'Faith sir, we were carousing till the second cock: and drink, sir, is a great provoker of three things.
What three things does drink especially provoke?
Marry, sir, nose-painting, sleep, and
urine. Lechery, sir, it provokes, and unprovokes;
it provokes the desire, but it takes away the performance: therefore, much drink may be said to be an equivocator with lechery: it makes him, and it mars him; it sets him on, and it takes him off; it persuades him, and disheartens him; makes him stand to, and not stand to; in conclusion, equivocates him in a sleep, and, giving him the lie, leaves him.
I believe drink gave thee the lie last night.
That it did, sir, i' the very throat on
me: but I requited him for his lie; and, I
think, being too strong for him, though he took
up my legs sometime, yet I made a shift to cast
Is thy master stirring?
Our knocking has awaked him; here he comes.
Good morrow, noble sir.
Good morrow, both.
Is the king stirring, worthy thane?
He did command me to call timely on him:
I have almost slipp'd the hour.
I'll bring you to him.
I know this is a joyful trouble to you;
But yet 'tis one.
The labour we delight in physics pain.
This is the door.
I'll make so bold to call,
For 'tis my limited service.
Goes the king hence to-day?
He does: he did appoint so.
The night has been unruly: where we lay,
Our chimneys were blown down; and, as they say,
Lamentings heard i' the air; strange screams of death,
And prophesying with accents terrible
Of dire combustion and confused events
New hatch'd to the woeful time: the obscure bird
Clamour'd the livelong night: some say, the earth
Was feverous and did shake.
'Twas a rough night.
My young remembrance cannot parallel
A fellow to it.
O horror, horror, horror! Tongue nor heart
Cannot conceive nor name thee!
| What's the matter.
Confusion now hath made his masterpiece!
Most sacrilegious murder hath broke ope
The Lord's anointed temple, and stole thence
The life o' the building!
What is 't you say? the life?
Mean you his majesty?
Approach the chamber, and destroy your sight
With a new Gorgon: do not bid me speak;
See, and then speak yourselves.
Exeunt MACBETH and LENNOX
Ring the alarum-bell. Murder and treason!
Banquo and Donalbain! Malcolm! awake!
Shake off this downy sleep, death's counterfeit,
And look on death itself! up, up, and see
The great doom's image! Malcolm! Banquo!
As from your graves rise up, and walk like sprites,
To countenance this horror! Ring the bell.
Enter LADY MACBETH.
What's the business,
That such a hideous trumpet calls to parley
The sleepers of the house? speak, speak!
O gentle lady,
'Tis not for you to hear what I can speak:
The repetition, in a woman's ear,
Would murder as it fell.
O Banquo, Banquo,
Our royal master 's murder'd!
What, in our house?
Too cruel any where.
Dear Duff, I prithee, contradict thyself,
And say it is not so.
Re-enter MACBETH and LENNOX, with ROSS.
Had I but died an hour before this chance,
I had lived a blessed time; for, from this instant,
There 's nothing serious in mortality:
All is but toys: renown and grace is dead;
The wine of life is drawn, and the mere lees
Is left this vault to brag of.
Enter MALCOLM and DONALBAIN.
What is amiss?
You are, and do not know't:
The spring, the head, the fountain of your blood
Is stopp'd; the very source of it is stopp'd.
Your royal father 's murder'd.
O, by whom?
Those of his chamber, as it seem'd, had done 't:
Their hands and faces were an badged with blood;
So were their daggers, which unwiped we found
Upon their pillows:
They stared, and were distracted; no man's life
Was to be trusted with them.
O, yet I do repent me of my fury,
That I did kill them.
Wherefore did you so?
Who can be wise, amazed, temperate and furious,
Loyal and neutral, in a moment? No man:
The expedition my violent love
Outrun the pauser, reason. Here lay Duncan,
His silver skin laced with his golden blood;
And his gash'd stabs look'd like a breach in nature
For ruin's wasteful entrance: there, the murderers,
Steep'd in the colours of their trade, their daggers
Unmannerly breech'd with gore: who could refrain,
That had a heart to love, and in that heart
Courage to make 's love known?
