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Act 3, Scene 2


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Original Play

Modern Translation

Enter LADY MACBETH and a SERVANT

LADY MACBETH and a SERVANT enter.

LADY MACBETH
Is Banquo gone from court?

LADY MACBETH
Has Banquo left the castle?

SERVANT
Ay, madam, but returns again tonight.

SERVANT
Yes, madam, but he'll return tonight.


LADY MACBETH
Say to the king I would attend his leisure
For a few words.

LADY MACBETH
Tell the king that when he has a moment I'd like to speak with him.

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5

SERVANT
Madam, I will.

SERVANT
Madam, I will.

Exit SERVANT

The SERVANT exits.




LADY MACBETH
Naught's had, all's spent,
Where our desire is got without content.
'Tis safer to be that which we destroy
Than by destruction dwell in doubtful joy.

LADY MACBETH
When you get what you want but have no peace of mind, then you've gotten nothing and spent everything. It's better to be the person who was murdered than to be the murderer have to live in doubt and anxiety.

Enter MACBETH

MACBETH enters.

10


How now, my lord! Why do you keep alone,
Of sorriest fancies your companions making,
Using those thoughts which should indeed have died
With them they think on? Things without all remedy
Should be without regard. What's done is done.

How are you, my lord? Why do you keep to yourself, with only your sad thoughts for company? Those sad thoughts should have died along with the men your thinking about. Things you can't change you should not think about. What's done is done.

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25

MACBETH
We have scorched the snake, not killed it.
She'll close and be herself whilst our poor malice
Remains in danger of her former tooth.
But let the frame of things disjoint, both the worlds suffer,
Ere we will eat our meal in fear, and sleep
In the affliction of these terrible dreams
That shake us nightly. Better be with the dead,
Whom we, to gain our peace, have sent to peace,
Than on the torture of the mind to lie
In restless ecstasy. Duncan is in his grave.
After life's fitful fever he sleeps well.
Treason has done his worst; nor steel nor poison,
Malice domestic, foreign levy, nothing
Can touch him further.

MACBETH
We have merely slashed the snake, not killed it. The snake will heal and we'll once more be threatened by its fangs. The universe will fall apart, and heaven and earth collapse, before I'll eat my meals in fear or spend my nights troubled by the nightmares I've been having. I'd rather be the dead—who we sent to their eternal peace in order to gain our own peace of mind—than to be tortured by these nightmares and anxiety. Duncan is in his grave, no longer troubled by life and sleeping well. Our treason has put him beyond reach of any other pain or hurt, whether from steel, poison, rebellion, invasion, or anything else.

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30

LADY MACBETH
Come on, gentle my lord,
Sleek o'er your rugged looks. Be bright and jovial
Among your guests tonight.

LADY MACBETH
Please, my gentle lord, hide your troubled thoughts behind a happy face. Be friendly and cheerful with your guests tonight.


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35

MACBETH
So shall I, love,
And so, I pray, be you. Let your remembrance
Apply to Banquo; present him eminence,
Both with eye and tongue: unsafe the while that we
Must lave our honors in these flattering streams,
And make our faces vizards to our hearts,
Disguising what they are.

MACBETH
I will, my love, and I hope you'll do the same. And pay particular attention to Banquo. Speak to him and look at him so that he feels proud and important. We're unsafe so long as we have to flatter him, hiding our true feelings behind a friendly face.

LADY MACBETH
You must leave this.

LADY MACBETH
You must stop thinking like this.


MACBETH
Oh, full of scorpions is my mind, dear wife!
Thou know'st that Banquo, and his Fleance, lives.

MACBETH
Oh! My mind is full of scorpions, dear wife! You know that Banquo and his son Fleance are still alive.

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40

LADY MACBETH
But in them nature's copy's not eterne.

LADY MACBETH
But they won't live forever.

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45

MACBETH
There's comfort yet; they are assailable.
Then be thou jocund. Ere the bat hath flown
His cloistered flight, ere to black Hecate's summons
The shard-borne beetle with his drowsy hums
Hath rung night's yawning peal, there shall be done
A deed of dreadful note.

MACBETH
That's a comfort. They can be killed. So be joyful. Before the bat flies in the darkness, and before the beetle obey's the summons of Hecate (the goddess of the underworld and witches) and with his droning hum announces the arrival of night, a dreadful deed will be done.

LADY MACBETH
What's to be done?

LADY MACBETH
What will be done?

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55

MACBETH
Be innocent of the knowledge, dearest chuck,
Till thou applaud the deed. Come, seeling night,
Scarf up the tender eye of pitiful day
And with thy bloody and invisible hand
Cancel and tear to pieces that great bond
Which keeps me pale. Light thickens, and the crow
Makes wing to th' rooky wood.
Good things of day begin to droop and drowse;
Whiles night's black agents to their preys do rouse.
Thou marvel'st at my words: but hold thee still.
Things bad begun make strong themselves by ill.
So, prithee, go with me.

MACBETH
You're better off not knowing about it, my dearest one, until you can celebrate the finished deed. Come, night, and blindfold the kindhearted day. Then with your bloody and invisible hand destroy Banquo's hold on life, which keeps me fearful. The sky darkens, and the crow flies home to roost in the forest. The gentle creatures of the day fall to sleep, while night's predators wake to hunt for prey. (to LADY MACBETH) You are shocked by my words, but shouldn't. Things accomplished through bad deeds can only thrive through more bad deeds. So I pray you, come with me.

Exeunt

They exit.

 

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