Quotes in Context
"A Deed Without A Name"
Context: Macbeth and Banquo are told by three witches that Macbeth will be king and that the descendants of Banquo will be crowned. Driven by his own wicked ambition and that of his wife, Macbeth murders King Duncan and usurps the throne. Worried because the sons of Duncan remain safe in exile and Fleance, son of the recently murdered Banquo, has escaped his assassins, Macbeth visits the den of the weird sisters.
SECOND WITCHBy the pricking of my thumbs,Something wicked this way comes.Open locks,Whoever knocks.[Enter MACBETH.]MACBETHHow now, you secret, black, and midnight hags?What is't you do?ALLA deed without a name.MACBETHI conjure you, by that which you profess,Howe'er you come to know it, answer me.Though you untie the winds, and let them fightAgainst the churches; though the yesty wavesConfound and swallow navigation up;Though bladed corn be lodged, and trees blown down;Though castles topple on their warders' heads;. . .Even till destruction sicken–answer meTo what I ask you.
"A Little Water Clears Us Of This Deed"
Context: Macbeth has just murdered Duncan, the King of Scotland. He is in a state of shock, and he has not carried out the plan he and Lady Macbeth had made to put the knife in the hands of the drugged and drunken grooms who guarded the king. Lady Macbeth, who could not kill Duncan herself because he reminded her of her father, goes to complete the plan. She is now the strong one, for her husband can no longer even think of what he has done, much less look at it again. She bolsters herself with brave talk and leaves to set the scene. Meanwhile Macbeth stares at his bloody hands in horror, believing that they can never be cleansed. Lady Macbeth, however, whose hands are now as bloody, berates him as a coward and assures him that merely washing their hands will clear them of murder. A knocking at the gates halts their hurried conversation and sends them to their rooms to pretend sleep.
MACBETH. . .Will all great Neptune's ocean wash this bloodClean from my hand? No. This my hand will ratherThe multitudinous seas incarnadine,Making the green one red.LADY MACBETHMy hands are of your colour; but I shameTo wear a heart so white. [Knock.] I hear a knockingAt the south entry. Retire we to our chamber.A little water clears us of this deed.. . .
"A Tale Told By An Idiot, Full Of Sound And Fury Signifying Nothing"
Context: Macbeth, King of Scotland, is a usurper who murders the lawful King Duncan and, when the latter's sons, Malcolm and Donalbain, flee for their lives, fastens the blame on them. Macbeth's reign is fitful and bloody. As the years pass, he gains more enemies, and many nobles desert Scotland to join Malcolm in England. Lady Macbeth, her husband's partner in assassination, suffers from a guilt-ridden conscience that will not let her sleep. There is no remedy for her illness, and she dies just as Malcolm's forces, come from England to restore the throne to its rightful claimant, attack Macbeth's stronghold. Word is brought to Macbeth of his wife's death. He bitterly philosophizes on the event, in a passage which, perhaps, contains more famous lines than any other in Shakespeare.
MACBETH. . .To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow,Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,To the last syllable of recorded time;And all our yesterdays have lighted foolsThe 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 taleTold by an idiot, full of sound and furySignifying nothing.. . .
"After Life's Fitful Fever He Sleeps Well"
Context: Advised by three witches that he will be king, Macbeth gives way to his ambition, murders King Duncan, and usurps the throne. In his hasty grab for power, Macbeth has lost something more precious, peace, which, ironically, he has given to the slain king. The new king addresses Lady Macbeth.
MACBETH. . .. . . Better be with the dead,Whom we, to gain our peace, have sent to peace,Than on the torture of the mind to lieIn 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.LADY MACBETHCome on.Gentle my lord, sleek o'er your rugged looks,Be bright and jovial among your guests to-night.MACBETHSo shall I, love, and so I pray be you. . . .
"All The Perfumes Of Arabia Will Not Sweeten This Little Hand"
Context: Lady Macbeth receives a letter from her husband telling her of the prophetic words of three witches that he will become king. When the chance comes to kill King Duncan as he sleeps, an overnight visitor in Macbeth's castle, Lady Macbeth urges Macbeth to murder his liege and cousin and to usurp the throne. The deed is done, Macbeth is crowned king, and yet the queen does not enjoy her new estate. Finally insane, Lady Macbeth is obsessed with the murder of Duncan and the idea that his blood would not wash off her hands after she had smeared it upon the grooms who slept by their king.
LADY MACBETHHere's the smell of the blood still: all the perfumes of Arabia will not sweeten this little hand. Oh, oh, oh!DOCTORWhat a sigh is there! The heart is sorely charged.GENTLEWOMANI would not have such a heart in my bosom for the dignity of the whole body.DOCTORWell, well, well.GENTLEWOMANPray God it be sir.DOCTORThis disease is beyond my practice. Yet I have known those which have walked in their sleep who have died holily in their beds.
"Angels Are Bright Still, Though The Brightest Fell"
Context: Duncan, King of Scotland, is murdered in his sleep. His sons, Malcolm and Donalbain, carrying in their persons the future of their House, wisely flee, Malcolm to England, Donalbain to Ireland, to wait for calmer times. Macbeth, the present king, murdered Duncan, put the blame on Malcolm and Donalbain, and usurped the throne. He becomes a bloody tyrant with whom no man is safe. There is discontent in Scotland. One nobleman, Macduff, departs Scotland to join Malcolm in England. Now, they are discussing the lamentable conditions in Scotland, and Malcolm hopes Macduff's looks are an index to his loyalty.
MACDUFFI am not treacherous.MALCOLMBut Macbeth is.A good and virtuous nature may recoilIn an imperial charge. But I shall crave your pardon.That which you are, my thoughts cannot transpose;Angels are bright still, though the brightest fell.Though all things foul would wear the brows of grace,Yet grace must still look so.
