Act I
Act II
Act IV
Act V
Enter Malcolm and Macduff


Let us seek out some desolate shade, and there

Weep our sad bosoms empty.
sad (adj.) 3 downcast, distressed, mournful, gloomy


                         Let us rather

Hold fast the mortal sword; and like good men
mortal (adj.) 1 fatal, deadly, lethal

Bestride our down-fallen birthdom. Each new morn
bestride (v.) 1 stand over, protect, safeguard
birthdom (n.) kingdom of birth, birthright, native land
morn (n.) morning, dawn See Topics: Frequency count

New widows howl, new orphans cry, new sorrows

Strike heaven on the face, that it resounds

As if it felt with Scotland, and yelled out

Like syllable of dolour.
dolour (n.) sorrow, grief, lamentation
like (adj.) 1 same, similar, alike, equal See Topics: Frequency count


                         What I believe, I'll wail;

What know, believe; and what I can redress,

As I shall find the time to friend, I will.
friend, to as a friend, friendly

What you have spoke, it may be so perchance.
perchance (adv.) 1 perhaps, maybe See Topics: Frequency count

This tyrant, whose sole name blisters our tongues,
sole (adj.) 2 mere, simple, alone

Was once thought honest; you have loved him well;

He hath not touched you yet. I am young; but something

You may deserve of him, through me; and wisdom

To offer up a weak poor innocent lamb

T' appease an angry god.


I am not treacherous.


                         But Macbeth is.

A good and virtuous nature may recoil
recoil (v.) 1 fall away, degenerate, give way

In an imperial charge. But I shall crave your pardon:
charge (n.) 1 command, order, injunction, instruction
crave (v.) 1 beg, entreat, request See Topics: Frequency count

That which you are my thoughts cannot transpose;
transpose (v.) change, alter, transform

Angels are bright still though the brightest fell.

Though all things foul would wear the brows of grace,
brow (n.) 1 appearance, aspect, countenance See Topics: Frequency count

Yet grace must still look so.
still (adv.) 1 constantly, always, continually See Topics: Frequency count


                         I have lost my hopes.


Perchance even there where I did find my doubts.
perchance (adv.) 1 perhaps, maybe See Topics: Frequency count

Why in that rawness left you wife and child,
rawness (n.) unprotected state, vulnerable situation

Those precious motives, those strong knots of love,
motive (n.) 2 inspiration, incentive, mover

Without leave-taking? I pray you,

Let not my jealousies be your dishonours
jealousy (n.) 1 suspicion, mistrust, apprehension

But mine own safeties. You may be rightly just,

Whatever I shall think.


                         Bleed, bleed, poor country!

Great tyranny, lay thou thy basis sure,

For goodness dare not check thee; wear thou thy wrongs,
wear (v.) 4 possess, enjoy, have
wrong (n.) 3 wrong-doing, wrongful gain, unjust claim

The title is affeered. Fare thee well, lord!
affeered (adj.) [legal] assured, confirmed, settled

I would not be the villain that thou think'st

For the whole space that's in the tyrant's grasp,

And the rich East to boot.
boot, to in addition, as well See Topics: Swearing


                         Be not offended;

I speak not as in absolute fear of you.

I think our country sinks beneath the yoke,

It weeps, it bleeds, and each new day a gash

Is added to her wounds. I think withal

There would be hands uplifted in my right;

And here from gracious England have I offer

Of goodly thousands. But for all this,

When I shall tread upon the tyrant's head

Or wear it on my sword, yet my poor country

Shall have more vices than it had before,

More suffer, and more sundry ways, than ever,

By him that shall succeed.


                         What should he be?


It is myself I mean; in whom I know

All the particulars of vice so grafted

That, when they shall be opened, black Macbeth

Will seem as pure as snow and the poor state

Esteem him as a lamb, being compared

With my confineless harms.
confineless (adj.) boundless, unlimited, endless
harm (n.) 1 injury, hurt, pain


                         Not in the legions

Of horrid hell can come a devil more damned

In evils to top Macbeth.
top (v.) 1 surpass, exceed, outstrip


                         I grant him bloody,

Luxurious, avaricious, false, deceitful,
false (adj.) 1 treacherous, traitorous, perfidious See Topics: Frequency count
luxurious (adj.) lustful, lecherous, lascivious

Sudden, malicious, smacking of every sin
sudden (adj.) 6 unpredictable, prone to sudden violence

That has a name. But there's no bottom, none,

In my voluptuousness. Your wives, your daughters,

Your matrons and your maids, could not fill up

The cistern of my lust; and my desire
cestern, cesterne (n.) variant spelling of ‘cistern’ [= water receptacle, vessel, reservoir]

All continent impediments would o'erbear
continent (adj.) 3 self-restraining. self-controlled, discreet
overbear (v.) 1 overwhelm, overcome, overpower

That did oppose my will. Better Macbeth
will (n.) 2 lust, sexual desire, passion

Than such a one to reign.


