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Act 1, Scene 3


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Original Play

Modern Translation

Thunder. Enter the three WITCHES

The sound of thunder. The three WITCHES enter.

FIRST WITCH
Where hast thou been, sister?

FIRST WITCH
Where have you been, sister?

SECOND WITCH
Killing swine.

SECOND WITCH
Killing pigs.

THIRD WITCH
Sister, where thou?

THIRD WITCH
Where were you, sister?

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FIRST WITCH
A sailor's wife had chestnuts in her lap,
And munched, and munched, and munched. "Give me," quoth I.
"Aroint thee, witch!" the rump-fed runnion cries.
Her husband's to Aleppo gone, master o' th' Tiger;
But in a sieve I'll thither sail,
And like a rat without a tail,
I'll do, I'll do, and I'll do.

FIRST WITCH
A sailor's wife had chestnuts in her lap and munched, and munched, and munched them. "Give me one," I said. "Begone, witch!" the fat-assed, scabby woman cried. Her husband has gone to Aleppo as captain of the sailing ship Tiger. I'm going to sail there in a strainer, and them, like a rat without a tail, I'll do him, and do him, and do him again.

SECOND WITCH
I'll give thee a wind.

SECOND WITCH
I'll make a wind for you to sail there.

FIRST WITCH
Thou 'rt kind.

FIRST WITCH
That's very kind.

THIRD WITCH
And I another.

THIRD WITCH
And I'll give you another wind.

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FIRST WITCH
I myself have all the other,
And the very ports they blow,
All the quarters that they know
I' th' shipman's card.
I'll drain him dry as hay.
Sleep shall neither night nor day
Hang upon his penthouse lid.
He shall live a man forbid.
Weary sev'nnights nine times nine
Shall he dwindle, peak and pine.
Though his bark cannot be lost,
Yet it shall be tempest-tossed.
Look what I have.

FIRST WITCH
I'm already master of all the other winds, the locations from which they originate, and every direction on the compass that they can blow. (editor's note: in other words, the witch can keep the sailor from ever reaching shore) I'll drain him until he's dry as hay, and won't let him sleep during night or day. He'll live as a cursed man. For eighty-one wearying weeks he'll slowly become sickly, and waste away from grief. Although I can't destroy his ship, I can still buffet it with storms. Look what I've got.

SECOND WITCH
Show me, show me.

SECOND WITCH
Show me, show me.


FIRST WITCH
Here I have a pilot's thumb,
Wrecked as homeward he did come.

FIRST WITCH
Here I hold the thumb of a pilot who was shipwrecked while returning home.

Drum within

A drum sounds offstage.

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THIRD WITCH
A drum, a drum!
Macbeth doth come.

THIRD WITCH
A drum, a drum! Macbeth comes.

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ALL
(dancing together in a circle) The weird sisters, hand in
hand,
Posters of the sea and land,
Thus do go about, about,
Thrice to thine and thrice to mine
And thrice again, to make up nine.
Peace! The charm's wound up.

ALL
(dancing together in a circle) The weird sisters, hand in hand, swift travelers over the sea and land, dance around and around, three times your way, then three times mine, and three times again, to add up to nine. Quiet! The spell is ready.

Enter MACBETH and BANQUO

MACBETH and BANQUO enter.

MACBETH
So foul and fair a day I have not seen.

MACBETH
I've never seen a day that was so good, because of our great victory, and yet with such bad weather.

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BANQUO
How far is 't called to Forres?—What are these
So withered and so wild in their attire,
That look not like th' inhabitants o' th' Earth,
And yet are on 't?—Live you? Or are you aught
That man may question? You seem to understand me,
By each at once her choppy finger laying
Upon her skinny lips. You should be women,
And yet your beards forbid me to interpret
That you are so.

BANQUO
How far is it to Forres, King Duncan's palace? (he sees the WITCHES) What are these—they're so wrinkled and wildly dressed. They don't look like residents of the Earth, and yet here they are on it. (to the WITCHES) Are you alive? Are you something that a man can question? You seem to understand me, since each of you has placed a chapped finger to her skinny lips. You look like women, but your beards won't let me believe that you actually are.

MACBETH
Speak, if you can: what are you?

MACBETH
Speak, if you can. What are you?

FIRST WITCH
All hail, Macbeth! Hail to thee, thane of Glamis!

FIRST WITCH
All hail, Macbeth! Hail to you, Thane of Glamis!

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SECOND WITCH
All hail, Macbeth! Hail to thee, thane of Cawdor!

SECOND WITCH
All hail, Macbeth! Hail to you, Thane of Cawdor!

THIRD WITCH
All hail, Macbeth, that shalt be king hereafter!

THIRD WITCH
All hail, Macbeth, who will be king in the future!

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BANQUO
Good sir, why do you start and seem to fear
Things that do sound so fair? (to the WITCHES) I' th' name of truth,
Are ye fantastical, or that indeed
Which outwardly ye show? My noble partner
You greet with present grace and great prediction
Of noble having and of royal hope,
That he seems rapt withal. To me you speak not.
If you can look into the seeds of time
And say which grain will grow and which will not,
Speak, then, to me, who neither beg nor fear
Your favors nor your hate.

