By Rebecca Hudson,2014-08-17 14:37
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    by William Shakespeare

    Presented by Paul W. Collins

    ? Copyright 2005 by Paul W. Collins


    By William Shakespeare

     Presented by Paul W. Collins

    All rights reserved under the International and Pan-American Copyright Conventions.

    Exceptas permitted under the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976, no part of this work nay be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, or stored in a database or retrieval system, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, audio or video recording, or other, without the prior written permission of the copyright owner.

    Note: Spoken lines from Shakespeare‟s drama are in the public domain, as is the Globe (1864) edition of his plays, which provided the basic text of the speeches in this new version of Macbeth.

    But Macbeth, by William Shakespeare: Presented by Paul W. Collins, is a copyrighted work, and

    is made available for your personal use only, in reading and study.

    Student, beware: This is a presentation of Macbeth, not a scholarly work, so you should be

    sure your teacher, instructor or professor considers it acceptable as a reference before quoting characters‟ comments or thoughts from it in your report or term paper.


    Chapter One

    Victory, and Prophecy

    tartled by a lightning-strike close by atop the rocky hill, a black charger recoils and

    S shudders, halting in the dirt road. Wild-eyed, the lathered beast rears and neighs fearfully, thrusting out front hooves as if to fend off the enveloping thunder.

    The rider, a cloaked soldier nearly flung from the saddle, curses, digs in his spurs, and lashes the steed forward, resuming an urgent mission. The dead oak‟s shattered trunk smolders and smokes as man and horse career downhill at a gallop, disappearing into the gloomy mist in a frenzied rush to join in the clamor of war in the woods below.

    On the knoll, amid the skeletal tree‟s splintered trunk and barren, blackened branches, strange, luminous vapors gather to rise, shimmering in the dim twilight; specters coalesceinchoate, but

    with crones‟ hard voices.

    “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!” notes the third.

    “Where the place?” asks the first.

    “Upon the heath.”

    “There to meet with Macbeth!” adds the third.

    “I come, Graymalkin,” the first assures the distant feline that serves her.

    The second hears her own far-away familiar. “Paddock calls.”

    “Anon!” the third cries to hers, as they fade and float aloft.

    Fair is foul, and foul is fair! thinks the leader, drifting away. Hover through fog and filthy air!

    hat bloody man is that?” asks old Duncan, King of Scotland, at the edge of the battle.

    W He can report, as seemeth by his plight, of the revolt the newest state.”

    Standing near royal palace at Forres with his two grown sons and several thanes, the barons who rule clans of Scots, their sovereign of a thousand years ago wants intelligence on his troops‟ fight to quell an insurrection.

    “This is the sergeant who like a good and hardy soldier fought ‟gainst my captivity!” says Malcolm, the king‟s elder son. “Hail, brave friend! Say to the king thy knowledge of the broil as thou didst leave it!”

    The soldier bows, a hand clasped against his bleeding side. “Doubtful it stood, as with two

    spent swimmers that do cling together and choke their art!” says the wounded warrior. “The merciless Macdonwaldworthy to be a rebel, for that the multiplying villainies of nature do swarm upon him!from the Western Isles of kerns and gallowglasses”—Irish mercenaries: foot

    soldiers and riders wielding battleaxes—“is supplied! And Fortune, on his damnèd quarrel

    smiling, showed like a rebel‟s whore!

    “But all‟s too weak! For brave Macbethwell he deserves that name!disdaining Fortune,

    with his brandished steel, which smoldered with bloody execution, like Valour‟s minion carved out his passage till he faced the slave—and ne‟er shook hands nor bade farewell to him till he

    unseamed him from the nave to the chaps, and fixed his head upon our battlements!”

    “Oh, valiant cousin! Worthy gentleman!” cries the king.

    “As when the sun ‟gins his reflection, shipwrecking storms and direful thunders break, so from that spring whence comfort seemed to come, discomfort swells,” says the sergeant. “Mark,

    King of Scotland, mark!no sooner had justice, with valour armed, compelled these skipping kerns to trust their heels than the Norweyan lord, surveying advantage, with furbished arms and

    new supplies of men began a fresh assault!”

    Duncan‟s people had not foreseen the Vikings‟ invasion. “Dismayed not this our captains, Macbeth and Banquo?”