"Aroint Thee Witch The Rump-fed Ronyon Cries"
Context: Macbeth and Banquo, generals in the army of King Duncan of Scotland, pass along a heath near Forres as they return home from a battle in which they have successfully put down a rebellion against the king. Three witches await their approach to pronounce the words of prophecy that Macbeth, who is Thane of Glamis, will bear the titles of Thane of Cawdor and finally king, and that the heirs of Banquo will ascend the throne. As the witches wait, they discuss their day's adventures, the first witch filling her sisters with indignation as she tells them of the way a despicable, mangy (ronyon) sailor's wife, fat-bottomed from eating refuse (rump-fed) refused to share with her the chestnuts she is eating, yelling at her to be gone.
FIRST WITCHA sailor's wife had chestnuts in her lap,And munched, and munched, and munched.Give me, quoth I.Aroint thee witch the rump-fed ronyon cries.Her husband's to Aleppo gone, master o'th' 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.
"Blood Will Have Blood"
Context: Macbeth orders Banquo and his son, Fleance, murdered the night of his feast. The murderers kill Banquo, but Fleance escapes. One of the murderers comes to tell Macbeth what has happened just as the celebration is beginning. Macbeth, knowing full well Banquo is dead, wishes for his presence and is confronted by his wounded and gory ghost sitting in the place of honor. Shocked almost into madness, Macbeth babbles of blood and murders. Lady Macbeth hastily excuses him on grounds of an old infirmity, but when the ghost returns a second time, Macbeth is completely unnerved. Lady Macbeth asks the guests to leave immediately. Macbeth is sure the ghost is a horrible omen of things to come.
LADY MACBETHI pray you speak not; he grows worse and worse.Question enrages him. At once, good night.. . .MACBETHIt will have blood, they say; blood will have blood.Stones have been known to move, and trees to speak.Augurs and understood relations haveBy maggot-pies and choughs and rooks brought forthThe secret'st man of blood. What is the night?
"Cry, Hold, Hold!"
Context: Lady Macbeth receives a letter from her husband. In it he relates how witches told him he was to be Thane of Cawdor, and afterwards to be king; and shortly thereafter, he relates, emissaries from King Duncan confirmed the first part of the prophecy. He is Thane of Cawdor, and, she resolves, he shall be king, but she worries that Macbeth is "too full o' th' milk of human kindness" to kill the king and take the throne. On the heels of the letter, arrives word that King Duncan is coming to Macbeth's castle to spend the night. Instantly she resolves that Duncan shall not leave the castle alive. Ambitious and ruthless, Lady Macbeth invokes the spirits of hell to steel her to murder.
LADY MACBETH. . . Come you spiritsThat tend on mortal thoughts, unsex me here,And fill me from the crown to the toe top-fullOf direst cruelty; make thick my blood, . . .Come to my woman's breasts,And take my milk for gall, you murd'ring ministersWherever in your sightless substancesYou 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!
"Double, Double Toil And Trouble"
Context: Three witches prophesy Macbeth's rise from general to Thane of Cawdor to King of Scotland, and all comes true. But he pays a bloody price, for he murders King Duncan to usurp his throne, and he has Banquo, a former fellow-general, slain because he fears him and his sons as future usurpers of his own place. He wants to know more: what is yet in store for him. The witches, assembled in a cavern to await his coming, are shrieking and screaming around a bubbling caldron. Thunder accompanies their weird incantations.
FIRST WITCHRound about the caldron go;In the poisoned entrails throw.Toad, that under cold stoneDays and nights has thirty-oneSweltered venom sleeping got,Boil thou first i' th' charmed pot.ALLDouble, double toil and trouble;Fire burn, and caldron bubble.
"Eye Of Newt"
Context: Macbeth and Banquo are advised by three witches that Macbeth will become king and that the descendants of Banquo will be monarchs. Macbeth, driven by his own evil ambition and that of his wife, murders Duncan, his king, his cousin, and his over-night guest. Though the crown is given to Macbeth, the new king is worried because the two sons of Duncan remain in exile, and, though Banquo has been murdered, Fleance, his son, has escaped Macbeth's hired assassins. Macbeth prepares to visit the oracles who gave him the former prophecy. In the meantime, the witches fix a charm by preparing a boiling caldron, taking turns casting hideous and venomous objects into the stew and muttering incantations.
SECOND WITCHFillet of a fenny snake,In the caldron boil and bake;Eye of newt, and toe of frog,Wool of bat, and tongue of dog,Adder's 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.ALLDouble, double toil and trouble;Fire burn, and caldron bubble.
"Fair Is Foul, And Foul Is Fair"
Context: Three witches, shrieking and screeching in a storm, illumined by lightning and accompanied by thunder, tell us they shall come together again before sunset on a heath to meet a general in Scottish King Duncan's army, named Macbeth. Before they depart, the witches half scream, half chant a rhymed couplet that gives a mysterious, chilling tone to the play.
ALLFair is foul, and foul is fair;Hover through the fog and filthy air.
"God's Soldier Be He"
Context: In the final act of the drama, Macbeth, who has usurped the crown of Scotland and established himself as a bloody tyrant, is besieged in his castle at Dunsinane by an English army under the command of Siward, Earl of Northumberland. Macbeth, however, feels secure by reason of the promises given him by the three witches that he cannot be defeated "until/Great Birnam wood to high Dunsinane hill/Shall come against him," and that "none of woman born" can harm him. The first of these assurances is destroyed when Malcolm, rightful heir to the Scottish throne, orders each soldier in the English army to hew a branch from the trees in Birnam wood and carry it before him so that the size of the attacking forces may be concealed. As a result of this stratagem, the watchers on the castle walls are given the impression that the forest is indeed moving towards "high Dunsinane hill." In a last desperate attempt, although he has grown weary of life, Macbeth orders a sortie, and the battle is joined. The first of his enemies to confront him is young Siward, son of the English commander, who is killed in a hand-to-hand fight with the usurper. When the old earl receives this news, he is concerned only with knowing whether his son fought and died bravely, as a soldier should. His conversation with Ross is as follows:
ROSSYour son my lord, has paid a soldier's debt.He only lived but till he was a man,The which no sooner had his prowess confirmedIn the unshrinking station where he fought,But like a man he died.. . .SIWARDHad he his hurts before?ROSSAy, on the front.SIWARDWhy then, God's soldier be he.Had I as many sons as I have hairs,I would not wish them to a fairer death.And so his knell is knolled.