BANQUO
My good man, why do you flinch and seem afraid of these words that predict such good things for you? (to the WITCHES) Be truthful, are you some kind of illusion, or are you in fact what you appear to be? You've greeted my noble friend by his current title and predict a future of additional noble titles and the promise of becoming king, all of which has left him astonished. Yet you don't speak at all to me. If you can look into the future and say what will happen, then speak to me. I neither want your favors nor fear your hatred.

FIRST WITCH
Hail!

FIRST WITCH
Hail!

SECOND WITCH
Hail!

SECOND WITCH
Hail!

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THIRD WITCH
Hail!

THIRD WITCH
Hail!

FIRST WITCH
Lesser than Macbeth and greater.

FIRST WITCH
You are lesser than Macbeth but also greater.

SECOND WITCH
Not so happy, yet much happier.

SECOND WITCH
You will not be so fortunate as Macbeth, and yet much more fortunate.


THIRD WITCH
Thou shalt get kings, though thou be none.
So all hail, Macbeth and Banquo!

THIRD WITCH
Your descendants will be kings, though you will not. So all hail, Macbeth and Banquo!

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FIRST WITCH
Banquo and Macbeth, all hail!

FIRST WITCH
Banquo and Macbeth, all hail!

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MACBETH
Stay, you imperfect speakers, tell me more.
By Sinel's death I know I am thane of Glamis.
But how of Cawdor? The thane of Cawdor lives,
A prosperous gentleman, and to be king
Stands not within the prospect of belief,
No more than to be Cawdor. Say from whence
You owe this strange intelligence, or why
Upon this blasted heath you stop our way
With such prophetic greeting. Speak, I charge you.

MACBETH
Wait! You have not told me everything. Tell me more. I know I am the thane of Glamis because the title became mine when Sinel, my father, died. But how can I be the Thane of Cawdor? The thane of Cawdor is alive, and a rich, strong man. And for me to become king is beyond belief, just as it's crazy for me to be Thane of Cawdor. Tell me from where you got this unnatural information, and why you came to us on this bleak and empty field with such a prophecy? Speak, I order you.

WITCHES vanish

The WITCHES vanish.

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BANQUO
The earth hath bubbles, as the water has,
And these are of them. Whither are they vanished?

BANQUO
The earth has bubbles, just like as water does. These beings must come from such a bubble Where did they vanish?


MACBETH
Into the air, and what seemed corporal
Melted, as breath into the wind. Would they had stayed.

MACBETH
Into the air. They seemed solid but then just melted like breath into the wind. I wish they'd stayed!

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BANQUO
Were such things here as we do speak about?
Or have we eaten on the insane root
That takes the reason prisoner?

BANQUO
Were these things were speaking of ever even here? Or have we both eaten something that makes you delusional and irrational?

MACBETH
Your children shall be kings.

MACBETH
Your children will be kings.

BANQUO
You shall be king.

BANQUO
You will be king.

MACBETH
And thane of Cawdor too: went it not so?

MACBETH
And thane of Cawdor too. Is that what they said?

BANQUO
To the selfsame tune and words. Who's here?

BANQUO
Those were their words exactly. Who's arrived?

Enter ROSS and ANGUS

ROSS and ANGUS enter.

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ROSS
The king hath happily received, Macbeth,
The news of thy success, and when he reads
Thy personal venture in the rebels' fight,
His wonders and his praises do contend
Which should be thine or his. Silenced with that,
In viewing o'er the rest o' the selfsame day,
He finds thee in the stout Norweyan ranks,
Nothing afeard of what thyself didst make,
Strange images of death. As thick as tale
Can post with post, and every one did bear
Thy praises in his kingdom's great defense,
And poured them down before him.

ROSS
The king was happy to learn of your success, Macbeth, and when he hears the story of your personal heroics in the battle against the rebels, he can't decide whether to praise you or just be silently amazed. He was also at a loss for words to find out that on the same day you fought the rebels you also fought against the army of Norway, and that you weren't at all afraid of death, even as you dealt it out around you. A stream of messengers gushed with praise for how you defended his country.

ANGUS
We are sent
To give thee from our royal master thanks,
Only to herald thee into his sight,
Not pay thee.

ANGUS
We've been sent to give you the king's thanks and to escort you to him, but we don't have your reward.

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ROSS
And, for an earnest of a greater honor,
He bade me, from him, call thee thane of Cawdor:
In which addition, hail, most worthy thane,
For it is thine.

ROSS
But, to give you a hint of the honors coming your way, the king told me to call you the Thane of Cawdor. Hail, most worthy thane, for that title is now yours.

BANQUO
What, can the devil speak true?

BANQUO
What? Can the devil speak the truth?

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MACBETH
The thane of Cawdor lives. Why do you dress me
In borrowed robes?

MACBETH
The thane of Cawdor is still alive. How can you pretend that his title is now mine?

