would make up his message. To: Lady MacbethFrom: Servant(Messenger)Means: I’m sorry, but it’s the truth. Macbeth is coming. He sent a messenger ahead of him who arrived here so out of breath that he could barely speak his message.
Give him tending; He brings great news. To: Servant(Messenger)From: Lady MacbethMeans: Take good care of him. He brings great news.
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, nor keep peace between The effect and it! Come to my woman’s breasts, And take my milk for gall, you murdering ministers, Wherever in your sightless substances You wait on nature’s mischief! 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!’ To: Audience (Aside)From: Lady MacbethMeans: So the messenger is short of breath, like a hoarse raven, as he announces Duncan’s entrance into my fortress, where he will die. Come, you spirits that asist murderous thoughts, make me less like a woman and more like a man, and fill me from head to toe with deadly cruelty! Thicken my blood and clog up my veins so I won’t feel remorse, so that no human compassion can stop my evil plan or prevent me from accomplishing it! Come to my female breast and turn my mother’s milk into poisonous acid, you murdering demons, wherever you hide, invisible and waiting to do evil! Come, thick night, and cover the world in the darkest smoke of hell, so that my sharp knife can’t see the wound it cuts open, and so heaven can’t peep through the darkness and cry, “No! Stop!”
Great Glamis! worthy Cawdor! Greater than both, by the all-hail hereafter! Thy letters have transported me beyond This ignorant present, and I feel now The future in the instant. To: MacbethFrom: Lady MacbethMeans: Great thane of Glamis! Worthy thane of Cawdor! You’ll soon be greater than both those titles, once you become king! Your letter has transported me from the present moment, when who knows what will happen, and has made me feel like the future is already here.
My dearest love, Duncan comes here to-night. To: Lady MacbethFrom: MacbethMeans: My dearest love, Duncan is coming here tonight.
And when goes hence? To: MacbethFrom: Lady MacbethMeans: And when is he leaving?
To-morrow, as he purposes. To: Lady MacbethFrom: MacbethMeans: He plans to leave tomorrow.
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; bear welcome in your eye, Your hand, your tongue: look like the innocent flower, But be the serpent under’t. He that’s coming Must be provided for: and you shall putThis night’s great business into my dispatch; Which shall to all our nights and days to come Give solely sovereign sway and masterdom. To: MacbethFrom: Lady MacbethMeans: That day will never come. Your face betrays strange feelings, my lord, and people will be able to read it like a book. In order to deceive them, you must appear the way they expect you to look. Greet the king with a welcoming expression in your eyes, your hands, and your words. You should look like an innocent flower, but be like the snake that hides underneath the flower. The king is coming, and he’s got to be taken care of. Let me handle tonight’s preparations, because tonight will change every night and day for the rest of our lives.
We will speak further. To: Lady MacbethFrom: MacbethMeans: We will speak about this further.
Only look up clear;To alter favour ever is to fear: Leave all the rest to me. To: MacbethFrom: Lady MacbethMeans: You should project a peaceful mood, because if you look troubled, you will arouse suspicion. Leave all the rest to me.
Scene 6 Summary: Duncan, the Scottish lords, and their attendants arrive outside Macbeth’s castle. Duncan praises the castle’s pleasant environment, and he thanks Lady Macbeth, who has emerged to greet him, for her hospitality. She replies that it is her duty to be hospitable since she and her husband owe so much to their king. Duncan then asks to be taken inside to Macbeth, whom he professes to love dearly.
This castle hath a pleasant seat; the airNimbly and sweetly recommends itselfUnto our gentle senses. To: BanquoFrom: DuncanMeans: This castle is in a pleasant place. The air is sweet and appeals to my refined senses.
This guest of summer,The temple-haunting martlet does approve,By his loved mansionry, that the heaven’s breathSmells wooingly here: no jutty, frieze,Buttress, nor coign of vantage, but this birdHath made his pendent bed and procreant cradle:Where they most breed and haunt, I have observed,The air is delicate. To: DuncanFrom: BanquoMeans: The fact that this summer bird, the house martin, builds his nests here proves how inviting the breezes are. There isn’t a single protrusion in the castle walls where these birds haven’t built their hanging nests to sleep and breed. I’ve noticed that they always like to settle and mate where the air is the nicest.
See, see our honoured hostess!The love that follows us sometime is our trouble,Which still we thank as love. Herein I teach youHow you shall bid God ‘ild us for your pains,And thank us for your trouble. To: Lady MacbethFrom: DuncanMeans: Look, here comes our honored hostess! Sometimes the love my subjects bring me is inconvenient, but I still accept it as love. In doing so, I’m teaching you to thank me for the incovenience I’m causing you by being here, because it comes from my love to you.