"Good Digestion Wait On Appetite"
Context: Three witches intercept Macbeth and Banquo along a heath and disclose to the warriors that Macbeth will rise in power until finally he becomes king, but that the heirs of Banquo will eventually receive the throne. Driven by his own ambition and that of his wife, Macbeth murders King Duncan of Scotland and usurps the throne. Since Banquo and his son Fleance stand in the way of the new king, Macbeth plans a banquet to which they will be invited, secretly hiring assassins to murder them before the banquet takes place. After the guests have assembled, one of the murderers draws Macbeth aside and informs him that Banquo has been killed but that Fleance has escaped. The whispered conversation between Macbeth and the murderer lasts so long a time that Lady Macbeth, in order to allay any suspicion on the part of the guests, has to remind her husband that he has forgotten his duties as a host.
LADY MACBETHMy royal lord,You do not give the cheer. The feast is soldThat is not often vouched, while 'tis a-making,'Tis given with welcome. To feed were best at home;From thence, the sauce to meat is ceremony,Meeting were bare without it.[Enter GHOST OF BANQUO and sits in MACBETH'S seat.]MACBETHSweet remembrancer!Now good digestion wait on appetite,And health on both.LENNOXMay't please your Highness sit.MACBETHHere had we now our country's honour roofed,Were the graced person of our Banquo present; . . .
"I Bear A Charmed Life"
Context: Macbeth, King of Scotland by grace of murder, false accusation, and usurpation, is told by apparitions, conjured by three witches, that he (1) must avoid Macduff, the Thane of Fife, (2) that he need fear no man born of woman, and (3) that he shall not be vanquished until Great Birnam wood shall come to Dunsinane, Macbeth's castle. English and loyal Scots forces, under the command of Malcolm, lawful claimant to the throne, approach the castle, each man carrying a tree branch, thus fulfilling the third part of the prophecy. They broach the castle's defenses and enter. During the fighting, Macbeth has avoided Macduff, but now, cornered, he must fight the Thane of Fife. Although Macbeth admits he has avoided Macduff, he is still confident of invulnerability, believing that Macduff was born of woman.
MACBETH. . .Let fall thy blade on vulnerable crests;I bear a charmed life, which must not yieldTo one of woman born.MACDUFFDespair thy charm,And let the angel whom thou still hast servedTell thee, Macduff was from his mother's wombUntimely ripped.
"I Dare Do All That May Become A Man"
Context: Ambitious Macbeth, general in King Duncan of Scotland's army, is told by three witches that he shall be made Thane of Cawdor, and afterwards shall be king. The apparitions disappear. Word is soon brought that the king indeed has made him Thane of Cawdor for meritorious military service. The first part of the prophecy is true. Perhaps the second will be true also. The king decides to spend the night at Macbeth's castle, and Macbeth precedes him to prepare for his coming. Lady Macbeth, more ambitious and ruthless than her husband, immediately thinks of assassination as a means to hurry the future and urges her husband to do the deed. He has misgivings. He decides against it and tells Lady Macbeth his decision. She upbraids him, rallies him to his forgotten purpose, and subtly insults his manhood.
LADY MACBETH. . . Would'st thou have thatWhich 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' th' adage?MACBETHPrithee peace.I dare do all that may become a man;Who dares do more is none.
"I Must Become A Borrower Of The Night"
Context: Duncan has been murdered, and Macbeth, on the disappearance of Malcolm and Donalbain, sons of the dead king, has been named sovereign. Nature is in a turmoil, but Macbeth has ordered a feast at which he wishes Banquo's presence. Banquo, however, in a short soliloquy, reveals his suspicions of foul play on Macbeth's part. He also reminds himself of the witches' prophecy that he shall be "the root and father/ Of many kings." He has to leave with his son, Fleance, but he hopes to be back in time for Macbeth's festivities. Macbeth has other plans, however, for he is afraid of Banquo and Banquo's knowledge of the old hags' words.
MACBETHRide you this afternoon?BANQUOAye, my good lord.MACBETHWe 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?BANQUOAs 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 nightFor a dark hour or twain.
"Is This A Dagger Which I See Before Me?"
Context: Macbeth, already Thane of Cawdor, has ambitions to be King of Scotland, and thereby fulfill his destiny, foretold him by three witches. His opportunity to usurp the throne is at hand, since King Duncan is an overnight guest in his castle. Lady Macbeth, even less scrupulous and more ambitious than her husband, has no misgivings about regicide, but Macbeth has second thoughts. He decides against the murder, but Lady Macbeth lifts his flagging spirit by upbraiding him and scorning his cowardice. She succeeds in banishing his doubts and restoring his purpose. Now, late at night, with nearly everyone abed and asleep, Macbeth starts on his murderous errand, but his mind tricks him, and he sees a vision.
MACBETH. . .Is this a dagger which I see before me,The handle toward my hand? Come let me clutch thee.I have thee not, and yet I see thee still.Art thou not, fatal vision, sensibleTo feeling as to sight? . . .There's no such thing,It is the bloody business which informsThus to mine eyes. . . .
"Lay On Macduff"
Context: Macbeth, King of Scotland, obtains the throne by means of murder, false accusation, and usurpation. His reign is marked by tyranny and cruelty. No man is safe from bloody Macbeth, and many nobles flee to England to join Malcolm, rightful heir to the throne. One, Macduff, seeks out Malcolm but leaves his family in Scotland. Macbeth, for revenge, has them wiped out. Now, the forces of Malcolm attack Dunsinane, Macbeth's stronghold, broach its defenses, and Macduff corners Macbeth. Macbeth, who believes he has a charmed life, safe from any man born of woman, is told by Macduff that he "was from his mother's womb untimely ripped" and therefore Macbeth is vulnerable. Macbeth despairs; but when Macduff taunts him, he decides to fight.
MACBETH. . .Yet I will try the last. Before my bodyI throw my warlike shield. Lay on Macduff,And damned be him that first cries, hold, enough.
