A line-by-line translation

Macbeth

Macbeth Translation Act 5, Scene 1

Line Map Clear Line Map Add

A DOCTOR and a waiting GENTLEWOMAN enter.

DOCTOR

I have two nights watched with you but can perceive no truth in your report. When was it she last walked?

DOCTOR

For two nights I’ve watched her with you, but I haven’t seen any evidence of what you’ve described. When did you last see her walk?

GENTLEWOMAN

Since his majesty went into the field, I have seen herrise from her bed, throw her nightgown upon her, unlockher closet, take forth paper, fold it, write upon ’t, read it, afterwards seal it, and again return to bed; yet all this while in a most fast sleep.

GENTLEWOMAN

Since the king went to war, I have seen her rise from her bed; put on her nightgown; unlock her closet; take out some paper, fold it, write on it, read it, seal it; and then return to bed again—all while remaining fast asleep.

DOCTOR

A great perturbation in nature, to receive at once thebenefit of sleep, and do the effects of watching. In this slumbery agitation, besides her walking and other actual performances, what, at any time, have you heard her say?

DOCTOR

It’s deeply unnatural to be asleep and, and the same time, perform the actions of those who are awake. When she is in this state—besides walking and doing other things—have you heard her say anything?

GENTLEWOMAN

That, sir, which I will not report after her.

GENTLEWOMAN

Yes, sir, but I will not repeat it.

DOCTOR

You may to me, and ’tis most meet you should.

DOCTOR

You can tell me. That would be the proper thing to do.

GENTLEWOMAN

Neither to you nor any one, having no witness to confirm my speech.

GENTLEWOMAN

I won’t tell you or anyone else without having another witness to confirm what I heard.

LADY MACBETH enters, holding a candle.

GENTLEWOMAN

Lo you, here she comes. This is her very guise; and, upon my life, fast asleep. Observe her, stand close.

GENTLEWOMAN

Look, here she comes! This is what she always wears, and—I swear on my life—she’s fast asleep. Watch her. Stay out of sight.

DOCTOR

How came she by that light?

DOCTOR

How did she get that candle?

GENTLEWOMAN

Why, it stood by her. She has light by her continually.‘Tis her command.

GENTLEWOMAN

It stands by her bedside. She keeps a light by her at all times. That’s her command.

DOCTOR

You see her eyes are open.

DOCTOR

You see, her eyes are open.

GENTLEWOMAN

Ay, but their sense is shut.

GENTLEWOMAN

Yes, but they don't see anything.

DOCTOR

What is it she does now? Look, how she rubs her hands.

DOCTOR

What is she doing now? Look how she rubs her hands.

GENTLEWOMAN

It is an accustomed action with her to seem thus washing her hands. I have known her continue in this a quarter of an hour.

GENTLEWOMAN

She does that a lot, as if she’s washing her hands. I’ve seen her keep doing that for fifteen minutes.

LADY MACBETH

Yet here’s a spot.

LADY MACBETH

Yet there’s still a spot here.

DOCTOR

Hark! She speaks. I will set down what comes from her, to satisfy my remembrance the more strongly.

DOCTOR

Listen! She’s talking. I’ll write down what she says, so that I’ll remember it.

LADY MACBETH

Out, damned spot! Out, I say! —One, two. Why, then, ’tis time to do ’t. Hell is murky! —Fie, my lord, fie! A soldier, and afeard? What need we fear who knows it, when none can call our power to account?— Yet who would have thought the old man to have had so much blood in him.

LADY MACBETH

[Rubbing her hands] Come out, damned spot! Out, I order you! One, two. Now, it’s time to do it. Hell is murky! Shame on you, my lord, shame! You’re a soldier, and yet you’re afraid? Why should we fear anyone who might know what happened, when no one can match our power? But who would have thought the old man would have had so much blood in him?

DOCTOR

Do you mark that?

DOCTOR

Did you hear that?

