The court of Macbeth’s castle.
(Porter; Macduff; Lennox; Macbeth; Lady Macbeth; Banquo; Rosse; Malcolm; Donalbain)
Still drunk after last night’s reveling, the castle’s porter comes to open the gate to the new arrivals still pounding at the gate, imagining himself the porter of hell as he does so. The noblemen Macduff and Lennox come in, having orders to meet the King early. Macbeth joins them, and as Macduff goes to wake the King, Lennox talks to Macbeth about the wild storm the previous night, and odd portents that occurred. Having discovered the murder, Macduff reenters in shock, and wildly begins to rouse the house. Lady Macbeth comes in, pretending to wonder what all the commotion is about, and expresses horror at the King being murdered in her house. Slowly the other members of the court arrive. Macbeth, who had gone in with Lennox to witness the deed, returns. He has killed the grooms and begs pardon for having done so, saying that he lost his temper at their evident guilt and executed summary justice on them. Lady Macbeth faints, or pretends to faint, before he can be pressed too far on this point. The nobles agree to get properly dressed and discuss the matter in full. Left alone, Duncan’s sons Malcolm and Donalbain agree that they will not trust any of the nobles, and decide to flee the country, one to England and the other to Ireland, to escape the risk that they both be murdered as well. (143 lines)
Enter a Porter. Knocking within.
Here’s a knocking indeed! If a man were porter of Hell Gate, he should have old turning the key.
Knock, knock, knock! Who’s there, i’ th’ name of Beelzebub? Here’s a farmer, that hang’d himself on th’ expectation of plenty. Come in time! Have napkins enow about you, here you’ll sweat for’t.
Knock, knock! Who’s there, in th’ other devil’s name? Faith, here’s an equivocator, that could swear in both the scales against either scale, who committed treason enough for God’s sake, yet could not equivocate to heaven. O, come in, equivocator.
Knock, knock, knock! Who’s there? Faith, here’s an English tailor come hither for stealing out of a French hose. Come in, tailor, here you may roast your goose.
Knock, knock! Never at quiet! What are you? But this place is too cold for hell. I’ll devil—porter it no further. I had thought to have let in some of all professions that go the primrose way to th’ everlasting bonfire.
Opens the gate.
I pray you remember the porter.
Enter Macduff and Lennox.
Was it so late, friend, ere you went to bed,
That you do lie so late?
Faith, sir, we were carousing till the second cock; and drink, sir, is a great provoker of three things.
What three things does drink especially provoke?
Marry, sir, nose-painting, sleep, and urine. Lechery, sir, it provokes, and unprovokes: it provokes the desire, but it takes away the performance. Therefore much drink may be said to be an equivocator with lechery: it makes him, and it mars him; it sets him on, and it takes him off; it persuades him, and disheartens him; makes him stand to, and not stand to; in conclusion, equivocates him in a sleep, and giving him the lie, leaves him.
I believe drink gave thee the lie last night.
That it did, sir, i’ the very throat on me; but I requited him for his lie, and (I think) being too strong for him, though he took up my legs sometime, yet I made a shift to cast him.
Is thy master stirring?
Our knocking has awak’d him; here he comes.
Good morrow, noble sir.
Good morrow, both.
Is the King stirring, worthy thane?
He did command me to call timely on him,
I have almost slipp’d the hour.
I’ll bring you to him.
I know this is a joyful trouble to you;
But yet ’tis one.
The labor we delight in physics pain.
This is the door.
I’ll make so bold to call,
For ’tis my limited service.
Goes the King hence today?
He does; he did appoint so.
The night has been unruly. Where we lay,
Our chimneys were blown down, and (as they say)
Lamentings heard i’ th’ air; strange screams of death,
And prophesying, with accents terrible,
Of dire combustion and confus’d events
New hatch’d to th’ woeful time. The obscure bird
Clamor’d the livelong night. Some say, the earth
Was feverous, and did shake.
’Twas a rough night.
