DUNCAN, King of Scotland
DONALBAIN his sons
MACBETH, Thane of Glamis, later of Cawdor, later King of Scotland
BANQUO, a thane of Scotland
FLEANCE, his son
MACDUFF, Thane of Fife
SON of Macduff and Lady Macduff
MENTEITH thanes and noblemen of Scotland
SIWARD, Earl of Northumberland
YOUNG SIWARD, his son
SEYTON, an officer attending Macbeth
GENTLEWOMAN attending Lady Macbeth
CAPTAIN serving Duncan
Three MURDERERS of Banquo
First MURDERERS at Macduff’s castle
MESSENGER to Lady Macbeth
MESSENGER to Lady Macduff
SERVENT to Macbeth
SERVENT to Lady Macbeth
Three WITCHES or WEIRD SISTERS
Lords, Gentlemen, Officers, Soldiers, Murderers,
SCENE: Scotland; England
Location: An open place.
Grimalkin i.e., gray cat, name of the witch’s familiar—a demon or evil spirit supposed to answer a witch’s call and to allow him or her to perform black magic.
Paddock toad; also a familiar
Anon At once, right away.
1.2 Location: A camp near Forres.
0.1 Alarum trumpet call to arms
1.1 * Thunder and lightning. Enter three Witches.
When shall we three meet again?
In thunder, lightning, or in rain?
When the hurlyburly’s done,
When the battle’s lost and won.
That will be ere the set of sun.
Where the place?
second witch Upon the heath.
There to meet with Macbeth.
FIRST WITCH I come, Grimalkin!
SECOND WITCH Paddock calls.
THIRD WITCH Anon.
Fair is foul, and foul is fair.
Hover through the fog and filthy air. Exeunt.
1.2 * Alarum within. Enter King [Duncan], Malcolm, Donalbain, Lennox, with attendants, meeting a
What bloody man is that? He can report,
As seemeth by his plight, of the revolt
newest state latest news. sergeant i.e., staff officer. (There may be no inconsistency with his rank of “captain” in the stage direction and speech prefixes in the Folio.)
broil battle spent tired out choke their art render their skill in swimming useless.
The merciless . . . supplied The merciless Macdonwald—worthy of the hated name of rebel, for in the cause of rebellion an ever-increasing number of villainous persons and unnatural qualities swarm about him like vermin—is joined by light-armed Irish footsoldiers and ax-armed horsemen from the western islands of Scotland (the Hebrides and perhaps Ireland)
And Fortune . . . whore i.e., Fortune, proverbially a false strumpet, smiles at first on Macdonwald’s damned rebellion but deserts him in his hour of need.
well . . . name well he deserves a name that is synonymous with “brave”
minion darling. (Macbeth is Valor’s darling, not Fortune’s.)
the slave i.e., Macdonwald
Which . . . to him i.e., Macbeth paused for no ceremonious greeting or farewell to Macdonwald.
nave navel. chops jaws
As . . . swells Just as terrible storms at sea arise out of the east, from the place where the sun first shows itself in the seeming comfort of the dawn, even thus did a new military threat come on the heels of the seeming good news of Macdonwald’s execution.
skipping (1) lightly armed, quick at maneuvering (2) skittish
surveying vantage seeing an opportunity
The newest state.
MALCOLM This is the sergeant
Who like a good and hardy soldier fought
‘Gainst my captivity.—Hail, brave friend!
Say to the King the knowledge of the broil
As thou didst leave it.
CAPTAIN 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 that
The multiplying villainies of nature
Do swarm upon him—from the Western Isles
Of kerns and gallowglasses is supplied;
And Fortune, on his damned quarrel smiling,
Showed like a rebel’s whore. But all’s too weak;
For brave Macbeth—well he deserves that name—
Disdaining Fortune, with his brandished steel,
Which smoked with bloody execution,
Like valor’s minion carved out his passage
Till he faced the slave,
Which ne’er shook hands nor bade farewell to him
Till he unseamed him from the nave to th’ chops,
And fixed his head upon our battlements.
Oh, valiant cousin, worthy gentleman!
As whence the sun ‘gins his reflection
Shipwrecking storms and direful thunders break,
So from that spring whence comfort seemed to come
Discomfort swells. Mark, King of Scotland, mark.
No sooner justice had, with valor armed,
Compelled these skipping kerns to trust their heels
But the Norweyan lord, surveying vantage,
With furbished arms and new supplies of men,
Began a fresh assault.
Yes . . . eagles Yes, about as much as sparrows terrify eagles. (Said ironically.)
say sooth tell the truth cracks charges of explosive
Except Unless memorize make memorable or famous. Golgotha “place of a skull,” where Christ was crucified. (Mark 15:22.)
Thane Scottish title of honor, roughly equivalent to “Earl”
seems to seems about to flout mock, insult fan . . . cold fan cold fear into our troops.
Norway The King of Norway. terrible numbers terrifying numbers of troops dismal ominous
Till . . . proof i.e., until Macbeth, clad in well-tested armor. (Bellona was the Roman goddess of war.)
him i.e., the King of Norway. self-comparisons i.e., matching counterthrusts
Dismayed not this 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 they doubly 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.
So well thy words become thee as thy wounds;
They smack of honor both.—Go get him surgeons.
[Exit Captain, attended.]
Enter Ross and Angus.
Who comes here?
MALCOLM The worthy Thane of Ross.
LENNEX What a haste looks through his eyes!
So should he look that seems to speak things strange.
ROSS God save the King!
DUNCAN Whence cam’st thou, worthy thane?
ROSS From Fife, great King,
Where the Norweyan banners flout the sky
And fan our people cold.
