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Macbeth

Macbeth Translation Act 1, Scene 4

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Trumpets sound. KING DUNCAN, LENNOX, MALCOLM, DONALBAIN, and their attendants enter.

DUNCAN

Is execution done on Cawdor? Are notThose in commission yet returned?

DUNCAN

Has the Thane of Cawdor been executed? Have those in charge of the execution returned?

MALCOLM

My liege, They are not yet come back. 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. Nothing in his life Became him like the leaving it. He died As one that had been studied in his death To throw away the dearest thing he owed As ’twere a careless trifle.

MALCOLM

My lord, they haven’t returned yet. But I spoke with someone who saw Cawdor die. He reported that Cawdor confessed his treason, begged your Highness’s forgiveness, and displayed deep regret for his actions. Nothing he did in his entire life was as noble as the way he died. He died like a man completely prepared to throw away the most precious thing he owned as if it were a worthless trinket.

DUNCAN

There’s no art To find the mind’s construction in the face. He was a gentleman on whom I built An absolute trust.

DUNCAN

It’s impossible to tell what’s in a man’s mind by looking at his face. Cawdor was a gentleman whom I trusted completely.

MACBETH, BANQUO, ROSS, and ANGUS enter.

DUNCAN

[to MACBETH] O worthiest cousin, 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, That the proportion both of thanks and payment Might have been mine! Only I have left to say, More is thy due than more than all can pay.

DUNCAN

[To MACBETH] My noble cousin! I’ve just been feeling guilty for not showing you enough gratitude. You’ve accomplished so much that, no matter how fast I try to reward you, I haven’t been able to give you enough. If you deserved less, then perhaps the balance between what I can reward and what you deserve could be tipped in my favor. But all I have left to say is that I owe you more than I can ever repay.

MACBETH

The service and the loyalty I owe In doing it pays itself. Your highness’ part Is to receive our duties, and our duties Are to your throne and state children and servants, Which do but what they should, by doing everything Safe toward your love and honor.

MACBETH

The loyalty I feel to you and the chance to serve you is its own reward. Your Highness’s duty is to accept our loyalty and service, while our duty to your kingship and country is similar to that owed by children to their father or servants to their master: we’re only doing what we should when we do all we can to protect you.

DUNCAN

Welcome hither. I have begun to plant thee, and will labor To make thee full of growing. [to BANQUO] Noble Banquo, That hast no less deserved, nor must be known No less to have done so, let me infold thee And hold thee to my heart.

DUNCAN

Be welcome here. The rewards I have given you are like newly planted seeds, and now I will work to help you grow into a great future. 

[To BANQUO] Noble Banquo, you are just as deserving as Macbeth, as everyone should and must know. Let me bring you close and hold you to my heart.

BANQUO

There, if I grow,The harvest is your own.

BANQUO

Then, if I grow to greatness, it will be a benefit to you as well.

DUNCAN

My plenteous joys, Wanton in fullness, seek to hide themselves In drops of sorrow. Sons, kinsmen, thanes, And you whose places are the nearest, know We will establish our estate upon Our eldest, Malcolm, whom we name hereafter The prince of Cumberland; which honor must Not unaccompanied invest him only, But signs of nobleness, like stars, shall shine On all deservers. [to MACBETH] From hence to Inverness, And bind us further to you.

DUNCAN

I am so full of joy it brings tears to my eyes. My sons, relatives, thanes, and all those who are most close to me: I hereby proclaim that the heir to my throne is my eldest son, Malcolm, whom we will now call the Prince of Cumberland. He will not be alone in gaining new titles—new titles of nobility, like stars, will shine on all who deserve them. 

[To MACBETH] From here, let’s go to your castle at Inverness, where your hospitality will make me even more indebted to you.

MACBETH

The rest is labor which is not used for you: I’ll be myself the harbinger and make joyful The hearing of my wife with your approach. So humbly take my leave.

MACBETH

Any effort in your service does not feel like work at all. I’ll be the messenger and delight my wife with the news that you’re coming. Now I will humbly be on my way.

DUNCAN

My worthy Cawdor!

DUNCAN

My noble Cawdor!

MACBETH

[aside] 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 wink at the hand, yet let that be Which the eye fears, when it is done, to see.

MACBETH

[To himself] Malcolm is the Prince of Cumberland! Because he is between me and the throne, I’m either going to have to move above him, or give up my hopes of kingship. Stars, hide your brightness so that my evil desires are hidden from the light. May my eye be blind to the actions of my hand. Yet if I do the thing that my eyes fear to see, I will be forced to see it once it’s been done.

MACBETH exits.

DUNCAN

True, worthy Banquo. He is full so valiant, And in his commendations I am fed; It is a banquet to me.—Let’s after him, Whose care is gone before to bid us welcome: It is a peerless kinsman.

DUNCAN

True, Banquo. Macbeth is incredibly heroic, and by praising him I myself benefit. Let’s follow him, since he’s gone ahead of us to prepare for our arrival. He is unequaled as a lord or kinsman.

Trumpets sound. They exit.

Macbeth
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Ben florman
About the Translator: Ben Florman

Ben is a co-founder of LitCharts. He holds a BA in English Literature from Harvard University, where as an undergraduate he won the Winthrop Sargent prize for best undergraduate paper on a topic related to Shakespeare.