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The Tragedy of Macbeth, Act 2

Author: William Shakespeare

“Folger Digital Texts.” Edited by Rebecca Niles and Michael Poston, Folger Digital Texts, 1606,

Scene 1
Enter Banquo, and Fleance with a torch before him.

BANQUO How goes the night, boy?
The moon is down. I have not heard the clock.
BANQUO And she goes down at twelve.
FLEANCE I take ’t ’tis later, sir.
Hold, take my sword.He gives his sword to Fleance.
There’s husbandry in heaven;
Their candles are all out. Take thee that too.
A heavy summons lies like lead upon me,
And yet I would not sleep. Merciful powers,
Restrain in me the cursèd thoughts that nature
Gives way to in repose.

Enter Macbeth, and a Servant with a torch.

Give me my sword.—Who’s
MACBETH A friend.
What, sir, not yet at rest? The King’s abed.
He hath been in unusual pleasure, and
Sent forth great largess to your offices.
This diamond he greets your wife withal,
By the name of most kind hostess, and shut up
In measureless content.
He gives Macbeth a jewel.
MACBETH Being unprepared,
Our will became the servant to defect,
Which else should free have wrought.
BANQUO All’s well.
I dreamt last night of the three Weïrd Sisters.
To you they have showed some truth.
MACBETH I think not of
Yet, when we can entreat an hour to serve,
We would spend it in some words upon that
If you would grant the time.
BANQUO At your kind’st leisure.
If you shall cleave to my consent, when ’tis,
It shall make honor for you.
BANQUO So I lose none
In seeking to augment it, but still keep
My bosom franchised and allegiance clear,
I shall be counseled.
MACBETH Good repose the while.
BANQUO Thanks, sir. The like to you.
Banquo and Fleance exit.
Go bid thy mistress, when my drink is ready,
She strike upon the bell. Get thee to bed.

Servant exits.
Is this a dagger which I see before me,
The handle toward my hand? Come, let me clutch
I have thee not, and yet I see thee still.
Art thou not, fatal vision, sensible
To feeling as to sight? Or art thou but
A dagger of the mind, a false creation
Proceeding from the heat-oppressèd brain?
I see thee yet, in form as palpable
As this which now I draw.He draws his dagger.
Thou marshal’st me the way that I was going,
And such an instrument I was to use.
Mine eyes are made the fools o’ th’ other senses
Or else worth all the rest. I see thee still,
And, on thy blade and dudgeon, gouts of blood,
Which was not so before. There’s no such thing.
It is the bloody business which informs
Thus to mine eyes. Now o’er the one-half world
Nature seems dead, and wicked dreams abuse
The curtained sleep. Witchcraft celebrates
Pale Hecate’s off’rings, and withered murder,
Alarumed by his sentinel, the wolf,
Whose howl’s his watch, thus with his stealthy pace,
With Tarquin’s ravishing strides, towards his
Moves like a ghost. Thou
sure and firm-set earth,
Hear not my steps, which way they walk, for fear
Thy very stones prate of my whereabouts
And take the present horror from the time,
Which now suits with it. Whiles I threat, he lives.
Words to the heat of deeds too cold breath gives.
A bell rings.
I go, and it is done. The bell invites me.
Hear it not, Duncan, for it is a knell
That summons thee to heaven or to hell.
He exits.

Scene 2
Enter Lady Macbeth.

That which hath made them drunk hath made me
What hath quenched them hath given me fire.
It was the owl that shrieked, the fatal bellman,
Which gives the stern’st good-night. He is about it.
The doors are open, and the surfeited grooms
Do mock their charge with snores. I have drugged
their possets,
That death and nature do contend about them
Whether they live or die.
within Who’s there? what, ho!
Alack, I am afraid they have awaked,
And ’tis not done. Th’ attempt and not the deed
Confounds us. Hark!—I laid their daggers ready;
He could not miss ’em. Had he not resembled
My father as he slept, I had done ’t.

Enter Macbeth with bloody daggers.

