Thou hast it now: king, Cawdor, Glamis, all, As the weird women promised, and I fear Thou played’ st most foully for ’t. Yet it was said It should not stand in thy posterity, But that myself should be the root and father Of many kings. If there come truth from them— As upon thee, Macbeth, their speeches shine— Why by the verities on thee made good, May they not be my oracles as well, And set me up in hope? But hush, no more. BANQUO Now you have it all: you’re the king, the thane of Cawdor, and the thane of Glamis, just like the weird women promised you. And I suspect you cheated to win these titles. But it was also prophesied that the crown would not go to your descendants and that my sons and grandsons would be kings instead. If the witches tell the truth—which they did about you—maybe what they said about me will come true too. But shhh! I’ll shut up now. Sennet sounded. Enter MACBETH, as king, LADY MACBETH, as queen, LENNOX, ROSS, LORDS, LADIES, and attendants. A trumpet plays.
Enters dressed as a king, and LADY MACBETH enters dressed as a queen, together with LENNOX, ROSS, LORDS, LADIES, and their attendants. MACBETH Here’s our chief guest. MACBETH (indicating BANQUO) Here’s our most important guest. LADY MACBETH If he had been forgotten, It had been as a gap in our great feast, And all-thing unbecoming. LADY MACBETH If we forgot him, our big celebration wouldn’t be complete, and that wouldn’t be any good. MACBETH Tonight we hold a solemn supper, sir, And I’ll request your presence. Let your highness Command upon me, to the which my duties Are with a most indissoluble tie Forever knit. BANQUO Whatever your highness commands me to do, it is always my duty to do it. Original MACBETH Ride you this afternoon? MACBETH Are you going riding this afternoon? BANQUO Ay, my good lord. BANQUO Yes, my good lord. MACBETH We should have else desired your good advice— Which still hath been both grave and prosperous— In this day’s council, but we’ll take tomorrow. Is ’t far you ride? MACBETH We would have liked to have heard your good advice, which has always been serious and helpful, at the council today, but we’ll wait until tomorrow. Are you riding for?
BANQUO As far, my lord, as will fill up the time ‘Twixt this and supper. Go not my horse the better, I must become a borrower of the night For a dark hour or twain. BANQUO I’m going far enough that I’ll be riding from now until dinner. Unless my horse goes faster than expected, I will be back an hour or two after sunset. We hear our bloody cousins are bestowed. In England and in Ireland, not confessing Their cruel parricide, filling their hearers With strange invention. But of that tomorrow, When therewithal we shall have a cause of state Craving us jointly. Hie you to horse. Adieu, Till your return at night. Goes Fleance with you? MACBETH We hear that the princes, those murderers, have hidden in England and Ireland. They haven’t confessed to cruelly murdering their own father, and they’ve been making up strange lies to tell their hosts.
But we can talk more about that tomorrow, when we’ll discuss matters of state that concern us both. Hurry up and get to your horse. Good-bye, until you return tonight. Is Fleance going with you? I wish your horses swift and sure of foot, And so I do commend you to their backs. Farewell. MACBETH I hope your horses are fast and surefooted. And with that, I send you to them. Farewell. Let every man be master of his time Till seven at night. To make society The sweeter welcome, we will keep ourselves Till suppertime alone. While then, God be with you! Everybody may do as they please until seven o’clock tonight. In order to make your company even more enjoyable, I’m going to keep to myself until suppertime. Until then, God be with you! Exeunt all except MACBETH and a SERVANT | Everyone exits except MACBETH and servant.
Sirrah, a word with you. Attend those men Our pleasure? You there, let me have a word with you. Are those men waiting for me? To be thus is nothing, But to be safely thus. Our fears in Banquo Stick deep, and in his royalty of nature Reigns that which would be feared. ‘Tis much he dares, And to that dauntless temper of his mind, He hath a wisdom that doth guide his valor To act in safety. There is none but he Whose being I do fear, and under him, My genius is rebuked, as it is said Mark Antony’s was by Caesar. He chid the sisters When first they put the name of king upon me And bade them speak to him. Then, prophetlike, They hailed him, father, to a line of kings. Upon my head they placed a fruitless crown And put a barren scepter in my grip, Thence to be wrenched with an unlineal hand, No son of mine succeeding. If ’t be so, For Banquo’s issue have I filed my mind; For them the gracious Duncan have I murdered; Put rancors 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!
