Macbeth: Act 3, Scene 4
Banquet prepar'd. Enter MACBETH,
LADY [MACBETH], ROSS, LENNOX,
LORDS, and ATTENDANTS.
1. degrees: ranks. Since they know their ranks, they know where to sit, with the highest ranking person sitting closest to the head table, etc. 1-2.At first / And last the hearty welcome: once for all, a hearty welcome [to everyone].
1You know your own degrees; sit down. At first
2And last the hearty welcome.
Thanks to your majesty.
3Ourself will mingle with society,
4And play the humble host.
5. keeps her state: remains in her chair of state.
5Our hostess keeps her state, but in best time
6. require her welcome: request her to bid welcome [to the guests].
6We will require her welcome.
7. Pronounce it: deliver it [my welcome].
7Pronounce it for me, sir, to all our friends;
8For my heart speaks they are welcome.
Enter FIRST MURDERER [at the door].
9. encounter thee: respond to you. Perhaps the guests are clapping or cheering, during which time First Murderer is able to make his presence known to Macbeth. 10. Both sides are even: both sides [of the table] have an equal number of people. 11. large: unrestrained. 11-12. anon we'll drink a measure / The table round i.e., in a moment we'll all drink a bumper.
9See, they encounter thee with their hearts' thanks.
10Both sides are even: here I'll sit i' the midst:
11Be large in mirth; anon we'll drink a measure
12The table round
[Goes to the door.]
13There's blood on thy face.
'Tis Banquo's then.
14. 'Tis better thee without than he within: it's better that [Banquo's blood is] on your outside than on his inside. 15. dispatch'd: killed.
14'Tis better thee without than he within.
15Is he dispatch'd?
My lord, his throat is cut;
16That I did for him.
Thou art the best o' the cut-throats,
17Yet he's good that did the like for Fleance.
18. the nonpareil: the [cut-throat] without equal.
18If thou didst it, thou art the nonpareil.
19. is 'scaped: has escaped.
19Most royal sir, Fleance is 'scaped.
20Then comes my fit again: I had else been perfect,
21. founded: steady, secure.
21Whole as the marble, founded as the rock,
22. As broad and general as the casing air: as free and unconfined as the air which envelopes [everything]. 23. cribb'd: shut in. 24. saucy: mocking, uncontrollable. safe: i.e., safely out of the way; dead.
22As broad and general as the casing air:
23But now I am cabin'd, cribb'd, confined, bound in
24To saucy doubts and fears. But Banquo's safe?
25Ay, my good lord: safe in a ditch he bides,
26. trenched: deeply cut.
26With twenty trenched gashes on his head;
27. The least a death to nature: i.e., the smallest of those gashes would naturally kill anyone.
27The least a death to nature.
Thanks for that:
28. worm: young serpent [i.e., Fleance].
28There the grown serpent lies; the worm that's fled
29Hath nature that in time will venom breed,
30No teeth for the present. Get thee gone; tomorrow
31. We'll hear, ourselves: I'll personally confer [with you].
31We'll hear, ourselves, again.
My royal lord,
32-34. give the cheer: lead the festivities. The feast is sold ... welcome: a feast is only a meal that is sold, unless the host often avouches, during the feast, that all the guests are welcome. 34. To feed were best at home: i.e., if all a person wants is just to eat, it would be better to stay home. 35. From thence the sauce to meat is ceremony: away from home the sauce to food is ceremonies [such as welcoming guests, giving toasts, etc.].
32You do not give the cheer. The feast is sold
33That is not often vouch'd, while 'tis a-making,
34'Tis given with welcome. To feed were best at home;
35From thence the sauce to meat is ceremony;
36Meeting were bare without it.
Enter the GHOST OF BANQUO and sits
in Macbeth's place.
36. remembrancer: timely reminder, person who gives a reminder.
[To the guests.]
37. wait on: attend, accompany.
37Now, good digestion wait on appetite,
38And health on both!
May't please your highness sit.
39-42. Here ...mischance!: i.e., Here we would have all honorable nobles of our country under one roof, were it not for the absence of Banquo, who I hope I may chide for neglect, rather than pity him for some mischance that has happened to him.
