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Act 4, Scene 1


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Original Play

Modern Translation

A cavern. In the middle, a boiling cauldron. Thunder. Enter the three WITCHES.

A cavern. In the middle, a boiling cauldron. Thunder. The three WITCHES enter.

FIRST WITCH
Thrice the brinded cat hath mewed.

FIRST WITCH
The striped cat has meowed three times.

SECOND WITCH
Thrice, and once the hedge-pig whined.

SECOND WITCH
Three times. And the hedgehog has whined once.

THIRD WITCH
Harpier cries, "'Tis time, 'tis time."

THIRD WITCH
Harpier (my spirit friend,) cries out: "It's time, it's time!"

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5


FIRST WITCH
Round about the cauldron go,
In the poisoned entrails throw.
Toad, that under cold stone
Days and nights has thirty-one
Sweltered venom sleeping got,
Boil thou first i' th' charmèd pot.

FIRST WITCH
Dance around the cauldron, throw in the poisoned entrails. This toad, which has slept under a cold rock, sweating venom, for thirty-one days, will be the first to boil in this magic cauldron.

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10

ALL
Double, double toil and trouble,
Fire burn, and cauldron bubble.

ALL
Double, double toil and trouble,
Fire burn, and cauldron bubble.

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SECOND WITCH
Fillet of a fenny snake,
In the cauldron boil and bake.
Eye of newt and toe of frog,
Wool of bat and tongue of dog,
Adder's fork and blind-worm's sting,
Lizard's leg and owlet's wing,
For a charm of powerful trouble,
Like a hell-broth boil and bubble.

SECOND WITCH
A fillet of swamp snake to boil and bake in the cauldron. And a newt's eye, a frog's toe, bat fur, dog tongue, the forked tongue of an adder, the stinger of a blindworm, leg of a lizard, and the wing of an owl. For a charm of powerful trouble, boil and bubble like a broth of hell.

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ALL
Double, double toil and trouble,
Fire burn and cauldron bubble.

ALL
Double, double toil and trouble,
Fire burn and cauldron bubble.

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THIRD WITCH
Scale of dragon, tooth of wolf,
Witches' mummy, maw and gulf
Of the ravined salt-sea shark,
Root of hemlock digged i' th' dark,
Liver of blaspheming Jew,
Gall of goat and slips of yew
Slivered in the moon's eclipse,
Nose of Turk and Tartar's lips,
Finger of birth-strangled babe
Ditch-delivered by a drab,
Make the gruel thick and slab.
Add thereto a tiger's chaudron,
For the ingredients of our cauldron.

THIRD WITCH
Scale of a dragon, tooth of a wolf, a mummified witch, the gullet and stomach of a ravenous shark, a root of hemlock dug up in the dark, the liver of a blaspheming Jew, a goat's gallbladder, twigs of yew taken during a lunar eclipse, a Turk's nose, a Tartar's lips, and the finger of a baby strangled at birth as a prostitute gave birth to it in a ditch. Make this potion sticky and thick. And now let's add the entrails of a tiger to the ingredients in our cauldron.

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ALL
Double, double toil and trouble,
Fire burn and cauldron bubble.

ALL
Double, double toil and trouble,
Fire burn and cauldron bubble.


SECOND WITCH
Cool it with a baboon's blood,
Then the charm is firm and good.

SECOND WITCH
We'll cool the mixture with a baboon's blood. Then the charm will be done.

Enter HECATE and the other three WITCHES

HECATE enters with three other WITCHES.

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HECATE
Oh well done! I commend your pains,
And every one shall share i' th' gains.
And now about the cauldron sing,
Like elves and fairies in a ring,
Enchanting all that you put in.

HECATE
Well done! I praise your work, and every one of you will share the rewards. Now come sing around the cauldron like a ring of elves and fairies, enchanting everything you put in.

