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Act 4, Scene 3


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Original Play

Modern Translation

Enter MALCOLM and MACDUFF

MALCOLM and MACDUFF enter.


MALCOLM
Let us seek out some desolate shade and there
Weep our sad bosoms empty.

MALCOLM
Let's find some private shady place where we can go and cry our hearts out.

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MACDUFF
Let us rather
Hold fast the mortal sword and, like good men,
Bestride our downfall'n birthdom. Each new morn
New widows howl, new orphans cry, new sorrows
Strike heaven on the face, that it resounds
As if it felt with Scotland and yelled out
Like syllable of dolor.

MACDUFF
Instead, let's hold tight to our swords and, like honorable men, defend our fallen country. Each morning new widows howl, new orphans cry, and new sorrows fly up to heaven so that heaven echoes with the screams and seems to feel Scotland's pain.

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MALCOLM
What I believe I'll wail;
What know believe, and what I can redress,
As I shall find the time to friend, I will.
What you have spoke, it may be so perchance.
This tyrant, whose sole name blisters our tongues,
Was once thought honest. You have loved him well.
He hath not touched you yet. I am young, but something
You may deserve of him through me, and wisdom
To offer up a weak, poor, innocent lamb
T' appease an angry god.

MALCOLM
What I believe is wrong I will avenge. I'll believe whatever I know is true. And when I can, I'll fix whatever I can. What you've told me may in fact be true. This tyrant, whose mere name is so awful that saying it puts blisters on our tongue, was once thought to be honest. You and he were great friends. He's done nothing yet to harm you. I'm inexperienced, but you could win Macbeth's favor by betraying me and then offer me to him like an artificial lamb to an angry god.

MACDUFF
I am not treacherous.

MACDUFF
I am not treacherous.

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MALCOLM
But Macbeth is.
A good and virtuous nature may recoil
In an imperial charge. But I shall crave your pardon.
That which you are, my thoughts cannot transpose.
Angels are bright still, though the brightest fell.
Though all things foul would wear the brows of grace,
Yet grace must still look so.

MALCOLM
But Macbeth is. Even someone with a good and virtuous nature might give in to the command of his king. Still, I beg your pardon. My fears don't change what you truly are. Angels are still bright even though the brightest angel, Lucifer, fell from heaven. Though everything evil tries to disguise itself as good, good must continue to look good as well.

MACDUFF
I have lost my hopes.

MACDUFF
My hopes are lost.

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MALCOLM
Perchance even there where I did find my doubts.
Why in that rawness left you wife and child,
Those precious motives, those strong knots of love,
Without leave-taking? I pray you,
Let not my jealousies be your dishonors,
But mine own safeties. You may be rightly just,
Whatever I shall think.

MALCOLM
Perhaps you lost your hope in the same place I found my suspicions of you. Why did you leave behind your wife and child in danger—the most precious things in your life, those strong ties of love? I beg you, don't take my suspicion as an insult. I just have to protect myself. You may truly be honest, no matter what I think.

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MACDUFF
Bleed, bleed, poor country!
Great tyranny, lay thou thy basis sure,
For goodness dare not check thee. Wear thou thy wrongs;
The title is affeered.—Fare thee well, lord.
I would not be the villain that thou think'st
For the whole space that's in the tyrant's grasp,
And the rich East to boot.

MACDUFF
Bleed, bleed, my poor country! Terrible tyrant, be comfortable in your position, because good people fear to confront you. Enjoy what you stole, because your title is safe! Goodbye, lord. I wouldn't be the villain that you think I am even if I were offered all of Macbeth's kingdom and the wealth of the East as well.

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MALCOLM
Be not offended.
I speak not as in absolute fear of you.
I think our country sinks beneath the yoke.
It weeps, it bleeds, and each new day a gash
Is added to her wounds. I think withal
There would be hands uplifted in my right;
And here from gracious England have I offer
Of goodly thousands. But, for all this,
When I shall tread upon the tyrant's head,
Or wear it on my sword, yet my poor country
Shall have more vices than it had before,
More suffer, and more sundry ways than ever,
By him that shall succeed.

MALCOLM
Don't be offended. It's not that I totally mistrust you. I agree that Scotland is sinking under Macbeth's tyranny. Scotland weeps, it bleeds, and each day a new injury is added to her wounds. I think, too, that if I returned to claim the throne that many would fight for me. And England has promised to give me thousands of troops. But, for all this, when I have my foot on Macbeth's head, or have his head on my sword, then my poor country will be in even worse shape than before. It will suffer more, and in more ways, under the king who succeeds Macbeth.

