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Macbeth
Act 4, scene 3

Synopsis:

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 3
Enter Malcolm and Macduff.

MALCOLM 
 Let us seek out some desolate shade and there
 Weep our sad bosoms empty.
MACDUFF  Let us rather
 Hold fast the mortal sword and, like good men,
5 Bestride our downfall’n birthdom. Each new morn
 New widows howl, new orphans cry, new sorrows
 Strike heaven on the face, that it resounds
 As if it felt with Scotland, and yelled out
 Like syllable of dolor.
MALCOLM 10What I believe, I’ll wail;
 What know, believe; and what I can redress,
 As I shall find the time to friend, I will.
 What you have spoke, it may be so, perchance.
 This tyrant, whose sole name blisters our tongues,
15 Was once thought honest. You have loved him well.
 He hath not touched you yet. I am young, but
 something

141
Macbeth
ACT 4. SC. 3

 You may deserve of him through me, and wisdom
 To offer up a weak, poor, innocent lamb
20 T’ appease an angry god.
MACDUFF 
 I am not treacherous.
MALCOLM  But Macbeth is.
 A good and virtuous nature may recoil
 In an imperial charge. But I shall crave your
25 pardon.
 That which you are, my thoughts cannot transpose.
 Angels are bright still, though the brightest fell.
 Though all things foul would wear the brows of
 grace,
30 Yet grace must still look so.
MACDUFF  I have lost my hopes.
MALCOLM 
 Perchance even there where I did find my doubts.
 Why in that rawness left you wife and child,
 Those precious motives, those strong knots of love,
35 Without leave-taking? I pray you,
 Let not my jealousies be your dishonors,
 But mine own safeties. You may be rightly just,
 Whatever I shall think.
MACDUFF  Bleed, bleed, poor country!
40 Great tyranny, lay thou thy basis sure,
 For goodness dare not check thee. Wear thou thy
 wrongs;
 The title is affeered.—Fare thee well, lord.
 I would not be the villain that thou think’st
45 For the whole space that’s in the tyrant’s grasp,
 And the rich East to boot.
MALCOLM  Be not offended.
 I speak not as in absolute fear of you.
 I think our country sinks beneath the yoke.
50 It weeps, it bleeds, and each new day a gash
 Is added to her wounds. I think withal

143
Macbeth
ACT 4. SC. 3

 There would be hands uplifted in my right;
 And here from gracious England have I offer
 Of goodly thousands. But, for all this,
55 When I shall tread upon the tyrant’s head
 Or wear it on my sword, yet my poor country
 Shall have more vices than it had before,
 More suffer, and more sundry ways than ever,
 By him that shall succeed.
MACDUFF 60 What should he be?
MALCOLM 
 It is myself I mean, in whom I know
 All the particulars of vice so grafted
 That, when they shall be opened, black Macbeth
 Will seem as pure as snow, and the poor state
65 Esteem him as a lamb, being compared
 With my confineless harms.
MACDUFF  Not in the legions
 Of horrid hell can come a devil more damned
 In evils to top Macbeth.
MALCOLM 70 I grant him bloody,
 Luxurious, avaricious, false, deceitful,
 Sudden, malicious, smacking of every sin
 That has a name. But there’s no bottom, none,
 In my voluptuousness. Your wives, your daughters,
75 Your matrons, and your maids could not fill up
 The cistern of my lust, and my desire
 All continent impediments would o’erbear
 That did oppose my will. Better Macbeth
 Than such an one to reign.
MACDUFF 80 Boundless intemperance
 In nature is a tyranny. It hath been
 Th’ untimely emptying of the happy throne
 And fall of many kings. But fear not yet
 To take upon you what is yours. You may
85 Convey your pleasures in a spacious plenty
 And yet seem cold—the time you may so hoodwink.

