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Macbeth
Act 2, scene 4

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Contents

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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Scene 4
Enter Ross with an Old Man.

OLD MAN 
 Threescore and ten I can remember well,
 Within the volume of which time I have seen
 Hours dreadful and things strange, but this sore
 night
5 Hath trifled former knowings.
ROSS  Ha, good father,
 Thou seest the heavens, as troubled with man’s act,
 Threatens his bloody stage. By th’ clock ’tis day,
 And yet dark night strangles the traveling lamp.
10 Is ’t night’s predominance or the day’s shame
 That darkness does the face of earth entomb
 When living light should kiss it?
OLD MAN  ’Tis unnatural,
 Even like the deed that’s done. On Tuesday last
15 A falcon, tow’ring in her pride of place,
 Was by a mousing owl hawked at and killed.
ROSS 
 And Duncan’s horses (a thing most strange and
 certain),

75
Macbeth
ACT 2. SC. 4

 Beauteous and swift, the minions of their race,
20 Turned wild in nature, broke their stalls, flung out,
 Contending ’gainst obedience, as they would
 Make war with mankind.
OLD MAN  ’Tis said they eat each
 other.
ROSS 
25 They did so, to th’ amazement of mine eyes
 That looked upon ’t.

Enter Macduff.

 Here comes the good
 Macduff.—
 How goes the world, sir, now?
MACDUFF 30 Why, see you not?
ROSS 
 Is ’t known who did this more than bloody deed?
MACDUFF 
 Those that Macbeth hath slain.
ROSS  Alas the day,
 What good could they pretend?
MACDUFF 35 They were suborned.
 Malcolm and Donalbain, the King’s two sons,
 Are stol’n away and fled, which puts upon them
 Suspicion of the deed.
ROSS  ’Gainst nature still!
40 Thriftless ambition, that will ravin up
 Thine own lives’ means. Then ’tis most like
 The sovereignty will fall upon Macbeth.
MACDUFF 
 He is already named and gone to Scone
 To be invested.
ROSS 45 Where is Duncan’s body?
MACDUFF Carried to Colmekill,
 The sacred storehouse of his predecessors
 And guardian of their bones.

77
Macbeth
ACT 2. SC. 4

ROSS  Will you to Scone?
MACDUFF 
50 No, cousin, I’ll to Fife.
ROSS  Well, I will thither.
MACDUFF 
 Well, may you see things well done there. Adieu,
 Lest our old robes sit easier than our new.
ROSS Farewell, father.
OLD MAN 
55 God’s benison go with you and with those
 That would make good of bad and friends of foes.
All exit.