MACDUFF
What should he be?

MACDUFF
Who is that.

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MALCOLM
It is myself I mean, in whom I know
All the particulars of vice so grafted
That, when they shall be opened, black Macbeth
Will seem as pure as snow, and the poor state
Esteem him as a lamb, being compared
With my confineless harms.

MALCOLM
I mean myself. I know I have so many evil qualities that, when exposed, will make evil Macbeth seem pure as snow, and poor Scotland will think of him as a sweet lamb in comparison to me and my infinite wickedness.



MACDUFF
Not in the legions
Of horrid hell can come a devil more damned
In evils to top Macbeth.

MACDUFF
Not in all of hell is there a devil as bad as Macbeth.

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MALCOLM
I grant him bloody,
Luxurious, avaricious, false, deceitful,
Sudden, malicious, smacking of every sin
That has a name. But there's no bottom, none,
In my voluptuousness. Your wives, your daughters,
Your matrons, and your maids could not fill up
The cistern of my lust, and my desire
All continent impediments would o'erbear
That did oppose my will. Better Macbeth
Than such an one to reign.

MALCOLM
I admit he's violent, lecherous, greedy, deceitful, hot-tempered, malicious, and guilty of every sin that has a name. But there is no end, absolutely none, to my sexual sinfulness. Your wives, your daughters, your old women, and your young women could not satisfy the depth of my lust. My desire would overwhelm anything and everyone who opposed me. It's better that Macbeth rule rather than someone like me.

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MACDUFF
Boundless intemperance
In nature is a tyranny. It hath been
The untimely emptying of the happy throne
And fall of many kings. But fear not yet
To take upon you what is yours. You may
Convey your pleasures in a spacious plenty
And yet seem cold; the time you may so hoodwink.
We have willing dames enough. There cannot be
That vulture in you to devour so many
As will to greatness dedicate themselves,
Finding it so inclined.

MACDUFF
Extreme lust can overwhelm a man. It has caused the downfall of many kings in previously happy kingdoms. But don't be afraid to take the crown that is yours. You can satisfy your desires in secret, while still seeming to be virtuous. You can hide the truth from everyone. Scotland has more than enough willing women. It's not possible that your lust could be so great you'd go through all the women willing to sleep with the king once they find out his interest in them.

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MALCOLM
With this there grows
In my most ill-composed affection such
A stanchless avarice that, were I king,
I should cut off the nobles for their lands,
Desire his jewels and this other's house.
And my more-having would be as a sauce
To make me hunger more, that I should forge
Quarrels unjust against the good and loyal,
Destroying them for wealth.

MALCOLM
In addition to my lust, I'm also insatiably greedy. If I were king, I' take the nobles' lands, stealing the jewels of one and the house of another. And everything I took would make me hungrier to steal even more, until I'd create unjustified arguments with my good and loyal subjects so that I could take their wealth.

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MACDUFF
This avarice
Sticks deeper, grows with more pernicious root
Than summer-seeming lust, and it hath been
The sword of our slain kings. Yet do not fear;
Scotland hath foisons to fill up your will,
Of your mere own. All these are portable,
With other graces weighed.

MACDUFF
This greed you describe is even worse than lust because it will not pass as you leave your youth, and it has led to the death of numerous kings. But don't fear. Scotland has wealth enough to satisfy you from your own income. These bad qualities are bearable when weighed against your good qualities.

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MALCOLM
But I have none. The king-becoming graces,
As justice, verity, temperance, stableness,
Bounty, perseverance, mercy, lowliness,
Devotion, patience, courage, fortitude,
I have no relish of them but abound
In the division of each several crime,
Acting it many ways. Nay, had I power, I should
Pour the sweet milk of concord into hell,
Uproar the universal peace, confound
All unity on earth.

MALCOLM
But I have no good qualities. I have none of the qualities necessary for a king, such as justice, truthfulness, moderation, consistency, generosity, perseverance, mercy, humility, devotion, patience, courage, and bravery. Instead, I'm full of every type of sin, and each of those in a variety of ways. No, if I had power I would take the sweet milk of peace and pour it into hell. I would destroy all peace, end all unity.

MACDUFF
O Scotland, Scotland!

MACDUFF
Oh Scotland, Scotland!