145
Macbeth
ACT 4. SC. 3

 We have willing dames enough. There cannot be
 That vulture in you to devour so many
 As will to greatness dedicate themselves,
90 Finding it so inclined.
MALCOLM  With this there grows
 In my most ill-composed affection such
 A stanchless avarice that, were I king,
 I should cut off the nobles for their lands,
95 Desire his jewels, and this other’s house;
 And my more-having would be as a sauce
 To make me hunger more, that I should forge
 Quarrels unjust against the good and loyal,
 Destroying them for wealth.
MACDUFF 100 This avarice
 Sticks deeper, grows with more pernicious root
 Than summer-seeming lust, and it hath been
 The sword of our slain kings. Yet do not fear.
 Scotland hath foisons to fill up your will
105 Of your mere own. All these are portable,
 With other graces weighed.
MALCOLM 
 But I have none. The king-becoming graces,
 As justice, verity, temp’rance, stableness,
 Bounty, perseverance, mercy, lowliness,
110 Devotion, patience, courage, fortitude,
 I have no relish of them but abound
 In the division of each several crime,
 Acting it many ways. Nay, had I power, I should
 Pour the sweet milk of concord into hell,
115 Uproar the universal peace, confound
 All unity on earth.
MACDUFF  O Scotland, Scotland!
MALCOLM 
 If such a one be fit to govern, speak.
 I am as I have spoken.
MACDUFF 120 Fit to govern?

147
Macbeth
ACT 4. SC. 3

 No, not to live.—O nation miserable,
 With an untitled tyrant bloody-sceptered,
 When shalt thou see thy wholesome days again,
 Since that the truest issue of thy throne
125 By his own interdiction stands accursed
 And does blaspheme his breed?—Thy royal father
 Was a most sainted king. The queen that bore thee,
 Oft’ner upon her knees than on her feet,
 Died every day she lived. Fare thee well.
130 These evils thou repeat’st upon thyself
 Hath banished me from Scotland.—O my breast,
 Thy hope ends here!
MALCOLM  Macduff, this noble passion,
 Child of integrity, hath from my soul
135 Wiped the black scruples, reconciled my thoughts
 To thy good truth and honor. Devilish Macbeth
 By many of these trains hath sought to win me
 Into his power, and modest wisdom plucks me
 From overcredulous haste. But God above
140 Deal between thee and me, for even now
 I put myself to thy direction and
 Unspeak mine own detraction, here abjure
 The taints and blames I laid upon myself
 For strangers to my nature. I am yet
145 Unknown to woman, never was forsworn,
 Scarcely have coveted what was mine own,
 At no time broke my faith, would not betray
 The devil to his fellow, and delight
 No less in truth than life. My first false speaking
150 Was this upon myself. What I am truly
 Is thine and my poor country’s to command—
 Whither indeed, before thy here-approach,
 Old Siward with ten thousand warlike men,
 Already at a point, was setting forth.
155 Now we’ll together, and the chance of goodness
 Be like our warranted quarrel. Why are you silent?

149
Macbeth
ACT 4. SC. 3

MACDUFF 
 Such welcome and unwelcome things at once
 ’Tis hard to reconcile.

Enter a Doctor.

MALCOLM  Well, more anon.—
160 Comes the King forth, I pray you?
DOCTOR 
 Ay, sir. There are a crew of wretched souls
 That stay his cure. Their malady convinces
 The great assay of art, but at his touch
 (Such sanctity hath heaven given his hand)
165 They presently amend.
MALCOLM  I thank you, doctor.
Doctor exits.
MACDUFF 
 What’s the disease he means?
MALCOLM  ’Tis called the evil:
 A most miraculous work in this good king,
170 Which often since my here-remain in England
 I have seen him do. How he solicits heaven
 Himself best knows, but strangely visited people
 All swoll’n and ulcerous, pitiful to the eye,
 The mere despair of surgery, he cures,
175 Hanging a golden stamp about their necks,
 Put on with holy prayers; and, ’tis spoken,
 To the succeeding royalty he leaves
 The healing benediction. With this strange virtue,
 He hath a heavenly gift of prophecy,
180 And sundry blessings hang about his throne
 That speak him full of grace.

Enter Ross.

MACDUFF  See who comes here.
MALCOLM 
 My countryman, but yet I know him not.

