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Act 3, Scene 1


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Original Play

Modern Translation

Enter BANQUO

BANQUO enters.

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BANQUO
Thou hast it now: king, Cawdor, Glamis, all,
As the weird women promised, and I fear
Thou played'st 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—
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.

BANQUO
You have it now: you're king, the thane of Cawdor, and the thane of Glamis, just as the witches promised. And I fear that you used foul play to get it. But the witches also promised that your descendants would not be king, and instead that it would be my descendants who would form a line of kings. If the witches do tell the truth—and what they told you, Macbeth, was brilliantly true—then maybe what their prophecies about me are true as well. But now I must be quiet.

Sennet sounded. Enter MACBETH, as king, LADY MACBETH, as queen, LENNOX, ROSS, LORDS, LADIES, and attendants

A trumpet sounds. MACBETH enters dressed as king, and LADY MACBETH enters dressed as queen, together with LENNOX, ROSS, LORDS, LADIES, and attendants

MACBETH
Here's our chief guest.

MACBETH
(indicating BANQUO) Here's our very important guest.



LADY MACBETH
If he had been forgotten,
It had been as a gap in our great feast,
And all-thing unbecoming.

LADY MACBETH
If we had forgotten to invite him it would have been entirely inappropriate and our celebratory feast would be incomplete.

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MACBETH
Tonight we hold a solemn supper, sir,
And I'll request your presence.

MACBETH
(to BANQUO) Tonight we're having a ceremonial feast, and I formally request that you attend.




BANQUO
Let your highness
Command upon me, to the which my duties
Are with a most indissoluble tie
Forever knit.

BANQUO
Whatever your highness commands me to do, I am always bound by duty to obey.

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MACBETH
Ride you this afternoon?

MACBETH
Do you plant to go riding this afternoon?

BANQUO
Ay, my good lord.

BANQUO
Yes, my good lord.

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MACBETH
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 tomorrow.
Is 't far you ride?

MACBETH
Had you been here we would have wanted your advice—which is always wise and profitable—at today's council. But we'll settle for tomorrow. Will you be riding far?




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

BANQUO
Far enough, my lord, that the trip will take me from now until dinner. Unless my horse goes faster than I expect, I'll be riding in the dark for an hour or two after sunset.

MACBETH
Fail not our feast.

MACBETH
Do not miss our feast.

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BANQUO
My lord, I will not.

BANQUO
My lord, I won't.

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MACBETH
We hear our bloody cousins are bestowed
In England and in Ireland, not confessing
Their cruel parricide, filling their hearers
With strange invention. But of that tomorrow,
When therewithal we shall have cause of state
Craving us jointly. Hie you to horse. Adieu,
Till your return at night. Goes Fleance with you?

MACBETH
We hear that the murderous princes have gone to England and Ireland. They haven't confessed to cruelly murdering their father, and they've been telling strange lies to anyone who will listen. But we'll discuss that tomorrow, as well as other matters of state that are important to us both. Off to your horse. I'll see you when you return tonight. Is Fleance going with you?

BANQUO
Ay, my good lord. Our time does call upon 's.

BANQUO
Yes, my good lord. It's time we got going.

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MACBETH
I wish your horses swift and sure of foot,
And so I do commend you to their backs.
Farewell.

MACBETH
May your horses are fast and surefooted. With that wish, I send you to their backs Farewell.

Exit BANQUO

BANQUO exits.

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Let every man be master of his time
Till seven at night. To make society
The sweeter welcome, we will keep ourself
Till suppertime alone. While then, God be with you!

All of you can do what you want until seven o'clock tonight. To make the evening all the more enjoyable, I'm going to spend the time until dinner time alone. Until then, God be with you!

Exeunt all except MACBETH and a SERVANT

Everyone exits except MACBETH and a SERVANT

Sirrah, a word with you. Attend those men
Our pleasure?

(to the SERVANT) Hey, servant, a word with you. Are those men waiting for my instructions?

SERVANT
They are, my lord, without the palace gate.

SERVANT
They are, my lord. They're outside the palace gate, my lord.

MACBETH
Bring them before us.

MACBETH
Bring them to see me.

Exit SERVANT

The SERVANT exits.

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To be thus is nothing,
But to be safely thus. Our fears in Banquo
Stick deep, and in his royalty of nature
Reigns that which would be feared. 'Tis much he dares,
And to that dauntless temper of his mind
He hath a wisdom that doth guide his valor
To act in safety. There is none but he
Whose being I do fear, and under him
My genius is rebuked, as it is said
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, prophetlike,
They hailed him father to a line of kings.
Upon my head they placed a fruitless crown
And put a barren scepter in my grip,
Thence to be wrenched with an unlineal hand,
No son of mine succeeding. If 't be so,
For Banquo's issue have I filed my mind;
For them the gracious Duncan have I murdered;
Put rancors in the vessel of my peace
Only for them; and mine eternal jewel
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 th' utterance. Who's there?

To be the king is worthless, if my position isn't safe. I'm deeply afraid of Banquo—he has a natural nobility about him that makes him a threat to me. He's a risk taker, and yet in addition to his unbreakable courage he has the wisdom to act with care and forethought. He's the only one I fear. In his presence, my guardian spirit is intimidated, just as, it was said, Mark Antony's spirit was intimidated by Octavius Caesar. When the witches first said I would be king, Banquo chided them and told them to speak with him. Then, like prophets, they said his descendants would form a line of kings. The witches put a crown on my head and a scepter in my hand, but then said that I would never pass them on. My crown and scepter will be taken from me by someone not of my family. No son of mine will succeed me as king. If what the witches say is true, then everything I've done has been for the benefit of Banquo's children—dishonoring myself, murdering gracious Duncan, destroying my peace of mind, all for them. I've given my eternal soul to the devil so that they could become kings. Banquo's sons, kings! Rather than let that happen, I'll invite fate to come into the battleground and fight it to the death. Who's there?

