A room in Macbeth’s castle.
(Sewer; Servants; Macbeth; Lady Macbeth)
Macbeth openly considers murdering the King, but the thought gnaws at his conscience, as the King is his kinsman and his guest, not to mention a good and mild King beloved by all. He realizes that he has no excuse or rationalization for the deed other than his own desire to be King. Lady Macbeth joins him and is shocked when he announces that he will not go through with the deed. She accuses him of cowardice, unmanliness, and oath-breaking, and he reveals his fear of failure. She points out how easy it will be to murder Duncan and frame his attendants. He reconciles himself to murder. (92 lines)
Hoboys, torches. Enter a Sewer and divers Servants with dishes and service over the stage. Then enter Macbeth.
If it were done, when ’tis done, then ’twere well
It were done quickly. If th’ assassination
Could trammel up the consequence, and catch
With his surcease, success; that but this blow
Might be the be-all and the end-all—here,
But here, upon this bank and shoal of time,
We’ld jump the life to come. But in these cases
We still have judgment here, that we but teach
Bloody instructions, which, being taught, return
To plague th’ inventor. This even-handed justice
Commends th’ ingredience of our poison’d chalice
To our own lips. He’s here in double trust:
First, as I am his kinsman and his subject,
Strong both against the deed; then, as his host,
Who should against his murderer shut the door,
Not bear the knife myself. Besides, this Duncan
Hath borne his faculties so meek, hath been
So clear in his great office, that his virtues
Will plead like angels, trumpet-tongu’d, against
The deep damnation of his taking-off;
And pity, like a naked new-born babe,
Striding the blast, or heaven’s cherubin, hors’d
Upon the sightless couriers of the air,
Shall blow the horrid deed in every eye,
That tears shall drown the wind. I have no spur
To prick the sides of my intent, but only
Vaulting ambition, which o’erleaps itself,
And falls on th’ other—
Enter Lady Macbeth.
How now? What news?
He has almost supp’d. Why have you left the chamber?
Hath he ask’d for me?
Know you not he has?
We will proceed no further in this business:
He hath honor’d me of late, and I have bought
Golden opinions from all sorts of people,
Which would be worn now in their newest gloss,
Not cast aside so soon.
Was the hope drunk
Wherein you dress’d yourself? Hath it slept since?
And wakes it now to look so green and pale
At what it did so freely? From this time
Such I account thy love. Art thou afeard
To be the same in thine own act and valor
As thou art in desire? Wouldst thou have that
Which thou esteem’st the ornament of life,
And live a coward in thine own esteem,
Letting “I dare not” wait upon “I would,”
Like the poor cat i’ th’ adage?
I dare do all that may become a man;
Who dares do more is none.
What beast was’t then
That made you break this enterprise to me?
When you durst do it, then you were a man;
And to be more than what you were, you would
Be so much more the man. Nor time, nor place,
Did then adhere, and yet you would make both:
They have made themselves, and that their fitness now
Does unmake you. I have given suck, and know
How tender ’tis to love the babe that milks me;
I would, while it was smiling in my face,
Have pluck’d my nipple from his boneless gums,
And dash’d the brains out, had I so sworn as you
Have done to this.
If we should fail?
But screw your courage to the sticking place,
And we’ll not fail. When Duncan is asleep
(Whereto the rather shall his day’s hard journey
Soundly invite him), his two chamberlains
Will I with wine and wassail so convince,
That memory, the warder of the brain,
Shall be a fume, and the receipt of reason
A limbeck only. When in swinish sleep
Their drenched natures lies as in a death,
What cannot you and I perform upon
Th’ unguarded Duncan? What not put upon
His spungy officers, who shall bear the guilt
Of our great quell?
Bring forth men-children only!
For thy undaunted mettle should compose
Nothing but males. Will it not be receiv’d,
When we have mark’d with blood those sleepy two
Of his own chamber, and us’d their very daggers,
That they have done’t?
Who dares receive it other,
As we shall make our griefs and clamor roar
Upon his death?
I am settled, and bend up
Each corporal agent to this terrible feat.
Away, and mock the time with fairest show:
False face must hide what the false heart doth know.