                         Boundless intemperance

In nature is a tyranny. It hath been
nature (n.) 3 human nature

The untimely emptying of the happy throne,

And fall of many kings. But fear not yet

To take upon you what is yours. You may

Convey your pleasures in a spacious plenty
convey (v.) 2 manage, conduct, carry on [in secrecy]

And yet seem cold; the time you may so hoodwink.
hoodwink (v.) 2 deceive, delude
time (n.) 1 (the) world, (the) age, society

We have willing dames enough. There cannot be

That vulture in you to devour so many

As will to greatness dedicate themselves,

Finding it so inclined.


                         With this there grows

In my most ill-composed affection such
affection (n.) 6 disposition, character, state of mind
ill-composed (adj.) made up of wicked elements

A staunchless avarice that, were I king,
stanchless, staunchless (adj.) unquenchable, insatiable, incapable of being satisfied

I should cut off the nobles for their lands,

Desire his jewels and this other's house,

And my more-having would be as a sauce
more-having (n.) having more, amassing, acquiring

To make me hunger more, that I should forge

Quarrels unjust against the good and loyal,

Destroying them for wealth.


                         This avarice

Sticks deeper, grows with more pernicious root
stick (v.) 3 pierce, stab, wound

Than summer-seeming lust; and it hath been
summer-seeming (adj.) befitting the summer-time [of life: early manhood]

The sword of our slain kings. Yet do not fear:

Scotland hath foisons to fill up your will
foison, foizon (n.) 1 [pron: 'foyzn] abundance, plenty, profusion
mere (adj.) 2 sole, personal, particular
will (n.) 1 desire, wish, liking, inclination

Of your mere own. All these are portable,
portable (adj.) bearable, supportable, endurable

With other graces weighed.
weigh (v.) 1 balance [as in scales], poise, match


                         But I have none.

The king-becoming graces,

As justice, verity, temperance, stableness,
stableness (n.) stability
verity (n.) 1 truth, truthfulness, veracity

Bounty, perseverance, mercy, lowliness,

Devotion, patience, courage, fortitude,

I have no relish of them, but abound
relish (n.) 1 trace, suggestion, hint

In the division of each several crime,
division (n.) 2 [music] variation, modulation
several (adj.) 1 separate, different, distinct See Topics: Frequency count

Acting it many ways. Nay, had I power, I should

Pour the sweet milk of concord into hell,

Uproar the universal peace, confound
uproar (v.) throw into turmoil, reduce to confusion

All unity on earth.


                         O Scotland, Scotland!


If such a one be fit to govern, speak.

I am as I have spoken.


                         Fit to govern!

No, not to live! O nation miserable,

With an untitled tyrant, bloody-sceptred,
untitled (adj.) with no right to rule, illegal

When shalt thou see thy wholesome days again,
wholesome (adj.) 3 sound, firm, in good condition

Since that the truest issue of thy throne

By his own interdiction stands accused
interdiction (n.) prohibition, debarring, forbidding
issue (n.) 1 child(ren), offspring, family, descendant See Topics: Frequency count

And does blaspheme his breed? Thy royal father
blaspheme (v.) slander, defame, defile
breed (n.) 1 lineage, inheritance, stock

Was a most sainted king; the queen that bore thee,
sainted (adj.) 1 saintly, angelic, of holy character

Oftener upon her knees than on her feet,

Died every day she lived. Fare thee well!
die (v.) 2 suffer pain, go through agony

These evils thou repeat'st upon thyself

Have banished me from Scotland. O my breast,

Thy hope ends here!
passion (n.) 5 passionate outburst, emotional passage


                         Macduff, this noble passion,

Child of integrity, hath from my soul

Wiped the black scruples, reconciled my thoughts
scruple (n.) 2 suspicion, misgiving, doubt