My husband?
I have done the deed. Didst thou not hear a noise?
I heard the owl scream and the crickets cry.
Did not you speak?
MACBETH As I descended?
MACBETH Hark!—Who lies i’ th’ second chamber?
MACBETH This is a sorry sight.
A foolish thought, to say a sorry sight.
There’s one did laugh in ’s sleep, and one cried
That they did wake each other. I stood and heard
But they did say their prayers and addressed them
Again to sleep.
LADY MACBETH There are two lodged together.
One cried “God bless us” and “Amen” the other,
As they had seen me with these hangman’s hands,
List’ning their fear. I could not say “Amen”
When they did say “God bless us.”
LADY MACBETH Consider it not so deeply.
But wherefore could not I pronounce “Amen”?
I had most need of blessing, and “Amen”
Stuck in my throat.
LADY MACBETH These deeds must not be thought
After these ways; so, it will make us mad.
Methought I heard a voice cry “Sleep no more!
Macbeth does murder sleep”—the innocent sleep,
Sleep that knits up the raveled sleave of care,
The death of each day’s life, sore labor’s bath,
Balm of hurt minds, great nature’s second course,
Chief nourisher in life’s feast.
LADY MACBETH What do you mean?
Still it cried “Sleep no more!” to all the house.
“Glamis hath murdered sleep, and therefore
Shall sleep no more. Macbeth shall sleep no more.”
Who was it that thus cried? Why, worthy thane,
You do unbend your noble strength to think
So brainsickly of things. Go get some water
And wash this filthy witness from your hand.—
Why did you bring these daggers from the place?
They must lie there. Go, carry them and smear
The sleepy grooms with blood.
MACBETH I’ll go no more.
I am afraid to think what I have done.
Look on ’t again I dare not.
LADY MACBETH Infirm of purpose!
Give me the daggers. The sleeping and the dead
Are but as pictures. ’Tis the eye of childhood
That fears a painted devil. If he do bleed,
I’ll gild the faces of the grooms withal,
For it must seem their guilt.
She exits with the daggers. Knock within.
MACBETH Whence is that
How is ’t with me when every noise appalls me?
What hands are here! Ha, they pluck out mine eyes.
Will all great Neptune’s ocean wash this blood
Clean from my hand? No, this my hand will rather
The multitudinous seas incarnadine,
Making the green one red.

Enter Lady Macbeth.

My hands are of your color, but I shame
To wear a heart so white.Knock.
I hear a knocking
At the south entry. Retire we to our chamber.
A little water clears us of this deed.
How easy is it, then! Your constancy
Hath left you unattended.Knock.
Hark, more knocking.
Get on your nightgown, lest occasion call us
And show us to be watchers. Be not lost
So poorly in your thoughts.
To know my deed ’twere best not know myself.
Wake Duncan with thy knocking. I would thou
They exit.

Scene 3
Knocking within. Enter a Porter.

PORTER Here’s a knocking indeed! If a man were
porter of hell gate, he should have old turning the
key. (Knock.) Knock, knock, knock! Who’s there, i’
th’ name of Beelzebub? Here’s a farmer that hanged
himself on th’ expectation of plenty. Come in time!
Have napkins enough about you; here you’ll sweat
for ’t. (Knock.) Knock, knock! Who’s there, in th’
other devil’s name? Faith, here’s an equivocator
that could swear in both the scales against either
scale, who committed treason enough for God’s
sake yet could not equivocate to heaven. O, come in,
equivocator. (Knock.) Knock, knock, knock! Who’s
there? Faith, here’s an English tailor come hither for
stealing out of a French hose. Come in, tailor. Here
you may roast your goose. (Knock.) 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. (Knock.)
Anon, anon!

The Porter opens the door to Macduff and Lennox.

