Macbeth: A Tragedy

Macbeth: A Tragedy

3.3 3
by William Shakespeare

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When the Three Witches prophesy that Macbeth, a Scottish general, will become king, they unleash a series of events that prove tragic for all involved. Spurred by ambition, Macbeth and his ruthless Lady will stop at nothing, including murder, to make the throne theirs. Beginning with the murder of King Duncan and culminating with Lady Macbeth’s descent into

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When the Three Witches prophesy that Macbeth, a Scottish general, will become king, they unleash a series of events that prove tragic for all involved. Spurred by ambition, Macbeth and his ruthless Lady will stop at nothing, including murder, to make the throne theirs. Beginning with the murder of King Duncan and culminating with Lady Macbeth’s descent into madness and Macbeth’s final clash with Macduff, Macbeth is one of William Shakespeare’s greatest dramatic works.

Known as “The Bard of Avon,” William Shakespeare is arguably the greatest English-language writer known. Enormously popular during his life, Shakespeare’s works continue to resonate more than three centuries after his death, as has his influence on theatre and literature. Shakespeare’s innovative use of character, language, and experimentation with romance as tragedy served as a foundation for later playwrights and dramatists, and some of his most famous lines of dialogue have become part of everyday speech.

HarperPerennialClassics brings great works of literature to life in digital format, upholding the highest standards in ebook production and celebrating reading in all its forms. Look for more titles in the HarperPerennial Classics collection to build your digital library.

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Editorial Reviews

School Library Journal
Gr 10 Up—Shakespeare's tragedy is brought to life in this studio-recorded full-cast performance starring James Marsters and Joanne Whalley. Marsters's Macbeth is solid, and Whalley turns in a remarkable performance of Lady Macbeth's calculated strength and eventual unraveling. The pacing and delivery of Shakespeare's lines are effective and accurate, and the use of sound to depict setting and action provide the essential cues listeners need. The sound effects and the theatrics of the Weird Sisters are wonderful. Listeners should be familiar with the story prior to listening due to the large number of characters and the lack of stage direction in audio format. A good choice to offer students as a reading companion.—Rebecca Flannery, Lyman Memorial High School, Lebanon, CT

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Dramatis Personae

DUNCAN, King of Scotland MALCOLM his sons DONALBAIN

MACBETH, Thane of Glamis, later of Cawdor, later King of Scotland LADY MACBETH

BANQUO, a thane of Scotland FLEANCE, his son MACDUFF, Thane of Fife LADY MACDUFF SON of Macduff and Lady Macduff

LENNEX ROSS MENTEITH thanes and noblemen of Scotland ANGUS CAITHNESS

SIWARD, Earl of Northumberland YOUNG SIWARD, his son SEYTON, an officer attending Macbeth Another LORD ENGLISH DOCTOR SCOTTISH DOCTOR GENTLEWOMAN attending Lady Macbeth CAPTAIN serving Duncan PORTER OLD MAN Three MURDERERS of Banquo First MURDERERS at Macduff's castle MESSENGER to Lady Macbeth MESSENGER to Lady Macduff SERVENT to Macbeth SERVENT to Lady Macbeth Three WITCHES or WEIRD SISTERS HECATE Three APPARITIONS

Lords, Gentlemen, Officers, Soldiers, Murderers,
and Attendants

SCENE: Scotland; England

Location: An open place.
hurlyburly tumult Grimalkin i.e., gray cat, name of the witch's familiar—a demon or evil spirit supposed to answer a witch's call and to allow him or her to perform black magic.
Paddock toad; also a familiar Anon At once, right away.

1.2 Location: A camp near Forres.
0.1 Alarum trumpet call to arms

• Thunder and lightning. Enter three Witches.

FIRST WITCH When shall we three meet again?
In thunder, lightning, or in rain?

SECOND WITCH When the hurlyburly's done,
When the battle's lost and won.

THIRD WITCH That will be ere the set of sun.
first witch Where the place?
second witch Upon the heath.
third witch There to meet with Macbeth.

FIRST WITCH  I come, Grimalkin!

SECOND WITCH  Paddock calls.