39Here had we now our country's honour roof'd,
40Were the graced person of our Banquo present,
41Who may I rather challenge for unkindness
42Than pity for mischance!
His absence, sir,
43. Lays blame upon his promise: i.e., calls into question how well he keeps his promises. Ross is reassuring Macbeth that Banquo has only been careless with his time, and so his absence shouldn't be a cause of worry.
43Lays blame upon his promise. Please't your highness
44To grace us with your royal company?
45The table's full.
Here is a place reserved, sir.
47. moves: agitates, disturbs.
47Here, my good lord. What is't that moves your Highness?
48. Which of you have done this?: It appears that at first Macbeth thinks that someone is playing a ghastly practical joke.
48Which of you have done this?
What, my good lord?
|Image Source: Banquo's Ghost|
49Thou canst not say I did it: never shake
50Thy gory locks at me.
51Gentlemen, rise; his highness is not well.
52Sit, worthy friends; my lord is often thus,
53And hath been from his youth. Pray you, keep seat.
54. upon a thought: i.e., in a moment.
54The fit is momentary; upon a thought
55. If much you note him: i.e., if you stare at him.
55He will again be well. If much you note him,
56. offend him and extend his passion: make him worse and make his fit last longer.
56You shall offend him and extend his passion.
57Feed, and regard him not. Are you a man?
58Ay, and a bold one, that dare look on that
59Which might appall the devil.
59. proper stuff: perfect nonsense.
O proper stuff!
60This is the very painting of your fear:
61This is the air-drawn dagger which, you said,
62. flaws and starts: i.e., a panic attack. A "flaw" is a sudden gust of wind; a "start" is the kind of movement a person makes when startled. 63. Impostors to true fear: mere impostors when compared to justified fear. 65. Authorized by: on the authority of. Such a story might begin, "This a story my grandma told me, and she swore it was true . . . ."
62Led you to Duncan. O, these flaws and starts,
63(Impostors to true fear) would well become
64A woman's story at a winter's fire,
65Authorized by her grandam. Shame itself!
66Why do you make such faces? When all's done,
67You look but on a stool.
Prithee, see there!
68Behold! look! lo! how say you?
69Why, what care I? If thou canst nod, speak too.
70If charnel-houses and our graves must send
71-72. our monuments ... kites: our tombs will be only the guts of kites. A kite is a swallow-tailed hawk, notorious for feeding on carrion. Macbeth's point is that if the dead won't stay buried, we might as well let the kites have them.
71Those that we bury back, our monuments
72Shall be the maws of kites.
What, quite unmann'd in folly?
73If I stand here, I saw him.
Fie, for shame!
74Blood hath been shed ere now, i' th' olden time,
75. Ere humane statute purged the gentle weal: i.e., before humane law cleansed the commonwealth and made it civilized.
75Ere humane statute purged the gentle weal;
76Ay, and since too, murders have been perform'd
77Too terrible for the ear: the times have been,
78That, when the brains were out, the man would die,
79And there an end, but now they rise again,
80With twenty mortal murders on their crowns,
81And push us from our stools: this is more strange
82Than such a murder is.
My worthy lord,
83Your noble friends do lack you.
I do forget.
84. muse: wonder.
84Do not muse at me, my most worthy friends,
85I have a strange infirmity, which is nothing
86To those that know me. Come, love and health to all;
87Then I'll sit down. Give me some wine; fill full.
88I drink to the general joy o' the whole table,
89And to our dear friend Banquo, whom we miss;
90. thirst: drink eagerly.
90Would he were here! to all, and him, we thirst,
91. all to all: everyone [drink to] the whole company here.
91And all to all.
91. Our duties, and the pledge: i.e., we drink as a pledge of our duties to you.
Our duties, and the pledge.
92Avaunt! and quit my sight! let the earth hide thee!
93Thy bones are marrowless, thy blood is cold;
94. speculation: sight.
94Thou hast no speculation in those eyes
95Which thou dost glare with!
Think of this, good peers,
96But as a thing of custom: 'tis no other;
97Only it spoils the pleasure of the time.
98What man dare, I dare.
99. like: in the likeness of.