MALCOLM
If such a one be fit to govern, speak.
I am as I have spoken.

MALCOLM
If someone like me is fit to rule, tell me. I am exactly as I have described myself.

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MACDUFF
Fit to govern?
No, not to live.—O nation miserable,
With an untitled tyrant bloody-sceptered,
When shalt thou see thy wholesome days again,
Since that the truest issue of thy throne
By his own interdiction stands accursed,
And does blaspheme his breed?—Thy royal father
Was a most sainted king. The queen that bore thee,
Oftener upon her knees than on her feet,
Died every day she lived. Fare thee well!
These evils thou repeat'st upon thyself
Have banished me from Scotland.—O my breast,
Thy hope ends here!

MACDUFF
Fit to rule? No, not even fit to live. Oh miserable country, ruled by a murderous tyrant with no right to rule, when will you possibly see peaceful days if your legal heir to the throne indicts himself as a cursed man and a disgrace to the royal family. Your royal father was a virtuous king. The queen your mother was more often kneeling in prayer than standing up, and lived a pious life. Good-bye. The evils of which you accuse yourself have driven me from Scotland forever. Oh my heart, your hope ends here!

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MALCOLM
Macduff, this noble passion,
Child of integrity, hath from my soul
Wiped the black scruples, reconciled my thoughts
To thy good truth and honor. Devilish Macbeth
By many of these trains hath sought to win me
Into his power, and modest wisdom plucks me
From overcredulous haste. But God above
Deal between thee and me, for even now
I put myself to thy direction and
Unspeak mine own detraction, here abjure
The taints and blames I laid upon myself,
For strangers to my nature. I am yet
Unknown to woman, never was forsworn,
Scarcely have coveted what was mine own,
At no time broke my faith, would not betray
The devil to his fellow, and delight
No less in truth than life. My first false speaking
Was this upon myself. What I am truly,
Is thine and my poor country's to command.
Whither indeed, before thy here-approach,
Old Siward, with ten thousand warlike men,
Already at a point, was setting forth.
Now we'll together, and the chance of goodness
Be like our warranted quarrel! Why are you silent?

MALCOLM
Macduff, this noble outburst can only be a product of integrity, and has removed from my soul the doubts I had about you and proven your honor and truthfulness to me. The devilish Macbeth has tried many plots to lure me into his power, so I must be cautious and not be too quick to trust anyone. But may God show my truthfulness now to you! I will let myself be guided by you, and I take back all of the terrible things I said about myself. All the flaws I described myself as having are in fact alien to my character. I've yet to sleep with a woman, and I've never broken a vow. I barely even care about my own possessions, much less what anyone else owns. I've never broken a promise and wouldn't even betray the devil. I love truth as much as I love life. Those lies I told about myself are the first false words I've ever said. The true me is ready to serve you and our poor country. In fact, before you got here, old Siward, with ten thousand battle-ready soldiers, was already heading here. Now we'll fight Macbeth together, and our chance of our success is as good as the reasons motivating us to act! Why are you silent?

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MACDUFF
Such welcome and unwelcome things at once
'Tis hard to reconcile.

MACDUFF
It's hard to understand such a sudden change in your story.

Enter a DOCTOR

A DOCTOR enters.

MALCOLM
Well, more anon.—Comes the king forth, I pray you?

MALCOLM
Well, we'll speak more about this soon. (to the DOCTOR) Can you tell me, Is King Edward coming?

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DOCTOR
Ay, sir; there are a crew of wretched souls
That stay his cure. Their malady convinces
The great assay of art, but at his touch—
Such sanctity hath heaven given his hand—
They presently amend.

DOCTOR
Yes, sir. A wretched group of the sick wait for him to heal them. Their illness doesn't respond to the efforts of medicine, but when Edward touches them—because of the sacred power given to him by heaven—they are healed.

MALCOLM
I thank you, doctor.

MALCOLM
Thank you, doctor.

Exit DOCTOR

The DOCTOR exits.

MACDUFF
What's the disease he means?

MACDUFF
What disease does he mean?

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MALCOLM
'Tis called the evil.
A most miraculous work in this good king,
Which often since my here-remain in England
I have seen him do. How he solicits heaven,
Himself best knows, but strangely visited people,
All swoll'n and ulcerous, pitiful to the eye,
The mere despair of surgery, he cures,
Hanging a golden stamp about their necks,
Put on with holy prayers. And, 'tis spoken,
To the succeeding royalty he leaves
The healing benediction. With this strange virtue,
He hath a heavenly gift of prophecy,
And sundry blessings hang about his throne,
That speak him full of grace.

