List iconMacbeth:
Act 2, scene 3
List icon

Act 2, scene 3



Characters in the Play

Entire Play

Macbeth, set primarily in Scotland, mixes witchcraft, prophecy, and murder. Three “Weïrd Sisters” appear to Macbeth and his comrade Banquo…

Act 1, scene 1

Three witches plan to meet Macbeth.

Act 1, scene 2

Duncan, king of Scotland, hears an account of the success in battle of his noblemen Macbeth and Banquo. Duncan orders…

Act 1, scene 3

The three witches greet Macbeth as “Thane of Glamis” (as he is), “Thane of Cawdor,” and “king hereafter.” They then…

Act 1, scene 4

Duncan demands and receives assurances that the former thane of Cawdor has been executed. When Macbeth, Banquo, Ross, and Angus…

Act 1, scene 5

Lady Macbeth reads her husband’s letter about his meeting the witches. She fears that Macbeth lacks the ruthlessness he needs…

Act 1, scene 6

Duncan and his attendants arrive at Inverness. Lady Macbeth welcomes them.

Act 1, scene 7

Macbeth contemplates the reasons why it is a terrible thing to kill Duncan. Lady Macbeth mocks his fears and offers…

Act 2, scene 1

Banquo, who has accompanied Duncan to Inverness, is uneasy because he too is tempted by the witches’ prophecies, although only…

Act 2, scene 2

Lady Macbeth waits anxiously for Macbeth to return from killing Duncan. When Macbeth enters, he is horrified by what he…

Act 2, scene 3

A drunken porter, answering the knocking at the gate, plays the role of a devil-porter at the gates of hell….

Act 2, scene 4

An old man and Ross exchange accounts of recent unnatural happenings. Macduff joins them to report that Malcolm and Donalbain…

Act 3, scene 1

Banquo suspects that Macbeth killed Duncan in order to become king. Macbeth invites Banquo to a feast that night. Banquo…

Act 3, scene 2

Both Lady Macbeth and Macbeth express their unhappiness. Macbeth speaks of his fear of Banquo especially. He refers to a…

Act 3, scene 3

A third man joins the two whom Macbeth has already sent to kill Banquo and Fleance. The three assassins manage…

Act 3, scene 4

As Macbeth’s banquet begins, one of Banquo’s murderers appears at the door to tell Macbeth of Banquo’s death and Fleance’s…

Act 3, scene 5

The presentation of the witches in this scene (as in 4.1.38 SD–43 and 141–48) differs from their presentation in the…

Act 3, scene 6

Lennox and an unnamed lord discuss politics in Scotland. Lennox comments sarcastically upon Macbeth’s “official” versions of the many recent…

Act 4, scene 1

Macbeth approaches the witches to learn how to make his kingship secure. In response they summon for him three apparitions:…

Act 4, scene 2

Ross visits Lady Macduff and tries to justify to her Macduff’s flight to England, a flight that leaves his family…

Act 4, scene 3

Macduff finds Malcolm at the English court and urges him to attack Macbeth at once. Malcolm suspects that Macduff is…

Act 5, scene 1

A gentlewoman who waits on Lady Macbeth has seen her walking in her sleep and has asked a doctor’s advice….

Act 5, scene 2

A Scottish force, in rebellion against Macbeth, marches toward Birnam Wood to join Malcolm and his English army.

Act 5, scene 3

Reports are brought to Macbeth of the Scottish and English forces massed against him. He seeks assurance in the apparitions’…

Act 5, scene 4

The rebel Scottish forces have joined Malcolm’s army at Birnam Wood. Malcolm orders each soldier to cut down and carry…

Act 5, scene 5

Macbeth is confident that he can withstand any siege from Malcolm’s forces. He is then told of Lady Macbeth’s death…

Act 5, scene 6

Malcolm arrives with his troops before Dunsinane Castle.

Act 5, scene 7

On the battlefield Macbeth kills young Siward, the son of the English commander. After Macbeth exits, Macduff arrives in search…

Act 5, scene 8

Macduff finds Macbeth, who is reluctant to fight with him because Macbeth has already killed Macduff’s whole family and is…

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Quill icon
Scene 3
Knocking within. Enter a Porter.

PORTER Here’s a knocking indeed! If a man were
 porter of hell gate, he should have old turning the
 key. (Knock.) Knock, knock, knock! Who’s there, i’
 th’ name of Beelzebub? Here’s a farmer that hanged
5 himself on th’ expectation of plenty. Come in time!
 Have napkins enough about you; here you’ll sweat
 for ’t. (Knock.) 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
10 scale, who committed treason enough for God’s
 sake yet could not equivocate to heaven. O, come in,
 equivocator. (Knock.) 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
15 you may roast your goose. (Knock.) 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 th’ everlasting bonfire. (Knock.)
20 Anon, anon!

The Porter opens the door to Macduff and Lennox.

 I pray you, remember the porter.

