Macbeth: Act 1, Scene 3
Thunder. Enter the three Witches.
1Where hast thou been, sister?
3Sister, where thou?
4A sailor's wife had chestnuts in her lap,
5And munch'd, and munch'd, and munch'd.
5. quoth: said.
"Give me!" quoth I:
6. aroint: be gone. rump-fed: fat-rumped? ronyon: scabby woman. 7. Aleppo: A trading city at the other end of the world from Scotland. the Tiger: The name of the bark captained by the husband of the woman who refused to give the witch chestnuts. 9. like: in the shape of. a rat without a tail: It was thought that witches could take the shape of animals, but not perfect ones, so when this witch appears as a rat, the rat will have no tail. I'll do: "Do" was used as slang for "perform sexual intercourse," so "I'll do" could be translated as "I'll f--k him over." 11. I'll give thee a wind: Folklore said that witches could make bad weather for their victims.
6"Aroint thee, witch!" the rump-fed ronyon cries.
7Her husband's to Aleppo gone, master o' the Tiger:
8But in a sieve I'll thither sail,
9And, like a rat without a tail,
10I'll do, I'll do, and I'll do.
11I'll give thee a wind.
13And I another.
14-17. I myself ... shipman's card: The witch boasts that she has control of all the other winds, their locations, and all their possible directions ["quarters that they know / I' the shipman's card"]. A "shipman's card" is now known as a "compass card."
14I myself have all the other,
15And the very ports they blow,
16All the quarters that they know
17I' the shipman's card.
18I will drain him dry as hay:
19Sleep shall neither night nor day
20. penthouse lid: eyelid. A "penthouse" is a lean-to structure, the roof of which resembles the half-shut eyelid of a weary person. 21. forbid: under a curse. 22. se'nnights: seven-nights, weeks. 23. peak: become sickly pine: waste away from grief. 24. bark: a kind of sailing ship.
20Hang upon his penthouse lid;
21He shall live a man forbid:
22Weary se'nnights nine times nine
23Shall he dwindle, peak and pine:
24Though his bark cannot be lost,
25Yet it shall be tempest-toss'd.
|H.M. Bark Endeavour|
26Look what I have.
27Show me, show me.
28Here I have a pilot's thumb,
29Wreck'd as homeward he did come.
30A drum, a drum!
31Macbeth doth come.
32. weird sisters: goddesses of destiny?
...more33. Posters of: swift travelers over. 34. Thus do go about, about: The witches probably do a dance, in which they take three steps one way ["thrice to thine"], then another way ["thrice to mine"]. 37. Peace!: Quiet! wound up: ready [like the spring of a trap].
32The weird sisters, hand in hand,
33Posters of the sea and land,
34Thus do go about, about:
35Thrice to thine and thrice to mine
36And thrice again, to make up nine.
37Peace! the charm's wound up.
Enter MACBETH and BANQUO.
38. So foul and fair a day: Evidently, it's a "foul" day because of the foul weather indicated by the thunder with which the scene opens. It could be a "fair" day either because the sun sometimes appears or because Macbeth and Banquo have just won a great victory. 39. Forres: The location of King Duncan's palace.
38So foul and fair a day I have not seen.
39How far is't call'd to Forres? What are these
40So wither'd and so wild in their attire,
41That look not like the inhabitants o' the earth,
42And yet are on't? Live you? or are you aught
43That man may question? You seem to understand me,
44. choppy: chapped.
44By each at once her choppy finger laying
45. you should be women: i.e., you look like women.
45Upon her skinny lips: you should be women,
46And yet your beards forbid me to interpret
Macbeth and the Three Witches, 1855
Image Source: All Posters
47That you are so.
Speak, if you can: what are you?
48All hail, Macbeth! hail to thee, Thane of Glamis!
49All hail, Macbeth, hail to thee, Thane of Cawdor!
50All hail, Macbeth, thou shalt be king hereafter!
51. start: move suddenly and involuntarily; show signs of being startled .
51Good sir, why do you start, and seem to fear
52Things that do sound so fair? I' the name of truth,
53. fantastical: imaginary, stuff of fable.
53Are ye fantastical, or that indeed
54. show: appear to be.
54Which outwardly ye show? My noble partner
55. present grace: current honor [as Thane of Cawdor].