Enter SERVANT and two MURDERERS

The SERVANT enters along with two MURDERERS

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Now go to the door and stay there till we call.

(to the SERVANT) Now go to the door and stay there until I call you.

Exit SERVANT

The SERVANT exits.

Was it not yesterday we spoke together?

Wasn't it yesterday that we last spoke?

FIRST MURDERER
It was, so please your highness.

FIRST MURDERER
It was, your highness.

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MACBETH
Well then, now
Have you considered 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, passed in probation with you,
How you were borne in hand, how crossed, the instruments,
Who wrought with them, and all things else that might
To half a soul and to a notion crazed
Say, "Thus did Banquo."

MACBETH
So then, have you thought about what I said? That it was Banquo who made your lives so miserable for so long. You thought I had done it, but I was innocent. I showed it all to you when we last met and showed you proof, how you were tricked and deceived by, the agents who did the dirty work and who they were working with, and enough other details that even a half-wit to say, "Banquo did it!"

FIRST MURDERER
You made it known to us.

FIRST MURDERER
You made it known to us.

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MACBETH
I did so, and went further, which is now
Our point of second meeting. Do you find
Your patience so predominant in your nature
That you can let this go? Are you so gospeled
To pray for this good man and for his issue,
Whose heavy hand hath bowed you to the grave
And beggared yours forever?

MACBETH
I did that and then some. Which leads me to the point of this second meeting. Is your nature so forgiving that you don't feel the need for revenge? Are you so religious that you'd pray for this "good" man and his children, when he's forced you into an early grave death and made your entire family into beggars?

FIRST MURDERER
We are men, my liege.

FIRST MURDERER
We are men, my lord.

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MACBETH
Ay, in the catalogue ye go for men,
As hounds and greyhounds, mongrels, spaniels, curs,
Shoughs, water-rugs, and demi-wolves are clept
All by the name of dogs. The valued file
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
That writes them all alike. And so of men.
Now, if you have a station in the file,
Not i' th' 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.

MACBETH
Yes, you're part of the species called men. Just as hounds and greyhounds, mongrels, spaniels, mutts, shaggy lapdogs, shaggy water-dogs, and half-wolves are all dogs. But you can distinguish which of these dogs are fast, slow, or clever, which are watchdogs, and which ones hunters. Each dog you can describe based on the natural gifts that separate and make it different from the general qualities that define a dog. It's the same with men. Now, if you stand in the list of men in some position that isn't down at the very bottom rank, say so. Because then I will tell you a secret plan that will get rid of your enemy and bring you closer to me. As long as a certain man lives, I am sick. His death would cure me.




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.

SECOND MURDERER
I'm a person, my lord, whose gotten so angry from the beatings that the world has given me, that I don't care what I do.

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FIRST MURDERER
And I another
So weary with disasters, tugged with fortune,
That I would set my life on any chance,
To mend it or be rid on 't.

FIRST MURDERER
I'm also so sick of bad luck and being at the mercy of fate that I'd risk my life for any chance to either fix my life or end it.


MACBETH
Both of you
Know Banquo was your enemy.

MACBETH
Both of you know Banquo was your enemy.

BOTH MURDERERS
True, my lord.

BOTH MURDERERS
Yes, my lord.

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MACBETH
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,
For certain friends that are both his and mine,
Whose loves I may not drop, but wail his fall
Who I myself struck down. And thence it is,
That I to your assistance do make love,
Masking the business from the common eye
For sundry weighty reasons.

MACBETH
He's also mine, and to such a degree that every minute he's alive threatens my own well-being. Though, as King, I could just use my raw power to destroy him, I can't do that because we have mutual friends whom I need. I have to be able to grieve and cry over his death even though I was the one who had him killed. So that's why I have come to you asking for your help. I have to hide my real plans from the public eye for a variety of important reasons.

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SECOND MURDERER
We shall, my lord,
Perform what you command us.

SECOND MURDERER
We'll do what you command, my lord.

FIRST MURDERER
Though our lives—

FIRST MURDERER
Though our lives—

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MACBETH
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' th' time,
The moment on 't; for 't must be done tonight,
And something from the palace; always thought
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.

MACBETH
Your resolve shines in your eyes. Within the hour I'll tell you where to go, and advise you about exactly when to strike. Because it must be done tonight, some distance from the palace. Always keep in mind that I must be free from suspicion. For the job to be done right, you must kill both Banquo and his son, Fleance, who is with him. Fleance, whose absence is as important to me as his father's, must also die during that dark hour. Each of you should decide for himself whether you will do this. I'll come to you soon.

BOTH MURDERERS
We are resolved, my lord.

BOTH MURDERERS
We will do it, my lord.

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MACBETH
I'll call upon you straight. Abide within.

MACBETH
I'll call for you soon. Wait for me in the other room.

Exeunt MURDERERS

The MURDERERS exit.

It is concluded. Banquo, thy soul's flight,
If it find heaven, must find it out tonight.

It's over, Banquo. Tonight is when your soul will learn whether it's going to heaven or to hell.

Exit

He exits.

 

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