Help me hence, ho!
Look to the lady.
Aside to DONALBAIN. Why do we hold our tongues,
That most may claim this argument for ours?
Aside to MALCOLM. What should be spoken here,
where our fate,
Hid in an auger-hole, may rush, and seize us?
Let 's away;
Our tears are not yet brew'd.
Aside to DONALBAIN. Nor our strong sorrow
Upon the foot of motion.
Look to the lady:
LADY MACBETH is carried out.
And when we have our naked frailties hid,
That suffer in exposure, let us meet,
And question this most bloody piece of work,
To know it further. Fears and scruples shake us:
In the great hand of God I stand; and thence
Against the undivulged pretence I fight
Of treasonous malice.
And so do I.
Let's briefly put on manly readiness,
And meet i' the hall together.
Exeunt all but Malcolm and Donalbain.
What will you do?
Let's not consort with them:
To show an unfelt sorrow is an office
Which the false man does easy. I'll to England.
To Ireland, I; our separated fortune
Shall keep us both the safer: where we are,
There's daggers in men's smiles: the near in blood,
Explanatory Notes for Act 2, Scene 3
From Macbeth. Ed. Thomas Marc Parrott. New York: American Book Co.
(Line numbers have been altered.)
There is no change of scene here. As Macbeth and his wife leave the courtyard, the porter, who has been slowly wakened from his
drunken sleep by the repeated knocking on the gate, staggers upon the stage. Evidently he is not quite sober yet; he is in no hurry to
open the gate, and he improves the time by a whimsical speech on the duties of the porter of hell-gate. Indeed he seems for a time
to fancy himself in the position of that functionary, and exhausts his ingenuity in guessing who the malefactors may be that are so
clamorous for admittance to the infernal regions.
The authenticity of this scene has been denied by some famous
critics and editors; but there seems no good ground for any
such suspicion. In the first place an intervening scene of this kind
is absolutely necessary to give Macbeth time to wash his hands
and change his dress; in the second the porter's speech contains
several distinctly Shakespearean phrases, "old turning of the key,"
"devil-porter it," and "the primrose way to the everlasting bonfire." The jokes about the farmer, the equivocator, and the tailor,
seem rather flat to us, but they are topical 'gags' which likely
enough set the audience in a roar when first spoken. A 'gag'
can hardly be expected to retain its charm for three centuries.
53. this is a joyful trouble, your entertaining the king is a
trouble that you are glad to take upon you.
61. heard. "Were" is understood before this participle.
62. prophesying. This word is here used, not as a participle,
but as a noun, the subject of "were heard" in line 61.
64. the obscure bird, the bird of darkness, the owl. "Obscure"
is accented on the first syllable.
73. The Lord's anointed temple, the temple of the Lord's
anointed, that is, the body of the king.
77. Gorgon. The Gorgons were monsters of Grecian mythology
whose aspect turned all who saw them into stone. Macduff means
that the figure of the murdered king is as terrible a sight as a Gorgon
81. death's counterfeit, the picture, or likeness, of death.
83. The great doom's image, a picture of the Judgment Day. Macduff compares the horror of the murder of Duncan to those of
the last day itself, and calls on all within the castle to rise up, as
the dead will on the last day. Note how his extreme excitement
finds utterance in broken ejaculations and startling figures.
87. hideous trumpet. Lady Macbeth compares the bell which
has so suddenly roused the sleepers of the house to a trumpet in
90, 91. The repetition ... fell. The mere recital to a gentle
lady of what has happened would be enough to kill her. Note
how Macduff restrains himself for a moment out of consideration for his hostess, and then, overmastered by his horror, bursts out
with the news to Banquo.