55You greet with present grace and great prediction
56. noble having: acquisition of [another] honor. royal hope: hope of being 'king hereafter'. 57. That he seems rapt withal: so that he seems carried away by it.
56Of noble having and of royal hope,
57That he seems rapt withal; to me you speak not.
58If you can look into the seeds of time,
59And say which grain will grow and which will not,
60-61. neither beg nor fear / Your favours nor your hate: neither beg your favors nor fear your hate.
60Speak then to me, who neither beg nor fear
61Your favours nor your hate.
65Lesser than Macbeth, and greater.
66. happy: fortunate.
66Not so happy, yet much happier.
67. get: beget.
67Thou shalt get kings, though thou be none:
68So all hail, Macbeth and Banquo!
69Banquo and Macbeth, all hail!
70. Stay: wait. It appears that the witches are already starting to vanish. imperfect: incomplete. Macbeth wants to know the whole story of how all of the witches' prophecies are to come about. Sinel: Macbeth's father. 72-73.The ... gentleman.
70Stay, you imperfect speakers, tell me more:
71By Sinel's death I know I am Thane of Glamis;
72But how of Cawdor? The Thane of Cawdor lives,
73A prosperous gentleman; and to be king
74Stands not within the prospect of belief,
75No more than to be Cawdor. Say from whence
76-77. Say ... intelligence: say where you got this unnatural information. blasted: wretched, blighted. stop our way: stop our journey, intercept us
76You owe this strange intelligence, or why
77Upon this blasted heath you stop our way
78With such prophetic greeting? Speak, I charge you.
|"Blasted Heath" by piglet365|
Image Source: Deviant Art
79The earth hath bubbles, as the water has,
80And these are of them. Whither are they vanish'd?
81. corporal: bodily.
81Into the air; and what seem'd corporal melted
82As breath into the wind. Would they had stay'd!
83Were such things here as we do speak about?
84. eaten on the insane root: eaten of the root which causes insanity. It's not known what root is meant
84Or have we eaten on the insane root
85That takes the reason prisoner?
86Your children shall be kings.
You shall be king.
87And Thane of Cawdor too: went it not so?
88To the selfsame tune and words. Who's here?
Enter ROSS and ANGUS.
89The King hath happily received, Macbeth,
90. reads: considers .
90The news of thy success; and when he reads
91. Thy personal venture in the rebels' fight: your risk of harm in the fight against the rebels. 92-93. His wonders ... his: His [King Duncan's] amazement [at what you have accomplished] and his praises [of you] compete over which one of them should be foremost. 93. Silenced with that: At a loss for words because of that. 95. finds thee: pictures you. in the stout Norweyan ranks: in the midst of the dangerous Norwegian warriors. 96-97 nothing ... death: not at all afraid of that which you yourself were creating astounding, unprecedented forms of death. 97-98 As thick as tale / Came post with post: as fast as could be counted came one messenger after another.
91Thy personal venture in the rebels' fight,
92His wonders and his praises do contend
93Which should be thine or his. Silenced with that,
94In viewing o'er the rest o' the selfsame day,
95He finds thee in the stout Norweyan ranks,
96Nothing afeard of what thyself didst make,
97Strange images of death. As thick as tale
98Came post with post; and every one did bear
99Thy praises in his kingdom's great defense,
100And pour'd them down before him.
We are sent
101To give thee from our royal master thanks;
102. Only to herald thee into his sight, / Not pay thee: only to call youwith great honorinto his sight, not to reward you for all you have done.
102Only to herald thee into his sight,
103Not pay thee.
104. for an earnest of: as a pledge of.
104And, for an earnest of a greater honour,
105He bade me, from him, call thee Thane of Cawdor:
106. In which addition: with which added title of honor.
106In which addition, hail, most worthy thane!
107. it: the title of "Thane of Cawdor."
107For it is thine.
What, can the devil speak true?: It's unlikely that Banquo lets Ross and Angus hear this. Maybe he says it to Macbeth, maybe only to himself.
What, can the devil speak true?
108The Thane of Cawdor lives; why do you dress me
109In borrow'd robes?
109. Who was the thane: the person who held the title of thane. 110. heavy judgment: a severe sentence.
Who was the thane lives yet;
110But under heavy judgment bears that life
111-112. was combined / With those of Norway: i.e.,fought alongside the Norwegians. 112. line the rebel: assist the rebel [Macdonwald].
