What is the context of this passage from Act V, scene 1 of "Macbeth"?
Out, damned spot! out, I say!--One: two: why,
then, 'tis time to do't.--Hell is murky!--Fie, my
lord, fie! a soldier, and afeard? What need we
fear who knows it, when none can call our power to
account?--Yet who would have thought the old man
to have had so much blood in him.
Do you mark that?
The thane of Fife had a wife: where is she now?--
What, will these hands ne'er be clean?--No more o'
that, my lord, no more o' that: you mar all with
Go to, go to; you have known what you should not.
She has spoke what she should not, I am sure of
that: heaven knows what she has known.
Here's the smell of the blood still: all the
perfumes of Arabia will not sweeten this little
hand. Oh, oh, oh!
If you check the enotes section on Macbeth, this entire scene is translated.
As this scene is happening, everything is coming to a climax. Both Lady Macbeth and Macbeth have changed completely from who they were in the beginning. Macbeth has become a bloody tyrant whose people only serve him out of fear. He has no conscience left, and his position is becoming more and more precarious. At this point he still believes that the witches' prophesy means he won't be harmed. But forces are gathering to oppose him.
Early in the play Lady Macbeth told Macbeth not to think too much about what they had done because she says it will make him crazy, but now her conscience is causing her unrest. She has been getting progressively worse until now, she can't sleep through the night without worry and guilt.