A line-by-line translation

Macbeth

Macbeth Translation Act 2, Scene 3

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A knock sounds offstage. A porter enters.

PORTER

Here’s a knocking indeed! If a man were porter of hell-gate, he should have old turning the key.

PORTER

What a lot of knocking! If a man were gatekeeper for the gates of hell, he’d sure have to turn the key to open that gate often.

A knock sounds offstage.

PORTER

Knock, knock, knock! Who’s there, i’ th’ name of Beelzebub? Here’s a farmer that hanged himself on the expectation of plenty. Come in time, have napkins enoughabout you, here you’ll sweat for ’t.

PORTER

[Pretending he's the gatekeeper of hell] Knock, knock, knock! Who’s there, in the name of the devil? Perhaps a farmer who hanged himself because he’d hoarded grain, hoping to charge high prices during a famine that never came. [Speaking to an imagined farmer] You’ve come at a good time. Make sure you have a lot of handkerchiefs, because you’re going to sweat a lot here in hell.

A knock sounds offstage.

PORTER

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.

PORTER

Knock, knock! Who’s there, in the other devil’s name? Indeed, it’s some slick schemer who vowed his support to two opposing sides. He committed treason in the name of God, but found in the end that you can’t lie to God about your actions. Oh, come in, schemer.

A knock sounds offstage.

PORTER

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.

PORTER

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A knock sounds offstage.

PORTER

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 the everlasting bonfire.

PORTER

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A knock sounds offstage.

PORTER

Anon, anon! I pray you, remember the porter.

PORTER

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The PORTER opens the gate.

MACDUFF and LENNOX enter.

MACDUFF

Was it so late, friend, ere you went to bed,That you do lie so late?

MACDUFF

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PORTER

‘Faith sir, we were carousing till the second cock. Anddrink, sir, is a great provoker of three things.

PORTER

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MACDUFF

What three things does drink especially provoke?

MACDUFF

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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 takeshim 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 him.

PORTER

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MACDUFF

I believe drink gave thee the lie last night.

MACDUFF

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PORTER

That it did, sir, i’ th’ very throat on me; but I requited him for his lie, and, I think, being too strongfor him, though he took up my legs sometime, yet I madea shift to cast him.

PORTER

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MACDUFF

Is thy master stirring?

MACDUFF

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MACBETH enters.

MACDUFF

Our knocking has awaked him. Here he comes.

MACDUFF

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LENNOX

Good morrow, noble sir.

LENNOX

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MACBETH

Good morrow, both.

MACBETH

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MACDUFF

Is the king stirring, worthy thane?

MACDUFF

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MACBETH

Not yet.

MACBETH

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MACDUFF

He did command me to call timely on him.I have almost slipped the hour.

MACDUFF

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MACBETH

I’ll bring you to him.

MACBETH

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MACDUFF

I know this is a joyful trouble to you,But yet ’tis one.

MACDUFF

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MACBETH

The labor we delight in physics pain.This is the door.

MACBETH

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MACDUFF

I’ll make so bold to call,For ’tis my limited service.

MACDUFF

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MACDUFF exits.

LENNOX

Goes the king hence today?

LENNOX

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MACBETH

He does. He did appoint so.

MACBETH

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LENNOX

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 death, And prophesying with accents terrible Of dire combustion and confused events New hatched to the woeful time. The obscure bird Clamored the livelong night. Some say the Earth Was feverous and did shake.

LENNOX

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MACBETH

‘Twas a rough night.

MACBETH

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LENNOX

My young remembrance cannot parallelA fellow to it.

LENNOX

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MACDUFF rushes in.

MACDUFF

O horror, horror, horror! Tongue nor heart cannot conceive nor name thee!

MACDUFF

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MACBETH and LENNOX

What’s the matter?

MACBETH and LENNOX

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MACDUFF

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!

MACDUFF

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MACBETH

What is ’t you say? “The life?”

MACBETH

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LENNOX

Mean you his majesty?

LENNOX

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MACDUFF

Approach the chamber, and destroy your sightWith a new Gorgon. Do not bid me speak.See, and then speak yourselves.

MACDUFF

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MACBETH and LENNOX exit.

MACDUFF

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.

MACDUFF

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A bell rings. LADY MACBETH enters.

LADY MACBETH

What’s the business,That such a hideous trumpet calls to parleyThe sleepers of the house? Speak, speak!

LADY MACBETH

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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.

MACDUFF

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BANQUO enters.

MACDUFF

O Banquo, Banquo,Our royal master’s murdered!

MACDUFF

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LADY MACBETH

Woe, alas!What, in our house?

LADY MACBETH

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BANQUO

Too cruel any where.Dear Duff, I prithee, contradict thyself,And say it is not so.

BANQUO

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MACBETH and LENNOX reenter, with ROSS.

MACBETH

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.

MACBETH

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MALCOLM and DONALBAIN enter.

DONALBAIN

What is amiss?

DONALBAIN

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MACBETH

You are, and do not know ’t.The spring, the head, the fountain of your bloodIs stopped; the very source of it is stopped.

MACBETH

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MACDUFF

Your royal father’s murdered.

MACDUFF

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MALCOLM

Oh, by whom?

MALCOLM

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LENNOX

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.

LENNOX

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MACBETH

Oh, yet I do repent me of my fury, That I did kill them.

MACBETH

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MACDUFF

Wherefore did you so?

MACDUFF

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MACBETH

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?

MACBETH

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LADY MACBETH

Help me hence, ho!

LADY MACBETH

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MACDUFF

Look to the lady.

MACDUFF

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MALCOLM

[aside to DONALBAIN] Why do we hold our tongues, That most may claim this argument for ours?

MALCOLM

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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.

DONALBAIN

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MALCOLM

[aside to DONALBAIN] Nor our strong sorrow Upon the foot of motion.

MALCOLM

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BANQUO

Look to the lady.

BANQUO

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LADY MACBETH is carried out.

BANQUO

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.

BANQUO

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MACDUFF

And so do I.

MACDUFF

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ALL

So all.

ALL

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MACBETH

Let’s briefly put on manly readiness, And meet i’ th’ hall together.

MACBETH

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ALL

Well contented.

ALL

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Everyone exits but MALCOLM and DONALBAIN.

MALCOLM

What will you do? Let’s not consort with them.To show an unfelt sorrow is an officeWhich the false man does easy. I’ll to England.

MALCOLM

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DONALBAIN

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.

DONALBAIN

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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.

MALCOLM

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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.