Music and a song: "Black spirits, etc." HECATE exits

Music plays. The six WITCHES sing a song called "Black Spirits." HECATE exits.

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45

SECOND WITCH
By the pricking of my thumbs,
Something wicked this way comes.
Open, locks,
Whoever knocks.

SECOND WITCH
I can tell by the tingling in my thumbs: something wicked is coming. Open doors, for whoever is knocking.

Enter MACBETH

MACBETH enters.


MACBETH
How now, you secret, black, and midnight hags?
What is 't you do?

MACBETH
What's going on here, you secret, dark, midnight hags? What is it you're doing here?

ALL
A deed without a name.

ALL
Something that has no name.

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MACBETH
I conjure you by that which you profess—
Howe'er you come to know it—answer me.
Though you untie the winds and let them fight
Against the churches, though the yeasty waves
Confound and swallow navigation up,
Though bladed corn be lodged and trees blown down,
Though castles topple on their warders' heads,
Though palaces and pyramids do slope
Their heads to their foundations, though the treasure
Of nature's germens tumble all together,
Even till destruction sicken, answer me
To what I ask you.

MACBETH
I command you by the demonic powers you serve to answer my questions, however you come to know those answers. I don't care if you unleash violent winds that tear down churches, cause the foaming waves to rise up and destroy all ships and sailors, flatten crops and trees with storms, make castles fall down on the heads of their inhabitants, cause palaces and pyramids to topple, or create such chaos in nature that sickness dominates all. Just give me answers.

FIRST WITCH
Speak.

FIRST WITCH
Speak.

SECOND WITCH
Demand.

SECOND WITCH
Demand.

THIRD WITCH
We'll answer.

THIRD WITCH
We'll answer.


FIRST WITCH
Say, if th' hadst rather hear it from our mouths,
Or from our masters'.

FIRST WITCH
Tell us if you would rather hear our answers from our mouths or from our masters'?

MACBETH
Call 'em. Let me see 'em.

MACBETH
Call them. Let me see them.

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FIRST WITCH
Pour in sow's blood, that hath eaten
Her nine farrow; grease that's sweaten
From the murderer's gibbet throw
Into the flame.

FIRST WITCH
Pour in the blood of a sow that has eaten her nine offspring. Take the liquefied fat from the corpse of a murderer hanged on the gallows and throw it into the flame.

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ALL
Come, high or low;
Thyself and office deftly show!

ALL
Come spirits, high or low. Show yourself and your function.

Thunder. FIRST APPARITION : an armed head

Thunder. The FIRST APPARITION appears, in the form of a head wearing a helmet.

MACBETH
Tell me, thou unknown power—

MACBETH
Tell me, you unknown power—


FIRST WITCH
He knows thy thought.
Hear his speech but say thou nought.

FIRST WITCH
He knows your thoughts. Listen to what he says, but don't say a thing.


FIRST APPARITION
Macbeth! Macbeth! Macbeth! Beware Macduff.
Beware the thane of Fife. Dismiss me. Enough.

FIRST APPARITION
Macbeth! Macbeth! Macbeth! Beware Macduff. Beware the thane of Fife. Release me. Enough.

Descends

The FIRST APPARITION descends.

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MACBETH
Whate'er thou art, for thy good caution, thanks.
Thou hast harped my fear aright. But one word more—

MACBETH
Whatever you are, thanks for your good advice. You have described exactly what I feared. But one more thing—


FIRST WITCH
He will not be commanded. Here's another
More potent than the first.

FIRST WITCH
You can not command him. Here's another, stronger than the first.

Thunder. SECOND APPARITION : a bloody child

Thunder. The SECOND APPARITION appears, in the form of a bloody child.

SECOND APPARITION
Macbeth! Macbeth! Macbeth!—

SECOND APPARITION
Macbeth! Macbeth! Macbeth!

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MACBETH
Had I three ears, I'd hear thee.

MACBETH
If I had three ears, I'd use all three to listen.