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ANGUS
Who was the thane lives yet,
But under heavy judgment bears that life
Which he deserves to lose. Whether he was combined
With those of Norway, or did line the rebel
With hidden help and vantage, or that with both
He labored in his country's wrack, I know not;
But treasons capital, confessed and proved,
Have overthrown him.

ANGUS
The former thane of Cawdor is still alive, but he's held under a death sentence, and he deserves to die. I don't know whether he fought alongside the Norwegians or if he secretly helped the rebels, or if he worked with both of our enemies to destroy or country. But his capital treason has been proven, and he has confessed to it, so he has lost his former title.

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MACBETH
(aside) Glamis, and thane of Cawdor!
The greatest is behind. (to ROSS and ANGUS) Thanks for your pains.
(aside to BANQUO) Do you not hope your children shall be kings,
When those that gave the thane of Cawdor to me
Promised no less to them?

MACBETH
(to himself) Glamis, and thane of Cawdor! With the biggest part of their prophecy yet to come. (to ROSS and ANGUS) Thanks for your efforts to bring this news. (speaking so that only BANQUO can hear) Are you starting to believe your children might be kings, since the witches who said I would be thane of Cawdor promised they would be?

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BANQUO
That, trusted home,
Might yet enkindle you unto the crown,
Besides the thane of Cawdor. But 'tis strange.
And oftentimes, to win us to our harm,
The instruments of darkness tell us truths,
Win us with honest trifles, to betray 's
In deepest consequence.
(to ROSS and ANGUS) Cousins, a word, I pray you.

BANQUO
If you trust them, then it seems you might be eventually become king, not just thane of Cawdor. But all of this is strange. Often, to lead us to harm, the agents of darkness will first tell us some bit of truth. They win us over by telling us the truth about unimportant things, only to betray us when the consequences will be most terrible. (to ROSS and ANGUS) Gentlemen, speak with me a moment, please.

BANQUO, ROSS, and ANGUS move to one side

ROSS, ANGUS, and BANQUO move off to one side.

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MACBETH
(aside) Two truths are told,
As happy prologues to the swelling act
Of the imperial theme. (to ROSS and ANGUS) I thank you, gentlemen.
(aside) This supernatural soliciting
Cannot be ill, cannot be good. If ill,
Why hath it given me earnest of success,
Commencing in a truth? I am thane of Cawdor.
If good, why do I yield to that suggestion
Whose horrid image doth unfix my hair
And make my seated heart knock at my ribs,
Against the use of nature? Present fears
Are less than horrible imaginings.
My thought, whose murder yet is but fantastical,
Shakes so my single state of man
That function is smothered in surmise,
And nothing is but what is not.

MACBETH
(to himself) Two of the prophecies have come true, making it seem like this will end with my rise to the throne. (to ROSS and ANGUS) Thank you, gentlemen. (to himself) This supernatural temptation doesn't seem like it's a bad thing, but it can't be good either. If it's bad, why did it promise me a success that turned out to be true? I am the thane of Cawdor. But if this is a good thing, why do I find myself thinking about something that is so horrid that it makes my hair stand on end and my heart pound unnaturally within my chest? The things I should fear are less frightening to me than the horrible things I'm imagining. Though my thoughts of murder are just a fantasy, they shake my very sense of self. My ability to act is blocked by my swirling thoughts, and all that matters to me are things that don't exist.

BANQUO
Look how our partner's rapt.

BANQUO
Look how our friend is daydreaming.


MACBETH
(aside) If chance will have me king, why, chance may crown me
Without my stir.

MACBETH
(to himself) If fate wants me to be king, well, maybe fate will give me the throne without me having to do anything at all.

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BANQUO
New honors come upon him,
Like our strange garments, cleave not to their mold
But with the aid of use.

BANQUO
Macbeth's new titles, like new clothes, don't fit well until they've been worn for a while.


MACBETH
(aside) Come what come may,
Time and the hour runs through the roughest day.

MACBETH
(to himself) No matter what happens, time continues on.

BANQUO
Worthy Macbeth, we stay upon your leisure.

BANQUO
Good Macbeth, we're waiting for whenever you're ready.

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MACBETH
Give me your favor. My dull brain was wrought
With things forgotten. Kind gentlemen, your pains
Are registered where every day I turn
The leaf to read them. Let us toward the king.
(aside to BANQUO) Think upon what hath chanced, and, at more time,
The interim having weighed it, let us speak
Our free hearts each to other.

MACBETH
Pardon me. I was occupied by forgotten thoughts. Kind gentlemen, I won't forget the efforts you've gone to for me, and will remember them every day. Let's go to the king. (speaking just to BANQUO) Think about what just happened, and, when we've both had more time to consider its implications, let's discuss it freely with one another.

BANQUO
Very gladly.

BANQUO
Gladly.

MACBETH
Till then, enough. (to ROSS and ANGUS) Come, friends.

MACBETH
Until then. (to ROSS and ANGUS) Let's go, my friends.

Exeunt

They all exit.

 

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