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Macbeth

Macbeth Quotes

Read our modern English translation.
Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Simon & Schuster edition of Macbeth published in 2003.
Act 1, scene 1 Quotes
Fair is foul, and foul is fair;
Hover through the fog and filthy air.
Related Characters: Weird Sisters (speaker)
Related Symbols: Visions and Hallucinations
Page Number: 1.1.12-13
Explanation and Analysis:

In the play’s opening scene, three witches gather in a storm and discuss their upcoming meeting with Macbeth. Together they chant these lines about the moral uncertainty and decay in Scotland.

That “fair is foul”… (203 more words in this explanation)

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Act 1, scene 3 Quotes
And oftentimes, to win us to our harm,
The instruments of darkness tell us truths,
Win us with honest trifles, to betray's
In deepest consequence.
Related Characters: Banquo (speaker), Macbeth, Weird Sisters
Page Number: 1.3.135-138
Explanation and Analysis:

Macbeth and Banquo have just learned that Macbeth has become Thane of Cawdor, which confirms the first part of the witches’ prophecy. In response, Banquo notes that the stories told by the witches may be… (230 more words in this explanation)

Act 1, scene 4 Quotes
Stars, hide your fires!
Let not light see my black and deep desires.
Related Characters: Macbeth (speaker)
Page Number: 1.4.57-58
Explanation and Analysis:

After hearing that Duncan will visit his castle, Macbeth finds himself fantasizing about seizing power for himself. He wishes to obscure these evil thoughts from outside observers.

In these early moments in the play, Macbeth… (219 more words in this explanation)

Act 1, scene 5 Quotes
Come, you spirits
That tend on mortal thoughts! unsex me here,
And fill me from the crown to the toe, top-full
Of direst cruelty; make thick my blood,
Stop up the access and passage to remorse,
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 take my milk for gall.
Related Characters: Lady Macbeth (speaker)
Related Symbols: Blood
Page Number: 1.5.47-55
Explanation and Analysis:

After learning that King Duncan will remain at the castle for the evening, Lady Macbeth plots his demise. She asks for fortitude in renouncing any human compassion in order to best carry out the deed.

(241 more words in this explanation)

Look like the innocent flower,
But be the serpent under it.
Related Characters: Lady Macbeth (speaker), Macbeth
Page Number: 1.5.76-77
Explanation and Analysis:

Lady Macbeth entreats her husband to kill Duncan that night. She recommends he act secretively and strike out violently.

These lines return the text to the theme of appearance versus reality. While Macbeth still remains… (153 more words in this explanation)

Act 1, scene 7 Quotes
I have no spur
To prick the sides of my intent, but only
Vaulting ambition, which o'erleaps itself
And falls on the other.
Related Characters: Macbeth (speaker)
Page Number: 1.7.25-28
Explanation and Analysis:

Macbeth ponders whether he should follow through on his plan to kill Duncan. He observes that he is being motivated by aspirations for power rather than responding to a specific injustice.

Shakespeare here makes a… (191 more words in this explanation)

I dare do all that may become a man;
Who dares do more, is none.
Related Characters: Macbeth (speaker)
Page Number: 1.7.51-52
Explanation and Analysis:

Having decided moments earlier against murdering Duncan, Macbeth finds his manhood challenged by his wife. In response, he argues that composure and allegiance are more characteristic of masculinity than rash violence.

His claim is made… (236 more words in this explanation)

Macbeth: If we should fail.
Lady Macbeth: We fail?
But screw your courage to the sticking-place,
And we'll not fail.
Related Characters: Macbeth (speaker), Lady Macbeth (speaker)
Page Number: 1.7.68-71
Explanation and Analysis:

Lady Macbeth continues to convince Macbeth that they should kill Duncan. When he wonders whether they will actually succeed, she argues that with sufficient fortitude they will certainly triumph.

The first two lines in this… (145 more words in this explanation)

Act 2, scene 1 Quotes
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, sensible
To feeling as to sight? or art thou but
A dagger of the mind, a false creation,
Proceeding from the heat-oppressed brain?
I see thee yet, in form as palpable
As this which now I draw.
Related Characters: Macbeth (speaker)
Related Symbols: Visions and Hallucinations
Page Number: 2.1.44-53
Explanation and Analysis:

After discussing the witches with Banquo, Macbeth is left alone to contemplate his impending murder. He then sees a dagger in the air and wonders to what extent it is real or hallucinated.

A primarily… (229 more words in this explanation)

Act 2, scene 2 Quotes
Methought I heard a voice cry, Sleep no more!
Macbeth does murder sleep, — the innocent sleep;
Sleep, that knits up the ravell'd 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.
Related Characters: Macbeth (speaker)
Related Symbols: Sleep
Page Number: 2.2.47-52
Explanation and Analysis:

After murdering Duncan, Macbeth begins to feel remorse for what he has done. He fixates on a voice he claims to have overheard during the act, believing that it charges him with deep guilt.

We… (289 more words in this explanation)

Act 3, scene 2 Quotes
Nought's had, all's spent
Where our desire is got without content.
Related Characters: Lady Macbeth (speaker)
Page Number: 3.2.6-7
Explanation and Analysis:

Lady Macbeth ponders why she continues to be dissatisfied with her existence. She acknowledges that she has had complete success in her endeavors but somehow remains vexed.

These lines reveal a sharp change in Lady… (144 more words in this explanation)

Act 3, scene 4 Quotes
I am in blood
Stepp'd in so far, that, should I wade no more,
Returning were as tedious as go o'er.
Related Characters: Macbeth (speaker)
Related Symbols: Blood
Page Number: 3.4.168-170
Explanation and Analysis:

After seeing Banquo’s ghost, Macbeth decides to return to consult the witches on his fate. He points out to his wife that he has pursued his murderous destiny too far to stop doing so now.

(202 more words in this explanation)

Act 4, scene 1 Quotes
By the pricking of my thumbs,
Something wicked this way comes.
Related Characters: Weird Sisters (speaker), Macbeth
Page Number: 4.1.44-45
Explanation and Analysis:

The witches prepare for Macbeth’s arrival by mixing an unnatural brew in the cauldron. During their incantation, one makes this pronouncement on impending evil.

These lines firstly verify the supernatural powers of the witches. They… (171 more words in this explanation)

Act 5, scene 1 Quotes
Out, damned spot! out, I say!
Related Characters: Lady Macbeth (speaker)
Related Symbols: Sleep
Page Number: 5.1.37
Explanation and Analysis:

Lady Macbeth has taken to sleepwalking. One night, she wanders and rubs her hands while saying this line.

We see here the extent to which guilt has crippled Lady Macbeth and disrupted her ability to… (217 more words in this explanation)

Act 5, scene 5 Quotes
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 fools
The 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 tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.
Related Characters: Macbeth (speaker)
Page Number: 5.5.22-31
Explanation and Analysis:

As the final battle against Macduff's army approaches, Macbeth gives this moving soliloquy. He claims that life is an endless repetition and inherently meaningless.

To arrive at this nihilistic conclusion, Macbeth first ponders the succession… (289 more words in this explanation)

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