Skip over navigation

NEN Gallery

NEN Gallery
Home / Music & Performing Arts / Shakespeare -Macbeth / Macbeth Illustration
Asset 1 of 1 Previous Asset [ 1 ] Next Asset   [Slideshow]

Macbeth Illustration


424 x 640
454 x 685

Unique Id:


This item is saved in one of your albums. Click to remove it.. My Albums

SCENE I. Forres. The palace.
Thou hast it now: king, Cawdor, Glamis, all,
As the weird women promised, and, I fear, (note 1)
Thou play'dst most foully for't: yet it was said
It should not stand in thy posterity,
But that myself should be the root and father
Of many kings. If there come truth from them--
As upon thee, Macbeth, their speeches shine-- (note 2)
Why, by the verities on thee made good,
May they not be my oracles as well,
And set me up in hope? But hush! no more. (note 3)

Sennet sounded. Enter MACBETH, as king, LADY MACBETH, as queen, LENNOX, ROSS,
Lords, Ladies, and Attendants
Here's our chief guest.

If he had been forgotten,
It had been as a gap in our great feast,
And all-thing unbecoming. (note 4)

To-night we hold a solemn supper sir, (note 5)
And I'll request your presence.

Let your highness
Command upon me; to the which my duties (note 6)
Are with a most indissoluble tie
For ever knit.

Ride you this afternoon?

Ay, my good lord.

We should have else desired your good advice,
Which still hath been both grave and prosperous,
In this day's council; but we'll take to-morrow. (note 7)
Is't far you ride?

As far, my lord, as will fill up the time
'Twixt this and supper: go not my horse the better, (note 8)
I must become a borrower of the night
For a dark hour or twain.

Fail not our feast.

My lord, I will not. (note 9)

We hear, our bloody cousins are bestow'd
In England and in Ireland, not confessing
Their cruel parricide, filling their hearers
With strange invention: but of that to-morrow,
When therewithal we shall have cause of state
Craving us jointly. Hie you to horse: adieu,
Till you return at night. Goes Fleance with you?

Ay, my good lord: our time does call upon 's.

I wish your horses swift and sure of foot;
And so I do commend you to their backs. Farewell. (note 10)

Let every man be master of his time
Till seven at night: to make society
The sweeter welcome, we will keep ourself
Till supper-time alone: while then, God be with you! (note 11)

Exeunt all but MACBETH, and an attendant
Sirrah, a word with you: attend those men
Our pleasure?

They are, my lord, without the palace gate.

Bring them before us.

Exit Attendant
To be thus is nothing;
But to be safely thus.--Our fears in Banquo
Stick deep; and in his royalty of nature (note 12)
Reigns that which would be fear'd: 'tis much he dares;
And, to that dauntless temper of his mind, (note 13)
He hath a wisdom that doth guide his valour
To act in safety. There is none but he (note 14)
Whose being I do fear: and, under him,
My Genius is rebuked; as, it is said, (note 15)
Mark Antony's was by Caesar. He chid the sisters
When first they put the name of king upon me,
And bade them speak to him: then prophet-like
They hail'd him father to a line of kings:
Upon my head they placed a fruitless crown,
And put a barren sceptre in my gripe,
Thence to be wrench'd with an unlineal hand,
No son of mine succeeding. If 't be so,
For Banquo's issue have I filed my mind; (note 16)
For them the gracious Duncan have I murder'd;
Put rancours in the vessel of my peace
Only for them; and mine eternal jewel (note 17)
Given to the common enemy of man,
To make them kings, the seed of Banquo kings!
Rather than so, come fate into the list.
And champion me to the utterance! Who's there! (note 18)

Re-enter Attendant, with two Murderers
Now go to the door, and stay there till we call.

Exit Attendant
Was it not yesterday we spoke together?

First Murderer
It was, so please your highness.

Well then, now
Have you consider'd of my speeches? Know
That it was he in the times past which held you
So under fortune, which you thought had been
Our innocent self: this I made good to you
In our last conference, pass'd in probation with you, (note 19)
How you were borne in hand, how cross'd,
the instruments,
Who wrought with them, and all things else that might (note 20)
To half a soul and to a notion crazed
Say 'Thus did Banquo.'

First Murderer
You made it known to us.

I did so, and went further, which is now (note 22)
Our point of second meeting. Do you find (note 23)
Your patience so predominant in your nature
That you can let this go? Are you so gospell'd (note 24)
To pray for this good man and for his issue,
Whose heavy hand hath bow'd you to the grave
And beggar'd yours for ever?

First Murderer
We are men, my liege.