SECOND APPARITION
Be bloody, bold, and resolute. Laugh to scorn
The power of man, for none of woman born
Shall harm Macbeth.

SECOND APPARITION
Be violent, bold, and determined. Mock the strength of other men, because no man born from a woman will ever harm Macbeth.

Descends

The SECOND APPARITION descends.

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MACBETH
Then live, Macduff. What need I fear of thee?
But yet I'll make assurance double sure,
And take a bond of fate. Thou shalt not live,
That I may tell pale-hearted fear it lies,
And sleep in spite of thunder.

MACBETH
Then live, Macduff. Why should I fear you? Yet, I'll make doubly sure and guarantee my fate. You will die Macduff, and in doing so I will defeat my fear and always sleep easily.

Thunder. THIRD APPARITION : a child crowned, with a tree in his hand

Thunder. The THIRD APPARITION appears, in the form of a child wearing a crown and holding a tree in his hand.

90

What is this
That rises like the issue of a king,
And wears upon his baby-brow the round
And top of sovereignty?

What is this spirit that appears like the child of a king and on his young head wears a royal crown?

ALL
Listen but speak not to 't.

ALL
Listen but do not speak to it.

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THIRD APPARITION
Be lion-mettled, proud, and take no care
Who chafes, who frets, or where conspirers are.
Macbeth shall never vanquished be until
Great Birnam Wood to high Dunsinane Hill
Shall come against him.

THIRD APPARITION
Be as courageous and proud as a lion. Don't worry about who dislikes you, who resents you, and who conspires against you. Macbeth will never be beaten until Great Birnam Wood comes to fight you at Dunsinane Hill.

Descends

The THIRD APPARITION descends.

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MACBETH
That will never be.
Who can impress the forest, bid the tree
Unfix his earthbound root? Sweet bodements! Good!
Rebellious dead, rise never till the wood
Of Birnam rise, and our high-placed Macbeth
Shall live the lease of nature, pay his breath
To time and mortal custom. Yet my heart
Throbs to know one thing. Tell me, if your art
Can tell so much: shall Banquo's issue ever
Reign in this kingdom?

MACBETH
That will never happen. Who can command the forest so that the trees lift their roots from the earth? Sweet prophecies! Good! My murders will never rise until the forest of Birnam rises, and I will live a full life and die only of old age, as is customary. But my heart still throbs to know one thing. Tell me, if your dark powers can see it: will Banquo's sons ever reign in this kingdom?

ALL
Seek to know no more.

ALL
Do not try to learn more.

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MACBETH
I will be satisfied. Deny me this,
And an eternal curse fall on you! Let me know.
Why sinks that cauldron? And what noise is this?

MACBETH
I demand to be satisfied. If you deny me, may an eternal curse fall on you. Let me know. Why is that cauldron sinking? And what is that sound?

Hautboys

Oboes play music for a ceremonial procession.

FIRST WITCH
Show.

FIRST WITCH
Show.

SECOND WITCH
Show.

SECOND WITCH
Show.

THIRD WITCH
Show.

THIRD WITCH
Show.

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ALL
Show his eyes and grieve his heart.
Come like shadows; so depart!

ALL
Show him and so his heart grieves. Come like shadows and depart as shadows too!

A show of eight kings, the last with a glass in his hand, followed by BANQUO

Eight kings parade across the stage, the last one holds a mirror in his hand, followed by BANQUO.

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MACBETH
Thou art too like the spirit of Banquo. Down!
Thy crown does sear mine eyeballs. And thy hair,
Thou other gold-bound brow, is like the first.
A third is like the former.—Filthy hags!
Why do you show me this? A fourth? Start, eyes!
What, will the line stretch out to th' crack of doom?
Another yet? A seventh? I'll see no more.
And yet the eighth appears, who bears a glass
Which shows me many more, and some I see
That twofold balls and treble scepters carry.
Horrible sight! Now I see 'tis true;
For the blood-boltered Banquo smiles upon me
And points at them for his.