Rather than so, come fate into the list, And champion me to the’ utterance. Who’s there? To be the king is nothing if I’m not as safe as the king. I’m very afraid of Banquo. There’s something noble about him that makes me fear him. He’s willing to take risks, and his mind never stops working. He has the wisdom to act bravely but also safely. I’m not afraid of anyone but him. Around him, my guardian angel is frightened, just as Mark Antony’s angel supposedly feared Octavius Caesar. Banquo chided the witches when they first called me king, asking them to tell him his own future. Then, like prophets, they named him the father to a line of kings. They gave me a crown and a scepter that I can’t pass on. Someone outside my family will take these things away from me since no son of mine will take my place as king. If this is true, then I’ve tortured my conscience and murdered the gracious Duncan for Banquo’s sons. I’ve ruined my own peace for their benefit. I’ve handed over my everlasting soul to the devil so that they could be kings. Banquo’s sons, kings! Instead of watching that happen, I will challenge fate to battle and fight to the death. Who’s there! The FIRST MURDERER It was yesterday, your highness. Have you considered of my speeches?
Know That it was he, in the times past, which held you So under fortune, which you thought had been Our innocent self. This I made good to you In our last conference, passed in probation with you, How you were borne in hand, how crossed, the instruments, Who wrought with them, and all things else that might To half a soul and to a notion crazed Say, “Thus did Banquo. ” MACBETH Well, did you think about what I said? You should know that it was Banquo who made your lives hell for so long, which you always thought was my fault. But I was innocent. I showed you the proof at our last meeting.
I explained how you were deceived, how you were thwarted, the things that were used against you, who was working against you, and a lot of other things that would convince even a half-wit or a crazy person to say, “Banquo did it! ” I did so, and went further, which is now Our point of the second meeting. Do you find Your patience so predominant in your nature That you can let this go? Are you so gospels To pray for this good man and for his issue, Whose heavy hand hath bowed you to the grave And beggared yours forever? MACBETH I did that and more, which brings me to the point of this second meeting. Are you so patient and forgiving that you’re going to let him off the hook? Are you so pious that you would pray for this man and his children, a man who has pushed you toward an early grave and put your family in poverty forever?
The valued file Distinguishes the swift, the slow, the subtle, The housekeeper, the hunter, every one According to the gift which bounteous nature Hath in him closed, whereby he does receive Particular addition, from the bill That writes them all alike. And so of men. Now, if you have a station in the file, the Not worst rank of manhood, say ’t, And I will put that business in your bosoms, Whose execution takes your enemy off, Grapples you to the heart and love of us, Who wear our health but sickly in his life, Which in his death were perfect. | MACBETH Yes, you’re part of the species called men. Just as hounds and greyhounds, mongrels, piels, mutts, shaggy lapdogs, swimming dogs, and wolf-dog crossbreeds are all dogs. But if you list the different kinds of dogs according to their qualities, you can distinguish which breeds are fast or slow, which ones are clever, which ones are watchdogs, and which ones hunters. You can classify each dog according to the natural gifts that separate it from all other dogs. It’s the same with men. Now, if you occupy some place in the list of men that aren’t down at the very bottom, tell me. Because if that’s the case, I will tell you a plan that will get rid of your enemy and bring you closer to me.
My lord, I’ve been so kicked around by the world, and I’m so angry, that I don’t even care what I do. And I another So weary with disasters, tugged with fortune, That I would set my life on any chance, To mend it or be rid out. The FIRST MURDERER I’m the same. I’m so sick of bad luck and trouble that I’d risk my life on any bet, as long as it would either fix my life or end it once and for all. So is the mine; and in such bloody distance That every minute of his being thrusts Against my near’ st of life. And though I could With barefaced power sweep him from my sight And bid my will avouch it, yet I must not, For certain friends that are both his and mine, Whose loves I may not drop, but wail his fall Who I myself struck down. And thence it is, That I to your assistance do make love, Masking the business from the common eye For sundry weighty reasons. | MACBETH He’s my enemy too, and I hate him so much that every minute he’s alive it eats away at my heart. Since I’m king, I could simply use my power to get rid of him. Within this hour at most I will advise you where to plant yourselves, Acquaint you with the perfect spy time, The moment on ’t; for ’t must be done tonight, And something from the palace; always thought That I require a clearness. And with him— To leave no rubs nor botches in the work— Fleance, his son, that keeps him company, Whose absence is no less material to me Than is his father’s, must embrace the fate Of that dark hour. Resolve yourselves apart. I’ll come to you anon. | MACBETH (interrupts him) I can see the determination in your eyes. Within the next hour, I’ll tell you where to go and exactly when to strike.