    “Yes—as sparrows eagles, or the hare the lion!” says the soldier. “If I say sooth, I must report they were as cannons overchargèd with double cracks, so doubly they redoubled strokes upon the foe!” He recalls the fierce fighting: “Except that they meant to bathe in reeking wounds, or

    consecrate another Golgotha, I cannot tell!”

    The pale soldier staggers. “But I am faint; my gashes cry for help….”

    Duncan gives him a reassuring clap on the shoulder. “So well thy words become thee as thy

    wounds!—they smack of honour both! Go, get him surgeons,” he tells his attendants. As the injured sergeant is helped away, the king sees one of the lords of his realm approaching on

    horseback. “Who comes here?”

    “The worthy Thane of Rosse,” Malcolm tells him.

    “What a haste looks through his eyes!” observes the silver-haired Thane of Lennox, standing

    with the royals. “So should he look who seems to speak things strange….”

    Still holding the reins, young Rosse strides to Duncan. “God save the king!”

    “Whence camest thou, worthy thane?”

    “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—until Bellona‟s bridegroom,”—Macbeth, allied with the Roman

    goddess of war, “lapped in proof,”—bloodied, “ confronted him with self-comparisons: point

    against point, rebellious arm ‟gainst arm, curbing his lavish spirit!

    “And, to conclude: the victory fell to us!

    Duncan is amazed and delighted. “Great happiness!” The Vikings‟ ships had sailed into the firth and landed near the very heart of Scotland, expecting to rout easily the royal forces then

    battling the northern rebels.

    “Thus now Sweno, Norways‟ king, craves composition!”—settlement. “Nor would we deign

    him burial of his men till he disbursèd at Saint Colme‟s Inch”—an island in the firth—“ten

    thousand guilders to our general use!”

    The king nods, highly pleased. But his thoughts soon turn grave. “No more shall that Thane

    of Cawdor deceive our bosom interest!” he growls. “Go pronounce his present death, and with his

    former title greet Macbeth!

    Rosse bows. “I‟ll see it done.”

    “What he hath lost, noble Macbeth hath won!” Duncan decrees.

    umbling thunder rolls out across the Scottish heath near Forres, as three spectres meet

    R again, this time assuming shapes familiar to men.

    “Where hast thou been, Sister?”

    “Killing swine.”

    “Sister, where thou?” asks the newest.

    The eldest has a tale to tell. “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 ronyon cries.”

    The specter, affronted at being denied and ordered away, intends to retaliate. “Her husband‟s to Aleppo gone, master o‟ the 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!”

    “Thou‟rt kind.”

    “And I another!”

    “I myself have all the others, and the very ports they blow, all the quarters”—wind

    directions—“that they know i‟ the shipman‟s card!

    “I‟ll drain him dry as hay! Sleep shall neither night nor day hang upon his pent-house lid; he

    shall live a man forbid!weary se‟nnights, nine times nine, shall he dwindle, peak and pine! Though his bark cannot be lost, yet it shall be tempest-tost!

    “Look what I have….”


    “Show me, show me!”

    “Here I have a pilot‟s thumb!—wrecked as homeward he did come.”

    “A drum, a drum!” cries the youngest; they can hear sound of military men on the march. Macbeth doth come!”

    As the three circle, invoking primordial powers, the most ancient figure intones, “The weird sisters, hand in hand, riders 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.” The agents of Fate stand still and wait, as two soldiers ride along the rutted road below.

    The generals, having led their victorious troops nearly home, have now veered away eastward on horseback, headed for the king‟s palace. Macbeth, still exulting in success, eyes the threatening clouds. “So foul and fair a day I have not seen!”

    “How far is‟t called to Forres?” asks Banquo. As they come up a rise in the wind-blown

    desolation, he is surprised to find three cloaked and hooded figures standing by the road. “What are these, so withered and so wild in their attire, that look not like the inhabitants o‟ the earth, and yet are on‟t?”

    The commanders ride closer and stop, not dismounting. Banquo speaks firstannoying the

    three. “Live you?or are you aught that man may question?

    “You seem to understand me, I see, each at once her chappy finger laying upon her skinny lips. You should be womenand yet your beards forbid me to interpret that you are so!”

    “Speak, if you can,” demands Macbeth. “What are you?”

    The three raise gnarled hands.

    “All hail Macbeth! Hail to thee, Thane of Glamis!” says the youngest.

