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Act 4, Scene 2


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Original Play

Modern Translation

Enter LADY MACDUFF, her SON, and ROSS

LADY MACDUFF, her SON, and ROSS enter.

LADY MACDUFF
What had he done to make him fly the land?

LADY MACDUFF
What did he do that made him flee Scotland?

ROSS
You must have patience, madam.

ROSS
You must have patience, madam.



LADY MACDUFF
He had none.
His flight was madness. When our actions do not,
Our fears do make us traitors.

LADY MACDUFF
He had none. To run away was insane. Even if you're not actually traitor, our fears of being accused of being traitors can make us appear to be traitors.

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5

ROSS
You know not
Whether it was his wisdom or his fear.

ROSS
You don't know whether it was wisdom or fear that made him flee.

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10


LADY MACDUFF
Wisdom! To leave his wife, to leave his babes,
His mansion and his titles in a place
From whence himself does fly? He loves us not;
He wants the natural touch. For the poor wren,
The most diminutive of birds, will fight,
Her young ones in her nest, against the owl.
All is the fear and nothing is the love,
As little is the wisdom, where the flight
So runs against all reason.

LADY MACDUFF
It was wisdom to leave his wife, his children, his house, and his titles in a place from which he himself flees? He doesn't love us. He lacks the natural feelings of a husband and father. Even the fragile wren, the smallest of birds, will fight an owl to protect her young ones in the nest. Macduff's running away has everything to do with fear and nothing with love. And since running is counter to all reason, it also must have nothing to do with wisdom.

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ROSS
My dearest coz,
I pray you school yourself. But for your husband,
He is noble, wise, judicious, and best knows
The fits o' th' season. I dare not speak much further;
But cruel are the times when we are traitors
And do not know ourselves; when we hold rumor
From what we fear, yet know not what we fear,
But float upon a wild and violent sea
Each way and none. I take my leave of you.
Shall not be long but I'll be here again.
Things at the worst will cease, or else climb upward
To what they were before.—My pretty cousin,
Blessing upon you.

ROSS
My dearest cousin, I beg you, control yourself. Your husband is noble, wise, and judicious, and understands the current political unrest. I don't dare say more than this, but it is a bad time when people are denounced as traitors and have no idea why, when we believe rumors out of fear, but aren't even sure what we're afraid of. It's like floating in a wild ocean storm, being tossed all around and getting nowhere. I'll must leave now, but it won't be long before I return. When things are at their worst they must eventually end, or else improve to How things were before. My young cousin, I put my blessing upon you.

LADY MACDUFF
Fathered he is, and yet he's fatherless.

LADY MACDUFF
He has a father, and yet he's fatherless.

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30

ROSS
I am so much a fool, should I stay longer
It would be my disgrace and your discomfort.
I take my leave at once.

ROSS
If I stay longer, I'll disgrace myself and embarrass you by crying. I must leave now.

Exit

ROSS exits.


LADY MACDUFF
Sirrah, your father's dead.
And what will you do now? How will you live?

LADY MACDUFF
Little man, your father's dead. What will you do now? How will you live?

SON
As birds do, Mother.

SON
I'll live as birds do, Mother.

LADY MACDUFF
What, with worms and flies?

LADY MACDUFF
What? You'll eat worms and flies?

SON
With what I get, I mean, and so do they.

SON
I'll live on whatever I get, like birds do.

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35

LADY MACDUFF
Poor bird! Thou 'dst never fear the net nor lime,
The pitfall nor the gin.

LADY MACDUFF
You'd be a pathetic bird. You wouldn't know to fear any traps or snares set out by hunters.


SON
Why should I, mother? Poor birds they are not set for.
My father is not dead, for all your saying.

SON
Why should I fear them, Mother? Hunters do not try to catch pathetic birds. No matter what you say, my father is not dead.

LADY MACDUFF
Yes, he is dead. How wilt thou do for a father?

LADY MACDUFF
Yes, he's dead. What will you do for a father?

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40

SON
Nay, how will you do for a husband?

SON
No, what will you do for a husband?

LADY MACDUFF
Why, I can buy me twenty at any market.

LADY MACDUFF
Well, I can buy myself twenty husbands at any market.

SON
Then you'll buy 'em to sell again.