ALL Fair is foul, and foul is fair.
Hover through the fog and filthy air. Exeunt.
• Alarum within. Enter King [Duncan], Malcolm, Donalbain, Lennox, with attendants, meeting a bleeding Captain.

DUNCAN What bloody man is that? He can report,
As seemeth by his plight, of the revolt

newest state latest news.   sergeant i.e., staff officer. (There may be no inconsistency with his rank of "captain" in the stage direction and speech prefixes in the Folio.)
broil battle spent tired out choke their art render their skill in swimming useless.
The merciless . . . supplied The merciless Macdonwald—worthy of the hated name of rebel, for in the cause of rebellion an ever-increasing number of villainous persons and unnatural qualities swarm about him like vermin—is joined by light-armed Irish footsoldiers and ax-armed horsemen from the western islands of Scotland (the Hebrides and perhaps Ireland)
And Fortune . . . whore i.e., Fortune, proverbially a false strumpet, smiles at first on Macdonwald's damned rebellion but deserts him in his hour of need.
well . . . name well he deserves a name that is synonymous with "brave"
minion darling. (Macbeth is Valor's darling, not Fortune's.)
the slave i.e., Macdonwald Which . . . to him i.e., Macbeth paused for no ceremonious greeting or farewell to Macdonwald.
nave navel.   chops jaws cousin kinsman As . . . swells Just as terrible storms at sea arise out of the east, from the place where the sun first shows itself in the seeming comfort of the dawn, even thus did a new military threat come on the heels of the seeming good news of Macdonwald's execution.
skipping (1) lightly armed, quick at maneuvering (2) skittish surveying vantage seeing an opportunity

The newest state.

MALCOLM This is the sergeant Who like a good and hardy soldier fought
'Gainst my captivity.—Hail, brave friend!
Say to the King the knowledge of the broil As thou didst leave it.

CAPTAIN Doubtful it stood,
As two spent swimmers that do cling together And choke their art. The merciless Macdonwald—
Worthy to be a rebel, for to that The multiplying villainies of nature Do swarm upon him—from the Western Isles Of kerns and gallowglasses is supplied;
And Fortune, on his damned quarrel smiling,
Showed like a rebel's whore. But all's too weak;
For brave Macbeth—well he deserves that name—
Disdaining Fortune, with his brandished steel,
Which smoked with bloody execution,
Like valor's minion carved out his passage Till he faced the slave,
Which ne'er shook hands nor bade farewell to him Till he unseamed him from the nave to th' chops,
And fixed his head upon our battlements.

DUNCAN Oh, valiant cousin, worthy gentleman!

CAPTAIN As whence the sun 'gins his reflection Shipwrecking storms and direful thunders break,
So from that spring whence comfort seemed to come Discomfort swells. Mark, King of Scotland, mark.
No sooner justice had, with valor armed,
Compelled these skipping kerns to trust their heels But the Norweyan lord, surveying vantage,
With furbished arms and new supplies of men,
Began a fresh assault.

Yes . . . eagles Yes, about as much as sparrows terrify eagles. (Said ironically.)
say sooth tell the truth cracks charges of explosive Except Unless memorize make memorable or famous.   Golgotha "place of a skull," where Christ was crucified. (Mark 15:22.)
Thane Scottish title of honor, roughly equivalent to "Earl"
seems to seems about to flout mock, insult fan . . . cold fan cold fear into our troops.
Norway The King of Norway.   terrible numbers terrifying numbers of troops dismal ominous Till . . . proof i.e., until Macbeth, clad in well-tested armor. (Bellona was the Roman goddess of war.)
him i.e., the King of Norway.   self-comparisons i.e., matching counterthrusts

DUNCAN Dismayed not this our captains, Macbeth and Banquo?

CAPTAIN Yes, as sparrows eagles, or the hare the lion.
If I say sooth, I must report they were As cannons overcharged with double cracks,
So they doubly redoubled strokes upon the foe.
Except they meant to bathe in reeking wounds Or memorize another Golgotha,
I cannot tell.
But I am faint. My gashes cry for help.

DUNCAN So well thy words become thee as thy wounds;
They smack of honor both.—Go get him surgeons.
[Exit Captain, attended.]
Enter Ross and Angus.
Who comes here?

MALCOLM The worthy Thane of Ross.

