Macbeth: Act 2, Scene 1
with a torch before him: Fleance has the torch "before him" because he is trying to find his way. Later we learn that "the moon is down" and the stars shed no light. Thus does Shakespeare let us know that it is a very dark night.
Enter BANQUO, and FLEANCE with a torch
1How goes the night, boy?
|Elise Edwards as Fleance; Maclin Schweger as Banquo.|
Image Source: Southeast Missouri State University
2The moon is down; I have not heard the clock.
3And she goes down at twelve.
I take't, 'tis later, sir.
4. husbandry: thriftiness.
4Hold, take my sword. There's husbandry in heaven;
5. Take thee that too: Here editors often add a stage direction, "Gives him his belt and dagger." 6. A heavy summons lies like lead upon me: i.e., I am extremely sleepy. 7. And yet I would not sleep: but I don't want to sleep. powers: angels charged with helping people fight demons. 8. Restrain in me the cursed thoughts that nature / Gives way to in repose!: If Macbeth had said these lines, they would be easier to interpret: Macbeth has been having "cursed thoughts" of killing his king, which his human nature has given way to. But what could be Banquo's "cursed thoughts"?
5Their candles are all out. Take thee that too.
6A heavy summons lies like lead upon me,
7And yet I would not sleep. Merciful powers,
8Restrain in me the cursed thoughts that nature
9Gives way to in repose!
Enter MACBETH, and a Servant with a torch.
Give me my sword.
12What, sir, not yet at rest? The king's a-bed:
13He hath been in unusual pleasure, and
14.largess: gratuities. your offices: service locales in Macbeth's castle such as the kitchen, the stable, and the laundry. 16-17. and shut up / In measureless content: and [he] concluded by expressing his measureless content.
14Sent forth great largess to your offices.
15This diamond he greets your wife withal,
16By the name of most kind hostess; and shut up
17In measureless content.
17-19. Being unprepared ... wrought: i.e., because we were unprepared for King Duncan's visit, what we wanted to do to entertain the king had to give way to what we could do with limited resources; otherwise, our desire to serve the king would have had free rein.
18Our will became the servant to defect;
19Which else should free have wrought.
20I dreamt last night of the three weird sisters:
21To you they have show'd some truth.
I think not of them;
22Yet, when we can entreat an hour to serve,
23We would spend it in some words upon that business,
24If you would grant the time.
At your kind'st leisure.
25. If you shall cleave to my consent, when 'tis: if you give me your support when the time comes.
25If you shall cleave to my consent, when 'tis,
26It shall make honour for you.
26-29. So I lose none ... counsell'd: under the condition that I lose no honor [personal integrity] in seeking to increase my honor [recognition and rewards], but always keep my heart free from guilt and my loyalties clear [of taint], I am willing to listen [to your proposal].
So I lose none
27In seeking to augment it, but still keep
28My bosom franchised and allegiance clear,
29I shall be counsell'd.
Good repose the while!
30Thanks, sir: the like to you!
Exit Banquo [with Fleance].
31. thy mistress: Lady Macbeth.
31Go bid thy mistress, when my drink is ready,
Pinterest / Macbeth.
32She strike upon the bell. Get thee to bed.
33Is this a dagger which I see before me,
34The handle toward my hand? Come, let me clutch thee.
35I have thee not, and yet I see thee still.
36-37. sensible / To feeling: discernible to the sense of touch.
36Art thou not, fatal vision, sensible
37To feeling as to sight? or art thou but
38A dagger of the mind, a false creation,
39. heat-oppressed: fevered. The "heat" comes from obsessively thinking about the murder that he is about to commit.
39Proceeding from the heat-oppressed brain?
40I see thee yet, in form as palpable
41As this which now I draw.
42Thou marshall'st me the way that I was going;
42-43. Thou marshall'st me ... use: you guide me the way I was already going, and [you are] the same kind of weapon I had planned to us.
43And such an instrument I was to use.
44Mine eyes are made the fools o' the other senses,
45Or else worth all the rest; I see thee still,
46. dudgeon: hilt. gouts: large clots.
46And on thy blade and dudgeon gouts of blood,
47. Which was not so before: i.e. The blood wasn't there a minute ago. 48-49. It is ... eyes: it is the [thought of] the bloody actions [involved in killing the king] which creates these forms [of the dagger and of the gouts of blood] seen by my eyes. 49. half-world: hemisphere. 50. abuse: deceive. 51. curtain'd sleep: sleep behind bed curtains. 52. Pale Hecat's off'rings: rites and sacrifices dedicated to Hecate [goddess of witchcraft and the moon]. 53. Alarum'd: called into action. 54. Whose howl's his watch: whose howl is his watchword. In the extended metaphor that Macbeth uses, the wolf stalks about, looking for victims, and howls to "withered Murder" when one is found. thus with his stealthy pace: The "thus" seems to indicate that Macbeth now starts towards King Duncan's door, stalking his prey like a wolf. 55. With Tarquin's ravishing strides: Tarquin was a famous rapist, and the primary meaning of the word "ravish" is "to seize, carry away, rape, violate." his design: the object of his plot; his victim. 58. prate: snitch on someone. 59. And take the present horror from the time: and remove the present sense of horror from the occasion. 60. Whiles I threat, he lives: while I make threats King Duncan still lives.
47Which was not so before. There's no such thing:
48It is the bloody business which informs
49Thus to mine eyes. Now o'er the one half-world
50Nature seems dead, and wicked dreams abuse
51The curtain'd sleep; witchcraft celebrates
52Pale Hecat's off'rings; and wither'd Murder,
53Alarum'd by his sentinel, the wolf,
54Whose howl's his watch, thus with his stealthy pace,
55With Tarquin's ravishing strides, towards his design
56Moves like a ghost. Thou sure and firm-set earth,
57Hear not my steps, which way they walk, for fear
58Thy very stones prate of my whereabout,
59And take the present horror from the time,
60Which now suits with it. Whiles I threat, he lives:
61Words to the heat of deeds too cold breath gives.
A bell rings.
62I go, and it is done; the bell invites me.
63Hear it not, Duncan; for it is a knell
64That summons thee to heaven or to hell.