Macbeth: Act 1, Scene 7



Hoboys, torches. SEWER:  butler. divers:  various. service: knives, spoons, etc. and pass over the stage: These servants hurriedly enter at one of the two stage doors, walk across the stage, and exit through the other door. Thus we know that in another room supper is about to start.
           Hoboys, torches. Enter a SEWER, and divers
           SERVANTS with dishes and service, and pass
           over the stage. Then enter MACBETH.

      MACBETH
1. If it were done when 'tis done  if it would be over with when it is done.
  1   If it were done when 'tis done, then 'twere well
  2   It were done quickly: if th' assassination
3. trammel up  catch in a net. 3-4. catch / With his surcease success catch [and stop], immediately after the assassination, all consequences [which could arise from the assassination]. 5-6. here / But here  here [on earth], only here. upon this bank and shoal of time: i.e. in the limited time that we have on earth. <more> 7. We'ld jump  I would risk. 8-10. We still ... the inventor  we always receive punishment here [in this life], for the reason that [when we attack someone else] we only teach bloody lessons, which, being learned [by our victims], are turned against the one who initiated [the violence].
  3   Could trammel up the consequence, and catch
  4   With his surcease success; that but this blow
  5   Might be the be-all and the end-all — here,
  6   But here, upon this bank and shoal of time,
  7   We'ld jump the life to come. But in these cases
  8   We still have judgment here, that we but teach
  9   Bloody instructions, which, being taught, return
 10   To plague the inventor. This even-handed justice
 11   Commends the ingredients of our poison'd chalice
 12   To our own lips. He's here in double trust;
 13   First, as I am his kinsman and his subject,
 14   Strong both against the deed; then, as his host,
 15   Who should against his murderer shut the door,
 16   Not bear the knife myself. Besides, this Duncan
17. faculties  royal powers.
 17   Hath borne his faculties so meek, hath been
18. clear in his great office  blameless in [carrying out the duties of] his great position [as king] .
 18   So clear in his great office, that his virtues
 19   Will plead like angels, trumpet-tongued, against
20. taking-off  murder.
 20   The deep damnation of his taking-off;
21-23. And pity ... air: <Image>
 21   And pity, like a naked new-born babe,
22. cherubins: guardians of innocence. Striding the blast:  striding upon the wind. horsed:  mounted. 23. sightless couriers of the air:  invisible messengers of the air [i.e., the winds]. 25. That tears shall drown the wind  so that tears shall make the wind be still. A downpour of rain was thought to still the wind. 27. Vaulting ... other: Macbeth compares his ambition to a horseman who tries to vault into the saddle, only to fall to the ground on the other side of the horse.
 22   Striding the blast, or heaven's cherubins, horsed
 23   Upon the sightless couriers of the air,
 24   Shall blow the horrid deed in every eye,
 25   That tears shall drown the wind. I have no spur
 26   To prick the sides of my intent, but only
 27   Vaulting ambition, which o'erleaps itself
 28   And falls on the other —

           Enter LADY [MACBETH].

28. How now? what news? what's the matter? what's going on? One look at his wife tells Macbeth that she's not happy.
                                  How now? what news?

      LADY MACBETH
29. supp'd:  finished supper.
 29   He has almost supp'd: why have you left the chamber?

      MACBETH
 30   Hath he ask'd for me?

      LADY MACBETH
                                           Know you not he has?

      MACBETH
 31   We will proceed no further in this business:
32. bought:  won, earned.
 32   He hath honour'd me of late; and I have bought
 33   Golden opinions from all sorts of people,
 34   Which would be worn now in their newest gloss,
 35   Not cast aside so soon.

      LADY MACBETH
                                           Was the hope drunk
 36   Wherein you dress'd yourself? Hath it slept since?
37. green:  sickly.
 37   And wakes it now, to look so green and pale
 38   At what it did so freely? From this time
 39   Such I account thy love. Art thou afeard
 40   To be the same in thine own act and valour
 41   As thou art in desire? Wouldst thou have that
42. the ornament of life:  i.e., the crown of Scotland.
 42   Which thou esteem'st the ornament of life,
 43   And live a coward in thine own esteem,
 44   Letting "I dare not" wait upon "I would,"
45. the adage:  "The cat would eat fish, and would not wet her feet."
 45   Like the poor cat i' the adage?