LENNEX  What a haste looks through his eyes!
So should he look that seems to speak things strange. 

ROSS  God save the King!

DUNCAN  Whence cam'st thou, worthy thane?

ROSS  From Fife, great King,
Where the Norweyan banners flout the sky And fan our people cold.
Norway himself, with terrible numbers,
Assisted by that most disloyal traitor,
The Thane of Cawdor, began a dismal conflict,
Till that Bellona's bridegroom, lapped in proof,
Confronted him with self-comparisons,
Point against point, rebellious arm 'gainst arm,
Curbing his lavish spirit; and to conclude,
The victory fell on us.

Norways' Norwegians'.   composition agreement, treaty of peace Saint Colme's Inch Inchcolm, the Isle of St. Columba in the Firth of Forth dollars Spanish or Dutch coins Our (The royal "we.")   bosom close and intimate.   present immediate

Location: A heath near Forres.
Aroint thee Begone.   rump-fed runnion fat-rumped baggage Tiger (A ship's name.)
like . . . do (Suggestive of the witches' deformity and sexual insatiability. Witches were thought to seduce men sexually. Do means [1] act [2] perform sexually.)

DUNCAN Great happiness!

ROSS  That now Sweno, the Norways' king, craves composition;
Nor would we deign him burial of his men Till he disbursed at Saint Colme's Inch Ten thousand dollars to our general use.

DUNCAN No more that Thane of Cawdor shall deceive Our bosom interest. Go pronounce his present death,
And with his former title greet Macbeth.
ROSS  I'll see it done.

DUNCAN What he hath lost noble Macbeth hath won.
• Thunder. Enter the three Witches.

FIRST WITCH  Where hast thou been, sister?

SECOND WITCH  Killing swine.

THIRD WITCH  Sister, where thou?

FIRST WITCH A sailor's wife had chestnuts in her lap,
And munched, and munched, and munched. "Give me," quoth I.
"Aroint thee, witch!" the rump-fed runnion cries.
Her husband's to Aleppo gone, master o'th' Tiger;
But in a sieve I'll thither sail,
And like a rat without a tail I'll do, I'll do, and I'll do.

SECOND WITCH I'll give thee a wind.

FIRST WITCH Thou'rt kind.

I . . . card I can summon all other winds, wherever they blow and from whatever quarter in the shipman's compass card.

I'll . . . hay (With a suggestion of sexually draining the seaman's semen.)
penthouse lid i.e., eyelid (which projects out over the eye like a penthouse or slope-roofed structure). forbid accursed. sev'nnights weeks peak grow peaked or thin Weird Sisters women connected with fate or destiny; also women having a mysterious or unearthly, uncanny appearance Posters of swift travelers over

THIRD WITCH And I another.

FIRST WITCH I myself have all the other,
And the very ports they blow,
All the quarters that they know I'th' shipman's card.
I'll drain him dry as hay.
Sleep shall neither night nor day Hang upon his penthouse lid.
He shall live a man forbid.
Weary sev'nnights nine times nine Shall he dwindle, peak, and pine.
Though his bark cannot be lost,
Yet it shall be tempest-tossed.
Look what I have.

SECOND WITCH  Show me, show me.

FIRST WITCH Here I have a pilot's thumb,
Wrecked as homeward he did come. Drum within.

THIRD WITCH A drum, a drum!
Macbeth doth come.
all [dancing in a circle]
The Weird Sisters, hand in hand,
Posters of the sea and land,
Thus do go about, about,
Thrice to thine, and thrice to mine,
And thrice again, to make up nine.
Peace! The charm's wound up.
Enter Macbeth and Banquo.
macbeth So foul and fair a day I have not seen.
is't called is it said to be choppy chapped fantastical creatures of fantasy or imagination show appear.
grace honor rapt withal entranced.
beg . . . hate beg your favors nor fear your hate.

BANQUO How far is't called to Forres?—What are these,
So withered and so wild in their attire,
That look not like th'inhabitants o'th'earth And yet are on't?—Live you? Or are you aught That man may question? You seem to understand me By each at once her choppy finger laying Upon her skinny lips. You should be women,
And yet your beards forbid me to interpret That you are so.