Norway himself, with terrible numbers,
Assisted by that most disloyal traitor,
The Thane of Cawdor, began a dismal conflict,
Till that Bellona’s bridegroom, lapped 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.
Norways’ Norwegians’. composition agreement, treaty of peace
Saint Colme’s Inch Inchcolm, the Isle of St. Columba in the Firth of Forth dollars Spanish or Dutch coins
Our (The royal “we.”) bosom close and intimate. present immediate
Location: A heath near Forres.
Aroint thee Begone. rump-fed runnion fat-rumped baggage
Tiger (A ship’s name.)
like . . . do (Suggestive of the witches’ deformity and sexual insatiability. Witches were thought to seduce men sexually. Do means  act  perform sexually.)
DUNCAN Great happiness!
ROSS That now
Sweno, the Norways’ king, craves composition;
Nor would we deign him burial of his men
Till he disbursed at Saint Colme’s Inch
Ten thousand dollars to our general use.
No more that Thane of Cawdor shall deceive
Our bosom interest. Go pronounce his present death,
And with his former title greet Macbeth.
ROSS I’ll see it done.
What he hath lost noble Macbeth hath won.
1.3 * Thunder. Enter the three Witches.
FIRST WITCH Where hast thou been, sister?
SECOND WITCH Killing swine.
THIRD WITCH Sister, where thou?
A sailor’s wife had chestnuts in her lap,
And munched, and munched, and munched. “Give me,” quoth I.
“Aroint thee, witch!” the rump-fed runnion 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.
I’ll give thee a wind.
I . . . card I can summon all other winds, wherever they blow and from whatever quarter in the shipman’s compass card.
I’ll . . . hay (With a suggestion of sexually draining the seaman’s semen.)
penthouse lid i.e., eyelid (which projects out over the eye like a penthouse or slope-roofed structure). forbid accursed. sev’nnights weeks peak grow peaked or thin
Weird Sisters women connected with fate or destiny; also women having a mysterious or unearthly, uncanny appearance
Posters of swift travelers over
And I another.
I myself have all the other,
And the very ports they blow,
All the quarters that they know
I’th’ shipman’s card.
I’ll drain him dry as hay.
Sleep shall neither night nor day
Hang upon his penthouse lid.
He shall live a man forbid.
Weary sev’nnights nine times nine
Shall he dwindle, peak, and pine.
Though his bark cannot be lost,
Yet it shall be tempest-tossed.
Look what I have.
SECOND WITCH Show me, show me.
Here I have a pilot’s thumb,
Wrecked as homeward he did come. Drum within.
A drum, a drum!
Macbeth doth come.
all [dancing in a circle]
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.
Enter Macbeth and Banquo.
So foul and fair a day I have not seen.
is’t called is it said to be choppy chapped
fantastical creatures of fantasy or imagination
rapt withal entranced.
beg . . . hate beg your favors nor fear your hate.
How far is’t called to Forres?—What are these,
So withered and so wild in their attire,
That look not like th’inhabitants o’th’earth
And yet are on’t?—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.
MACBETH Speak, if you can. What are you?
All hail, Macbeth! Hail to thee, Thane of Glamis!
All hail, Macbeth! Hail to thee, Thane of Cawdor!
All hail, Macbeth, that shalt be king hereafter!
Good sir, why do you start and seem to fear
Things that do sound so fair?—I’th’ 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 favors nor your hate.
FIRST WITCH Hail!
SECOND WITCH Hail!
THIRD WITCH Hail!
Lesser than Macbeth, and greater.
Sinel’s (Sinel was Macbeth’s father.)
Say . . . intelligence Say from what source you have this disturbing information
on of. insane root root causing insanity; variously identified
Not so happy, yet much happier.
Thou shalt get kings, though thou be none.
So all hail, Macbeth and Banquo!
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.
The earth hath bubbles, as the water has,
And these are of them. Whither are they vanished?
Into the air; and what seemed corporal melted, 81
As breath into the wind. Would they had stayed!
Were such things here as we do speak about?
Or have we eaten on the insane root 84
That takes the reason prisoner?
Your children shall be kings.
banquo You shall be king.
And Thane of Cawdor too. Went it not so?
and when . . . his and when he reads of your extraordinary valor in fighting the rebels, he concludes that your wondrous deeds outdo any praise he could offer.
stout haughty, determined, valiant
Nothing not at all
As . . . with post As fast as could be told, i.e., counted, came messenger after messenger. (Unless the text should be amended to “As thick as hail.”)
earnest token payment addition title
Who He who combined confederate line the rebel reinforce Macdonwald
To th’ selfsame tune and words.—Who’s here?
Enter Ross and Angus.
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’th’ 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 defense,
And poured them down before him.
We are sent
To give thee from our royal master thanks,
Only to herald thee into his sight,
Not pay thee.
And, for an earnest of a greater honor,
He bade me, from him, call thee Thane of Cawdor;
In which addition, hail, most worthy thane,
For it is thine.
BANQUO What, can the devil speak true?
The Thane of Cawdor lives. Why do you dress me
In borrowed robes?
ANGUS 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
in . . . wrack to bring about his country’s ruin capital deserving death
The greatest is behind either (1) Two of the three prophecies (and thus the greatest number of them) have already been fulfilled, or (2) The greatest one, the kingship, is still to come. home all the way
In deepest consequence in the profoundly important sequel.
Cousins i.e., Fellow lords
swelling act stately drama
soliciting tempting unfix my hair make my hair stand on end
use custom. fears things feared whose . . . fantastical in which the conception of murder is merely imaginary at this point single . . . man weak human condition function normal power of action. surmise speculation, imaginings And . . . not and everything seems unreal.
Excerpted from Macbeth by William Shakespeare. Copyright © 1988 by William Shakespeare. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.