All our serviceIn every point twice done and then done doubleWere poor and single business to contendAgainst those honours deep and broad wherewithYour majesty loads our house: for those of old,And the late dignities heap’d up to them,We rest your hermits. To: DuncanFrom: Lady MacbethMeans: Everything we’re doing for you, even if it were doubled and then doubled again, is nothing compared to the honors you have brought to our family. We gladly welcome you as our guests, with gratitude for both the honors you’ve given us before and the new honors you’ve just given us.
Where’s the thane of Cawdor?We coursed him at the heels, and had a purposeTo be his purveyor: but he rides well;And his great love, sharp as his spur, hath holp himTo his home before us. Fair and noble hostess,We are your guest to-night. To: Lady MacbethFrom: DuncanMeans: Where is Macbeth, the thane of Cawdor? We followed closely after him. I hoped to arrive here before him, but he rides swiftly. And his great love, which is as sharp as his spur, helped him beat us here. Fair and noble hostess, we are your guests tonight.
Your servants everHave theirs, themselves and what is theirs, in compt,To make their audit at your highness’ pleasure,Still to return your own. To: DuncanFrom: Lady MacbethMeans: We are your servants, your highness, and as always our house and everything in it is at your disposal, for after all, we keep it in your trust and we’re glad to give you back what’s yours.
Give me your hand;Conduct me to mine host: we love him highly,And shall continue our graces towards him.By your leave, hostess. To: Lady MacbethFrom: DuncanMeans: Give me your hand. Bring me to my host, Macbeth. I love him dearly, and I shall continue to favor him. Whenever you’re ready, hostess.
Scene 7 Summary: Inside the castle, as oboes play and servants set a table for the evening’s feast, Macbeth paces by himself, pondering his idea of assassinating Duncan. He says that the deed would be easy if he could be certain that it would not set in motion a series of terrible consequences. He declares his willingness to risk eternal damnation but realizes that even on earth, bloody actions “return / To plague th’inventor” (1.7.9-10). He then considers the reasons why he ought not to kill Duncan: Macbeth is Duncan’s kinsman, subject, and host; moreover, the king is universally admired as a virtuous ruler. Macbeth notes that these circumstances offer him nothing that he can use to motivate himself. He faces the fact that there is no reason to kill the king other than his own ambition, which he realizes is an unreliable guide.Lady Macbeth enters and tells her husband that the king has dined and that he has been asking for Macbeth. Macbeth declares that he no longer intends to kill Duncan. Lady Macbeth, outraged, calls him a coward and questions his manhood: “When you durst do it,” she says, “then you were a man” (1.7.49). He asks her what will happen if they fail; she promises that as long as they are bold, they will be successful. Then she tells him her plan: while Duncan sleeps, she will give his chamberlains wine to make them drunk, and then she and Macbeth can slip in and murder Duncan. They will smear the blood of Duncan on the sleeping chamberlains to cast the guilt upon them. Astonished at the brilliance and daring of her plan, Macbeth tells his wife that her “undaunted mettle” makes him hope that she will only give birth to male children (1.7.73). He then agrees to proceed with the murder.Analysis: Act 1, scenes 5-7These scenes are dominated by Lady Macbeth, who is probably the most memorable character in the play. Her violent, blistering soliloquies in Act 1, scenes 5 and 7, testify to her strength of will, which completely eclipses that of her husband. She is well aware of the discrepancy between their respective resolves and understands that she will have to manipulate her husband into acting on the witches’ prophecy. Her soliloquy in Act 1, scene 5, begins the play’s exploration of gender roles, particularly of the value and nature of masculinity. In the soliloquy, she spurns her feminine characteristics, crying out “unsex me here” and wishing that the milk in her breasts would be exchanged for “gall” so that she could murder Duncan herself. These remarks manifest Lady Macbeth’s belief that manhood is defined by murder. When, in Act 1, scene 7, her husband is hesitant to murder Duncan, she goads him by questioning his manhood and by implicitly comparing his willingness to carry through on his intention of killing Duncan with his ability to carry out a sexual act (1.7.38-41). Throughout the play, whenever Macbeth shows signs of faltering, Lady Macbeth implies that he is less than a man.Macbeth exclaims that Lady Macbeth should “[b]ring forth men-children only” because she is so bold and courageous (1.7.72). Since Macbeth succumbs to Lady Macbeth’s wishes immediately following this remark, it seems that he is complimenting her and affirming her belief that courage and brilliance are masculine traits. But the comment also suggests that Macbeth is thinking about his