Ay, in the catalogue ye go for men;
As hounds and greyhounds, mongrels, spaniels, curs,
Shoughs, water-rugs and demi-wolves, are clept (notes 25, 26)
All by the name of dogs: the valued file (note 27)
Distinguishes the swift, the slow, the subtle,
The housekeeper, the hunter, every one
According to the gift which bounteous nature
Hath in him closed; whereby he does receive
Particular addition. from the bill (note 28)
That writes them all alike: and so of men.
Now, if you have a station in the file, (note 29)
Not i' the worst rank of manhood, say 't;
And I will put that business in your bosoms,
Whose execution takes your enemy off,
Grapples you to the heart and love of us,
Who wear our health but sickly in his life,
Which in his death were perfect.

Second Murderer
I am one, my liege,
Whom the vile blows and buffets of the world
Have so incensed that I am reckless what
I do to spite the world.

First Murderer
And I another
So weary with disasters, tugg'd with fortune,
That I would set my lie on any chance,
To mend it, or be rid on't.

Both of you
Know Banquo was your enemy.

Both Murderers
True, my lord.

So is he mine; and in such bloody distance,
That every minute of his being thrusts
Against my near'st of life: and though I could
With barefaced power sweep him from my sight
And bid my will avouch it, yet I must not, (note 30)
For certain friends that are both his and mine,
Whose loves I may not drop, but wail his fall (note 31)
Who I myself struck down; and thence it is, (note 32)
That I to your assistance do make love,
Masking the business from the common eye (note 33)
For sundry weighty reasons.

Second Murderer
We shall, my lord,
Perform what you command us.

First Murderer
Though our lives--

Your spirits shine through you. Within this hour at most
I will advise you where to plant yourselves;
Acquaint you with the perfect spy o' the time,
The moment on't; for't must be done to-night,
And something from the palace; always thought (notes 35, 36)
That I require a clearness: and with him--
To leave no rubs nor botches in the work--
Fleance his son, that keeps him company,
Whose absence is no less material to me
Than is his father's, must embrace the fate
Of that dark hour. Resolve yourselves apart:
I'll come to you anon.

Both Murderers
We are resolved, my lord.

I'll call upon you straight: abide within.

Exeunt Murderers
It is concluded. Banquo, thy soul's flight,
If it find heaven, must find it out to-night.