      MACBETH
Prithee, peace!: please be quiet.
                                                     Prithee, peace!
46. all that may become a man:  i.e., everything that is not disgraceful. 47. is none:  is not a real man.
 46   I dare do all that may become a man;
 47   Who dares do more is none.

      LADY MACBETH
                                         What beast was't, then,
48. break:  broach, bring up [the subject]. <Exactly what is she talking about?> 49. durst: dared.
 48   That made you break this enterprise to me?
 49   When you durst do it, then you were a man;
50-51. to be ... the man:  i.e., in order to be much more (king) than you were, you wanted to be much more of a man. 51-52. Nor time ... both: i.e., At that time it wasn't the right time or place to talk about killing the king, but you wanted to make it the the right time and place. 53-54. They have ... unmake you: i.e., now the right time and place have made themselves, but that has made a mess out of you.
 50   And, to be more than what you were, you would
 51   Be so much more the man. Nor time nor place
 52   Did then adhere, and yet you would make both:
 53   They have made themselves, and that their fitness now
 54   Does unmake you. I have given suck, and know
 55   How tender 'tis to love the babe that milks me:
 56   I would, while it was smiling in my face,
 57   Have pluck'd my nipple from his boneless gums,
58-59. had I so sworn as you / Have done to this: See <Exactly what is she talking about?>
 58   And dash'd the brains out, had I so sworn as you
 59   Have done to this.

      MACBETH
                                   If we should fail?

      LADY MACBETH
                                                             We fail!
 But screw your courage to the sticking-place:  The "sticking-place" is the notch that holds the string of a crossbow when it is ready to fire.
 60   But screw your courage to the sticking-place,
 61   And we'll not fail. When Duncan is asleep —
 62   Whereto the rather shall his day's hard journey
63. chamberlains:  personal attendants.
 63   Soundly invite him — his two chamberlains
64. wassail: carousing. convince: overpower.
 64   Will I with wine and wassail so convince
65. warder:  guardian.
 65   That memory, the warder of the brain,
66. receipt of reason:  receptacle of reason, i.e., the brain.
 66   Shall be a fume, and the receipt of reason
67. A limbeck only:  merely an alembic. An alembic is the upper part of a still; it's typically full of volatile fumes. 68. drenched: dead drunk.
 67   A limbeck only. When in swinish sleep
 68   Their drenched natures lie as in a death,
 69   What cannot you and I perform upon
70. put upon:  blame on.
 70   The unguarded Duncan? what not put upon
71. spongy officers: drunken attendants.
 71   His spongy officers, who shall bear the guilt
72. quell:  killing.
 72   Of our great quell?

      MACBETH
                                         Bring forth men-children only;
73. mettle:  temperament, spirit.
 73   For thy undaunted mettle should compose
74. receiv'd:  believed.
 74   Nothing but males. Will it not be receiv'd,
 75   When we have mark'd with blood those sleepy two
76. their very daggers:  their own daggers.
 76   Of his own chamber and used their very daggers,
 77   That they have done't?

      LADY MACBETH
77. receive it other:  believe otherwise.
                                             Who dares receive it other,
 78   As we shall make our griefs and clamour roar
 79   Upon his death?

      MACBETH
79. settled:  settled on a course of action; determined. bend up:  draw tight [as a bow is bent just before the arrow is shot]. 80. each corporal agent:  every bodily sense and power. 81. mock the time:  deceive by acting as is appropriate to the occasion; pretend they are just enjoying supper with the king.
                               I am settled, and bend up
 80   Each corporal agent to this terrible feat.
 81   Away, and mock the time with fairest show:
 82   False face must hide what the false heart doth know.

     Exeunt.