legacy. He sees Lady Macbeth’s boldness and masculinity as heroic and warriorlike, while Lady Macbeth invokes her supposed masculine “virtues” for dark, cruel purposes. Unlike Macbeth, she seems solely concerned with immediate power.A subject’s loyalty to his king is one of the thematic concerns of Macbeth. The plot of the play hinges on Macbeth’s betrayal of Duncan, and, ultimately, of Scotland. Just as Lady Macbeth will prove to be the antithesis of the ideal wife, Macbeth proves to be a completely disloyal subject. In Act 1, scene 7, for instance, Macbeth muses on Duncan’s many good qualities, reflects that Duncan has been kind to him, and thinks that perhaps he ought not to kill his king. This is Macbeth’s first lengthy soliloquy and thus the audience’s first peek inside his mind. Yet Macbeth is unable to quell his desire for power. He evades answering his own questions of loyalty and yearns unrealistically for the battlefield’s simple and consequence-free action—”If it were done when ’tis done,” he says, “then ’twere well / It were done quickly” (1.7.1-2).At the same time, Macbeth is strongly conscious of the gravity of the act of regicide. He acknowledges that “bloody instructions . . . being taught, return / To plague th’inventor” (1.7.9-10). This is the first of many lines linking “blood” to guilt and cosmic retribution.As her husband wavers, Lady Macbeth enters like a hurricane and blows his hesitant thoughts away. She spurs Macbeth to treason by disregarding his rational, moral arguments and challenging his manhood. Basically, she dares him to commit the murder, using words that taunt rather than persuade. Under her spell, all of Macbeth’s objections seem to evaporate and he is left only with a weak “If we should fail?” to set against her passionate challenge (1.7.59).The idea of a moral order is present in these scenes, albeit in muted form. Macbeth knows what he does is wrong, and he recognizes that there will surely be consequences. As we have seen, his soliloquy reveals his awareness that he may be initiating a cycle of violence that will eventually destroy him. Macbeth is not a good man at this point in the play, but he is not yet an evil one—he is tempted, and he tries to resist temptation. Macbeth’s resistance, however, is not vigorous enough to stand up to his wife’s ability to manipulate him.
If it were done when ’tis done, then ’twere well It were done quickly: if the assassination Could trammel up the consequence, and catch With his surcease success; that but this blow Might be the be-all and the end-all here, But here, upon this bank and shoal of time, We’ld jump the life to come. But in these cases We still have judgment here;that we but teachBloody instructions, which, being taught, returnTo plague the inventor: this even-handed justice Commends the ingredience of our poison’d chalice To our own lips. He’s here in double trust; First, as I am his kinsman and his subject, Strong both against the deed; then, as his host, Who should against his murderer shut the door, Not bear the knife myself. Besides, this Duncan Hath borne his faculties so meek, hath been So clear in his great office, that 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 cherubim, horsed Upon the sightless couriers of the air, Shall blow the horrid deed in every eye, That tears shall drown the wind. I have no spur To prick the sides of my intent, but only Vaulting ambition, which o’erleaps itself And falls on th’other. To: Aside (Himself) (Audience)From: MacbethMeans: If this business would really be finished when I did the deed, then it would be best to get it over with quickly. If the assassination of the king could work like a net, sweeping up everything and preventing any consequences, then the murder would be the be-all and end-all of the whole affair, and I would gladly put my soul and the afterlife at risk to do it. But for crimes like these there are still punishments in this world. By committing violent crimes we only teach other people to commit violence, and the violence of our students will come back to plague us teachers. Justice, being equal to everyone, forces us to drink from the poisoned cup that we serve to others. The king trusts me in two ways. First of all, I am his kinsman and his subject, so I should always try to protect him. Second, I am his host, so I should be closing the door in his murderer’s face, not trying to murder him myself. Besides, Duncan has been such a humble leader, so free of corruption, that his virtuous legacy will speak for him when he dies, as if angels were playing trumpets against the injustice of his murder. Pity, like an innocent newborn baby, will ride the wind with winged angels on invisible horses through the air to spread news of the horrible deed to everyone everywhere. People will shed a flood of tears that will drown the wind like a horrible downpour of rain. I can’t spur myself to action. The only thing motivating me is ambition, which makes people rush ahead of themselves toward disaster.
How now! what news? To:Lady MacbethFrom: MacbethMeans: What news do you have?
