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The Tragedy of Macbeth, Act 3

Author: William Shakespeare

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

Scene 1
Enter Banquo.

Thou hast it now—king, Cawdor, Glamis, all
As the Weïrd Women promised, and I fear
Thou played’st most foully for ’t. Yet it was said
It should not stand in thy posterity,
But that myself should be the root and father
Of many kings. If there come truth from them
(As upon thee, Macbeth, their speeches shine)
Why, by the verities on thee made good,
May they not be my oracles as well,
And set me up in hope? But hush, no more.

Sennet sounded. Enter Macbeth as King, Lady
Macbeth, Lennox, Ross, Lords, and Attendants.

Here’s our chief guest.
LADY MACBETH If he had been forgotten,
It had been as a gap in our great feast
And all-thing unbecoming.
Tonight we hold a solemn supper, sir,
And I’ll request your presence.
BANQUO Let your Highness
Command upon me, to the which my duties
Are with a most indissoluble tie
Forever knit.
MACBETH Ride you this afternoon?
BANQUO Ay, my good lord.
We 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?
As 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 night
For a dark hour or twain.
MACBETH Fail not our feast.
BANQUO My lord, I will not.
We hear our bloody cousins are bestowed
In England and in Ireland, not confessing
Their cruel parricide, filling their hearers
With strange invention. But of that tomorrow,
When therewithal we shall have cause of state
Craving us jointly. Hie you to horse. Adieu,
Till you return at night. Goes Fleance with you?
Ay, my good lord. Our time does call upon ’s.
I wish your horses swift and sure of foot,
And so I do commend you to their backs.
Farewell.Banquo exits.
Let every man be master of his time
Till seven at night. To make society
The sweeter welcome, we will keep ourself
Till suppertime alone. While then, God be with you.
Lords and all but Macbeth and a Servant exit.
Sirrah, a word with you. Attend those men
Our pleasure?
They are, my lord, without the palace gate.
Bring them before us.Servant exits.
To be thus is nothing,
But to be safely thus. Our fears in Banquo
Stick deep, and in his royalty of nature
Reigns that which would be feared. ’Tis much he
And to that dauntless temper of his mind
He hath a wisdom that doth guide his valor
To act in safety. There is none but he
Whose being I do fear; and under him
My genius is rebuked, as it is said
Mark Antony’s was by Caesar. He chid the sisters
When first they put the name of king upon me
And bade them speak to him. Then, prophet-like,
They hailed him father to a line of kings.
Upon my head they placed a fruitless crown
And put a barren scepter in my grip,
Thence to be wrenched with an unlineal hand,
No son of mine succeeding. If ’t be so,
For Banquo’s issue have I filed my mind;
For them the gracious Duncan have I murdered,
Put rancors in the vessel of my peace
Only for them, and mine eternal jewel
Given to the common enemy of man
To make them kings, the seeds of Banquo kings.
Rather than so, come fate into the list,
And champion me to th’ utterance.—Who’s there?

Enter Servant and two Murderers.

To the Servant. Now go to the door, and stay there
till we call.Servant exits.
Was it not yesterday we spoke together?

It was, so please your Highness.
MACBETH Well then, now
Have you considered of my speeches? Know
That it was he, in the times past, which held you
So under fortune, which you thought had been
Our innocent self. This I made good to you
In our last conference, passed in probation with you
How you were borne in hand, how crossed, the
Who wrought with them, and all things else that
To half a soul and to a notion crazed
Say “Thus did Banquo.”
FIRST MURDERER You made it known to us.
I did so, and went further, which is now
Our point of second meeting. Do you find
Your patience so predominant in your nature
That you can let this go? Are you so gospeled
To pray for this good man and for his issue,
Whose heavy hand hath bowed you to the grave
And beggared yours forever?
FIRST MURDERER We are men, my liege.
Ay, in the catalogue you go for men,
As hounds and greyhounds, mongrels, spaniels,
Shoughs, water-rugs, and demi-wolves are clept
All by the name of dogs. The valued file
Distinguishes the swift, the slow, the subtle,
The housekeeper, the hunter, every one
According to the gift which bounteous nature
Hath in him closed; whereby he does receive
Particular addition, from the bill
That writes them all alike. And so of men.
Now, if you have a station in the file,
Not i’ th’ worst rank of manhood, say ’t,
And I will put that business in your bosoms
Whose execution takes your enemy off,
Grapples you to the heart and love of us,
Who wear our health but sickly in his life,
Which in his death were perfect.
SECOND MURDERER I am one, my liege,
Whom the vile blows and buffets of the world
Hath so incensed that I am reckless what
I do to spite the world.
So weary with disasters, tugged with fortune,
That I would set my life on any chance,
To mend it or be rid on ’t.
MACBETH Both of you
Know Banquo was your enemy.