LADY MACBETH

The thane of Fife had a wife. Where is she now?—What, will these hands ne’er be clean?—No more o’ that, my lord, no more o’ that. You mar all with this starting.

LADY MACBETH

The Thane of Fife had a wife. Where is she now? What, will my hands never be clean? No more of that, my lord, no more of that. You’ll ruin everything by acting in this startled way.

DOCTOR

Go to, go to. You have known what you should not.

DOCTOR

Oh no. Oh no! You’ve learned something you shouldn’t have.

GENTLEWOMAN

She has spoke what she should not, I am sure of that. Heaven knows what she has known.

GENTLEWOMAN

She said something she shouldn’t have said, I’m sure of that. Heaven knows what other secrets she has.

LADY MACBETH

Here’s the smell of the blood still. All the perfumes of Arabia will not sweeten this little hand. Oh, Oh, Oh!

LADY MACBETH

My hands still smell of blood. All the perfumes of Arabia won't sweeten the smell of my little hand. Oh, oh, oh!

DOCTOR

What a sigh is there! The heart is sorely charged.

DOCTOR

What a sigh! Her heart is painfully weighed down.

GENTLEWOMAN

I would not have such a heart in my bosom for the dignity of the whole body.

GENTLEWOMAN

I wouldn’t want a heart like hers in my chest even if I could be queen.

DOCTOR

Well, well, well.

DOCTOR

Well, well, well.

GENTLEWOMAN

Pray God it be, sir.

GENTLEWOMAN

I pray to God that all will be well, sir!

DOCTOR

This disease is beyond my practice. Yet I have known those which have walked in their sleep who have died holily in their beds.

DOCTOR

It is beyond my skill level to cure this disease. Yet I have known people who walked in their sleep and died without sin.

LADY MACBETH

Wash your hands. Put on your nightgown. Look not so pale.—I tell you yet again, Banquo’s buried; he cannot come out on ’s grave.

LADY MACBETH

Wash your hands. Put on your nightgown. Don’t look so pale. I tell you again, Banquo is buried. He cannot come out of his grave.

DOCTOR

Even so?

DOCTOR

Is it true?

LADY MACBETH

To bed, to bed. There’s knocking at the gate. Come, come, come, come. Give me your hand. What’s done cannot be undone.—To bed, to bed, to bed!

LADY MACBETH

To bed, to bed. There’s a knocking at the gate. Come, come, come, come. Give me your hand. What’s done cannot be undone. To bed, to bed, to bed!

LADY MACBETH exits.

DOCTOR

Will she go now to bed?

DOCTOR

Now will she go to bed?

GENTLEWOMAN

Directly.

GENTLEWOMAN

Right to bed.

DOCTOR

Foul whisp’rings are abroad. Unnatural deeds Do breed unnatural troubles. Infected minds To their deaf pillows will discharge their secrets. More needs she the divine than the physician. God, God forgive us all! Look after her, Remove from her the means of all annoyance, And still keep eyes upon her. So, good night. My mind she has mated, and amazed my sight. I think, but dare not speak.

DOCTOR

Evil rumors are circulating. Unnatural actions lead to unnatural troubles. Those with guilty consciences will confess their secrets to their pillows while they are asleep. Lady Macbeth needs a holy priest, not a doctor. God forgive us all! 

[To the GENTLEWOMAN] Look after her. Remove anything she could use to hurt herself, and even then keep watch over her. Now, good night. She has shocked my mind and amazed my eyes. I have thoughts about all this, but don’t dare to say them out loud.

GENTLEWOMAN

Good night, good doctor.

GENTLEWOMAN

Good night, good doctor.

They exit.

Macbeth
Join LitCharts A+ and get the entire Macbeth Translation as a printable PDF.
LitCharts A+ members also get exclusive access to:
  • Downloadable translations of every Shakespeare play and sonnet
  • Downloads of 673 LitCharts Lit Guides
  • Explanations and citation info for 16,605 quotes covering 673 books
  • Teacher Editions for every Lit Guide
  • PDFs defining 136 key Lit Terms
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.