Macbeth: Act 2, Scene 2
Enter LADY [MACBETH].
1That which hath made them drunk hath made me bold;
2What 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.>
3It was the owl that shriek'd, the fatal bellman,
4Which gives the stern'st good-night. He is about it:
5. grooms: personal attendants.
5The 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.
6Do mock their charge with snores. I have drugg'd
7That death and nature do contend about them,
8Whether they live or die.
Who's there? what, ho!
9Alack, 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.
10And 'tis not done. The attempt and not the deed
11Confounds us. Hark! I laid their daggers ready;
12He could not miss 'em. Had he not resembled
13My father as he slept, I had done't.
14I have done the deed. Didst thou not hear a noise?
15I heard the owl scream and the crickets cry.
16Did not you speak?
As I descended?
Hark! Who lies i' the second chamber?
This is a sorry sight.
[Looking on his hands.]
19A foolish thought, to say a sorry sight.
20There's one did laugh in's sleep, and one cried "Murder!"
21That they did wake each other: I stood and heard them:
22-23. address'd them / Again to sleep: again settled themselves down to sleep.
22But they did say their prayers, and address'd them
23Again to sleep.
There are two lodged together.
24One 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.
25As they had seen me with these hangman's hands.
26List'ning their fear, I could not say "Amen,"
27When they did say "God bless us!"
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Consider it not so deeply.
28But wherefore could not I pronounce "Amen"?
29I had most need of blessing, and "Amen"
30Stuck 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
31After these ways; so, it will make us mad.
32Methought I heard a voice cry "Sleep no more!
33Macbeth does murder sleep," the innocent sleep,
34. knits up the ravell'd sleave: straightens out the tangled skein.
34Sleep that knits up the ravell'd sleave of care,
35The 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."
36Balm of hurt minds, great nature's second course,
37Chief nourisher in life's feast
37. What do you mean?: why are you saying these things?
What do you mean?
38Still it cried "Sleep no more!" to all the house:
39"Glamis hath murder'd sleep, and therefore Cawdor
40Shall sleep no more; Macbeth shall sleep no more."
41Who was it that thus cried? Why, worthy thane,
42. unbend: slacken. In archery, a bent bow is ready for action.
42You do unbend your noble strength, to think
43So brainsickly of things. Go get some water,
44. filthy witness: i.e., clotted blood. witness: evidence of a crime.
44And wash this filthy witness from your hand.
45Why did you bring these daggers from the place?
46They must lie there: go carry them; and smear
47The sleepy grooms with blood.
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I'll go no more:
48I am afraid to think what I have done;
49Look on't again I dare not.
Infirm of purpose!
50Give me the daggers: the sleeping and the dead
51Are but as pictures: 'tis the eye of childhood
52That 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.
53I'll gild the faces of the grooms withal;
54For it must seem their guilt.
Exit. Knock within.
Whence is that knocking?
55How is't with me, when every noise appalls me?
56What hands are here? ha! they pluck out mine eyes.
57Will all great Neptune's ocean wash this blood
58Clean from my hand? No, this my hand will rather
59. incarnadine: turn blood-red.
59The multitudinous seas incarnadine,
60. one red: entirely red.
60Making 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.
61My hands are of your colour; but I shame
62To wear a heart so white. (Knock.) I hear a knocking
63At the south entry: retire we to our chamber;
64A little water clears us of this deed:
65-66. Your constancy / Hath left you unattended: your firmness of purpose has deserted you.
65How easy is it, then! Your constancy
66Hath 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.
67Get on your nightgown, lest occasion call us,
68And show us to be watchers. Be not lost
69So 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.
70To know my deed, 'twere best not know myself.
71Wake Duncan with thy knocking! I would thou couldst!