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Act 5, Scene 5


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Original Play

Modern Translation

Enter MACBETH, SEYTON, and SOLDIERS, with drum and colors

MACBETH, SEYTON, and SOLDIERS enter, with a drummer and flag.

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5

MACBETH
Hang out our banners on the outward walls.
The cry is still "They come!" Our castle's strength
Will laugh a siege to scorn. Here let them lie
Till famine and the ague eat them up.
Were they not forced with those that should be ours,
We might have met them dareful, beard to beard,
And beat them backward home.

MACBETH
Hang our flags on the outer walls. You all keep shouting, "They're coming!" Our castle's strength is enough to laugh off their siege. Let them sit out there until they're killed off by hunger and disease. Had not so many of our own soldiers revolted and joined them, we'd have met them in front of the castle, man to man, and beat them back to England.

A cry within of women

Women crying offstage.

What is that noise?

What's that noise?

SEYTON
It is the cry of women, my good lord.

SEYTON
It's women crying, my good lord.

Exit

SEYTON exits.

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15

MACBETH
I have almost forgot the taste of fears.
The time has been my senses would have cooled
To hear a night-shriek, and my fell of hair
Would at a dismal treatise rouse and stir
As life were in 't. I have supped full with horrors.
Direness, familiar to my slaughterous thoughts
Cannot once start me.

MACBETH
I've almost forgotten the feel of fear. There was a time when a shriek in the night would have I would have filled me with dread, and a ghost story would have made the hairs on my skin rise up as if they were alive. But now I've feasted on true horrors, and horror is so familiar to my bloody starts that it can't startle me.

Enter SEYTON

SEYTON comes back in.

Wherefore was that cry?

What was the cause of that cry?

SEYTON
The queen, my lord, is dead.

SEYTON
The queen, my lord, is dead.

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25

MACBETH
She should have died hereafter.
There would have been a time for such a word.
Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day
To the last syllable of recorded time,
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.

MACBETH
She would have died eventually anyway. That news was bound to come at some point. Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow, a futile creep day after day until the end of. And every day past is just another step for fools on the way to their deaths. Out, out, brief candle. Life is an illusion, a pitiful actor who struts and worries for his hour on the stage and then disappears forever. Life is a story told by an idiot, full of noise and emotion, but without any meaning.

Enter a MESSENGER

A MESSENGER enters.

Thou comest to use
Thy tongue; thy story quickly.

You've come to speak. Say it quickly.

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30

MESSENGER
Gracious my lord,
I should report that which I say I saw,
But know not how to do 't.

MESSENGER
My gracious lord, I want to tell you what I saw, but I don't know how to say it.

MACBETH
Well, say, sir.

MACBETH
Well, just say it, sir.



MESSENGER
As I did stand my watch upon the hill,
I looked toward Birnam, and anon methought
The wood began to move.

MESSENGER
As I stood watch on the hill, I looked toward Birnam, and just then I thought I saw the forest begin to move.

MACBETH
Liar and slave!

MACBETH
Liar and slave!

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35

MESSENGER
Let me endure your wrath, if 't be not so.
Within this three mile may you see it coming;
I say, a moving grove.

MESSENGER
I accept your punishment if it's not true. You can see it about three miles away, a moving forest.

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50

MACBETH
If thou speak'st false,
Upon the next tree shall thou hang alive
Till famine cling thee. If thy speech be sooth,
I care not if thou dost for me as much.
I pull in resolution and begin
To doubt th' equivocation of the fiend
That lies like truth. "Fear not, till Birnam wood
Do come to Dunsinane"; and now a wood
Comes toward Dunsinane.—Arm, arm, and out!—
If this which he avouches does appear,
There is nor flying hence nor tarrying here.
I 'gin to be aweary of the sun,
And wish th' estate o' th' world were now undone.—
Ring the alarum-bell!—Blow, wind! Come, wrack!
At least we'll die with harness on our back.

MACBETH
If you're lying, you'll hang on the nearest tree until you die of hunger. If you're speaking the truth, I wouldn't care if you were to do the same to me. (to himself) My resolve is failing, and now I begin to doubt that the lies the witches told me only sounded like the truth. "Don't worry until Birnam Wood comes to Dunsinane." And now a wood is coming to Dunsinane. Arm yourselves, arm yourselves, and go fight! If what the messenger swears to me is actually true, then I can neither run away nor stay here. I'm beginning to grow weary of life. I wish the established order of the world would fall to chaos. Ring the alarms! Blow, wind! Come, ruin! At least we'll die with our armor on our backs.

Exeunt

They exit.

 

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