    “All hail Macbeth. Hail to thee, Thane of Cawdor!

    “All hail Macbeth! Thou shalt be king hereafter!” says the oldest.

    Macbeth stares, taken aback.

    Banquo watches him; two of the crones have prophesied great advancement. “Good sir, why do you start, and seem to fear things that do sound so fair?” He turns to the three. “I‟ the 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 such 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 favours nor your hate.”




    “Lesser than Macbeth, and greater!” says the new one.

    “Not so happy, yet much happier”—more fortunate, adds the second.

    “Thou shalt beget kings, though thou be none,” pronounces the eldest gravely. “So all hail Macbeth and Banquo.”

    The youngest lifts her hands. “Banquo and Macbeth, all hail!” Her eyes sparkle with wry


    “Stay, you imperfect speakers, tell me more!” demands Macbeth. “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, and why upon this wind-blasted heath you stop our way with such prophetic greeting! Speak, I charge you!”

    But the specters are done, for now. The two men‟s horses whinny, hitching and shuffling uneasily, as the three images waver and warp, swirl and fadeand then disappear.

    “The earth hath bubbles as the water has, and these are of them!” cries Banquo, astonished.

    Whither are they vanished?”


    “Into the air! And what seemed corporal melted as breath into the wind!” says Macbeth.

    “Would they had stayed….”

    Banquo looks around them, seeing, above and ahead, only dark gray sky and barren land. “Were such things here as we do speak about? Or have we eaten on the insane-root that takes the

    reason prisoner?”

    Macbeth regards him carefully. “Your children shall be kings.”

    You shall be king!

    “And Thane of Cawdor, too—went it not so?”

    “To the selfsame tune and words.” Banqo sees horses approaching from the east. “Who‟s here?”

    Two other thanes of King Duncan‟s court, Lords Rosse and Angus, ride up the hillock toward

    them. The noblemen all greet each other warmly, and they dismount to talk.

    “The king hath happily received, Macbeth, the news of thy success,” Rosse tells him, “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‟ the same day, he finds thee in the stout Norweyan ranks, nothing afeard of what thyself didst make: strange images of death!

    “As thick as hail came post with post!—and every one did bear thy praises in his kingdom‟s

    great defence, and poured them down before him!”

    Angus smiles. “We are sent to give thee from our royal master thanksonly to herald thee

    into his sight, not pay thee!”

    “And, as an earnest of a greater honour, he bade me, from him, call thee Thane of Cawdor!

    says Rosse. “In which addition: Hail, most worthy thane! For it is thine!”

    Banquo remembers the grotesque prophets. What!can the devil speak true? he wonders.

    Macbeth frowns. “The Thane of Cawdor lives; why do you dress me in borrowed robes?”

    “Who was the thane lives yet,” says Angus, “but under heavy judgment bears that life which

    he deserves to lose! Whether he was combinèd with those of Norway, or did line the rebel with hidden help and vantage, or with both he laboured in his country‟s wreck, I know not; but

    treasons, capital, confessed and proved, have overthrown him.”

    Macbeth is privately delighted. Glamis, and Thane of Cawdor! The greatest is beyond!the

    crown awaits. “Thanks for your pains,” he tells Rosse and Angus, pulling Banquo aside. He speaks in a hush: “Do you not hope your children shall be kings, when those that gave the thane

    of Cawdor to me promised no less to them?”

    Banquo shrugs. “That, trusted home, might yet enkindle you unto the crown, besides the

    thane of Cawdor. But ‟tis strangeand oftentimes, to win us to our harm, the instruments of darkness tell us truths, win us with honest trifles, to betray us in deepest consequence.”

    Macbeth is silent, thoughtful.

    Banquo sees the others men‟s puzzled looks. “Cousins, a word, I pray you.” He tells the thanes about the crones; but, wary of augury—and of oracles‟ questionable candor—he reveals

    only that the three spoke an enigma about kings.

    As they talk, Macbeth rejoices at the news. Two truths are told, as happy prologues to the

    swelling act of the imperial theme! He nods to the thanes. “I thank you, gentlemen!”

    Feverishly, he ponders the prophecy. Cannot be illcannot 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?

    Present fears are less than horrible imaginings! My thought, whose murder yet is but fantastical, so shakes my simpler state of mind that function is smothered in surmise, and nothing is but what is not!