ACT 2. SC. 3

 Was it so late, friend, ere you went to bed
 That you do lie so late?
PORTER Faith, sir, we were carousing till the second
25 cock, and drink, sir, is a great provoker of three
MACDUFF What three things does drink especially
PORTER Marry, sir, nose-painting, sleep, and urine.
30 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 takes him off; it
35 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
MACDUFF I believe drink gave thee the lie last night.
PORTER 40That it did, sir, i’ th’ very throat on me; but I
 requited him for his lie, and, I think, being too
 strong for him, though he took up my legs sometime,
 yet I made a shift to cast him.
MACDUFF Is thy master stirring?

Enter Macbeth.

45 Our knocking has awaked him. Here he comes.
Porter exits.
 Good morrow, noble sir.
MACBETH  Good morrow, both.
 Is the King stirring, worthy thane?
MACBETH  Not yet.
50 He did command me to call timely on him.
 I have almost slipped the hour.

ACT 2. SC. 3

MACBETH  I’ll bring you to him.
 I know this is a joyful trouble to you,
 But yet ’tis one.
55 The labor we delight in physics pain.
 This is the door.
MACDUFF  I’ll make so bold to call,
 For ’tis my limited service.Macduff exits.
LENNOX Goes the King hence today?
MACBETH 60He does. He did appoint so.
 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
65 And prophesying, with accents terrible,
 Of dire combustion and confused events
 New hatched to th’ woeful time. The obscure bird
 Clamored the livelong night. Some say the Earth
 Was feverous and did shake.
MACBETH 70 ’Twas a rough night.
 My young remembrance cannot parallel
 A fellow to it.

Enter Macduff.

MACDUFF  O horror, horror, horror!
 Tongue nor heart cannot conceive nor name thee!
MACBETH AND LENNOX 75What’s the matter?
 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.

ACT 2. SC. 3

MACBETH 80 What is ’t you say? The life?
LENNOX Mean you his Majesty?
 Approach the chamber and destroy your sight
 With a new Gorgon. Do not bid me speak.
 See and then speak yourselves.
Macbeth and Lennox exit.
85 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
90 The great doom’s image. Malcolm, Banquo,
 As from your graves rise up and walk like sprites
 To countenance this horror.—Ring the bell.
Bell rings.

Enter Lady Macbeth.

LADY MACBETH What’s the business,
 That such a hideous trumpet calls to parley
95 The sleepers of the house? Speak, speak!
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.

Enter Banquo.

100 O Banquo, Banquo,
 Our royal master’s murdered.
LADY MACBETH  Woe, alas!
 What, in our house?
BANQUO  Too cruel anywhere.—
105 Dear Duff, I prithee, contradict thyself
 And say it is not so.

ACT 2. SC. 3

Enter Macbeth, Lennox, and Ross.

 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.
110 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.

Enter Malcolm and Donalbain.

DONALBAIN What is amiss?
MACBETH You are, and do not know ’t.
115 The spring, the head, the fountain of your blood
 Is stopped; the very source of it is stopped.
 Your royal father’s murdered.
MALCOLM  O, by whom?
 Those of his chamber, as it seemed, had done ’t.
120 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.
 O, yet I do repent me of my fury,
125 That I did kill them.
MACDUFF  Wherefore did you so?
 Who can be wise, amazed, temp’rate, and furious,
 Loyal, and neutral, in a moment? No man.
 Th’ expedition of my violent love
130 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,

ACT 2. SC. 3

 Steeped in the colors of their trade, their daggers
135 Unmannerly breeched with gore. Who could refrain
 That had a heart to love, and in that heart
 Courage to make ’s love known?
LADY MACBETH  Help me hence, ho!
 Look to the lady.
MALCOLM, aside to Donalbain 140 Why do we hold our
 That most may claim this argument for ours?
DONALBAIN, aside to Malcolm 
 What should be spoken here, where our fate,
 Hid in an auger hole, may rush and seize us?
145 Let’s away. Our tears are not yet brewed.
MALCOLM, aside to Donalbain 
 Nor our strong sorrow upon the foot of motion.
BANQUO Look to the lady.
Lady Macbeth is assisted to leave.
 And when we have our naked frailties hid,
 That suffer in exposure, let us meet
150 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.
MACDUFF 155 And so do I.
ALL  So all.
 Let’s briefly put on manly readiness
 And meet i’ th’ hall together.
ALL  Well contented.
All but Malcolm and Donalbain exit.
160 What will you do? Let’s not consort with them.
 To show an unfelt sorrow is an office
 Which the false man does easy. I’ll to England.

ACT 2. SC. 4

 To Ireland I. Our separated fortune
 Shall keep us both the safer. Where we are,
165 There’s daggers in men’s smiles. The near in blood,
 The nearer bloody.
MALCOLM  This murderous shaft that’s shot
 Hath not yet lighted, and our safest way
 Is to avoid the aim. Therefore to horse,
170 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.
They exit.