MURDERERS True, my lord.
So is he mine, and in such bloody distance
That every minute of his being thrusts
Against my near’st of life. And though I could
With barefaced power sweep him from my sight
And bid my will avouch it, yet I must not,
For certain friends that are both his and mine,
Whose loves I may not drop, but wail his fall
Who I myself struck down. And thence it is
That I to your assistance do make love,
Masking the business from the common eye
For sundry weighty reasons.
SECOND MURDERER We shall, my lord,
Perform what you command us.
FIRST MURDERER Though our lives—
Your spirits shine through you. Within this hour at
I will advise you where to plant yourselves,
Acquaint you with the perfect spy o’ th’ time,
The moment on ’t, for ’t must be done tonight
And something from the palace; always thought
That I require a clearness. And with him
(To leave no rubs nor botches in the work)
Fleance, his son, that keeps him company,
Whose absence is no less material to me
Than is his father’s, must embrace the fate
Of that dark hour. Resolve yourselves apart.
I’ll come to you anon.

MURDERERS We are resolved, my lord.
I’ll call upon you straight. Abide within.
Murderers exit.
It is concluded. Banquo, thy soul’s flight,
If it find heaven, must find it out tonight.
He exits.

Scene 2
Enter Macbeth’s Lady and a Servant.

LADY MACBETH Is Banquo gone from court?
Ay, madam, but returns again tonight.
Say to the King I would attend his leisure
For a few words.
SERVANT Madam, I will.He exits.
LADY MACBETH Naught’s had, all’s spent,
Where our desire is got without content.
’Tis safer to be that which we destroy
Than by destruction dwell in doubtful joy.
Enter Macbeth.

How now, my lord, why do you keep alone,
Of sorriest fancies your companions making,
Using those thoughts which should indeed have died
With them they think on? Things without all remedy
Should be without regard. What’s done is done.
We have scorched the snake, not killed it.
She’ll close and be herself whilst our poor malice
Remains in danger of her former tooth.
But let the frame of things disjoint, both the worlds
Ere we will eat our meal in fear, and sleep
In the affliction of these terrible dreams
That 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 lie
In 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 MACBETH Come on, gentle my lord,
Sleek o’er your rugged looks. Be bright and jovial
Among your guests tonight.
MACBETH So shall I, love,
And so I pray be you. Let your remembrance
Apply to Banquo; present him eminence
Both with eye and tongue: unsafe the while that we
Must lave our honors in these flattering streams
And make our faces vizards to our hearts,
Disguising what they are.
LADY MACBETH You must leave this.
O, full of scorpions is my mind, dear wife!
Thou know’st that Banquo and his Fleance lives.
But in them nature’s copy’s not eterne.
There’s comfort yet; they are assailable.
Then be thou jocund. Ere the bat hath flown
His cloistered flight, ere to black Hecate’s summons
The shard-born beetle with his drowsy hums
Hath rung night’s yawning peal, there shall be done
A deed of dreadful note.
LADY MACBETH What’s to be done?
Be innocent of the knowledge, dearest chuck,
Till thou applaud the deed.—Come, seeling night,
Scarf up the tender eye of pitiful day
And with thy bloody and invisible hand
Cancel and tear to pieces that great bond
Which keeps me pale. Light thickens, and the crow
Makes wing to th’ rooky wood.
Good things of day begin to droop and drowse,
Whiles night’s black agents to their preys do
Thou marvel’st at my words, but hold thee still.
Things bad begun make strong themselves by ill.
So prithee go with me.
They exit.