It must be done tonight, away from the palace. Always remember that I must be free from suspicion. For the plan to work perfectly, you must kill both Banquo and his son, Fleance, who keeps him company. Getting rid of Fleance is as important to me as knocking off Banquo. Each of you should make up your own mind about whether you’re going to do this. I’ll come to you soon. How now, my lord! Why do you keep alone, Of sorriest fancies your companions making, Using those thoughts which should indeed have died With them they think on? Things without all remedy Should be without regard. What’s done is done. What’s going on, my lord? Why are you keeping to yourself, with only your sad thoughts to keep you company? Those thoughts should have died when you killed the men you’re thinking about. If you can’t fix it, you shouldn’t give it a second thought. What’s done is done. We have scorched the snake, not killed it. She’ll close and be herself whilst our poor malice Remains in danger of her former tooth.
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, Whom we, to gain our peace, have sent to peace, Than on the torture of the mind to lie In restless ecstasy. Duncan is in his grave. After life’s fitful fever he sleeps well. Treason has done his worst; nor steel nor poison, Malice domestic, foreign levy, nothing Can touch him further. But the universe can fall apart, and heaven and earth crumble before I’ll eat my meals in fear and spend my nights tossing and turning with these nightmares I’ve been having. I’d rather be dead than endure this endless mental torture and harrowing sleep deprivation. We killed those men and sent them to rest in peace so that we could gain our own peace. Duncan lies in his grave, through with life’s troubles, and he’s sleeping well. We have already done the worst we can do to him with our treason. After that, nothing can hurt him further—not weapons, poison, rebellion, invasion, or anything else.
So shall I, love, And so, I pray, be you. Let your remembrance apply to Banquo; Present him eminence, Both with eye and tongue: Unsafe the while that we Must lave our honors in these flattering streams, And make our faces vizards to our hearts, Disguising what they are. That’s exactly what I’ll do, my love, and I hope you’ll do the same. Give Banquo your special attention. Talk to him and look at him in a way that will make him feel important. We’re in a dangerous situation, where we have to flatter him and hide our true feelings. I feel like my mind is full of scorpions, my dear wife. You know that Banquo and his son Fleance are still alive. 40 | LADY MACBETH But in them, nature’s copy’s not eterne. Then be thou jocund. Ere the bat hath flown His cloistered flight, ere to black Hecate’s summons The shard-borne beetle with his drowsy hums Hath rung night’s yawning peal, there shall be done A deed of dreadful note. MACBETH Be innocent of the knowledge, dearest chuck, Till thou applaud the deed. Come, seeling night, Scarf up the tender eye of pitiful day And with thy bloody and invisible hand Cancel and tear to pieces that great bond Which keeps me pale. Light thickens, and the crow Makes wing to the’ rooky wood. Good things of day begin to droop and drowse; Whiles night’s black agents to their preys do rouse. Thou marvel’ st at my words: but hold thee still.
Things bad begun make strong themselves by ill. So, prithee, go with me. It’s better you don’t know about it until after it’s done when you can applaud it. (to the night)Come, night, and blindfold the kindhearted day. Use your bloody and invisible hand to tear up Banquo’s lease on life, which keeps me in fear. (to himself) The sky’s getting dark, and the crow is returning home to the woods. The gentle creatures of the day are falling asleep, while night’s predators are waking up to look for their prey. You seem surprised at my words, but don’t question me yet. He was given exactly the same orders we were. Ourself will mingle with society And play the humble host. Our hostess keeps her state, but in the best time, We will require her welcome. | MACBETH I will walk around and mingle with all of you, playing the humble host.