Macbeth: Act 2, Scene 2

           Enter LADY [MACBETH].

  1   That which hath made them drunk hath made me bold;
  2   What hath quench'd them hath given me fire. Hark! Peace!
3. It was the owl that shriek'd, the fatal bellman: It was the owl, death's messenger, which screeched. <More.>
  3   It was the owl that shriek'd, the fatal bellman,
  4   Which gives the stern'st good-night. He is about it:
5. grooms: personal attendants.
  5   The doors are open; and the surfeited grooms
6. Do mock their charge with snores: The duty ["charge"] of the king's personal attendants is to stay awake and guard his door. Their snores make a mockery of their duty. possets:  bedtime drinks made with hot milk and spiced wine. 7-8. That eath ... die: so that nature and death are arguing about whether the servants are alive or dead.
  6   Do mock their charge with snores. I have drugg'd
           their possets,
  7   That death and nature do contend about them,
  8   Whether they live or die.

      MACBETH [Within.]
                                               Who's there? what, ho!

  9   Alack, I am afraid they have awaked,
10-11. The attempt and not the deed / Confounds us: the attempt [to murder the king] without the actual deed [of murdering the king], completely ruins us.
 10   And 'tis not done. The attempt and not the deed
 11   Confounds us. Hark! I laid their daggers ready;
 12   He could not miss 'em. Had he not resembled
 13   My father as he slept, I had done't.

           Enter MACBETH.

                                                             My husband!

 14   I have done the deed. Didst thou not hear a noise?

 15   I heard the owl scream and the crickets cry.
 16   Did not you speak?



                                                             As I descended?

 17   Ay.

           Hark! Who lies i' the second chamber?

 18   Donalbain.

                           This is a sorry sight.

           [Looking on his hands.]

 19   A foolish thought, to say a sorry sight.

 20   There's one did laugh in's sleep, and one cried "Murder!"
 21   That they did wake each other: I stood and heard them:
22-23. address'd them / Again to sleep: again settled themselves down to sleep.
 22   But they did say their prayers, and address'd them
 23   Again to sleep.

                               There are two lodged together.

 24   One cried "God bless us!" and "Amen" the other;
25. As: as if. hangman's hands:  i.e., blood-stained hands. In addition to hanging people, hangmen also decapitated, disemboweled, and quartered traitors. 26. List'ning their fear: hearing the fearful cries of the grooms.
 25   As they had seen me with these hangman's hands.
 26   List'ning their fear, I could not say "Amen,"
 27   When they did say "God bless us!"

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                                                    Consider it not so deeply.

 28   But wherefore could not I pronounce "Amen"?
 29   I had most need of blessing, and "Amen"
 30   Stuck in my throat.

30-31. These deeds ... mad:  these deeds must not be thought about in this way; if they are, it will make us mad.
                                     These deeds must not be thought
 31   After these ways; so, it will make us mad.

 32   Methought I heard a voice cry "Sleep no more!
 33   Macbeth does murder sleep," the innocent sleep,
34. knits up the ravell'd sleave:  straightens out the tangled skein.
 34   Sleep that knits up the ravell'd sleave of care,
 35   The death of each day's life, sore labour's bath,
36. great nature's ... feast:  In a feast the first course consisted of appetizers, and the second course was the "chief nourisher."
 36   Balm of hurt minds, great nature's second course,
 37   Chief nourisher in life's feast—

37. What do you mean?:  why are you saying these things?
                                                             What do you mean?

 38   Still it cried "Sleep no more!" to all the house:
 39   "Glamis hath murder'd sleep, and therefore Cawdor
 40   Shall sleep no more; Macbeth shall sleep no more."

 41   Who was it that thus cried? Why, worthy thane,
42. unbend:  slacken. In archery, a bent bow is ready for action.
 42   You do unbend your noble strength, to think
 43   So brainsickly of things. Go get some water,
44. filthy witness:  i.e., clotted blood. witness: evidence of a crime.
 44   And wash this filthy witness from your hand.
 45   Why did you bring these daggers from the place?
 46   They must lie there: go carry them; and smear
 47   The sleepy grooms with blood.
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                                                       I'll go no more:
 48   I am afraid to think what I have done;
 49   Look on't again I dare not.

                                                 Infirm of purpose!
 50   Give me the daggers: the sleeping and the dead
 51   Are but as pictures: 'tis the eye of childhood
 52   That fears a painted devil. If he do bleed,
53. gild:  i.e., smear. Blood was often referred to as golden, and gold was often referred to as red.
 53   I'll gild the faces of the grooms withal;
 54   For it must seem their guilt.

           Exit. Knock within.

                                                       Whence is that knocking?
 55   How is't with me, when every noise appalls me?
 56   What hands are here? ha! they pluck out mine eyes.
 57   Will all great Neptune's ocean wash this blood
 58   Clean from my hand? No, this my hand will rather
59. incarnadine:  turn blood-red.
 59   The multitudinous seas incarnadine,
60. one red:  entirely red.
 60   Making the green one red.

           Enter LADY [MACBETH].

61. I shame / To wear a heart so white: I would be ashamed to have a heart as cowardly as yours is. To Lady Macbeth, a white heart is one that is bloodless, and therefore cowardly.
 61   My hands are of your colour; but I shame
 62   To wear a heart so white. (Knock.) I hear a knocking
 63   At the south entry: retire we to our chamber;
 64   A little water clears us of this deed:
65-66. Your constancy / Hath left you unattended:  your firmness of purpose has deserted you.
 65   How easy is it, then! Your constancy
 66   Hath left you unattended. (Knock.) Hark! more knocking.
67-68. lest occasion call us, / And show us to be watchers:  in case something happens to which we would have to respond, and which would reveal that we never went to bed. 69. poorly:  miserably, sadly.
 67   Get on your nightgown, lest occasion call us,
 68   And show us to be watchers. Be not lost
 69   So poorly in your thoughts.

70. To know my deed, 'twere best not know myself: i.e., if I face up to what I have done, I can do it only by forgetting what I have become. Macbeth was a courageous warrior, but he has just become a murderer who has killed an innocent man in his sleep.
 70   To know my deed, 'twere best not know myself.


 71   Wake Duncan with thy knocking! I would thou couldst!