    “Look, how our partner‟s rapt,” says Banquo; the three thanes believe the new title weighs heavily on Macbeth.


    Thinks Macbeth, If chance will have me king, why, chance may crown me without my stir!

    The crime he has already contemplated may be needless.

    Banquo understands change, added challenges, unknown threats. “New honors come upon him strange: like our garments, cleave not to their mould but with the aid of use,” he tells Rosse and Angus.

    Macbeth is now eager. Come what comes, may time and the hour run through the roughest day!

    Banquo calls to him. “Worthy Macbeth, we stay upon your leisure.”

    Leading his horse, Macbeth rejoins the others. “Give me your favour—my dull brain was

    wrought with things forgotten.

    “Kind gentlemen, your pains are registered where every day I turn the leaf to read them!

    “Let us toward the king; think upon what hath chanced; and, after more time, in the interim

    having weighed it, let us speak our free hearts each to other.”

    “Very gladly,” says Banquo.

    “Till then, enough. Come, friends.”

    The four lords ride east together to meet with their sovereign.

    Chapter Two

    Flower and Serpent

    n the throne room of his palace at Forres, the monarch is attended by his sons, Malcolm

    I and Donalbain, with Lord Lennox and other thanes and courtiers.

    “Is execution done on Cawdor?” asks King Duncan. “Are not those in commission yet returned?”

    “My liege, they are not yet come back,” says Malcolm. “But I have spoke with one that saw him die—who did report that very frankly he confessed his treasons, implored Your Highness‟ pardon, and set forth a deep repentance.”

    Duncan scorns the traitor‟s bravado: “Nothing in his life became him like the leaving it! He

    died as one that had been studied in his death, throwing away the dearest thing he owned

    as ‟twere a careless trifle.

    “There‟s no art for finding the mind‟s construction in the face,” the king reflects sadly. “He was a gentleman on whom I built an absolute trust.”

    A sennet of cornets signals the return of Rosse and Angus, bringing the generals.

    “O worthiest cousin!” cries Duncan, embracing Macbeth. “The sin of my ingratitude even

    now was heavy on me! Thou art so far before that swiftest wing of recompense is slow to

    overtake thee! Would thou hadst less deserved, so the proportion of both thanks and payment might have been mine! Only I have left to say: More is thy due than more than all can pay!”

    “The service and the loyalty I owe, in doing it pays itself,” Macbeth replies humbly. “Your Highness‟ part is to receive our duties; and our duties are to your throne and state, children and servantswho do but what they should, by doing everything safe toward your love and honour.”

    “Welcome hither!” says Duncan warmly. “I have begun to plant thee, and will labour to make

    thee full of growing!

    “Noble Banquo, that hast no less deserved, and must be known no less to have done!so let

    me enfold thee, and hold thee to my heart!”

    “There if I grow, the harvest is your own,” pledges Banquo.

    The king, mindful of the tumultuous times, intends to consolidate his realm, and to provide for a stable succession. He has a major announcement.

    There are tears in his eyes. “My plenteous joys, wanton in fulness, seek to hide themselves in

    drops of sorrow!


    “Sons, kinsmen, thanes, and you whose places are the nearest, know that we will establish our estate upon our eldest, Malcolm, whom we name hereafter the Prince of Cumberland!

    Which honour must not, unaccompanied, invest him only, but signs of nobleness, like stars, shall shine on all deservers!”

    Malcolm, a quiet and honorable man in his thirties, is highly regarded, and his elevation to govern Cumberlandhe is thus designated as heir to the throneis well received. And the other

    thanes expect to be rewarded generously for their help in preserving the kingdom.

    Duncan turns to beam once more at Macbeth. “From hence to Inverness, and bind us further to you!” The king and his retinue will visit the newly elevated nobleman at his castle.

    “The rest is labour, which is not used for you,” Macbeth tells him. “I‟ll be myself the

    harbinger, and make joyful the hearing of my wife with your approach!

    “So, humbly, I take my leave,” he says, with a bow.

    “My worthy Cawdor!” says Duncan fondly as he goes.

    But Macbeth, walking away, is much perturbed. The Prince of Cumberland! That is a step on

    which I must fall down!or else o‟erleap, for in my way it lies!

    Stars, hide your fires: let not light see my black and deep desires, the eye not see the hand; yet let that be which the eye fears, when it is done to see!