SON
If so, you'd be buying them to sell again.


LADY MACDUFF
Thou speak'st with all thy wit; and yet, i' faith,
With wit enough for thee.

LADY MACDUFF
You talk with all of your wit; and yet your wit is still that of a child.

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45

SON
Was my father a traitor, Mother?

SON
Was my father a traitor, Mother?

LADY MACDUFF
Ay, that he was.

LADY MACDUFF
Yes, he was.

SON
What is a traitor?

SON
What is a traitor?

LADY MACDUFF
Why, one that swears and lies.

LADY MACDUFF
Someone who makes a promise and breaks it.

SON
And be all traitors that do so?

SON
And is everyone who does that a traitor?

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50

LADY MACDUFF
Every one that does so is a traitor and must be hanged.

LADY MACDUFF
Everyone who does so is a traitor and should be hanged.

SON
And must they all be hanged that swear and lie?

SON
And should everyone be hanged who makes and breaks promises?

LADY MACDUFF
Every one.

LADY MACDUFF
Everyone.

SON
Who must hang them?

SON
Who should hang them?

LADY MACDUFF
Why, the honest men.

LADY MACDUFF
The honest men.

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55

SON
Then the liars and swearers are fools, for there are liars and swearers enough to beat the honest men and hang up them.

SON
Then the liars are fools, for there are enough liars in the world to defeat and hang the honest men.

LADY MACDUFF
Now, God help thee, poor monkey! But how wilt thou do for a father?

LADY MACDUFF
(laughing) Heaven help you, my little monkey! (sad) But what will you do for a father?

SON
If he were dead, you'd weep for him. If you would not, it were a good sign that I should quickly have a new father.

SON
If he were dead, you'd be weeping for him. If you aren't weeping, it's a good sign that I'll soon have a new father.

LADY MACDUFF
Poor prattler, how thou talk'st!

LADY MACDUFF
Little chatterer, how you talk!

Enter a MESSENGER

A MESSENGER enters.

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65

MESSENGER
Bless you, fair dame! I am not to you known,
Though in your state of honor I am perfect.
I doubt some danger does approach you nearly.
If you will take a homely man's advice,
Be not found here. Hence with your little ones.
To fright you thus methinks I am too savage;
To do worse to you were fell cruelty,
Which is too nigh your person. Heaven preserve you!
I dare abide no longer.

MESSENGER
Bless you, fair lady! You don't know me, but I know very well that you're high position. I suspect something dangerous approaches you. If you'll take a simple man's advice, get out of here. Go away with your children. I think I am being too blunt to frighten you this way, but the cruelty that is already close to you will do much worse! Heaven help you! I dare not stay any longer.

Exit

The MESSENGER exits.

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70


LADY MACDUFF
Whither should I fly?
I have done no harm. But I remember now
I am in this earthly world, where to do harm
Is often laudable, to do good sometime
Accounted dangerous folly. Why then, alas,
Do I put up that womanly defense,
To say I have done no harm?

LADY MACDUFF
Where should I run? I haven't done anything wrong. But I remember now that I'm here on Earth, where doing evil is often praised, and doing good is sometimes a foolish mistake. So why do I make this womanish defense that I've done no harm?

Enter MURDERERS

The MURDERERS enter.

What are these faces?

Why do you make such angry faces?

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75

FIRST MURDERER
Where is your husband?

FIRST MURDERER
Where is your husband?


LADY MACDUFF
I hope, in no place so unsanctified
Where such as thou mayst find him.

LADY MACDUFF
I hope he's not anywhere so disgraceful that men such as you could find him.

FIRST MURDERER
He's a traitor.

FIRST MURDERER
He's a traitor.

SON
Thou liest, thou shag-ear'd villain!

SON
You lie, you long-eared villain!


FIRST MURDERER
(Stabbing him) What, you egg?
Young fry of treachery!

FIRST MURDERER
(stabbing him) What's that, half-pint? Young son of a traitor!

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80

SON
He has killed me, mother.
Run away, I pray you!

SON
He has killed me, Mother. Run away, I beg you!

He dies. Exit LADY MACDUFF, crying "Murder!" followed by MURDERERS

The SON dies. LADY MACDUFF exits, crying "Murder!" The MURDERERS exit, following her.

 

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