I pray you, remember the porter.
Was it so late, friend, ere you went to bed
That you do lie so late?
PORTER Faith, sir, we were carousing till the second
cock, and drink, sir, is a great provoker of three
MACDUFF What three things does drink especially
PORTER Marry, sir, nose-painting, sleep, and urine.
Lechery, sir, it provokes and unprovokes. It provokes
the desire, but it takes away the performance.
Therefore much drink may be said to be an
equivocator with lechery. It makes him, and it
mars him; it sets him on, and it takes him off; it
persuades him and disheartens him; makes him
stand to and not stand to; in conclusion, equivocates
him in a sleep and, giving him the lie, leaves
MACDUFF I believe drink gave thee the lie last night.
PORTER That it did, sir, i’ th’ very throat on me; but I
requited him for his lie, and, I think, being too
strong for him, though he took up my legs sometime,
yet I made a shift to cast him.
MACDUFF Is thy master stirring?

Enter Macbeth.

Our knocking has awaked him. Here he comes.
Porter exits.
Good morrow, noble sir.
MACBETH Good morrow, both.
Is the King stirring, worthy thane?
MACBETH Not yet.
He did command me to call timely on him.
I have almost slipped the hour.
MACBETH I’ll bring you to him.
I know this is a joyful trouble to you,
But yet ’tis one.
The labor we delight in physics pain.
This is the door.
MACDUFF I’ll make so bold to call,
For ’tis my limited service.Macduff exits.
LENNOX Goes the King hence today?
MACBETH He does. He did appoint so.
The night has been unruly. Where we lay,
Our chimneys were blown down and, as they say,
Lamentings heard i’ th’ air, strange screams of
And prophesying, with accents terrible,
Of dire combustion and confused events
New hatched to th’ woeful time. The obscure bird
Clamored the livelong night. Some say the Earth
Was feverous and did shake.
MACBETH ’Twas a rough night.
My young remembrance cannot parallel
A fellow to it.

Enter Macduff.

MACDUFF O horror, horror, horror!
Tongue nor heart cannot conceive nor name thee!
MACBETH AND LENNOX What’s the matter?
Confusion now hath made his masterpiece.
Most sacrilegious murder hath broke ope
The Lord’s anointed temple and stole thence
The life o’ th’ building.
MACBETH What is ’t you say? The life?
LENNOX Mean you his Majesty?
Approach the chamber and destroy your sight
With a new Gorgon. Do not bid me speak.
See and then speak yourselves.
Macbeth and Lennox exit.
Awake, awake!
Ring the alarum bell.—Murder and treason!
Banquo and Donalbain, Malcolm, awake!
Shake off this downy sleep, death’s counterfeit,
And look on death itself. Up, up, and see
The great doom’s image. Malcolm, Banquo,
As from your graves rise up and walk like sprites
To countenance this horror.—Ring the bell.
Bell rings.

Enter Lady Macbeth.

LADY MACBETH What’s the business,
That such a hideous trumpet calls to parley
The sleepers of the house? Speak, speak!
MACDUFF O gentle lady,
’Tis not for you to hear what I can speak.
The repetition in a woman’s ear
Would murder as it fell.

Enter Banquo.

O Banquo, Banquo,
Our royal master’s murdered.
What, in our house?
BANQUO Too cruel anywhere.—
Dear Duff, I prithee, contradict thyself
And say it is not so.
Enter Macbeth, Lennox, and Ross.

Had I but died an hour before this chance,
I had lived a blessèd 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 lees
Is left this vault to brag of.

Enter Malcolm and Donalbain.

