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Macbeth

Macbeth Translation Act 3, Scene 4

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A banquet. MACBETH enters with LADY MACBETH, ROSS, LENNOX, LORDS, and their attendants.

MACBETH

You know your own degrees; sit down. At firstAnd last, the hearty welcome.

MACBETH

You know your own ranks, so you know where to sit according to your order of importance. To both the highest and lowest of you, I bid you a hearty welcome.

The LORDS sit.

LORDS

Thanks to your majesty.

LORDS

Thank you, your Majesty.

MACBETH

Ourself will mingle with society And play the humble host. Our hostess keeps her state, but in best time We will require her welcome.

MACBETH

I will mingle with all of you, playing the humble host. My wife, the hostess, will stay on her royal throne, but in good time I will ask her to welcome you all.

LADY MACBETH

Pronounce it for me, sir, to all our friends,For my heart speaks they are welcome.

LADY MACBETH

Sir, deliver my welcome to all of our friends for me, since they are all welcome in my heart.

The lords cheer. The FIRST MURDERER appears and catches Macbeth’s attention.

MACBETH

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. [aside to FIRST MURDERER] There’s blood upon thy face.

MACBETH

See, they respond to you with their hearts as well. The table is full on both sides. I’ll sit here in the middle. Be happy. Soon we’ll have a toast to the full table.

[To the FIRST MURDERER so that only he can hear] There’s blood on your face.

FIRST MURDERER

‘Tis Banquo’s then.

FIRST MURDERER

It’s Banquo’s blood then.

MACBETH

‘Tis better thee without than he within.Is he dispatched?

MACBETH

It’s better that you have his blood on your face than Banquo having his lifeblood still coursing in his veins. Is he dead?

FIRST MURDERER

My lord, his throat is cut. That I did for him.

FIRST MURDERER

My lord, his throat is cut. I did that for him.

MACBETH

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.

MACBETH

You are the best of the cutthroats. But whoever did the same to Fleance is just as good. If you cut Fleance’s throat, then you are a cutthroat without compare.

FIRST MURDERER

Most royal sir, Fleance is ’scaped.

FIRST MURDERER

Most royal sir, Fleance has escaped.

MACBETH

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?

MACBETH

Now my torment returns. Otherwise, I would have been perfect: solid as a piece of marble, as firm as a rock, as free as the air which surrounds everything. But now I’m all confined and bound in doubts and fears. But Banquo’s been killed?

FIRST MURDERER

Ay, my good lord. Safe in a ditch he bides,With twenty trenchèd gashes on his head,The least a death to nature.

FIRST MURDERER

Yes, my good lord. He’s lying in a ditch, with twenty deep gashes in his head—the least of which would have been enough to kill him.

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.

MACBETH

Thanks for that. The adult serpent lies in the ditch. The young worm that escaped will in time become poisonous. But right now he has no fangs. Be gone now. I’ll talk to you again tomorrow.

The FIRST 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.

LADY MACBETH

My royal lord, you’re not entertaining the guests. If you do not regularly make clear that your guests are welcome, they’ll start to feel as if they’re paying for their meal. If you simply want to eat, it’s best to do that at home. When you’re eating out, you need some ceremony to act as an extra sauce for the meat. Without it, the party will be dull.

MACBETH

Sweet remembrancer!Now, good digestion wait on appetite, And health on both!

MACBETH

Thank you for reminding me! [Raising a glass] Good digestion requires a good appetite, and good health requires both those things. To good appetite, good digestion, and good health!

LENNOX

May ’t please your highness sit.

LENNOX

Please sit, your Highness.

The GHOST OF BANQUO enters and sits in MACBETH’s place.

MACBETH

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.

MACBETH

All the nobility of Scotland would be gathered under one roof, if only the noble Banquo were also here. I hope I can scold him for rudeness, and not have to grieve because something has happened to him.

ROSS

His absence, sir,Lays blame upon his promise. Please ’t your highnessTo grace us with your royal company?

ROSS

His absence means only that he’s broken his promise to attend. If it pleases you, your Highness, won’t you sit and grace us with your royal company?

MACBETH

The table’s full.

MACBETH

The table’s full.

LENNOX

Here is a place reserved, sir.

LENNOX

Here’s a place saved for you, sir.

MACBETH

Where?

MACBETH

Where?

LENNOX

Here, my good lord. What is ’t that moves your highness?

LENNOX

[Pointing to where the GHOST sits] Here, my good lord. What’s bothering you, your highness?

MACBETH

Which of you have done this?

MACBETH

[Seeing the GHOST] Which one of you did this?

LORDS

What, my good lord?

LORDS

Did what, my good lord?

MACBETH

[to GHOST] Thou canst not say I did it. Never shakeThy gory locks at me.

MACBETH

[To the GHOST] You can’t say I did it. Don’t shake your bloody head at me.

ROSS

Gentlemen, rise. His highness is not well.

ROSS

Gentlemen, stand up. His Highness is not well.

LADY MACBETH

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. [aside to MACBETH] Are you a man?

LADY MACBETH

Sit, noble friends. My husband is often like this, and has been since childhood. Please, stay seated. This is a momentary fit. He’ll be well again in just a second. If you pay too much attention to him you’ll offend him, which will prolong the fit. Eat, and pay no attention to him. 

[To MACBETH] Are you a man?

MACBETH

Ay, and a bold one, that dare look on thatWhich might appall the devil.

MACBETH

Yes, and a brave one, who dares look at something that would frighten 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. Oh, 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.

LADY MACBETH

Oh, utter nonsense! This is a hallucination brought on by fear. This is like the floating dagger that you said led you to Duncan. This panic attack can’t even be compared to real fear. It's more like a performance put on by a woman telling a scary story by the fireside in front of her grandmother. Shame on you! Why are you making such faces? When the hallucination passes, you’ll see that you’re looking at nothing but a stool.