(1) All, as the weird women promis'd. The wording of this passage is, like that of the one discussed in Note 49, Act I., subject to a surmise from Malone that the title of "Glamis" (as well as those of "Cawdor" and "king") was given prophetically to Macbeth by the witches; but we think that the present passage, similar 'to the other one', rather implies that the accession of augmented dignities, from the thaneship of Glamis by natural inheritance, to the acquisition of the throne by unexpected event, has accrued to Macbeth, as announced to him by the weird women. The dignity of "Glamis" is included as having been stated by them, not as having been foretold by them; while the construction of the sentence gives "king, Cawdor, Glamis, all," an almost parenthetical effect.
(2) Their speeches shine. ' The brilliant fulfilment of their predictions show obviously.'
(3) But, hush; no more. These words are in perfect moral keeping with Banquo's previous resolute fighting against evil suggestions. See Note 6, Act II
(4) All-thing. 'All ways,' 'every way.'
(5) A solemn supper. This was a phrase used in Shakespeare's time to express a feast or banquet given on a particular occasion, to solemnise some special event, such as a birth, marriage, coronation, &c.
(6) To the which my duties, &c. "Which" here, in Shakespeare's mode of making a relatively-used pronoun refer to an implied particular, refers to 'commands' as implied in the preceding phrase "Let your highness command upon me."
(7) We' II take to-morrow. This is a familiar colloquial idiom; "take" being used in the sense of 'appropriate,' 'employ,' 'use.'
(8) Go not my horse the better. 'Should my horse not go well,' or 'if my horse do not go better than slowly.'
(9) My lord, I will not. This reply, made to the hypocritical injunction of the intended destroyer by his unconscious victim, comes with fearfully impressive significance of effect, when we find that the pledge given in the flesh is fulfilled in the spirit; and that the promise which the living man makes to be present at the feast is kept by his dead apparition. Shakespeare's most trivial-seeming speeches as he employs them have often deep and important meaning.
(10) Commend. 'Commit.' See Note 114, Act I
(11) While then, God be with you! "While" is here used in the sense of 'till ' or 'until.'
(12) Royalty of nature. 'Exaltedness of nature,' 'elevated quality of nature.'
(13) And, to that dauntless temper. Here "to that" is elliptically used for 'in addition to that.'
(14) Safety. Here used for 'moral safety,' , righteous precaution;' 'virtuous course.' The instinctive perception that Macbeth has of Banquo's superiority in purity and integrity is very pathetic. "The recognition of the beauty of truth and goodness by those who allow themselves to be uglied over and soiled by vice, is among the most affecting of humanity's strange inconsistencies; and Shakespeare has wonderfully portrayed it here.
(15) My Genius. The attendant spirit believed to preside over each human being's actions, guiding and influencing him to good or evil.
(16) Fil'd. 'Defiled.'
(17) Mine eternal jewel. 'My immortal soul.'
(18) To the utterance. A phrase derived from the French expression, a l'outrance; which signified that a combat was to be fought out 'to the uttermost,' 'to extremity,' 'or unto death.' The sentence in the text means, 'Rather than this should be so, come, fate, into the list, and fight in support of thy decree against me to the last extremity.'
(19) Pass'd in probation with you. 'Passed in proving to you.'
(20) Borne in hand. 'Beguiled by false expectations,' 'lured on by deceitful encouragement.' See Note 35, Act I, "Second Part Henry IV."
(21) That might to half a soul. 'Even' is elliptically understood between "might " and "to" here.
(22) And went farther, which is now, &c. "Which" refers to the suggestion implied in the words "went farther." Macbeth means 'I did make it known to you;' and 'I went farther, suggesting to you resentment and revenge for what I made known to you.'
(23) Our point of second meeting. 'The point' (or object) of our second meeting.
(24) Are you so gospell'd.' Are you so schooled in gospel precept?' 'Are you so imbued with the spirit of Christian charity? "Gospell'd" is one of Shakespeare's expressive participles framed from a substantive.
(25) Shoughs. Shaggy dogs; 'more modernly called 'shocks.' Nashe (a contemporary with Shakespeare) in his "Lenten Staffe," uses the form employed at the time he wrote: "A trundle-tail tike or shough or two."
(26) Clep'd. 'Called.' "Clepeth" is used for 'calleth,' or 'calle' in the speech referred to in Note 14, Act V, " Love's Labour's Lost."
(27) The valu'd file. Here is one of Shakespeare's elliptically and inclusively used epithets. "The valu'd file" means not only the file or list where dogs valuable for particular qualities are entered; it also means the file in which dogs have their several qualities valued, described, and specially stated. He uses the word "valu'd" here so as to combine its sense of 'esteemed' and 'estimated.'
(28) Particular addition, from the bill. "Addition" is here used in its sense of 'title or claim to superiority,' 'reputation for a certain quuality' (see Note 89, Act II, "Troilus and Cressida"); and "from" is employed for 'apart from,' 'in contradistinction to.'
(29) The file. The previous expression, "the valu'd file," is allowed to give 'valu'd' to be here elliptically understood before "file;" and the word bears the same sense as in the preceding sentence, explained in our penultimate note, thus: 'If you have a station in the file of men which enrols them as valuable and specifies their particular kind of value, and are not in the worst rank. of manhood where there are none of value, and none with any special quality to distinguish them.'
(30) I must not, for certain friends. "For" is here used to express 'on account of,' 'because of.'
(31) But wail his fall. In the present sentence the "must" in "yet I must not" gives 'must' to be elliptically understood before "wail" here.
(32) Whom I myself struck down. The Folio gives 'who' instead of "whom" here (Pope's correction); and though 'who' for "whom" was a grammatical licence allowed in Shakespeare's time, our idea. is that here perhaps he wrote "whom," the Folio misprinting the word. At any rate, so fine a passage as this may, we think, have the benefit of the doubt. ,
(33) Masking the business from the common eye. Observe with what skill of significance the general and even commonplace word "business" is put into the royal murderer's mouth here; as well as into his wife's and his own previously in the play, where she says, "You shall put this night's great business into my despatch;" and where he says, "We will proceed no farther in this business."
(34) The perfect spy o'the time. 'The precise time when you may espy him coming;' ' the exact time at which you may expect to see him approach, and may despatch him.' That this sense is included and implied in the phrase, we perceive from the peculiar use of "it" in the expressions, "the moment on 't," and "for 't must be done tonight:" alluding to an unnamed but perfectly understood deed.
(35) And something from the palace. 'And somewhat away from the palace;' and at some little distance from the palace.
(36) Always thought that I require a clearness. 'Always bearing in mind that I must be held clear from suspicion, and that I require neatness and completeness in the task you have undertaken.' "Clearness," as here used, includes both these senses.

21st Jun 2005


Key Stages:
Key Stage 2, Key Stage 3, Key Stage 4, Key Stage 4+

National Education Network
Developed by E2BN for the National Education Network
E2B® and E2BN® are registered trade marks and trading names of East of England Broadband Network (Company Registration No. 04649057)