MACBETH
You look too much like the ghost of Banquo. Be gone! (to the first king) Your crown hurts my eyes. (to the second king) Your golden hair, which looks itself like a crown resembles the hair on the first king. And this third king looks just like the previous tow. Filthy hags! Why do you show me this? A fourth! My eyes bulge from their sockets! Will this line of kings stretch on to infinity? Yet another one? And a seventh? I want to see no more. And yet an eighth appears, holding a mirror in which I see many more kings. And some of those kings carry double balls and triple scepters (meaning that they're kings of multiple countries)! Horrible sight! Now I see it's true: blood-splattered Banquo smiles at me and points at them, identifying them as his descendants.

Apparitions vanish

The spirits of the kings and BANQUO vanish.

What, is this so?

What? Is this true?

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FIRST WITCH
Ay, sir, all this is so. But why
Stands Macbeth thus amazedly?
Come, sisters, cheer we up his sprites,
And show the best of our delights.
I'll charm th' air to give a sound,
While you perform your antic round.
That this great king may kindly say,
Our duties did his welcome pay.

FIRST WITCH
Yes, it's all is true. But why do you stand there so amazed? Come, sisters, let's conjure up some spirits and show him what we can do. I'll charm the air to make music while you perform your wild dance. Then this gentle king will say that our ceremonies repaid his friendly welcome.

Music. The WITCHES dance and then vanish

Music plays. The WITCHES dance and then vanish.

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140

MACBETH
Where are they? Gone? Let this pernicious hour
Stand aye accursèd in the calendar!
Come in, without there.

MACBETH
Where are they? Gone? Let this evil hour be marked as cursed in the calendar. (calls to someone offstage) You outside, come in!

Enter LENNOX

LENNOX enters.

LENNOX
What's your grace's will?

LENNOX
What does your grace command?

MACBETH
Saw you the weird sisters?

MACBETH
Did you see the weird sisters?

LENNOX
No, my lord.

LENNOX
No, my lord.

MACBETH
Came they not by you?

MACBETH
They didn't pass by you?

LENNOX
No, indeed, my lord.

LENNOX
No, indeed, my lord.

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145

MACBETH
Infected be the air whereon they ride,
And damned all those that trust them! I did hear
The galloping of horse. Who was 't came by?

MACBETH
The air they ride on is infected. Damn all those who trust them! I heard the galloping of horses. Who was it that arrived?


LENNOX
'Tis two or three, my lord, that bring you word
Macduff is fled to England.

LENNOX
It's two or three men, my lord, bringing word that Macduff has fled to England.

MACBETH
Fled to England?

MACBETH
Fled to England?

LENNOX
Ay, my good lord.

LENNOX
Yes, my good lord.

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MACBETH
Time, thou anticipat'st my dread exploits.
The flighty purpose never is o'ertook
Unless the deed go with it. From this moment
The very firstlings of my heart shall be
The firstlings of my hand. And even now,
To crown my thoughts with acts, be it thought and done:
The castle of Macduff I will surprise,
Seize upon Fife, give to th' edge o' th' sword
His wife, his babes, and all unfortunate souls
That trace him in his line. No boasting like a fool.
This deed I'll do before this purpose cool.
But no more sights!—Where are these gentlemen?
Come, bring me where they are.

MACBETH
Time, you block my dreadful plans. Unless you do that which you plan right away, you never get the change to do it. From this moment on, I will act as soon as I want to do to something. I will begin right now to follow my thoughts immediately with action. I'll launch a surprise attack against Macduff's castle, seize the town of Fife, and kill his wife, his children, and anyone else unfortunate enough to bear even a trace of his blood. No more boasting like a fool. I will do this deed before my sense of purpose dulls. And no more hallucinations!—Where are these messengers? Come, lead me to them.

Exeunt

They exit.

 

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