"Letting I Dare Not Wait Upon I Would"
Context: Macbeth, destined to become King of Scotland according to the prophecy of three witches, wavers in his determination to usurp the throne by murdering King Duncan, his liege, his cousin, and his guest for the night. Lady Macbeth chides her husband for his cowardice, comparing him to the cat, in an adage of Heywood, which would like to eat fish, but does not want to get his feet wet.
MACBETHWe will proceed no further in this business.He hath honoured me of late, and I have boughtGolden opinions from all sorts of people,Which would be worn now in their newest gloss,Not cast aside so soon.. . .LADY MACBETH. . . Wouldst thou have thatWhich 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' th' adage?
"Life's But A Walking Shadow"
Context: Macbeth, destined to become King of Scotland according to the prophecy he receives from three witches and urged on by his wife in his ambition to obtain the crown, murders King Duncan and seizes the throne. Insecure in his tenure of power, Macbeth commits additional murders. Lady Macbeth, strong in ambition at first, becomes weak from worry over the foul deeds committed by the pair and finally suffers a complete mental and physical collapse, and dies. Macbeth receives word of her death while he watches the advance of an English army commanded by Malcolm, son of the murdered King Duncan. In a well-known speech Macbeth comments on the brevity and futility of life as he sorrows for his dead queen:
MACBETH. . .To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow,Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,To the last syllable of recorded time;And all our yesterdays have lighted foolsThe way to a 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 taleTold by an idiot, full of sound and furySignifying nothing.
"Light Thickens, And The Crow Makes Wing"
Context: Macbeth, told by three witches that he shall become king, and driven by a wicked ambition, slays King Duncan and usurps the throne. One evil act leads to another as Macbeth plans the murder of Banquo and his son Fleance to foil the decree of the witches that the heirs of Banquo shall be kings. As evening approaches and the time draws near for his hired assassins to kill Banquo and Fleance, Macbeth notes the atmosphere of evil in the night, and says to Lady Macbeth:
MACBETH. . .. . . Light thickens, and the crowMakes wing to th' 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.[Exeunt.]
"Make Assurance Double Sure"
Context: Macbeth is extremely unhappy and unsure as king. He revisits the old witches to ask for more prophecy so he may know what to expect. The witches call upon their masters. The first apparition, an armed Head, tells Macbeth to beware of Macduff, whom he had already suspected and feared. An apparition of a bloody child tells him not to fear, for no man of woman born can harm him. Somewhat pacified for a moment, Macbeth almost decides to let Macduff live. However, his usual fear and suspicion overcome him, and he quickly changes his mind and plans for Macduff's death so that he may hopefully sleep in peace once again–as he did before he murdered Duncan.
SECOND APPARITIONBe bloody, bold, and resolute, laugh to scornThe power of man, for none of woman bornShall harm Macbeth.[Descends.]MACBETHThen live Macduff, what need I fear of thee?But yet I'll make assurance double sure,And take a bond of fate. Thou shalt not live;That I may tell pale-hearted fear it lies,And sleep in spite of thunder.
"Memorize Another Golgotha"
Context: A bleeding captain enters early in the second scene of the play to report to Duncan, King of Scotland, and his supporters the progress in the war with "the merciless Macdonwald." Macdonwald is a worthy foe and fights to the last with valor. Macbeth, however, with Banquo's aid, triumphs. The battlefield is indeed a bloody one and would be as memorable as Golgotha where Christ was crucified. Macbeth then goes on to defeat Sweno of Norway and the rebellious Thane of Cawdor.
CAPTAINBut the Norweyan lord . . .. . .Began a fresh assault.DUNCANDismayed not thisOur captains, Macbeth and Banquo?CAPTAINYes,As sparrows eagles, or the hare the lion.If I say sooth, I must report they wereAs 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–. . .
"Minister To A Mind Diseased"
Context: Macbeth, receiving the prophecy of three witches that he will become king, murders King Duncan of Scotland and usurps the throne. In all this and in additional murders Macbeth is abetted by his wife until finally Lady Macbeth lapses into insanity. Macbeth then has two deep concerns: First, an English army is advancing against his forces with the intention of giving the crown to Malcolm, son of the murdered king, and second, Lady Macbeth is critically ill. While receiving reports on the approach of the English army, Macbeth also confers with Lady Macbeth's doctor:
MACBETH. . .How does your patient, doctor?DOCTORNot so sick my lord,As she is troubled with thick-coming fanciesThat keep her from her rest.MACBETHCure 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 antidoteCleanse the stuffed bosom of that perilous stuffWhich weighs upon the heart?DOCTORTherein the patientMust minister to himself.
"More Needs She The Divine Than The Physician"
Context: Lady Macbeth has been ailing and walking in her sleep since Macbeth went to war with England, Malcolm, Macduff, and Siward. A doctor is called, and while one of Lady Macbeth's women is describing her condition to him, Lady Macbeth herself suddenly appears with a taper, sleepwalking. She rubs her hands, trying to remove the imaginary blood from them and speaks of both Duncan's and Banquo's murders. The doctor is shocked, but he is both personally and professionally touched at her sighing laments. He realizes that she is beyond his help as a doctor and commends her to God. His only prescription is that she be constantly watched and kept from harming herself.
DOCTORFoul whisperings are abroad. Unnatural deedsDo breed unnatural troubles; infected mindsTo their deaf pillows will discharge their secrets.More needs she the divine than the physician.God, God forgive us all. Look after her,Remove from her the means of annoyance,And still keep eyes upon her. So good night.My mind she has mated, and amazed my sight.I think, but dare not speak.
"None Of Woman Born Shall Harm Macbeth"
Context: At the play's beginning three witches foretell Macbeth's rise from general to Thane of Cawdor to King of Scotland, and all comes true with some bloody help from Macbeth. He murders King Duncan to usurp his throne, and he has Banquo, a former fellow-general, slain because he fears him and his sons as future usurpers of his own place. Everything the witches told Macbeth has come true. He meets the three weird sisters in a cavern to find out what the future now holds in store for him. They answer his demands by a show of apparitions. An armed head first warns him of Macduff, a Scots nobleman. The second apparition is of a bloody child.
SECOND APPARITIONMacbeth, Macbeth, Macbeth!MACBETHHad I three ears, I'd hear thee.SECOND APPARITIONBe bloody, bold, and resolute; laugh to scornThe power of man. For none of woman bornShall harm Macbeth.