MALCOLM
It's called the evil. Many times during my stay in England I have seen the good king Edward perform an incredible miracle. How he prays to heaven for these gifts, only he can say. People afflicted with this strange disease—all swollen and ulcerous, pitiful to look at, and beyond the help of surgery—he cures by placing a gold coin around their necks and saying holy prayers over them. And it's said that he will pass on this blessed healing power to his royal descendants. In addition to this strange power, he has the gift of prophecy, as well as various other abilities that mark him as a man full of God's grace.

Enter ROSS

ROSS enters.

MACDUFF
See, who comes here?

MACDUFF
Look there, who's coming?

MALCOLM
My countryman, but yet I know him not.

MALCOLM
He's dressed like a Scotsman, but I don't know him.

MACDUFF
My ever-gentle cousin, welcome hither.

MACDUFF
My always noble kinsman, welcome.

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MALCOLM
I know him now.—Good God, betimes remove
The means that makes us strangers!

MALCOLM
I recognize him now. Dear God, nay you quickly change the circumstances that keep us apart!

ROSS
Sir, amen.

ROSS
Sir, I pray for that.

MACDUFF
Stands Scotland where it did?

MACDUFF
Is Scotland as it has been?

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ROSS
Alas, poor country!
Almost afraid to know itself. It cannot
Be called our mother, but our grave, where nothing,
But who knows nothing, is once seen to smile;
Where sighs and groans and shrieks that rend the air
Are made, not marked; where violent sorrow seems
A modern ecstasy. The dead man's knell
Is there scarce asked for who, and good men's lives
Expire before the flowers in their caps,
Dying or ere they sicken.

ROSS
Alas, poor country, too scared even to recognize itself. Scotland is no longer our motherland. It is our grave, where only those who know nothing ever smile. Where sighs, groans, and shrieks split the air but no one pays attention. Where violent sorrow is a common emotion. When the funeral bells ring, people no longer ask who died. Good men's lives are shorter than the time it takes the flowers in their caps to wilt. They die before they even fall sick.


MACDUFF
Oh, relation
Too nice and yet too true!

MACDUFF
Oh, your report is too precise and too true!

MALCOLM
What's the newest grief?

MALCOLM
What is the latest bad news?


ROSS
That of an hour's age doth hiss the speaker.
Each minute teems a new one.

ROSS
Every hour brings new bad news. Every minute gives birth to some new bad thing.

MACDUFF
How does my wife?

MACDUFF
How is my wife?

ROSS
Why, well.

ROSS
She's well.

MACDUFF
And all my children?

MACDUFF
And all my children?

ROSS
Well too.

ROSS
They're well too.

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MACDUFF
The tyrant has not battered at their peace?

MACDUFF
The tyrant Macbeth hasn't come after them?

ROSS
No, they were well at peace when I did leave 'em.

ROSS
No, they were at peace when I left them.

MACDUFF
Be not a niggard of your speech. How goes 't?

MACDUFF
Don't be coy with what you're saying. What's happened?

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ROSS
When I came hither to transport the tidings,
Which I have heavily borne, there ran a rumor
Of many worthy fellows that were out;
Which was to my belief witnessed the rather
For that I saw the tyrant's power afoot.
Now is the time of help. Your eye in Scotland
Would create soldiers, make our women fight,
To doff their dire distresses.

ROSS
As I was coming here to tell you the news that has weighed me down, I heard rumors that many good men are armed and moving to fight Macbeth. I knew the rumors were true when I saw Macbeth's army on the move. Now is t when we need your help. Your presence in Scotland would inspire more men—and women—to fight against Macbeth's tyranny.





MALCOLM
Be 't their comfort
We are coming thither. Gracious England hath
Lent us good Siward and ten thousand men;
An older and a better soldier none
That Christendom gives out.

MALCOLM
Let them be comforted—we're returning to Scotland. Gracious King Edward has lent us noble Lord Siward and ten thousand soldiers. No soldier in the world is more experienced or successful than Siward.

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ROSS
Would I could answer
This comfort with the like. But I have words
That would be howled out in the desert air,
Where hearing should not latch them.

ROSS
I wish I could respond to this good news with good news of my own. But I do have news that should be howled out into the sky of a barren desert where nobody could hear it.