My young remembrance cannot parallel
A fellow to it.
O horror, horror, horror! Tongue nor heart
Cannot conceive nor name thee!
What’s the matter?
Confusion now hath made his masterpiece!
Most sacrilegious murder hath broke ope
The Lord’s anointed temple, and stole thence
The life o’ th’ building!
What is’t you say—the life?
Mean you his Majesty?
Approach the chamber, and destroy your sight
With a new Gorgon. Do not bid me speak;
See, and then speak yourselves.
Exeunt Macbeth and Lennox.
Ring the alarum-bell! Murder and treason!
Banquo and Donalbain! Malcolm, awake!
Shake off this downy sleep, death’s counterfeit,
And look on death itself! Up, up, and see
The great doom’s image! Malcolm! Banquo!
As from your graves rise up, and walk like sprites,
To countenance this horror! Ring the bell.
Enter Lady Macbeth.
What’s the business,
That such a hideous trumpet calls to parley
The sleepers of the house? Speak, speak!
O gentle lady,
’Tis not for you to hear what I can speak:
The repetition in a woman’s ear
Would murder as it fell.
O Banquo, Banquo,
Our royal master’s murder’d!
What, in our house?
Too cruel any where.
Dear Duff, I prithee contradict thyself,
And say, it is not so.
Enter Macbeth, Lennox, Rosse.
Had I but died an hour before this chance,
I had liv’d a blessed time; for from this instant
There’s nothing serious in mortality:
All is but toys: renown and grace is dead,
The wine of life is drawn, and the mere lees
Is left this vault to brag of.
Enter Malcolm and Donalbain.
What is amiss?
You are, and do not know’t.
The spring, the head, the fountain of your blood
Is stopp’d, the very source of it is stopp’d.
Your royal father’s murder’d.
O, by whom?
Those of his chamber, as it seem’d, had done’t.
Their hands and faces were all badg’d with blood;
So were their daggers, which unwip’d we found
Upon their pillows. They star’d and were distracted;
No man’s life was to be trusted with them.
O, yet I do repent me of my fury,
That I did kill them.
Wherefore did you so?
Who can be wise, amaz’d, temp’rate, and furious,
Loyal, and neutral, in a moment? No man.
Th’ expedition of my violent love
Outrun the pauser, reason. Here lay Duncan,
His silver skin lac’d with his golden blood,
And his gash’d stabs look’d like a breach in nature
For ruin’s wasteful entrance; there, the murderers,
Steep’d in the colors of their trade, their daggers
Unmannerly breech’d with gore. Who could refrain,
That had a heart to love, and in that heart
Courage to make ’s love known?
Help me hence, ho!
Look to the lady.
Aside to Donalbain
Why do we hold our tongues,
That most may claim this argument for ours?
Aside to Malcolm
What should be spoken here, where our fate,
Hid in an auger-hole, may rush and seize us?
Our tears are not yet brew’d.
Aside to Donalbain
Nor our strong sorrow
Upon the foot of motion.
Look to the lady.
Lady Macbeth is carried out.
And when we have our naked frailties hid,
That suffer in exposure, let us meet
And question this most bloody piece of work,
To know it further. Fears and scruples shake us.
In the great hand of God I stand, and thence
Against the undivulg’d pretense I fight
Of treasonous malice.
And so do I.
Let’s briefly put on manly readiness,
And meet i’ th’ hall together.
Exeunt all but Malcolm and Donalbain.
What will you do? Let’s not consort with them;
To show an unfelt sorrow is an office
Which the false man does easy. I’ll to England.
To Ireland, I; our separated fortune
Shall keep us both the safer. Where we are,
There’s daggers in men’s smiles; the near in blood,
The nearer bloody.
This murderous shaft that’s shot
Hath not yet lighted, and our safest way
Is to avoid the aim. Therefore to horse,
And let us not be dainty of leave-taking,
But shift away. There’s warrant in that theft
Which steals itself, when there’s no mercy left.