"Nor Heaven Peep Through The Blanket Of The Dark"
Context: Lady Macbeth reads a letter from her husband telling her of the prophetic words delivered to him by three witches: Macbeth, Thane of Glamis, shall become Thane of Cawdor and finally king. The letter adds that already King Duncan has bestowed upon Macbeth the title of Thane of Cawdor as a reward for putting down a rebellion led by Macdonwald and the insurrectionist Thane of Cawdor, who has been executed at the king's command. An attendant interrupts Lady Macbeth to tell her that the king approaches and will spend the night at Inverness, home of Macbeth. Lady Macbeth, fearing her husband lacks the strength to carry out a plot to get Duncan out of the way of his ambition, seizes upon the opportunity of the king's visit to have him murdered and make Macbeth his successor. In a famous soliloquy Lady Macbeth delivers a speech filled with omens of darkness, involking the spirits to seal off in her the elements of kindness and to allow the dread deed to be done.
LADY MACBETH. . . The raven himself is hoarseThat croaks the fatal entrance of DuncanUnder my battlements. . . .. . .. . . Come thick night,And pall thee in the dunnest smoke of hellThat my keen knife see not the wound it makes,Nor heaven peep through the blanket of the dark,To cry, hold, hold!
"Nothing In His Life Became Him Like The Leaving It"
Context: The army of King Duncan of Scotland, led by Macbeth and Banquo, successfully puts down a rebellion of Macdonwald and the Thane of Cawdor. Macdonwald meets death in battle at the hand of Macbeth, and the Thane of Cawdor is condemned to die by the decree of the king. Duncan, awaiting news of the execution, is assured by his son Malcolm that, though the executioners have not returned, reports have come of the death of Thane of Cawdor.
MALCOLMMy liege,They are not yet come back. But I have spokeWith one that saw him die; who did report,That very frankly he confessed his treasons,Implored your Highness' pardon, and set forthA deep repentance. Nothing in his lifeBecame 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.DUNCANThere's no artTo find the mind's construction in the face.He was a gentleman, on whom I builtAn absolute trust. . . .
"Out Damned Spot, Out I Say!"
Context: Macbeth, general in King Duncan of Scotland's army, is to be Thane of Cawdor and later king, according to three witches' prophecies. He is made Thane of Cawdor for meritorious military service, and the king, being in the neighborhood of Macbeth's castle, stays overnight. Impatient and ambitious, Macbeth, with his wife's help, murders the king in his sleep. Macbeth escapes blame, and, the king's son having fled, is elected and crowned king. He becomes a bloody tyrant in the land. Lady Macbeth had not shrunk from the murder of Duncan, and, subsequently, in her waking hours, is superbly in command of herself. But while she sleeps, her suppressed emotions and stifled conscience demand expression. She walks in her sleep, crying out in conscience-tortured anguish, reliving the night of the regicide.
LADY MACBETHOut 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?
"Out, Out, Brief Candle!"
Context: Macbeth, at Dunsinane in full armor, is ready to fight the advancing enemy when he hears a cry from the women within the castle. He has become so inured to horrors, however, that he hardly fears another lament. Seton, his armor-bearer, is sent to discover the cause of the mourning. He returns with the news of the queen's death. There is no visible breakdown whatsoever on Macbeth's part, although the pace of his speech slows considerably, and he becomes very philosophical. Life signifies nothing, he says; therefore, since she would have died at some time or another, Lady Macbeth's death does not greatly affect him at that moment. At the entrance of a messenger, his tone alters radically, and he again becomes the war-like commander.
SETONThe Queen, my lord, is dead.MACBETHShe 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 foolsThe 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 taleTold by an idiot, full of sound and furySignifying nothing.
"Present Fears Are Less Than Horrible Imaginings"
Context: Macbeth and Banquo, generals in the army of King Duncan of Scotland, have distinguished themselves in putting down a rebellion led by the Thane of Cawdor. The king hears of their deeds and determines to give Macbeth the title of the defeated Thane. Before the emissaries reach Macbeth, however, he and Banquo are informed by three witches that not only shall Macbeth be Thane of Cawdor, but that he shall be king and that Banquo shall be the father of kings. The king's emissaries arrive and confirm the witches' prophecy that Macbeth is to be invested with the title of Thane of Cawdor. If this much is true, thinks ambitious Macbeth, can the complete fulfillment of the witches' prophecy be far behind? Lost in thought, he contemplates regicide as a way to hasten his fortune.
MACBETH[Aside.] This supernatural solicitingCannot be ill, cannot be good. If illWhy 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 fearsAre less than horrible imaginings. . . .
"Screw Your Courage To The Sticking-place"
Context: Ambitious Macbeth, already Thane of Cawdor, aspires to be king. He can thus fulfill his destiny, foretold him by three witches. His opportunity to hurry the future is at hand, since King Duncan of Scotland is an overnight guest in his castle. Lady Macbeth, even more ambitious, ruthless, and remorseless than her husband, has no scruples about regicide, but Macbeth has some second thoughts and misgivings. He decides against murder. Lady Macbeth comes to find him while the king and court are banqueting because the king asks for him. He tells her his decision. Immediately she upbraids him for his lack of purpose, his cowardice, and finally, his last lingering doubts.
MACBETHIf we should fail?LADY MACBETHWe fail?But screw your courage to the sticking-place,And we'll not fail. . . .
"Sleep In Spite Of Thunder"
Context: The greatly troubled Macbeth is insecure as king. He revisits the old witches to ask for more prophesy, so that he might know what to expect. The witches perform their incantations. The first apparition, an armed Head, tells Macbeth to beware of Macduff, whom he had already suspected and feared. An apparition of a bloody child tells Macbeth not to fear, for no man of woman born can harm him. Somewhat pacified for the moment, Macbeth almost decides to let Macduff live. However, his usual fear and suspicion overcome him; he quickly changes his mind and plans for Macduff's death so that he may sleep in peace once again–as he had slept before he murdered Duncan.
