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PlayShakespeare.com: The Ultimate Free Shakespeare Resource
PlayShakespeare.com: The Ultimate Free Shakespeare Resource

Macbeth Scenes


Scene 4

A room of state in the palace.

(Macbeth; Lady Macbeth; Rosse; Lennox; Lord; Lords; Attendants; First Murderer; Ghost of Banquo)

Macbeth cordially greets his guests to the banquet. One of the murderers arrives to let Macbeth know that the deed is done; Macbeth is full of praise until he hears that Fleance escaped. Lady Macbeth calls him back to the table to toast the guests; he does so, but as he attempts to take his place, he finds the seat reserved for him occupied by Banquo’s bleeding ghost, visible to him alone. As he raves at the apparently empty seat, Lady Macbeth attempts to reassure the noblemen, telling them that Macbeth occasionally suffers from fits and has done since his childhood. She drags her husband aside and urges him to stiffen his spine, insisting that it is only his overactive imagination at work. The ghost vanishes, and Macbeth regains control of himself, but then it appears again and he becomes even wilder. Seeing that he will not calm down and that his speech risks giving away their guilt, Lady Macbeth dismisses the lords in a hurry. Macbeth fears that Nature itself will give away their guilt. He asks why Macduff refused to come to the feast, revealing that he keeps a spy in all of the great households of the land, and decides that he will visit the weird sisters, in the hope of finding out the worst that is to come. He feels that he has gone so far in dark practices that he might as well continue now. (168 lines)

Banquet prepar’d.

Enter Macbeth, Lady Macbeth, Rosse, Lennox, Lords, and Attendants.

MACB.

You know your own degrees, sit down. At first

And last, the hearty welcome.

LORD.

Thanks to your Majesty.

MACB.

Ourself will mingle with society,

And play the humble host.

Our hostess keeps her state, but in best time

We will require her welcome.

LADY MACB.

Pronounce it for me, sir, to all our friends,

For my heart speaks they are welcome.

Enter First Murderer to the door.

MACB.

See, they encounter thee with their hearts’ thanks.

Both sides are even; here I’ll sit i’ th’ midst.

Be large in mirth; anon we’ll drink a measure

The table round.—

Goes to the door.

There’s blood upon thy face.

1. MUR.

’Tis Banquo’s then.

MACB.

’Tis better thee without than he within.

Is he dispatch’d?

1. MUR.

My lord, his throat is cut;

That I did for him.

MACB.

Thou art the best o’ th’ cut-throats,

Yet he’s good that did the like for Fleance.

If thou didst it, thou art the nonpareil.

1. MUR.

Most royal sir, Fleance is scap’d.

MACB.

Then comes my fit again. I had else been perfect,

Whole as the marble, founded as the rock,

As broad and general as the casing air;

But now I am cabin’d, cribb’d, confin’d, bound in

To saucy doubts and fears. But Banquo’s safe?

1. MUR.

Ay, my good lord; safe in a ditch he bides,

With twenty trenched gashes on his head,

The least a death to nature.

MACB.

Thanks for that:

There the grown serpent lies; the worm that’s fled

Hath nature that in time will venom breed,

No teeth for th’ present. Get thee gone; tomorrow

We’ll hear ourselves again.

Exit Murderer.

LADY MACB.

My royal lord,

You do not give the cheer. The feast is sold

That is not often vouch’d, while ’tis a-making,

’Tis given with welcome. To feed were best at home;

From thence, the sauce to meat is ceremony,

Meeting were bare without it.

Enter the Ghost of Banquo and sits in Macbeth’s place.

MACB.

Sweet remembrancer!

Now good digestion wait on appetite,

And health on both!

LEN.

May’t please your Highness sit.

MACB.

Here had we now our country’s honor roof’d,

Were the grac’d person of our Banquo present,

Who may I rather challenge for unkindness

Than pity for mischance.

ROSSE.

His absence, sir,

Lays blame upon his promise. Please’t your Highness

To grace us with your royal company?

MACB.

The table’s full.

LEN.

Here is a place reserv’d, sir.

MACB.

Where?

LEN.

Here, my good lord. What is’t that moves your Highness?

MACB.

Which of you have done this?

LORD.

What, my good lord?

MACB.

Thou canst not say I did it; never shake

Thy gory locks at me.

ROSSE.

Gentlemen, rise, his Highness is not well.

LADY MACB.

Sit, worthy friends; my lord is often thus,

And hath been from his youth. Pray you keep seat.

