Where is "the very firstlings of my heart shall be the firstlings of thine hand..." quote found?

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rowens | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Associate Educator

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The passage about which you are asking is found at the very end of ACT IV scene 1. The Weird Sisters have just shown Macbeth a series of visions which make him feel very confident that he cannot be defeated yet also very anxious. After the sisters leave, Lennox arrives, and tells Macbeth that Macduff has fled to England.

Macbeth vows to let nothing stand in the way of his dreams/plans in the following lines:

Time, thou anticipat'st my dread exploits:
The flighty purpose never is o'ertook
Unless the deed go with it: from this moment
The very firstlings of my heart shall be
The firstlings of my hand.
And even now,
To crown my thoughts with acts, be it thought and done:
The castle of Macduff I will surprise;
Seize upon Fife; give to the edge o' the sword
His wife, his babes, and all unfortunate souls
That trace him in his line. No boasting like a fool;
This deed I'll do before this purpose cool:
But no more sights!--Where are these gentlemen?
Come, bring me where they are.

What Macbeth is saying is that whatever his heart first tells him to do, no matter how heinous or bloody, his hands will follow through with the action--including the murder of Macduff's family.


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