SECOND APPARITIONBe bloody, bold, and resolute; laugh to scornThe power of man. For none of woman bornShall harm Macbeth.[Descends.]MACBETHThen live Macduff, what need I fear of thee?But yet I'll make assurance double sure,And take a bond of fate. Thou shalt not live;That I may tell pale-hearted fear it lies;And sleep in spite of thunder.
"Sleep That Knits Up The Raveled Sleave Of Care"
Context: Macbeth, ambitious Thane of Cawdor, aspires to be King of Scotland and thus fulfill his destiny prophesied by three witches. After successfully subduing a rebellion, King Duncan stays the night at Inverness, Macbeth's castle, and so opportunity is at hand to hasten the future by assassination. Macbeth contemplates regicide but decides against it. Lady Macbeth, even more ambitious and ruthless than her husband, by means of cajolery, encouragement, and scorn, restores his purpose. In the dead of night, with all abed, Macbeth murders Duncan in his sleep. Now, frightened, remorseful, heavy with foreboding, Macbeth, as in a trance, tells his Lady that he thought he heard someone cry out as he was doing murder.
MACBETHMethought I heard a voice cry, sleep no more.Macbeth does murder sleep, the innocent sleep,Sleep that knits up the ravelled sleave of care.The death of each day's life, sore labour's bath,Balm of hurt minds, great nature's second course,Chief nourisher in life's feast.
"Stand Not Upon The Order Of Your Going"
Context: Macbeth, an ambitious general in King Duncan of Scotland's army, is to be king, and his fellow general, Banquo, is to be the father of kings, according to three witches' prophecy. Macbeth hurries fortune by murdering the king, fastening blame on others, and then being elected and crowned king. But he proves to be a bloody tyrant, and, because he has no heir, he fears Banquo. Banquo may kill him to seat his progeny on the throne in accordance with the prophecy. Macbeth has Banquo murdered, but Fleance, Banquo's son, escapes. Now, at a banquet, Banquo's ghost appears twice to Macbeth. The second time, Macbeth causes such an uproar that the feast is hopelessly ruined. Lady Macbeth takes charge when guests question her husband.
LADY MACBETHI pray you speak not; he grows worse and worse.Question enrages him. At once, good night.Stand not upon the order of your going,But go at once.
"The Lord's Anointed Temple"
Context: Forewarned by the prophecy of three witches of his destiny to become King of Scotland and spurred on by an ambitious wife, Macbeth murders Duncan, his king, his kinsman, and his over-night guest. The corpse is discovered by Macduff, a nobleman charged with the duty of awakening the king. Referring to the king as "the Lord's anointed temple," Macduff reports the murder.
MACDUFFO horror, horror, horror! Tongue nor heartCannot conceive nor name thee.MACBETH and LENNOXWhat's the matter?MACDUFFConfusion now hath made his masterpiece.Most sacrilegious murder hath broke opeThe Lord's anointed temple, and stole thenceThe life o' th' building.MACBETHWhat is't you say–the life?LENNOXMean you his Majesty?MACDUFFApproach the chamber, and destroy your sightWith a new Gorgon. Do not bid me speak.See, and then speak yourselves. . . .
"The Deep Damnation Of His Taking Off"
Context: In a well-known soliloquy, Macbeth, forewarned by the prophecy of three witches that he will be "King hereafter" and spurred on by the determination of Lady Macbeth, debates murdering King Duncan, his kinsman, his king, and, this night, his guest.
MACBETH. . . 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 DuncanHath borne his faculties so meek, hath beenSo clear in his great office, that his virtuesWill plead like angels, trumpet-tongued againstThe deep damnation of his taking-off.. . .. . . I have no spurTo prick the sides of my intent, but onlyVaulting ambition, which o'erleaps itself,And falls on th'other–
"The Imperial Theme"
Context: Macbeth and Banquo meet the witches who inform them that Macbeth will be Thane of Cawdor and King of Scotland, and that Banquo will beget kings. As the witches vanish, Ross and Angus appear to tell Macbeth of the praises and rewards heaped upon him by King Duncan–one of which is the title of the Thane of Cawdor, stripped from the traitor whom Macbeth had defeated along with Sweno of Norway. Both Macbeth and Banquo are startled at how suddenly the prophecy of the witches comes true. Banquo is dubious of the "instruments of darkness" and their words, for he fears betrayal. Macbeth too is really torn between a feeling of good and evil and cannot understand why he is so stunned and frightened when part of the tidings has already been fulfilled. He becomes deeply absorbed in his own thoughts, which dwell constantly on the last part of the prediction.
MACBETH [aside]Two truths are told,As happy prologues to the swelling actOf the imperial theme. . . .. . .This supernatural solicitingCannot 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? . . .. . .
"The Insane Root That Takes The Reason Prisoner"
Context: Macbeth and Banquo, generals in the army of Duncan, King of Scotland, pass along a heath near Forres as they return home after successfully putting down a rebellion against their king. Suddenly three witches appear from the gloom and hail the warriors with the prophecy that Macbeth, Thane of Glamis, will receive the titles Thane of Cawdor and king, and that Banquo, though he will not become king, will beget kings. The fateful words spoken, the witches disappear, leaving Macbeth and Banquo stunned and wondering if they have eaten something to make them have visions, possibly the root of hemlock.
BANQUOThe earth has bubbles, as the water has,And these are of them. Whither are they vanished?MACBETHInto the air; and what seemed corporal melted,As breath into the wind. Would they had stayed.BANQUOWere such things here, as we do speak about?Or have we eaten on the insane rootThat takes the reason prisoner?MACBETHYour children shall be kings.BANQUOYou shall be king.MACBETHAnd Thane of Cawdor too–went it not so?BANQUOTo the selfsame tune and words.
"The Milk Of Human Kindness"
Context: Lady Macbeth, in her castle at Inverness, has received a letter from her husband, with the story of his encounter with three witches who hailed him as Thane of Cawdor and as "King hereafter." While still overcome with astonishment at their prophecy, he receives word that, for his valor in battle, he had indeed been created Thane of Cawdor in place of the rebel thane who had conspired with Norway against Scotland. The sudden fulfilment of part of the witches' prophecy has fired Macbeth's ambition: he may yet be king. But his wife, more clear-sighted and more ruthless than he, knows that her husband may well lack the strength of mind needed to achieve the goal he seeks. In her soliloquy she analyzes her husband's character and resolves to bolster his weakness with her greater strength.