MACBETH Speak, if you can. What are you?

FIRST WITCH All hail, Macbeth! Hail to thee, Thane of Glamis!

SECOND WITCH All hail, Macbeth! Hail to thee, Thane of Cawdor!

THIRD WITCH All hail, Macbeth, that shalt be king hereafter!

BANQUO Good sir, why do you start and seem to fear Things that do sound so fair?—I'th' name of truth,
Are ye fantastical or that indeed Which outwardly ye show? My noble partner You greet with present grace and great prediction Of noble having and of royal hope,
That he seems rapt withal. To me you speak not.
If you can look into the seeds of time And say which grain will grow and which will not,
Speak then to me, who neither beg nor fear Your favors nor your hate.




FIRST WITCH Lesser than Macbeth, and greater.

happy fortunate get beget imperfect cryptic Sinel's (Sinel was Macbeth's father.)
Say . . . intelligence Say from what source you have this disturbing information blasted blighted corporal corporeal on of.   insane root root causing insanity; variously identified

SECOND WITCH Not so happy, yet much happier.

THIRD WITCH Thou shalt get kings, though thou be none.

So all hail, Macbeth and Banquo!

FIRST WITCH Banquo and Macbeth, all hail!

MACBETH Stay, you imperfect speakers, tell me more!
By Sinel's death I know I am Thane of Glamis,
But how of Cawdor? The Thane of Cawdor lives A prosperous gentleman; and to be king Stands not within the prospect of belief,
No more than to be Cawdor. Say from whence You owe this strange intelligence, or why Upon this blasted heath you stop our way With such prophetic greeting? Speak, I charge you.
Witches vanish.

BANQUO The earth hath bubbles, as the water has,
And these are of them. Whither are they vanished?

MACBETH Into the air; and what seemed corporal melted, 81
As breath into the wind. Would they had stayed!

BANQUO Were such things here as we do speak about?
Or have we eaten on the insane root 84
That takes the reason prisoner?

MACBETH Your children shall be kings.
banquo You shall be king.

MACBETH And Thane of Cawdor too. Went it not so?

and when . . . his and when he reads of your extraordinary valor in fighting the rebels, he concludes that your wondrous deeds outdo any praise he could offer.
stout haughty, determined, valiant Nothing not at all As . . . with post As fast as could be told, i.e., counted, came messenger after messenger. (Unless the text should be amended to "As thick as hail.")
earnest token payment addition title Who He who combined confederate line the rebel reinforce Macdonwald

BANQUO To th' selfsame tune and words.—Who's here?
Enter Ross and Angus.

ROSS The King hath happily received, Macbeth,
The news of thy success; and when he reads Thy personal venture in the rebels' fight,
His wonders and his praises do contend Which should be thine or his. Silenced with that,
In viewing o'er the rest o'th' selfsame day He finds thee in the stout Norweyan ranks,
Nothing afeard of what thyself didst make,
Strange images of death. As thick as tale Came post with post, and every one did bear Thy praises in his kingdom's great defense,
And poured them down before him.

ANGUS We are sent To give thee from our royal master thanks,
Only to herald thee into his sight,
Not pay thee.

ROSS And, for an earnest of a greater honor,
He bade me, from him, call thee Thane of Cawdor;
In which addition, hail, most worthy thane,
For it is thine.
BANQUO What, can the devil speak true?

MACBETH The Thane of Cawdor lives. Why do you dress me In borrowed robes?
ANGUS Who was the thane lives yet,
But under heavy judgment bears that life Which he deserves to lose. Whether he was combined With those of Norway, or did line the rebel With hidden help and vantage, or that with both in . . . wrack to bring about his country's ruin capital deserving death The greatest is behind either (1) Two of the three prophecies (and thus the greatest number of them) have already been fulfilled, or (2) The greatest one, the kingship, is still to come. home all the way In deepest consequence in the profoundly important sequel.
Cousins i.e., Fellow lords swelling act stately drama soliciting tempting unfix my hair make my hair stand on end use custom.   fears things feared whose . . . fantastical in which the conception of murder is merely imaginary at this point single . . . man weak human condition function normal power of action.   surmise speculation, imaginings And . . . not and everything seems unreal.

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