96-101. Had I but died, etc. This beautiful speech of Macbeth's
is by no means to be regarded as a piece of pure hypocrisy. He
has no sooner committed the murder than he has been seized with
remorse (cf. ii. 2. 74) and he seizes the opportunity to give vent to
his feelings, well knowing that his hearers will not understand the
full meaning of his words.
101. this vault, the world, here compared to an empty cellar
from which the wine has been taken.
110. were distracted. The distraction of the grooms was no
doubt due in part to the sleeping-potion with which their possets
had been drugged.
113. wherefore, etc. Note how Macduff here assumes the attitude of opposition to Macbeth which characterizes him to the very
end. It seems as if he already suspected him of the murder.
114-124. Who can be wise, etc. The pompous diction and strained
imagery of this speech of Macbeth's is Shakespeare's way of indicating his hypocrisy. Compare this speech with lines 96-101, where
Macbeth is really lamenting his own ruined life, not the death of
117. the pauser reason, reason which bids us pause and not act
122. Unmannerly breech'd. The naked daggers had put on
breeches of blood. But these breeches, instead of being decent
coverings, were "unmannerly," i.e, indecent.
124. Macbeth's description of the murdered king recalls to his
wife so terrible a remembrance of the chamber of death into which
she had stolen barely an hour before that she is unable to endure it
and faints. This is another indication of her slight physical strength.
128. an auger-hole, a small unnoticeable hole. Donalbain
thinks that fate, i.e. a bloody death, may be lurking for him and
his brother in any corner of Macbeth's castle.
130. upon the foot of motion, ready to move and show itself.
These speeches of the princes are exchanged in swift whispers
while the nobles are crowding about Lady Macbeth. The young
men are not heartless, but their fear overmasters their sorrow, and
their one thought is flight.
132. our naked frailties, our half-dressed, weak bodies. The
nobles have rushed half-dressed from their rooms at the sound of
the alarm bell, and the courtyard where they have gathered is
134-138. And question ... malice, Banquo realizes that there
is something behind the murder of the king that calls for investigation. He feels that the company of nobles is shaken with fears and
suspicions; but he puts his trust in God and declares himself the
foe of whatever secret intention the treason that has slain the king
may yet have in store. If Banquo suspected Macbeth, this was a
direct declaration of hostilities; but he did nothing to make his
words good, for when next we find him he is the most submissive
servant of the new king.
139. manly readiness, the dress, perhaps the armour, that suits a
140. Well contented, agreed. When the nobles go out the princes
remain to consult about their flight. Malcolm seems to distrust all
the nobles; Donalbain's words, lines 145, 146, show that he suspects
Macbeth. The flight of the princes is one of the fortunate accidents that help Macbeth in the first part of the play. It shifts the
suspicion upon them and opens the way for his election to the
146. daggers in men's smiles, Donalbain is thinking of the
smiles with which his father had been welcomed into the castle.
146. near. This is an old comparative form of the adjective
"nigh." The phrase may be paraphrased as follows: "The nearer
a man stands to you in blood relationship, the likelier he is to shed
your blood." The reference, of course, is to Macbeth, the nearest
relative of the princes.
147, 148. This murderous shafts etc. This murderous plot is not
yet fully accomplished. So long as the princes lived they stood between Macbeth and the throne.
151, 152. There's warranty etc. That theft is justifiable which
steals itself away from a place where it can expect no mercy. This
is one of the many sententious rhyme tags that abound in Macbeth.
How to cite the explanatory notes:
Shakespeare, William. Macbeth. Ed. Thomas Marc Parrott. New York: American Book Co., 1904. Shakespeare Online. 10 Aug. 2010. < http://www.shakespeare-online.com/plays/macbeth_2_3.html >.
Did You Know? ... The equivocator is the second damned soul the Porter encounters as he imagines what it would be like to be hell's gatekeeper. This passage is an allusion to a very significant event in the life of Shakespeare. Click here to find out why the Porter meets an equivocator.