To thy good truth and honour. Devilish Macbeth

By many of these trains hath sought to win me
train (n.) 3 stratagem, wile, lure

Into his power, and modest wisdom plucks me

From over-credulous haste. But God above

Deal between thee and me; for even now

I put myself to thy direction, and

Unspeak mine own detraction, here abjure
unspeak (v.) retract, renounce, take back

The taints and blames I laid upon myself
taint (n.) 1 fault, blemish, flaw

For strangers to my nature. I am yet

Unknown to woman, never was forsworn,
forswear (v), past forms forsworn, forswore 1 swear falsely, perjure [oneself], break one's word See Topics: Frequency count
unknown (adj.) 2 not having had sexual intercourse [with]

Scarcely have coveted what was mine own,

At no time broke my faith, would not betray

The devil to his fellow, and delight

No less in truth than life. My first false speaking
false (adj.) 1 treacherous, traitorous, perfidious See Topics: Frequency count

Was this upon myself. What I am truly
upon (prep.) 1 against

Is thine and my poor country's to command;

Whither indeed, before thy here-approach,
here-approach (n.) arrival here

Old Seyward with ten thousand warlike men,

Already at a point, was setting forth.
point, at / at a in readiness, prepared, armed

Now we'll together; and the chance of goodness
goodness (n.) 3 benefit, advantage, successful outcome

Be like our warranted quarrel! Why are you silent?
quarrel (n.) cause of complaint, reason for hostility, difference, claim
warranted (adj.) justified, legitimate, rightful


Such welcome and unwelcome things at once

'Tis hard to reconcile.

Enter a Doctor
anon (adv.) 1 soon, shortly, presently See Topics: Frequency count


                         Well, more anon. –

Comes the King forth, I pray you?


Ay, sir. There are a crew of wretched souls

That stay his cure. Their malady convinces
convince (v.) 1 defeat, overcome, overpower
stay (v.) 1 wait (for), await

The great assay of art; but at his touch,
art (n.) 1 knowledge, learning, scholarship, science
assay (n.) 1 effort, attempt

Such sanctity hath heaven given his hand,

They presently amend.


                         I thank you, doctor.

Exit Doctor
amend (v.) 2 get better, recover, revive, heal
presently (adv.) 1 immediately, instantly, at once See Topics: Frequency count


What's the disease he means?
Evil, the the king's evil, scrofula [a lymphatic disease]


                         'Tis called the Evil –

A most miraculous work in this good king,

Which often since my here-remain in England
here-remain (n.) stay, visit, sojourn

I have seen him do. How he solicits heaven
solicit (v.) 1 urge, move, incite, prevail upon

Himself best knows: but strangely visited people,
strangely (adv.) 5 very greatly, extremely

All swollen and ulcerous, pitiful to the eye,
mere (adj.) 1 complete, total, absolute, utter See Topics: Frequency count

The mere despair of surgery, he cures,

Hanging a golden stamp about their necks
stamp (n.) 2 coin, impression [of the monarch's head] made on a coin

Put on with holy prayers; and 'tis spoken,

To the succeeding royalty he leaves

The healing benediction. With this strange virtue
virtue (n.) 4 power, capability, efficacy, property

He hath a heavenly gift of prophecy,

And sundry blessings hang about his throne

That speak him full of grace.

Enter Ross
speak (v.) 3 proclaim, show, reveal


                         See who comes here.


My countryman; but yet I know him not.


My ever gentle cousin, welcome hither.
gentle (adj.) 1 well-born, honourable, noble See Topics: Frequency count


I know him now. Good God betimes remove
betimes (adv.) 3 speedily, soon, in a short time

The means that makes us strangers!


                         Sir, amen.


Stands Scotland where it did?


                         Alas, poor country,

Almost afraid to know itself! It cannot

Be called our mother, but our grave; where nothing

But who knows nothing is once seen to smile;

Where sighs and groans and shrieks that rent the air
rent (v.) rend, tear, pull to pieces

Are made, not marked; where violent sorrow seems
mark (v.) 1 note, pay attention [to], take notice [of] See Topics: Frequency count

A modern ecstasy. The dead man's knell
ecstasy (n.) 3 emotion, state of mind, feeling
modern (adj.) ordinary, trite, commonplace, everyday

Is there scarce asked for who, and good men's lives

Expire before the flowers in their caps,

Dying or ere they sicken.
relation (n.) 1 report, account, narration


                         O relation

Too nice and yet too true.
grief (n.) 2 pain, torment, distress
nice (adj.) 4 minutely detailed, carefully accurate


                         What's the newest grief?