    In the visitors‟ quarters he calls for a messenger—a fast riderthen sits down and begins to



    The king hears further generous praise of Macbeth.

    Duncan nods. “True, worthy Banquo! He is full so valiant that when in his commendations I

    am fed it is a banquet to me!”

    He motions to his attendants, unwilling to wait any longer. “Let‟s after him, whose care is

    gone before to bid us welcome!

    “He is a peerless kinsman!” he tells Lennox, smiling.

    The king and his party begin immediate preparations for their day-long journey.

    n the castle at Inverness, Lady Macbeth reads a letter just brought by post from her

    I husband. He writes of a strange prophecy.

    “„They met me in the day of success—and I have learned, by the perfectest report, they have more in them than mortal knowledge!

    “„When I burned in desire to question them further, they made themselves air, into which

    they vanished! Whiles I stood rapt in the wonder of it came missives from the king, who all-hailed me Thane of Cawdor!by which title before these weird sisters had saluted me, and referred me to the coming on of time with, “Hail, king that shalt be!”

    “„This have I thought good to deliver thee, my dearest partner in greatness, that thou mightst not lose the dues of rejoicing by being ignorant of what greatness is promised thee! Lay it to thy heart, and farewell!‟”

    She grips the letter tightly. Glamis thou art, and Cawdor!and shalt be what thou art


    She paces. Yet do I fear thy nature: it is too full o’ the milk of human kindness to catch the nearest way. Thou wouldst be great, art not without ambitionbut without the ill will that should

    attend it! What thou wouldst highly, that wouldst thou holilywouldst not play false, and yet

    wouldst wrongly win. Thou’ldst rather have, great Glamis, that which cries, ‘Thus thou must do if

    thou’ld have it!’ than that which thou dost fear to do, then wishest should be undone!

    Hie thee hither, that I may pour my spirits in thine ear, and chastise with the valour of my tongue all that impedes thee from the golden round which fate and metaphysical aid doth seem to have thee crowned withal!

    An excited messenger rushes toward her. “What is your tidings?”

    He bows. “The king comes here tonight!”


    “Thou‟rt mad to say it!” Lady Macbeth is startled by news so suitable to her intent. “Is not thy master with him?—who, were‟t so, would have informed us for preparation!”

    “So please you, it is true! Our thane is coming!one of my fellows had the speed of him,

    who, almost dead for breath, had scarcely more than would make up his message!”

    “Give him tending; he brings great news!” The man bows and hurries away; there is much to doand quicklyfor a royal visit.

    The lady is grimly pleased. The raven himself is hoarse that croaks the fatal entrance of Duncan under my battlements!

    Come, you spirits that attend on mortal thoughts! Unsex me here, and fill me, from the crown to the toe, full of direst cruelty! Make thick my blood; stop up the access and passage to remorse,

    so that no compunctious visitings of Nature shake my fell purpose, nor keep peace between the effect and it! Come to my woman’s breasts and make my milk into gall, you murdering ministers,

    wherever in your sightless substances you 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!’

    Just as she finishes the fierce invocation, Macbeth comes to her.

    She embraces him. “Great Glamis! Worthy Cawdor!greater than both, by the all-hail

    hereafter! Thy letters have transported me beyond this ignorant present, and I feel now the future

    in the instant!”

    Macbeth kisses her, but after a moment he must break away. “My dearest love, Duncan

    comes here tonight!”

    “And when goes hence?”

    “Tomorrow, as he purposes.”

    “Oh, never shall sun that morrow see!”

    They have long shared nefarious notions, if not the resolve to accomplish them.

    Lady Macbeth leans back, looking up at him. “Your face, my thane, is as a book where men

    may read strange matters! To beguile the time, look like the time: bear welcome in your eye, your

    hand, your tonguelook like the innocent flower, but be the serpent under‟t!

    “He that‟s coming must be provided for. And you shall put this night‟s great business into my

    dispatchwhich shall to all our nights and days to come give solely sovereign sway and


    Macbeth nodsand frowns, thinking of the Prince of Cumberland. But the king is expected to arrive at any moment. “We will speak further….”