151
Macbeth
ACT 4. SC. 3

MACDUFF 
 My ever-gentle cousin, welcome hither.
MALCOLM 
185 I know him now.—Good God betimes remove
 The means that makes us strangers!
ROSS  Sir, amen.
MACDUFF 
 Stands Scotland where it did?
ROSS  Alas, poor country,
190 Almost afraid to know itself. It cannot
 Be called our mother, but our grave, where nothing
 But who knows nothing is once seen to smile;
 Where sighs and groans and shrieks that rent the air
 Are made, not marked; where violent sorrow seems
195 A modern ecstasy. The dead man’s knell
 Is there scarce asked for who, and good men’s lives
 Expire before the flowers in their caps,
 Dying or ere they sicken.
MACDUFF 
 O relation too nice and yet too true!
MALCOLM 200What’s the newest grief?
ROSS 
 That of an hour’s age doth hiss the speaker.
 Each minute teems a new one.
MACDUFF  How does my wife?
ROSS Why, well.
MACDUFF 205And all my children?
ROSS Well too.
MACDUFF 
 The tyrant has not battered at their peace?
ROSS 
 No, they were well at peace when I did leave ’em.
MACDUFF 
 Be not a niggard of your speech. How goes ’t?
ROSS 
210 When I came hither to transport the tidings

153
Macbeth
ACT 4. SC. 3

 Which I have heavily borne, there ran a rumor
 Of many worthy fellows that were out;
 Which was to my belief witnessed the rather
 For that I saw the tyrant’s power afoot.
215 Now is the time of help. Your eye in Scotland
 Would create soldiers, make our women fight
 To doff their dire distresses.
MALCOLM  Be ’t their comfort
 We are coming thither. Gracious England hath
220 Lent us good Siward and ten thousand men;
 An older and a better soldier none
 That Christendom gives out.
ROSS  Would I could answer
 This comfort with the like. But I have words
225 That would be howled out in the desert air,
 Where hearing should not latch them.
MACDUFF  What concern
 they—
 The general cause, or is it a fee-grief
230 Due to some single breast?
ROSS  No mind that’s honest
 But in it shares some woe, though the main part
 Pertains to you alone.
MACDUFF  If it be mine,
235 Keep it not from me. Quickly let me have it.
ROSS 
 Let not your ears despise my tongue forever,
 Which shall possess them with the heaviest sound
 That ever yet they heard.
MACDUFF  Hum! I guess at it.
ROSS 
240 Your castle is surprised, your wife and babes
 Savagely slaughtered. To relate the manner
 Were on the quarry of these murdered deer
 To add the death of you.
MALCOLM  Merciful heaven!—

155
Macbeth
ACT 4. SC. 3

245 What, man, ne’er pull your hat upon your brows.
 Give sorrow words. The grief that does not speak
 Whispers the o’erfraught heart and bids it break.
MACDUFF My children too?
ROSS 
 Wife, children, servants, all that could be found.
MACDUFF 
250 And I must be from thence? My wife killed too?
ROSS I have said.
MALCOLM Be comforted.
 Let’s make us med’cines of our great revenge
 To cure this deadly grief.
MACDUFF 
255 He has no children. All my pretty ones?
 Did you say “all”? O hell-kite! All?
 What, all my pretty chickens and their dam
 At one fell swoop?
MALCOLM Dispute it like a man.
MACDUFF 260I shall do so,
 But I must also feel it as a man.
 I cannot but remember such things were
 That were most precious to me. Did heaven look on
 And would not take their part? Sinful Macduff,
265 They were all struck for thee! Naught that I am,
 Not for their own demerits, but for mine,
 Fell slaughter on their souls. Heaven rest them now.
MALCOLM 
 Be this the whetstone of your sword. Let grief
 Convert to anger. Blunt not the heart; enrage it.
MACDUFF 
270 O, I could play the woman with mine eyes
 And braggart with my tongue! But, gentle heavens,
 Cut short all intermission! Front to front
 Bring thou this fiend of Scotland and myself.
 Within my sword’s length set him. If he ’scape,
275 Heaven forgive him too.

157
Macbeth
ACT 4. SC. 3

MALCOLM  This tune goes manly.
 Come, go we to the King. Our power is ready;
 Our lack is nothing but our leave. Macbeth
 Is ripe for shaking, and the powers above
280 Put on their instruments. Receive what cheer you
 may.
 The night is long that never finds the day.
They exit.