99Approach thou like the rugged Russian bear,
100. Hyrcan: Hyrcanian. Hyrcania was region near the Caspian sea. Like the "Russian bear," the "Hyrcan tiger" is the most fearsome of its kind. 101. nerves: sinews.
100The arm'd rhinoceros, or th' Hyrcan tiger;
101Take any shape but that, and my firm nerves
102Shall never tremble. Or be alive again,
103And dare me to the desert with thy sword;
104-105. If ... girl: if I dwell in [a] trembling [body] then proclaim me the baby-doll of a girl.
104If trembling I inhabit then, protest me
105The baby of a girl. Hence, horrible shadow!
106Unreal mockery, hence!
Why, so: being gone,
107I am a man again. Pray you, sit still.
108You have displaced the mirth, broke the good meeting,
109. admired: wondered at.
109With most admired disorder.
Can such things be,
110And overcome us like a summer's cloud,
111-112. You make me strange / Even to the disposition that I owe: i.e., you make me feel like a stranger to my own character. Macbeth, assuming that his wife has seen what he has seen, feels that if she is not shaken, and he is, he is not the courageous man he always thought he was.
111Without our special wonder? You make me strange
112Even to the disposition that I owe,
113When now I think you can behold such sights,
114And keep the natural ruby of your cheeks,
115When mine is blanched with fear.
What sights, my lord?
116I pray you, speak not; he grows worse and worse;
117. Question enrages him: asking him questions, trying to engage him in a conversation, drives him wild. 118-119. Stand not upon the order of your going, / But go at once: i.e., don't worry about who is supposed to leave first; everyone should leave right now.
117Question enrages him. At once, good night:
118Stand not upon the order of your going,
119But go at once.
Good night; and better health
130Attend his majesty!
A kind good night to all!
Exeunt Lords [and all but Macbeth and Lady Macbeth].
121It will have blood; they say, blood will have blood.
122Stones have been known to move and trees to speak;
123. Augurs: auguries. understood relations: [reports or stories with] clear implications, or intuitively perceived relationships [as between Duncan's murder in Macbeth's castle and Macbeth becoming king]. 124. By maggot-pies and choughs and rooks brought forth: revealed by magpies and jackdaws and rooks. All three birds can be taught to parrot a word or two. 125. man of blood: i.e., murderer. What is the night? i.e., how late is it?
123Augurs and understood relations have
124By maggot-pies and choughs and rooks brought forth
125The secret'st man of blood. What is the night?
126Almost at odds with morning, which is which.
127-128. How say'st thou, that Macduff denies his person / At our great bidding?: what do you think of the fact that Macduff refuses to come personally in response to my royal request?
127How say'st thou, that Macduff denies his person
128At our great bidding?
128. Did you send to him, sir?: i.e., did you make an actual official request?
Did you send to him, sir?
129-131. I hear it ... fee'd: I hear it via the grapevine, but I will make an official request. There's not a one of them [the thanes of Scotland] in whose house I don't pay a servant [to spy for me]. 132. And betimes I will: and early I will [go].
129I hear it by the way; but I will send.
130There's not a one of them but in his house
131I keep a servant fee'd. I will tomorrow,
132And betimes I will, to the weird sisters:
133. bent: determined.
133More shall they speak; for now I am bent to know,
134By the worst means, the worst. For mine own good,
135. all causes: every other consideration. There are plenty of "causes" why a person should not seek out witches; they can't be trusted, want to destroy your soul, are ugly, etc. 136. should I wade no more: even if I didn't wade any farther.
135All causes shall give way: I am in blood
136Stepp'd in so far that, should I wade no more,
137Returning were as tedious as go o'er.
138Strange things I have in head, that will to hand;
139. ere they may be scann'd: before they may be thought about carefully.
139Which must be acted ere they may be scann'd.
140. season: preservative.
140You lack the season of all natures, sleep.
141-143. My strange ...deed: i.e., My strange self-delusion is the result of a beginner's fear that needs rough experience to harden it; I am still a novice in criminal acts.
141Come, we'll to sleep. My strange and self-abuse
142Is the initiate fear that wants hard use:
143We are yet but young in deed.