    “Only look up clear; to alter favour is to be feared!” she warns. “Leave all the rest to me!”

    orches light the way as King Duncan and his train approach Macbeth‟s dark-stone

    T fastness. A lute plays softly as the noblemen enter the dim, two-storied main hall: Malcolm and Donalbain, Banquo, and the Thanes of Macduff, Lennox, Rosse and Angus, all followed by attendants.

    “This castle hath a pleasant seat,” Duncan observes. “The air nimbly and sweetly recommends itself unto our gentle senses.”

    Banquo concurs, pointing to the birds nesting among rafters near the high loft. “This guest of summer, the temple-haunting martlet, does approve, by his lovèd mansionry, that the heavens‟

    breath smells wooingly here! No jutty, frieze, buttress, nor coign of vantage, but this bird hath made his pendent bed and procreant cradle. Where they most breed and haunt, I have observed, the air is delicate.”

    Lady Macbeth hurries forth to greet the royal contingent. She curtseys, slowly and deeply.

    “See, see, our honoured hostess!” cries Duncan, taking her hands. He glances back as his party continues to file into the massive hall. “The love that follows us sometime is our trouble, which still we thank as love.” He is aware of imposing on her hospitality—and of her sudden


increase in prosperity. “Herein I teach you how you shall bid „God shield us!‟ for your pains—and

    thank us for your trouble!”

    Lady Macbeth is skillfully obsequious: “All our service in every point twice done, and then

    done double, were poor and single business to contend against those honours, deep and broad, wherewith Your Majesty loads our house! For those of old, and the late dignities heaped up to them, we rest your hermits!”

    Duncan looks around. “Where‟s the Thane of Cawdor? We coursed him at the heels, and had a purpose to be his purveyor; but he rides well, and his great love, sharp as his spur, hath holp him to his home before us.

    “Fair and noble hostess, we are your guest tonight.”

    Lady Macbeth smiles graciously. “Your servants ever have theirs, themselves and what is theirs in compt to make their audit at Your Highness‟ pleasure, ever to return your own!

    “Give me your hand,” says Duncan kindly. “Conduct me to mine host. We love him highly,

    and shall continue our graces towards him!

    “By your leave, hostess.” The white-haired monarch kisses her hand.

    oud laughter resounds over conversation in the torch-lighted dining hall. Spoons and

    L knives clatter against wooden trenchers as kitchen servants, harried by the steward, rush back and forth with dishes, pots, platters and mugs, roasted meats, crusty bread and potent wine for the royal guest and his party of revelers.

    But Macbeth, standing alone in a dim side room, is contending with concern.

    If it were done when ’tis done, then ’twere well it were done quickly! If the assassination could trammel-up the consequence, and catch with its surcease success, so that only this blow might be

    the be-all and the end-allhere but here upon this bench in the school of Time we’d jump the life

    to come!

    But in these cases we still have judgment: that herein we but teach bloody instructions which, being taught, return to plague the inventor! This even-handed justice commends the ingredients of our poisoned chalice to our own lips!

    Even through the door he can recognize the muffled laugh of King Duncan.

    He’s here in double trust: first, as I am his kinsman and his subject, strong both against the

    deed, and his host, who should against his murderer shut the door, not bear the knife myself!

    Besides this, Duncan hath borne his faculties so meetly, hath been so clear in his great office, that his virtues will plead like angels, trumpet-tongued, against the deep damnation of his taking-off! And pity, like a naked, new-born babe straining to howl, or heaven’s cherubim, horsed upon the sightless couriers of the air, shall blast the horrid deed into every eye so that tears shall drown the wind!

    I have no spur to prick the side of my intent but only vaulting ambition which o’erleaps itself

    and falls on the other!

    Lady Macbeth finds him fretting. “How now,” he asks. “What news?”

    She is quite annoyed: “He has almost supped! Why have you left the chamber?”

    “Hath he asked for me?”

    She frowns at the foolish question: “Know you not he has?

    Macbeth has decided. “We will proceed no further in this business! He hath honoured me of

    late; and I have bought golden opinions from all sorts of people, which would be worn now in

    their newest gloss, not cast aside so soon.”

    Her irascible impatience is immediate: “Was the hope drunk wherein you dressed yourself?

    Hath it slept since!and wakes it now, to look so green and pale at what it did so freely? From this time, such I account thy love!

    “Art thou afeard to be the same in thine own act and valour as thou art in desire? Wouldst

    thou have that which thou esteem‟st the ornament of life,”—the crown, “but live a coward in


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