MACDUFF
What concern they?
The general cause, or is it a fee-grief
Due to some single breast?

MACDUFF
What is the news about? Does it concern everyone, or is it a grief belonging to just one person.

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ROSS
No mind that's honest
But in it shares some woe, though the main part
Pertains to you alone.

ROSS
No honest man could stop himself from sharing in the sorrow, but my news relates to you alone.


MACDUFF
If it be mine,
Keep it not from me. Quickly let me have it.

MACDUFF
If it's for me, don't keep it from me. Quickly, tell me.

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ROSS
Let not your ears despise my tongue forever,
Which shall possess them with the heaviest sound
That ever yet they heard.

ROSS
I hope your ears won't hate my tongue forever for saying these things that will plug your ears with the saddest news they've ever heard.

MACDUFF
Hum! I guess at it.

MACDUFF
Oh no! I can guess what you're going to say.

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ROSS
Your castle is surprised, your wife and babes
Savagely slaughtered. To relate the manner,
Were, on the quarry of these murdered deer
To add the death of you.

ROSS
Your castle was surprise attacked. Your wife and children were savagely slaughtered. If I described their murders, it would kill you too and add your body to the pile.




MALCOLM
Merciful heaven!
What, man! Ne'er pull your hat upon your brows.
Give sorrow words. The grief that does not speak
Whispers the o'erfraught heart and bids it break.

MALCOLM
Merciful heaven! Come, man, don't hide your grief. Put your sorrow into words. A grief that hides in silence will whisper in your heart and break it.

MACDUFF
My children too?

MACDUFF
My children too?

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ROSS
Wife, children, servants, all that could be found.

ROSS
Your wife, your children, your servants, everyone they could find.


MACDUFF
And I must be from thence!
My wife killed too?

MACDUFF
And I was away! My wife was killed too?

ROSS
I have said.

ROSS
As I have said.

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MALCOLM
Be comforted.
Let's make us med'cines of our great revenge,
To cure this deadly grief.

MALCOLM
Take comfort. Let's make a medicine out of revenge to ease your dreadful grief.

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MACDUFF
He has no children. All my pretty ones?
Did you say all? O hell-kite! All?
What, all my pretty chickens and their dam
At one fell swoop?

MACDUFF
You don't have children. All my pretty little children? Did you say all? Oh, hell-hawk! All of them? What, all my children and their mother killed in one fell swoop?

MALCOLM
Dispute it like a man.

MALCOLM
Fight it like a man.

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MACDUFF
I shall do so,
But I must also feel it as a man.
I cannot but remember such things were
That were most precious to me. Did heaven look on,
And would not take their part? Sinful Macduff,
They were all struck for thee! Naught that I am,
Not for their own demerits, but for mine,
Fell slaughter on their souls. Heaven rest them now.

MACDUFF
I'll do that. But I must also feel it like a man. I can't help remembering those things that were most precious to me. Did heaven just watch my family die, and refuse to help them? Sinful Macduff, they were killed because of you! As wicked as I am, they were slaughtered not because of their own flaws, but because of mine. May they rest in heaven now.

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MALCOLM
Be this the whetstone of your sword. Let grief
Convert to anger. Blunt not the heart, enrage it.

MALCOLM
Let all this sharpen your sword. Let grief become anger. Don't hold back your heart. Let it rage.

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MACDUFF
Oh, I could play the woman with mine eyes
And braggart with my tongue! But, gentle heavens,
Cut short all intermission. Front to front
Bring thou this fiend of Scotland and myself.
Within my sword's length set him; if he 'scape,
Heaven forgive him too.

MACDUFF
Oh, I could weep like a woman while bragging about taking revenge! But gentle heavens, cut short any delay. Bring me face to face with the devil of Scotland, so that he's within reach of my sword. If he escapes, may heaven forgive him as well!

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MALCOLM
This tune goes manly.
Come, go we to the king. Our power is ready;
Our lack is nothing but our leave. Macbeth
Is ripe for shaking, and the powers above
Put on their instruments. Receive what cheer you may.
The night is long that never finds the day.

MALCOLM
Now you sound like a man. Come, we go to see King Edward. Our army is ready, and we can leave once we get the permission of the king. Macbeth is ripe for the taking, with the powers above armed and on our side. Cheer up, a new day will dawn.

Exeunt

ALL exit.

 

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