That of an hour's age doth hiss the speaker;

Each minute teems a new one.
teem (v.) 1 produce, bring forth


                         How does my wife?


Why, well.


                         And all my children?


                                                         Well too.


The tyrant has not battered at their peace?


No. They were well at peace when I did leave 'em.


But not a niggard of your speech. How goes't?
niggard (n.) miser, mean person, skinflint


When I came hither to transport the tidings

Which I have heavily borne, there ran a rumour
heavily (adv.) sorrowfully, sadly, gloomily

Of many worthy fellows that were out,
out (adv.) 5 in arms, in rebellion

Which was to my belief witnessed the rather

For that I saw the tyrant's power afoot.

Now is the time of help. (To Malcolm) Your eye in Scotland

Would create soldiers, make our women fight

To doff their dire distresses.
doff (v.) throw off, get rid of, do away with


                         Be't their comfort

We are coming thither. Gracious England hath

Lent us good Seyward and ten thousand men –

An older and a better soldier none

That Christendom gives out.
give out (v.) 2 proclaim, announce, herald


                         Would I could answer

This comfort with the like. But I have words
like, the the same

That would be howled out in the desert air,

Where hearing should not latch them.
latch (v.) 1 catch, receive, take hold of


                         What concern they?

The general cause, or is it a fee-grief
fee-grief (n.) individual sorrow, personal distress

Due to some single breast?


                         No mind that's honest

But in it shares some woe, though the main part

Pertains to you alone.


                         If it be mine,

Keep it not from me; quickly let me have it.


Let not your ears despise my tongue for ever,

Which shall possess them with the heaviest sound
heavy (adj.) 1 sorrowful, sad, gloomy See Topics: Frequency count
possess (v.) 1 notify, inform, acquaint

That ever yet they heard.


                         Hum! I guess at it.


Your castle is surprised, your wife and babes

Savagely slaughtered. To relate the manner

Were on the quarry of these murdered deer
quarry (n.) [in hunting] heap of dead, pile of bodies

To add the death of you.


                         Merciful heaven!

What, man! Ne'er pull your hat upon your brows.
brow (n.) 4 forehead [often plural, referring to the two prominences of the forehead]

Give sorrow words: the grief that does not speak

Whispers the o'erfraught heart and bids it break.
overfraught (adj.) too heavily laden, overburdened


My children too?


                         Wife, children, servants, all

That could be found.


                         And I must be from thence!

My wife killed too?


                         I have said.


                                                         Be comforted.

Let's make us medicines of our great revenge

To cure this deadly grief.
deadly (adj.) deathly, death-like


                         He has no children.

All my pretty ones? Did you say all?

O hell-kite! All? What, all my pretty chickens
chicken (n.) child, little one
hell-kite (n.) kite from hell, hellish savage

And their dam, at one fell swoop?


Dispute it like a man.
dispute (v.) 2 deal with, handle, struggle against


                         I shall do so;

But I must also feel it as a man.

I cannot but remember such things were

That were most precious to me. Did heaven look on

And would not take their part? Sinful Macduff!

They were all struck for thee. Naught that I am,
naught, nought (adj.) 3 bad, wicked, sinful

Not for their own demerits, but for mine,

Fell slaughter on their souls. Heaven rest them now!


Be this the whetstone of your sword; let grief

Convert to anger; blunt not the heart, enrage it.
convert (v.) change, transform, alter


O, I could play the woman with mine eyes

And braggart with my tongue! But, gentle heavens,

Cut short all intermission. Front to front
gentle (adj.) 6 soft, tender, kind
intermission (n.) 1 interval of time, delay, interruption

Bring thou this fiend of Scotland and myself.

Within my sword's length set him; if he scape,
scape, 'scape (v.) escape, avoid See Topics: Frequency count

Heaven forgive him too.


                         This tune goes manly.

Come, go we to the King; our power is ready;
power (n.) 1 armed force, troops, host, army See Topics: Frequency count

Our lack is nothing but our leave. Macbeth
leave (n.) 2 leave-taking, permision to depart

Is ripe for shaking, and the powers above
power (n.) 9 (usually plural) gods, deities, divinities

Put on their instruments. Receive what cheer you may:
instrument (n.) 4 weapon, armament

The night is long that never finds the day.


  Previous scene     Next scene