DONALBAIN What is amiss?
MACBETH You are, and do not know ’t.
The spring, the head, the fountain of your blood
Is stopped; the very source of it is stopped.
Your royal father’s murdered.
MALCOLM O, by whom?
Those of his chamber, as it seemed, had done ’t.
Their hands and faces were all badged with blood.
So were their daggers, which unwiped we found
Upon their pillows. They stared and were distracted.
No man’s life was to be trusted with them.
O, yet I do repent me of my fury,
That I did kill them.
MACDUFF Wherefore did you so?
Who can be wise, amazed, temp’rate, and furious,
Loyal, and neutral, in a moment? No man.
Th’ expedition of my violent love
Outrun the pauser, reason. Here lay Duncan,
His silver skin laced with his golden blood,
And his gashed stabs looked like a breach in nature
For ruin’s wasteful entrance; there the murderers,
Steeped in the colors of their trade, their daggers
Unmannerly breeched with gore. Who could refrain
That had a heart to love, and in that heart
Courage to make ’s love known?
LADY MACBETH Help me hence, ho!
Look to the lady.
MALCOLM, aside to Donalbain Why do we hold our
That most may claim this argument for ours?
DONALBAIN, aside to Malcolm
What should be spoken here, where our fate,
Hid in an auger hole, may rush and seize us?
Let’s away. Our tears are not yet brewed.
MALCOLM, aside to Donalbain
Nor our strong sorrow upon the foot of motion.
BANQUO Look to the lady.
Lady Macbeth is assisted to leave.
And when we have our naked frailties hid,
That suffer in exposure, let us meet
And question this most bloody piece of work
To know it further. Fears and scruples shake us.
In the great hand of God I stand, and thence
Against the undivulged pretense I fight
Of treasonous malice.
MACDUFF And so do I.
ALL So all.
Let’s briefly put on manly readiness
And meet i’ th’ hall together.
ALL Well contented.
All but Malcolm and Donalbain exit.
What will you do? Let’s not consort with them.
To show an unfelt sorrow is an office
Which the false man does easy. I’ll to England.
To Ireland I. Our separated fortune
Shall keep us both the safer. Where we are,
There’s daggers in men’s smiles. The near in blood,
The nearer bloody.
MALCOLM This murderous shaft that’s shot
Hath not yet lighted, and our safest way
Is to avoid the aim. Therefore to horse,
And let us not be dainty of leave-taking
But shift away. There’s warrant in that theft
Which steals itself when there’s no mercy left.
They exit.

Scene 4
Enter Ross with an Old Man.

Threescore and ten I can remember well,
Within the volume of which time I have seen
Hours dreadful and things strange, but this sore
Hath trifled former knowings.
ROSS Ha, good father,
Thou seest the heavens, as troubled with man’s act,
Threatens his bloody stage. By th’ clock ’tis day,
And yet dark night strangles the traveling lamp.
Is ’t night’s predominance or the day’s shame
That darkness does the face of earth entomb
When living light should kiss it?
OLD MAN ’Tis unnatural,
Even like the deed that’s done. On Tuesday last
A falcon, tow’ring in her pride of place,
Was by a mousing owl hawked at and killed.
And Duncan’s horses (a thing most strange and
Beauteous and swift, the minions of their race,
Turned wild in nature, broke their stalls, flung out,
Contending ’gainst obedience, as they would
Make war with mankind.
OLD MAN ’Tis said they eat each
They did so, to th’ amazement of mine eyes
That looked upon ’t.

Enter Macduff.

Here comes the good
How goes the world, sir, now?
MACDUFF Why, see you not?
Is ’t known who did this more than bloody deed?
Those that Macbeth hath slain.
ROSS Alas the day,
What good could they pretend?
MACDUFF They were suborned.
Malcolm and Donalbain, the King’s two sons,
Are stol’n away and fled, which puts upon them
Suspicion of the deed.
ROSS ’Gainst nature still!
Thriftless ambition, that will ravin up
Thine own lives’ means. Then ’tis most like
The sovereignty will fall upon Macbeth.
He is already named and gone to Scone
To be invested.
ROSS Where is Duncan’s body?
MACDUFF Carried to Colmekill,
The sacred storehouse of his predecessors
And guardian of their bones.
ROSS Will you to Scone?
No, cousin, I’ll to Fife.
ROSS Well, I will thither.
Well, may you see things well done there. Adieu,
Lest our old robes sit easier than our new.
ROSS Farewell, father.
God’s benison go with you and with those
That would make good of bad and friends of foes.
All exit.

DMU Timestamp: September 11, 2019 18:32