LADY MACBETHGlamis thou art, and Cawdor, and shalt beWhat thou art promised: yet do I fear thy nature;It is too full o' the milk of human kindnessTo catch the nearest way. . . .
"The Primrose Way"
Context: Macbeth, at his wife's insistence, has just murdered Duncan, and in so doing has "murdered" sleep, "the innocent sleep,/ Sleep that knits up the ravelled sleave of care, The death of each day's life, sore labour's bath." Lady Macbeth has taken the bloody daggers back, to lay them, smeared with blood, beside the sleeping grooms. As the two guilty people look down at their bloody hands, there is a knocking at the gate without. The porter, protesting against being roused at this hour, goes to open it, and to admit Macduff and Lennox. Before opening the gate, however, the Porter makes several comments, typified by the following:
PORTER. . . Knock, knock. Never at quiet. What are you? But this place is too cold for hell. I'll devil-porter it no further. I had thought to have let in some of all professions, that go the primrose way to th' everlasting bonfire. . . .
"The Sear, The Yellow Leaf"
Context: Now heard more familiarly as "sere and yellow leaf time of life," the sense is quite the same as Macbeth means it: fast-approaching age. In the play, Macbeth, Thane of Cawdor, usurps the throne of Scotland by murdering the lawful King Duncan and fixing the blame on others. But his has been a fitful, bloody reign. Lady Macbeth, who aided him in murder, has a sick conscience, and Macbeth sees enemies on every side. King Duncan's son, Malcolm, who fled to England when his father was assassinated, is now returning with loyal Scotsmen and English forces to wrest the throne from Macbeth. Macbeth, assured by three witches that he has a charmed life, that no one born of woman can kill him, and that he is safe until Great Birnam wood walks to his stronghold, is nevertheless sick at heart, and, awaiting attack by Malcolm, he faces the emptiness of his life.
MACBETH. . .I have lived long enough. My way of lifeIs 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 steadCurses, not loud but deep,. . .
"The Wine Of Life Is Drawn"
Context: Macbeth, Thane of Cawdor, and his wife have great and impatient ambitions. He aspires to be King of Scotland. He murders King Duncan, an overnight guest in his castle, in his sleep in order to usurp the throne and thus fulfill the prophecy of three witches who told Macbeth that he would become king. Now, the next morning, two noblemen arrive to see King Duncan. Macbeth greets them. One, Macduff, goes to the king's chamber, finds the king dead, and rouses the house. Macbeth feigns surprise and dismay at the news of the regicide.
MACBETHHad 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 leesIs left this vault to brag of.
"Therein The Patient Must Minister To Himself"
Context: Macbeth obtains the throne of Scotland by assassinating the lawful King Duncan while the latter is a guest in his castle, and fastening the blame on the king's two sons, Malcolm and Donalbain, who flee. The arsurper and his wife Lady Macbeth, who aided him in his murderous act, have an unquiet, tyrannous reign. No one is safe from Macbeth, who sees enemies on every side. More and more nobles flee to join Malcolm. Now Lady Macbeth, whose sick conscience will not let her sleep, is near death, and Malcolm's forces from England, swelled by loyal Scotsmen, approach to attack the tyrant's stronghold. As Macbeth awaits the onslaught, he and Lady Macbeth's doctor discuss her treatment.
MACBETH. . .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 antidoteCleanse the stuffed bosom of that perilous stuffWhich weighs upon the heart?DOCTORTherein the patientMust minister to himself.
"There's Daggers In Men's Smiles"
Context: The household of Macbeth is awakened by the knocking of Macduff and Lennox, who have come to call on the king. Macduff goes to seek him and finds him dead. Aghast, he reports to Macbeth and Lennox who go to see for themselves. Lady Macbeth, Malcolm, and Donalbain are roused and the king's sons informed of his murder, done supposedly by his chamber-men, who were found covered with blood and in possession of bloody daggers. Macbeth, however, when he goes to see the body, kills them, supposedly in a rage of violent feeling, but actually to keep them from talking. Malcolm, Duncan's heir, and Donalbain, the younger son, fear for their lives and decide to leave in the confusion. They are suspicious of all, and because of their position, they feel they will be safer elsewhere.
MALCOLM. . . Let's not consort with them.To show an unfelt sorrow is an officeWhich the false man does easy. I'll to England.DONALBAINTo Ireland, I. Our separated fortuneShall keep us both the safer. Where we are,There's daggers in men's smiles; the near in blood,The nearer bloody.MALCOLMThis murderous shaft that's shotHath not yet lighted, and our safest wayIs to avoid the aim. Therefore to horse,And let us not be dainty of leave-taking,But shift away. . . .
"'Tis The Eye Of Childhood That Fears A Painted Devil"
Context: Macbeth, Thane of Cawdor, has ambitions to be King of Scotland and thus fulfill his destiny prophesied by three witches. He helps King Duncan subdue a rebellion near his demesne, and that night the king is Macbeth's guest. Opportunity to hasten his future by means of regicide is given him; he considers murder, but decides against it. Lady Macbeth, even more ambitious and less scrupulous than her husband, urges, encourages, and scorns him into undertaking the deed. Macbeth murders Duncan in his sleep. Now, vision-ridden, remorseful, heavy with foreboding, Macbeth refuses to return to Duncan's bed chamber to smear the sleeping grooms with blood and leave the daggers with them to point blame in their direction. Lady Macbeth upbraids him.
MACBETHI'll go no more.I am afraid, to think what I have done.Look on't again I dare not.LADY MACBETHInfirm of purpose!Give me the daggers. The sleeping, and the deadAre but as pictures. 'Tis the eye of childhoodThat fears a painted devil. If he do bleed,I'll gild the faces of the grooms withal,For it must seem their guilt.