He has almost supp’d: why have you left the chamber? To: MacbethFrom: Lady MacbethMeans: He has almost finished dinner. Why did you leave the dining room?
Hath he ask’d for me? To: Lady MacbethFrom: MacbethMeans: Has he asked for me?
Know you not he has? To: MacbethFrom: Lady MacbethMeans: Don’t you know he has?
We will proceed no further in this business: He hath honour’d me of late; and I have bought Golden opinions from all sorts of people, Which would be worn now in their newest gloss, Not cast aside so soon. To: Lady MacbethFrom: MacbethMeans:We can’t go on with this plan. The king has just honored me, and I have earned the good opinion of all sorts of people. I want to enjoy these honors while the feeling is fresh and not throw them away so soon.
Was the hope drunk Wherein you dress’d yourself? hath it slept since? And wakes it now, to look so green and pale At what it did so freely? From this time 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 that Which thou esteem’st the ornament of life, And live a coward in thine own esteem, Letting ‘I dare not’ wait upon ‘I would,’ Like the poor cat i’ the adage? To: MacbethFrom: Lady MacbethMeans: Were you drunk when you seemed so hopeful before? Have you gone to sleep and woken up green and pale in fear of this idea? From now on this is what I’ll think of your love. Are you afraid to act the way you desire? Will you take the crown you want so badly, or will you live as a coward, always saying “I can’t” after you say “I want to”? You’re like the poor cat in the old story.
Prithee, peace: I dare do all that may become a man; Who dares do more is none. To: Lady MacbethFrom: MacbethMeans: Please, stop! I dare to do only what is proper for a man to do. He who dares to do more is not a man at all.
What beast was’t, then, That made you break this enterprise to me? When you durst do it, then you were a man; And, to be more than what you were, you would Be so much more the man. Nor time nor place Did then adhere, and yet you would make both:They have made themselves, and that their fitness now Does unmake you. 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 pluck’d my nipple from his boneless gums, And dash’d the brains out, had I so sworn as you Have done to this. To: MacbethFrom: Lady MacbethMeans: If you weren’t a man, then what kind of animal were you when you first told me you wanted to do this? When you dared to do it, that’s when you were a man. And if you go one step further by doing what you dared to do before, you’ll be that much more the man. The time and place weren’t right before, but you would have gone ahead with the murder anyhow. Now the time and place are just right, but they’re almost too good for you. I have suckled a baby, and I know how sweet it is to love the baby at my breast. But even as the baby was smiling up at me, I would have plucked my nipple out of its mouth and smashed its brains out against a wall if I had sworn to do that the same way you have sworn to do this.
If we should fail? To: Lady MacbethFrom: MacbethMeans: But if we fail—
We fail! But screw your courage to the sticking-place, And we’ll not fail. When Duncan is asleep– Whereto the rather shall his day’s hard journey Soundly invite him–his two chamberlains Will I with wine and wassail so convince That memory, the warder of the brain, Shall be a fume, and the receipt of reason A limbeck 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 His spongy officers, who shall bear the guilt Of our great quell? To: MacbethFrom: Lady MacbethMeans: We, fail? If you get your courage up, we can’t fail. When Duncan is asleep—the day’s hard journey has definitely made him tired—I’ll get his two servants so drunk that their memory will go up in smoke through the chimneys of their brains. When they lie asleep like pigs, so drunk they’ll be dead to the world, what won’t you and I be able to do to the unguarded Duncan? And whatever we do, we can lay all the blame on the drunken servants.
Bring forth men-children only; For thy undaunted mettle should compose Nothing but males. Will it not be received, When we have mark’d with blood those sleepy two Of his own chamber and used their very daggers, That they have done’t? To: Lady MacbethFrom: MacbethMeans: May you only give birth to male children, because your fearless spirit should create nothing that isn’t masculine. Once we have covered the two servants with blood, and used their daggers to kill, won’t people believe that they were the culprits?
Who dares receive it other, As we shall make our griefs and clamour roar Upon his death? To: MacbethFrom: Lady MacbethMeans: Who could think it happened any other way? We’ll be grieving loudly when we hear that Duncan has died.
I am settled, and bend up Each corporal agent to this terrible feat. Away, and mock the time with fairest show: False face must hide what the false heart doth know. To: Lady MacbethFrom: MacbethMeans: Now I’m decided, and I will exert every muscle in my body to commit this crime. Go now, and pretend to be a friendly hostess. Hide with a false pleasant face what you know in your false, evil heart.

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