MACBETH

Prithee, see there! Behold! Look! 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.

MACBETH

Please, look there. See? Look! 

[To the GHOST] Hey! What do you have to say? And what do I care? If you can nod, then speak. If the dead are going to return from their graves, then we might as well not bury anyone and let the birds eat them.

The GHOST vanishes.

LADY MACBETH

What, quite unmanned in folly?

LADY MACBETH

What, has your foolishness destroyed your manhood?

MACBETH

If I stand here, I saw him.

MACBETH

As sure as I’m standing here, I saw him.

LADY MACBETH

Fie, for shame!

LADY MACBETH

Nonsense! Shame on you!

MACBETH

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.

MACBETH

In ancient times—before humane laws cleansed the commonwealth and made it noble—much blood was shed. Yes, and since then too, murders have been committed that are too terrible to mention. It used to be that when you knocked a man’s brains out he would die, and that was the end of it. But now they rise again with twenty fatal wounds on their head and push us from our stools. This returning from the dead is more strange than the original murder.

LADY MACBETH

My worthy lord,Your noble friends do lack you.

LADY MACBETH

My dear lord, your noble friends miss your company.

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 all. Then I’ll sit down. Give me some wine. Fill full.

MACBETH

I forgot. 

[To the lords] Don’t be shocked at my behavior, my most noble friends. I have a strange condition, which no longer bothers those who know me well. [Raising his glass again] Come: love and health to you all. Now I’ll sit down. Give me some wine. Fill my cup.

The GHOST OF BANQUO enters.

MACBETH

I drink to the 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.

MACBETH

I drink to the joy of all of you at the table, and to our dear friend Banquo, whom we miss. I wish he were here! To everyone here and to Banquo. Everyone drink to everyone else's health.

LORDS

Our duties, and the pledge.

LORDS

We drink to our allegiance to you, and to your toast.

They drink.

MACBETH

[seeing 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!

MACBETH

[Seeing the GHOST] Go! Get out of my sight! Hide in your grave. Your bones have no marrow, and your blood is cold. The eyes with which you’re glaring at me have no power of sight!

LADY MACBETH

Think of this, good peers,But as a thing of custom. ‘Tis no other;Only it spoils the pleasure of the time.

LADY MACBETH

Think of this, good friends, as just a strange habit. It’s nothing else. Too bad it’s spoiling our evening!

MACBETH

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 mockery, hence!

MACBETH

I dare as much as any man. Approach me in the form of a rugged Russian bear, an armor-plated rhinoceros, or a Hyrcan tiger. Take any shape but the one you have, and I won’t tremble. Or return to life and challenge me to a duel in some deserted place. If I tremble then, mock me as a little girl's doll. Be gone, horrible ghost! You hallucination, be gone!

The GHOST vanishes.

MACBETH

Why so, being gone,I am a man again. Pray you sit still.

MACBETH

See, now that it's gone, I’m a man again. Please, remain seated.

LADY MACBETH

You have displaced the mirth, broke the good meeting,With most admired disorder.

LADY MACBETH

You have disrupted our dinner and destroyed everyone’s good cheer with your astonishing behavior.

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.

MACBETH

[To the guests] Can such things exist—and overcome a person as suddenly as a summer storm—without making everyone astonished? You make me feel like I don’t know my own character and courage, when I see you looking at these terrible things without going pale with fear, while my own face has gone white.

ROSS

What sights, my lord?

ROSS

What sights, my lord?

LADY MACBETH

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.

LADY MACBETH

[To the guests] Please, don’t speak with him. He’s growing worse and worse. Talking only exacerbates it. Right now, good night. Don’t worry about leaving in a certain order according to your rank. Just leave right away.

LENNOX

Good night, and better healthAttend his majesty!

LENNOX

Good night. I hope better health returns to his Majesty!

LADY MACBETH

A kind good night to all!

LADY MACBETH

A kind good night to all of you!

Everyone leaves except MACBETH and LADY MACBETH.

MACBETH

It will have blood, they say. Blood will have blood. Stones have been known to move, and trees to speak. Augurs and understood relations have By magot pies and choughs and rooks brought forth The secret’st man of blood. —What is the night?

MACBETH

Blood will lead to blood, as the saying goes. Gravestones have been known to move, trees to speak, and the jackdaws, crows, and rooks to cackle out the names of even the most secret murderers. 

[To LADY MACBETH] How late is it?

LADY MACBETH

Almost at odds with morning, which is which.

LADY MACBETH

It's almost morning. You can’t tell whether it’s one or the other.

MACBETH

How say’st thou that Macduff denies his person At our great bidding?

MACBETH

What do you think about the fact that Macduff does refuses to come even should I command him to?

LADY MACBETH

Did you send to him, sir?

LADY MACBETH

Did you officially send for him, sir?

MACBETH

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 weird 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.

MACBETH

I heard about it indirectly, but I will send for him. I have a servant paid to spy for me in every one of my lords’ households. I will go see the witches tomorrow, early. They will tell me more, because I’m now determined to know the worst of what is to come. My own interests are more important than anything else. I have waded so far into this river of blood that even if I stopped now, it would be as unpleasant to go back as to continue forward. I have some plans in my head that I must act upon before I have a chance to think carefully about them.

LADY MACBETH

You lack the season of all natures, sleep.

LADY MACBETH

You lack the rest and ease that sleep provides.

MACBETH

Come, we’ll to sleep. My strange and self-abuseIs the initiate fear that wants hard use. We are yet but young in deed.

MACBETH

Yes, let’s go to sleep. My strange self-delusions just come from inexperience. We’re still beginners when it comes to bad deeds.

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.