Inverness. Macbeth’s castle.
(Lady Macbeth; Macbeth’s Messenger; Macbeth)
Lady Macbeth reads the letter that Macbeth has sent her detailing his meeting with the witches. She immediately sees where the prophecy leads. She realizes, however, that Macbeth would rather simply become King by chance rather than play for the throne, and that he is not a natural hypocrite. She impatiently awaits his arrival so that she may convince him otherwise. Hearing that the King will be arriving that evening, she grasps the possibilities at once. She begs the spirits of the night to block all of her compassion so that she may be cruel enough to go through with her plan. Macbeth arrives, and she begins to work on him at once, offering to take care of everything; but he promises only that they shall discuss the matter further. (69 lines)
Enter Macbeth’s Wife alone, with a letter.
“They met me in the day of success; and I have learn’d by the perfect’st report, they have more in them than mortal knowledge. When I burnt in desire to question them further, they made themselves air, into which they vanish’d. Whiles I stood rapt in the wonder of it, came missives from the King, who all-hail’d me “Thane of Cawdor,” by which title, before, these weird sisters saluted me, and referr’d me to the coming on of time with “Hail, King that shalt be!” This have I thought good to deliver thee, my dearest partner of greatness, that thou mightst not lose the dues of rejoicing by being ignorant of what greatness is promis’d thee. Lay it to thy heart, and farewell.”
Glamis thou art, and Cawdor, and shalt be
What thou art promis’d. Yet do I fear thy nature,
It is too full o’ th’ milk of human kindness
To catch the nearest way. Thou wouldst be great,
Art not without ambition, but without
The illness should attend it. What thou wouldst highly,
That wouldst thou holily; wouldst not play false,
And yet wouldst wrongly win. Thou’ldst have, great Glamis,
That which cries, “Thus thou must do,” if thou have it;
And that which rather thou dost fear to do
Than wishest should be undone. Hie thee hither,
That I may pour my spirits in thine ear,
And chastise with the valor of my tongue
All that impedes thee from the golden round,
Which fate and metaphysical aid doth seem
To have thee crown’d withal.
Enter Macbeth’s Messenger.
What is your tidings?
The King comes here tonight.
Thou’rt mad to say it!
Is not thy master with him? Who, were’t so,
Would have inform’d for preparation.
So please you, it is true; our thane is coming.
One of my fellows had the speed of him,
Who, almost dead for breath, had scarcely more
Than would make up his message.
Give him tending,
He brings great news.
Exit Macbeth’s Messenger.
The raven himself is hoarse
That croaks the fatal entrance of Duncan
Under my battlements. Come, you spirits
That tend on mortal thoughts, unsex me here,
And fill me from the crown to the toe topful
Of direst cruelty! Make thick my blood,
Stop up th’ access and passage to remorse,
That no compunctious visitings of nature
Shake my fell purpose, nor keep peace between
Th’ effect and it! Come to my woman’s breasts,
And take my milk for gall, you murd’ring ministers,
Wherever in your sightless substances
You wait on nature’s mischief! Come, thick night,
And pall thee in the dunnest smoke of hell,
That my keen knife see not the wound it makes,
Nor heaven peep through the blanket of the dark
To cry, “Hold, hold!”
Great Glamis! Worthy Cawdor!
Greater than both, by the all-hail hereafter!
Thy letters have transported me beyond
This ignorant present, and I feel now
The future in the instant.
My dearest love,
Duncan comes here tonight.
And when goes hence?
Tomorrow, as he purposes.
Shall sun that morrow see!
Your face, my thane, is as a book, where men
May read strange matters. To beguile the time,
Look like the time; bear welcome in your eye,
Your hand, your tongue; look like th’ innocent flower,
But be the serpent under’t. He that’s coming
Must be provided for; and you shall put
This night’s great business into my dispatch,
Which shall to all our nights and days to come
Give solely sovereign sway and masterdom.
We will speak further.
Only look up clear:
To alter favor ever is to fear.
Leave all the rest to me.