111Which he deserves to lose. Whether he was combined
112With those of Norway, or did line the rebel
113With hidden help and vantage, or that with both
114. labor'd in his country's wrack: attempted to accomplish the wreck of his country. 115. treasons capital: acts of treason deserving of the death penalty.
114He labor'd in his country's wrack, I know not;
115But treasons capital, confess'd and proved,
116Have overthrown him.
Glamis, and Thane of Cawdor!
117. is behind: will follow.
117The greatest is behind.
[To ROSS and ANGUS.]
Thanks for your pains.
[Aside to BANQUO.]
118Do you not hope your children shall be kings,
119When those that gave the Thane of Cawdor to me
120Promised no less to them?
[Aside.]: (Editors usually put "Aside to Macbeth" here, but it seems to me that Banquo wouldn't voice his suspicions about Macbeth to Macbeth anymore than he would tell them to Ross and Angus. And Macbeth doesn't respond in any way to what Banquo says here. 120. trusted home: trusted completely. 121. enkindle you unto: fire you up to pursue.
That trusted home
121Might yet enkindle you unto the crown,
122Besides the Thane of Cawdor. But 'tis strange;
123And oftentimes, to win us to our harm,
124The instruments of darkness tell us truths,
125-126. Win us with honest trifles, to betray's / In deepest consequence: win us over with unimportant truths, in order to betray us in the most serious matters that follow.
125Win us with honest trifles, to betray's
126In deepest consequence.
[To ROSS and ANGUS.]
127. Cousins, a word, I pray you: colleagues, a word with you, please. I think Banquo may be trying to divert the attention of Ross and Angus from Macbeth's behavior.
127Cousins, a word, I pray you.
Two truths are told,
128. swelling act: grand drama.
128As happy prologues to the swelling act
129Of the imperial theme.
[To ROSS and ANGUS.]
I thank you, gentlemen.
130. soliciting: tempting, enticement.
130This supernatural soliciting
131Cannot be ill, cannot be good: if ill,
132. earnest: promise, down payment (as in "earnest money").
132Why hath it given me earnest of success,
133Commencing in a truth? I am Thane of Cawdor.
134If good, why do I yield to that suggestion
135. unfix my hair: make my hair stand on end.
135Whose horrid image doth unfix my hair
136. seated: [normally] steady and calm.
136And make my seated heart knock at my ribs,
137. Against the use of nature: unnaturally. Present fears: things feared in the present.
137Against the use of nature? Present fears
138Are less than horrible imaginings:
139. My thought, whose murder yet is but fantastical: My thought [about what is to come], in which murder [of King Duncan] is currently only imagined. 140. single state of man: weak human condition. function / Is smother'd in surmise: the normal power of action is smothered in thoughts of imagined action. 141-142. nothing is / But what is not: i.e., only the imagined is real to me.
139My thought, whose murder yet is but fantastical,
140Shakes so my single state of man that function
141Is smother'd in surmise, and nothing is
142But what is not.
Look, how our partner's rapt.
143If chance will have me king, why, chance may crown me,
144. stir: exertion, initiative.
144Without my stir.
New honors come upon him,
145. Like our strange garments, cleave not to their mould / But with the aid of use: like any new clothes, don't fit the body correctly without being worn for a while.
145Like our strange garments, cleave not to their mould
146But with the aid of use.
Come what come may,
147. Come what come may, / Time and the hour runs through the roughest day: I'm not sure what Macbeth means here.
147Time and the hour runs through the roughest day.
148. stay: wait.
148Worthy Macbeth, we stay upon your leisure.
149. favor: pardon. wrought: occupied.
149Give me your favor: my dull brain was wrought
150. pains: efforts [on my behalf].
150With things forgotten. Kind gentlemen, your pains
151-152. Are register'd where every day I turn / The leaf to read them: i.e., are recorded in the book of my memory, and I will remember them every day.
151Are register'd where every day I turn
152The leaf to read them. Let us toward the king.
[Aside to Banquo.]
153. at more time: i.e., when we have the time.
153Think upon what hath chanced, and, at more time,
154. The interim having weigh'd it: in the meantime having thought it over. 155-156. speak / Our free hearts: speak freely.
154The interim having weigh'd it, let us speak
155Our free hearts each to other.
156Till then, enough. Come, friends.