Dunsinane. Within the castle.
(Macbeth; Seyton; Soldiers; Macbeth’s Messenger)
Macbeth finalizes his preparations against a siege, certain that no enemy can get in, but his bluster is broken by women screaming, and the news that Lady Macbeth is dead. Already grown apathetic, Macbeth realizes to what an extent life is empty and meaningless. A sentry announces that he was looking towards Birnam forest and that he saw the wood begin to move. Shocked and enraged, Macbeth begins to doubt, wondering whether the prophecies leave him as safe as he thought; still, though beginning to be weary of life, he still insists that he and his men will die fighting. (58 lines)
Enter Macbeth, Seyton, and Soldiers, with Drum and Colors.
Hang out our banners on the outward walls,
The cry is still, “They come!” Our castle’s strength
Will laugh a siege to scorn; here let them lie
Till famine and the ague eat them up.
Were they not forc’d with those that should be ours,
We might have met them dareful, beard to beard,
And beat them backward home.
A cry within of women.
What is that noise?
It is the cry of women, my good lord.
I have almost forgot the taste of fears.
The time has been, my senses would have cool’d
To hear a night-shriek, and my fell of hair
Would at a dismal treatise rouse and stir
As life were in’t. I have supp’d full with horrors;
Direness, familiar to my slaughterous thoughts,
Cannot once start me.
Wherefore was that cry?
The Queen, my lord, is dead.
She should have died hereafter;
There would have been a time for such a word.
Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,
To the last syllable of recorded time;
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player,
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Enter Macbeth’s Messenger.
Thou com’st to use thy tongue;
Thy story quickly.
Gracious my lord,
I should report that which I say I saw,
But know not how to do’t.
Well, say, sir.
As I did stand my watch upon the hill,
I look’d toward Birnan, and anon methought
The wood began to move.
Liar and slave!
Let me endure your wrath, if’t be not so.
Within this three mile may you see it coming;
I say, a moving grove.
If thou speak’st false,
Upon the next tree shall thou hang alive,
Till famine cling thee; if thy speech be sooth,
I care not if thou dost for me as much.
I pull in resolution, and begin
To doubt th’ equivocation of the fiend
That lies like truth. “Fear not, till Birnan wood
Do come to Dunsinane,” and now a wood
Comes toward Dunsinane. Arm, arm, and out!
If this which he avouches does appear,
There is nor flying hence, nor tarrying here.
I gin to be a-weary of the sun,
And wish th’ estate o’ th’ world were now undone.
Ring the alarum-bell! Blow wind, come wrack,
At least we’ll die with harness on our back.