Scene 3
Enter three Murderers.

But who did bid thee join with us?
SECOND MURDERER, to the First Murderer
He needs not our mistrust, since he delivers
Our offices and what we have to do
To the direction just.
FIRST MURDERER Then stand with us.—
The west yet glimmers with some streaks of day.
Now spurs the lated traveler apace
To gain the timely inn,
and near approaches
The subject of our watch.
THIRD MURDERER Hark, I hear horses.
BANQUO, within Give us a light there, ho!
SECOND MURDERER Then ’tis he. The rest
That are within the note of expectation
Already are i’ th’ court.
FIRST MURDERER His horses go about.
Almost a mile; but he does usually
(So all men do) from hence to th’ palace gate
Make it their walk.

Enter Banquo and Fleance, with a torch.

SECOND MURDERER A light, a light!
BANQUO, to Fleance It will be rain tonight.
FIRST MURDERER Let it come down!
The three Murderers attack.
O treachery! Fly, good Fleance, fly, fly, fly!
Thou mayst revenge—O slave!
He dies. Fleance exits.
Who did strike out the light?
FIRST MURDERER Was ’t not the way?
THIRD MURDERER There’s but one down. The son is
SECOND MURDERER We have lost best half of our
Well, let’s away and say how much is done.
They exit.

Scene 4
Banquet prepared. Enter Macbeth, Lady Macbeth,
Ross, Lennox, Lords, and Attendants.

You know your own degrees; sit down. At first
And last, the hearty welcome.They sit.
LORDS Thanks to your Majesty.
Ourself will mingle with society
And play the humble host.
Our hostess keeps her state, but in best time
We will require her welcome.
Pronounce it for me, sir, to all our friends,
For my heart speaks they are welcome.

Enter First Murderer to the door.

See, they encounter thee with their hearts’ thanks.
Both sides are even. Here I’ll sit i’ th’ midst.
Be large in mirth. Anon we’ll drink a measure
The table round. He approaches the Murderer. There’s
blood upon thy face.
MURDERER ’Tis Banquo’s then.
’Tis better thee without than he within.
Is he dispatched?
My lord, his throat is cut. That I did for him.
Thou art the best o’ th’ cutthroats,
Yet he’s good that did the like for Fleance.
If thou didst it, thou art the nonpareil.
Most royal sir, Fleance is ’scaped.
Then comes my fit again. I had else been perfect,
Whole as the marble, founded as the rock,
As broad and general as the casing air.
But now I am cabined, cribbed, confined, bound in
To saucy doubts and fears.—But Banquo’s safe?
Ay, my good lord. Safe in a ditch he bides,
With twenty trenchèd gashes on his head,
The least a death to nature.
MACBETH Thanks for that.
There the grown serpent lies. The worm that’s fled
Hath nature that in time will venom breed,
No teeth for th’ present. Get thee gone. Tomorrow
We’ll hear ourselves again.Murderer exits.
LADY MACBETH My royal lord,
You do not give the cheer. The feast is sold
That 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 the Ghost of Banquo, and sits in Macbeth’s place.