The fit is momentary, upon a thought

He will again be well. If much you note him,

You shall offend him and extend his passion.

Feed, and regard him not.—Are you a man?

MACB.

Ay, and a bold one, that dare look on that

Which might appall the devil.

LADY MACB.

O proper stuff!

This is the very painting of your fear;

This is the air-drawn dagger which you said

Led you to Duncan. O, these flaws and starts

(Impostors to true fear) would well become

A woman’s story at a winter’s fire,

Authoriz’d by her grandam. Shame itself,

Why do you make such faces? When all’s done,

You look but on a stool.

MACB.

Prithee see there!

Behold! Look! Lo! How say you?

Why, what care I? If thou canst nod, speak too.

If charnel-houses and our graves must send

Those that we bury back, our monuments

Shall be the maws of kites.

Exit Ghost.

LADY MACB.

What? Quite unmann’d in folly?

MACB.

If I stand here, I saw him.

LADY MACB.

Fie, for shame!

MACB.

Blood hath been shed ere now, i’ th’ olden time,

Ere humane statute purg’d the gentle weal;

Ay, and since too, murders have been perform’d

Too terrible for the ear. The time has been,

That when the brains were out, the man would die,

And there an end; but now they rise again

With twenty mortal murders on their crowns,

And push us from our stools. This is more strange

Than such a murder is.

LADY MACB.

My worthy lord,

Your noble friends do lack you.

MACB.

I do forget.

Do not muse at me, my most worthy friends,

I have a strange infirmity, which is nothing

To those that know me. Come, love and health to all,

Then I’ll sit down. Give me some wine, fill full.

Enter Ghost.

I drink to th’ general joy o’ th’ whole table,

And to our dear friend Banquo, whom we miss;

Would he were here! To all, and him, we thirst,

And all to all.

LORD.

Our duties, and the pledge.

MACB.

Avaunt, and quit my sight! Let the earth hide thee!

Thy bones are marrowless, thy blood is cold;

Thou hast no speculation in those eyes

Which thou dost glare with!

LADY MACB.

Think of this, good peers,

But as a thing of custom. ’Tis no other;

Only it spoils the pleasure of the time.

MACB.

What man dare, I dare.

Approach thou like the rugged Russian bear,

The arm’d rhinoceros, or th’ Hyrcan tiger,

Take any shape but that, and my firm nerves

Shall never tremble. Or be alive again,

And dare me to the desert with thy sword;

If trembling I inhabit then, protest me

The baby of a girl. Hence, horrible shadow!

Unreal mock’ry, hence!

Exit Ghost.

Why, so; being gone,

I am a man again. Pray you sit still.

LADY MACB.

You have displac’d the mirth, broke the good meeting,

With most admir’d disorder.

MACB.

Can such things be,

And overcome us like a summer’s cloud,

Without our special wonder? You make me strange

Even to the disposition that I owe,

When now I think you can behold such sights,

And keep the natural ruby of your cheeks,

When mine is blanch’d with fear.

ROSSE.

What sights, my lord?

LADY MACB.

I pray you speak not. He grows worse and worse,

Question enrages him. At once, good night.

Stand not upon the order of your going,

But go at once.

LEN.

Good night, and better health

Attend his Majesty!

LADY MACB.

A kind good night to all!

Exeunt Lords and Attendants.

MACB.

It will have blood, they say; blood will have blood.

Stones have been known to move and trees to speak;

Augures and understood relations have

By maggot-pies and choughs and rooks brought forth

The secret’st man of blood. What is the night?

LADY MACB.

Almost at odds with morning, which is which.

MACB.

How say’st thou, that Macduff denies his person

At our great bidding?

LADY MACB.

Did you send to him, sir?

MACB.

I hear it by the way; but I will send.

There’s not a one of them but in his house

I keep a servant fee’d. I will tomorrow

(And betimes I will) to the weïrd sisters.

More shall they speak; for now I am bent to know,

By the worst means, the worst. For mine own good

All causes shall give way. I am in blood

Stepp’d in so far that, should I wade no more,

Returning were as tedious as go o’er.

Strange things I have in head, that will to hand,

Which must be acted ere they may be scann’d.

LADY MACB.

You lack the season of all natures, sleep.

MACB.

Come, we’ll to sleep. My strange and self-abuse

Is the initiate fear that wants hard use:

We are yet but young in deed.

Exeunt.

 

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