"'Twere Well It Were Done Quickly"
Context: Macbeth, general in King Duncan of Scotland's army, is told by three witches that he shall be Thane of Cawdor and afterward king. Immediately following the disappearance of the apparitions, he is told the king has made him Thane of Cawdor as reward for outstanding service. Therefore, if the first part of the prophecy came true, so will the second; and if so, why not hurry it along with the assistance of a murder? But Macbeth puts the thought from his mind. He writes to his wife, who, more ambitious than her lord, immediately thinks of murder as the way to the throne, and as if to aid her cause, the king comes to Macbeth's castle to spend a night. Before he arrives, Macbeth comes home, and Lady Macbeth tells him to leave the bloody business to her. Now King Duncan arrives and Macbeth, alone, speaks his thoughts. He is apprehensive of the consequences of assassination.
MACBETHIf it were done, when 'tis done, then 'twere wellIt were done quickly. If th' assassinationCould trammel up the consequence, and catchWith his surcease, success; that but this blowMight be the be-all and the end-all–here,But here, upon this bank and shoal of time,We'd jump the life to come. But in these cases,We still have judgment here, that we but teachBloody instructions, which being taught returnTo plague th' inventor. . . .
"Vaulting Ambition, Which O'er Leaps Itself"
Context: Informed by three witches that he is to be Thane of Cawdor and later king, Macbeth, valiant general of King Duncan of Scotland's army, is soon brought word that he indeed has been made Thane of Cawdor for meritorious military service, and thus the first part of the prophecy is fulfilled. Macbeth brings King Duncan home with him to spend the night. His wife, Lady Macbeth, immediately plans regicide as a means of hurrying the second half of the witches' prophecy. Ambitious, ruthless, cruel, she anticipates no remorse, but Macbeth, "too full o' th' milk of human kindness," has second thoughts and misgivings about murdering Duncan. He ruefully concludes he can find no excuse for regicide save his own ambition.
MACBETHHe'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 DuncanHath born his faculties so meek, hath beenSo clear in his great office, . . .I have no spurTo prick the sides of my intent, but onlyVaulting ambition, which o'er leaps itself,And falls on th' other–
"We Have Scotched The Snake, Not Killed It"
Context: Macbeth, promised by witches that he will be king, murders King Duncan of Scotland and usurps the throne. However, certain obstacles remain: (1) the witches advise that the heirs of Banquo shall be kings, (2) the sons of the slain king live in exile, and (3) in gaining power Macbeth has lost peace. Lady Macbeth encourages her lord to forget the past, but Macbeth says that their difficulties have not yet been overcome.
LADY MACBETH. . .How now my lord, why do you keep alone,Of sorriest fancies your companions making,Using those thoughts which should indeed have diedWith them they think on? Things without all remedyShould be without regard: what's done is done.MACBETHWe have scotched the snake, not killed it.She'll close, and be herself, whilst our poor maliceRemains 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 sleepIn the affliction of these terrible dreamsThat 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 lieIn restless ecstasy. . . .
"What Man Dare, I Dare"
Context: Macbeth and Banquo, generals in King Duncan of Scotland's army, are told by three witches that Macbeth shall be Thane of Cawdor and afterwards king, and that Banquo shall be the father of kings. Shortly, word is brought that the king has made Macbeth Thane of Cawdor for brilliant military service. Macbeth, ambitious and impatient, assassinates King Duncan in his sleep. The blame is fastened on the king's sons who, fearing for their own safety, flee, one to England, the other to Ireland. Thus, hastening his future through regicide, Macbeth is elected and crowned King of Scotland. But he is uneasy. Because he has no heir, he fears Banquo will kill him to secure his own line in accordance with the witches' prophecy. He plans a banquet and invites Banquo and his son Fleance, but arranges to have them murdered en route. Banquo is killed, but Fleance escapes. Now, informed of Banquo's death, he is about to partake of the banquet when Banquo's ghost appears at the table. Only Macbeth can see it, and is frightened. The banquet continues. The ghost appears again. Macbeth is greatly perturbed and causes a commotion as Lady Macbeth tries to calm him. He stares at the ghost.
MACBETHWhat man dare, I dare.Approach thou like the rugged Russian bear,The armed rhinoceros, or the Hyrcan tiger,Take any shape but that, and my firm nervesShall never tremble.. . .
"What's Done Is Done"
Context: Macbeth, Thane of Cawdor, murders King Duncan of Scotland, hoping to hasten the fulfillment of a prophecy by three witches that he shall soon be king. Impatient and ambitious, he assassinates the king in his sleep while the latter is a guest in his castle. Lady Macbeth smears the king's grooms with blood, thereby fastening blame on them. The death discovered and the house aroused, Macbeth slays the king's grooms, claiming they are instruments of murder. The king's sons, aware of treachery and afraid for their lives, flee, one to England, the other to Ireland. Because of their flight, suspicion fastens upon them as perpetrators of the crime, and Macbeth is elected King of Scotland. But he is not content, for he fears Banquo, a former fellow-general whom the witches prophesied would be the begetter of kings. Because Macbeth has no heir, the fact that Banquo's offspring shall gain the throne rankles in him, and he plans to have Banquo and his son Fleance murdered. As he plots, Lady Macbeth sends for him. He comes, brooding. She misreads his thoughts, thinking he is conscience-stricken.
LADY MACBETHHow now my lord, why do you keep alone,Of sorriest fancies your companions making,Using those thoughts which should indeed have diedWith them they think on? Things without all remedyShould be without regard: what's done is done.
"Who Would Have Thought The Old Man To Have Had So Much Blood In Him"
Context: Lady Macbeth learns that three witches or "weird sisters" have prophesied that Macbeth will become king. When the opportunity arises to murder King Duncan as he rests, a guest in her home, the lady chides Macbeth if he should fail to murder the king and seize the throne. Yet when the deed is accomplished and the power is gained and numerous other murders have been committed, Lady Macbeth does not enjoy her royal estate; instead, she lapses into insanity. A lady in attendance and a doctor observe the deranged queen as she walks and talks in her sleep, reliving the murder of King Duncan.
LADY MACBETH. . . 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?DOCTORDo you mark that?LADY MACBETHThe 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 this starting.DOCTORGo to, go to! You have known what you should not.