MACBETH, to Lady Macbeth Sweet remembrancer!—
Now, good digestion wait on appetite
And health on both!
LENNOX May ’t please your Highness sit.
Here had we now our country’s honor roofed,
Were the graced person of our Banquo present,
Who may I rather challenge for unkindness
Than pity for mischance.
ROSS His absence, sir,
Lays blame upon his promise. Please ’t your
To grace us with your royal company?
The table’s full.
LENNOX Here is a place reserved, sir.
Here, my good lord. What is ’t that moves your
Which of you have done this?
LORDS What, my good lord?
MACBETH, to the Ghost
Thou canst not say I did it. Never shake
Thy gory locks at me.
Gentlemen, rise. His Highness is not well.
Sit, worthy friends. My lord is often thus
And hath been from his youth. Pray you, keep seat.
The fit is momentary; upon a thought
He will again be well. If much you note him
You shall offend him and extend his passion.
Feed and regard him not.Drawing Macbeth aside.
Are you a man?
Ay, and a bold one, that dare look on that
Which might appall the devil.
LADY MACBETH O, proper stuff!
This is the very painting of your fear.
This is the air-drawn dagger which you said
Led you to Duncan. O, these flaws and starts,
Impostors to true fear, would well become
A woman’s story at a winter’s fire,
Authorized by her grandam. Shame itself!
Why do you make such faces? When all’s done,
You look but on a stool.
Prithee, see there. Behold, look! To the Ghost. Lo,
how say you?
Why, what care I? If thou canst nod, speak too.—
If charnel houses and our graves must send
Those that we bury back, our monuments
Shall be the maws of kites.Ghost exits.
LADY MACBETH What, quite unmanned in folly?
If I stand here, I saw him.
LADY MACBETH Fie, for shame!
Blood hath been shed ere now, i’ th’ olden time,
Ere humane statute purged the gentle weal;
Ay, and since too, murders have been performed
Too terrible for the ear. The
time has been
That, when the brains were out, the man would die,
And there an end. But now they rise again
With twenty mortal murders on their crowns
And push us from our stools. This is more strange
Than such a murder is.
LADY MACBETH My worthy lord,
Your noble friends do lack you.
MACBETH I do forget.—
Do not muse at me, my most worthy friends.
I have a strange infirmity, which is nothing
To those that know me. Come, love and health to
Then I’ll sit down.—Give me some wine. Fill full.

Enter Ghost.

I drink to th’ general joy o’ th’ whole table
And to our dear friend Banquo, whom we miss.
Would he were here! To all, and him we thirst,
And all to all.
LORDS Our duties, and the pledge.
They raise their drinking cups.
MACBETH, to the Ghost
Avaunt, and quit my sight! Let the earth hide thee.
Thy bones are marrowless; thy blood is cold;
Thou hast no speculation in those eyes
Which thou dost glare with.
LADY MACBETH Think of this, good
But as a thing of custom. ’Tis no other;
Only it spoils the pleasure of the time.
MACBETH, to the Ghost What man dare, I dare.
Approach thou like the rugged Russian bear,
The armed rhinoceros, or th’ Hyrcan tiger;
Take any shape but that, and my firm nerves
Shall never tremble. Or be alive again
And dare me to the desert with thy sword.
If trembling I inhabit then, protest me
The baby of a girl. Hence, horrible shadow!
Unreal mock’ry, hence!Ghost exits.
Why so, being gone,
I am a man again.—Pray you sit still.
You have displaced the mirth, broke the good
With most admired disorder.
MACBETH Can such things be
And overcome us like a summer’s cloud,
Without our special wonder? You make me strange
Even to the disposition that I owe
When now I think you can behold such sights
And keep the natural ruby of your cheeks
When mine is blanched with fear.
ROSS What sights, my
I 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.
LENNOX Good night, and better health
Attend his Majesty.
LADY MACBETH A kind good night to all.
Lords and all but Macbeth and Lady Macbeth exit.
It will have blood, they say; blood will have blood.
Stones have been known to move, and trees to
Augurs and understood relations have
By maggot pies and choughs and rooks brought
The secret’st man of blood.—What is the night?
Almost at odds with morning, which is which.
How say’st thou that Macduff denies his person
At our great bidding?
LADY MACBETH Did you send to him, sir?
I hear it by the way; but I will send.
There’s not a one of them but in his house
I keep a servant fee’d. I will tomorrow
(And betimes I will) to the Weïrd Sisters.
More shall they speak, for now I am bent to know
By the worst means the worst. For mine own good,
All causes shall give way. I am in blood
Stepped in so far that, should I wade no more,
Returning were as tedious as go o’er.
Strange things I have in head that will to hand,
Which must be acted ere they may be scanned.
You lack the season of all natures, sleep.
Come, we’ll to sleep. My strange and self-abuse
Is the initiate fear that wants hard use.
We are yet but young in deed.
They exit.

Scene 5
Thunder. Enter the three Witches, meeting Hecate.

Why, how now, Hecate? You look angerly.
Have I not reason, beldams as you are?
Saucy and overbold, how did you dare
To trade and traffic with Macbeth
In riddles and affairs of death,
And I, the mistress of your charms,
The close contriver of all harms,
Was never called to bear my part
Or show the glory of our art?
And which is worse, all you have done
Hath been but for a wayward son,
Spiteful and wrathful, who, as others do,
Loves for his own ends, not for you.
But make amends now. Get you gone,
And at the pit of Acheron
Meet me i’ th’ morning. Thither he
Will come to know his destiny.
Your vessels and your spells provide,
Your charms and everything beside.
I am for th’ air. This night I’ll spend
Unto a dismal and a fatal end.
Great business must be wrought ere noon.
Upon the corner of the moon
There hangs a vap’rous drop profound.
I’ll catch it ere it come to ground,
And that, distilled by magic sleights,
Shall raise such artificial sprites
As by the strength of their illusion
Shall draw him on to his confusion.
He shall spurn fate, scorn death, and bear
His hopes ’bove wisdom, grace, and fear.
And you all know, security
Is mortals’ chiefest enemy.
Music and a song.
Hark! I am called. My little spirit, see,
Sits in a foggy cloud and stays for me.Hecate exits.
Sing within “Come away, come away,” etc.
Come, let’s make haste. She’ll soon be back again.
They exit.

Scene 6
Enter Lennox and another Lord.

My former speeches have but hit your thoughts,
Which can interpret farther. Only I say
Things have been strangely borne. The gracious
Was pitied of Macbeth; marry, he was dead.
And the right valiant Banquo walked too late,
Whom you may say, if ’t please you, Fleance killed,
For Fleance fled. Men must not walk too late.
Who cannot want the thought how monstrous
It was for Malcolm and for Donalbain
To kill their gracious father? Damnèd fact,
How it did grieve Macbeth! Did he not straight
In pious rage the two delinquents tear
That were the slaves of drink and thralls of sleep?
Was not that nobly done? Ay, and wisely, too,
For ’twould have angered any heart alive
To hear the men deny ’t. So that I say
He has borne all things well. And I do think
That had he Duncan’s sons under his key
(As, an ’t please heaven, he shall not) they should
What ’twere to kill a father. So should Fleance.
But peace. For from broad words, and ’cause he
His presence at the tyrant’s feast, I hear
Macduff lives in disgrace. Sir, can you tell
Where he bestows himself?
son of Duncan
(From whom this tyrant holds the due of birth)
Lives in the English court and is received
Of the most pious Edward with such grace
That the malevolence of fortune nothing
Takes from his high respect. Thither Macduff
Is gone to pray the holy king upon his aid
To wake Northumberland and warlike Siward
That, by the help of these (with Him above
To ratify the work), we may again
Give to our tables meat, sleep to our nights,
Free from our feasts and banquets bloody knives,
Do faithful homage, and receive free honors,
All which we pine for now. And this report
Hath so exasperate
the King that he
Prepares for some attempt of war.
LENNOX Sent he to Macduff?
He did, and with an absolute “Sir, not I,”
The cloudy messenger turns me his back
And hums, as who should say “You’ll rue the time
That clogs me with this answer.”
LENNOX And that well might
Advise him to a caution t’ hold what distance
His wisdom can provide. Some holy angel
Fly to the court of England and unfold
His message ere he come, that a swift blessing
May soon return to this our suffering country
Under a hand accursed.
LORD I’ll send my prayers with him.
They exit.

DMU Timestamp: September 11, 2019 18:32