Macbeth: Act 3, Scene 4




            Banquet prepar'd. Enter MACBETH,
            LADY [MACBETH], ROSS, LENNOX,
            LORDS, and ATTENDANTS.

       MACBETH
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].
  1    You know your own degrees; sit down. At first
  2    And last the hearty welcome.

       Lords
                                                Thanks to your majesty.

       MACBETH
  3    Ourself will mingle with society,
  4    And play the humble host.
5. keeps her state: remains in her chair of state.
  5    Our hostess keeps her state, but in best time
6. require her welcome: request her to bid welcome [to the guests].
  6    We will require her welcome.

       LADY MACBETH
7. Pronounce it: deliver it [my welcome].
  7    Pronounce it for me, sir, to all our friends;
  8    For my heart speaks they are welcome.

            Enter FIRST MURDERER [at the door].

       MACBETH
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.
  9    See, they encounter thee with their hearts' thanks.
 10    Both sides are even: here I'll sit i' the midst:
 11    Be large in mirth; anon we'll drink a measure
 12    The table round—

            [Goes to the door.]

 13    There's blood on thy face.

       First Murderer
                                                'Tis Banquo's then.

       MACBETH
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.
 15    Is he dispatch'd?

       First Murderer
                                  My lord, his throat is cut;
 16    That I did for him.

       MACBETH
                                     Thou art the best o' the cut-throats,
 17    Yet he's good that did the like for Fleance.
18. the nonpareil: the [cut-throat] without equal.
 18    If thou didst it, thou art the nonpareil.

       First Murderer
19. is 'scaped: has escaped.
 19    Most royal sir, Fleance is 'scaped.

       MACBETH
 20    Then comes my fit again: I had else been perfect,
21. founded: steady, secure.
 21    Whole 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.
 22    As broad and general as the casing air:
 23    But now I am cabin'd, cribb'd, confined, bound in
 24    To saucy doubts and fears. But Banquo's safe?

       First Murderer
 25    Ay, my good lord: safe in a ditch he bides,
26. trenched: deeply cut.
 26    With twenty trenched gashes on his head;
27. The least a death to nature: i.e., the smallest of those gashes would naturally kill anyone.
 27    The least a death to nature.

       MACBETH
                                                    Thanks for that:
28. worm: young serpent [i.e., Fleance].
 28    There the grown serpent lies; the worm that's fled
 29    Hath nature that in time will venom breed,
 30    No teeth for the present. Get thee gone; tomorrow
31. We'll hear, ourselves: I'll personally confer [with you].
 31    We'll hear, ourselves, again.

            Exit Murderer.

       LADY MACBETH
                                                          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.].
 32    You do not give the cheer. The feast is sold
 33    That is not often vouch'd, while 'tis a-making,
 34    'Tis given with welcome. To feed were best at home;
 35    From thence the sauce to meat is ceremony;
 36    Meeting were bare without it.

            Enter the GHOST OF BANQUO and sits
            in Macbeth's place.


       MACBETH
36. remembrancer: timely reminder, person who gives a reminder.
                                                        Sweet remembrancer!

            [To the guests.]

37. wait on: attend, accompany.
 37    Now, good digestion wait on appetite,
 38    And health on both!

       LENNOX
                                    May't please your highness sit.

       MACBETH
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.
 39    Here had we now our country's honour roof'd,
 40    Were the graced person of our Banquo present,
 41    Who may I rather challenge for unkindness
 42    Than pity for mischance!

       ROSS
                                                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.
 43    Lays blame upon his promise. Please't your highness
 44    To grace us with your royal company?

       MACBETH
 45    The table's full.

       LENNOX
                                    Here is a place reserved, sir.

       MACBETH
 46    Where?

       LENNOX
47. moves: agitates, disturbs.
 47    Here, my good lord. What is't that moves your Highness?

       MACBETH
48. Which of you have done this?: It appears that at first Macbeth thinks that someone is playing a ghastly practical joke.
 48    Which of you have done this?

       Lords
                                                  What, my good lord?

Image Source: Banquo's Ghost
       MACBETH
 49    Thou canst not say I did it: never shake
 50    Thy gory locks at me.

       ROSS
 51    Gentlemen, rise; his highness is not well.

       LADY MACBETH
 52    Sit, worthy friends; my lord is often thus,
 53    And hath been from his youth. Pray you, keep seat.
54. upon a thought: i.e., in a moment.
 54    The fit is momentary; upon a thought
55. If much you note him: i.e., if you stare at him.
 55    He 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.
 56    You shall offend him and extend his passion.
 57    Feed, and regard him not. — Are you a man?

       MACBETH
 58    Ay, and a bold one, that dare look on that
 59    Which might appall the devil.

       LADY MACBETH
59. proper stuff: perfect nonsense.
                                                      O proper stuff!
 60    This is the very painting of your fear:
 61    This 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 . . . ."
 62    Led you to Duncan. O, these flaws and starts,
 63    (Impostors to true fear) would well become
 64    A woman's story at a winter's fire,
 65    Authorized by her grandam. Shame itself!
 66    Why do you make such faces? When all's done,
 67    You look but on a stool.

       MACBETH
                                          Prithee, see there!
 68    Behold! look! lo! how say you?
 69    Why, what care I? If thou canst nod, speak too.
 70    If 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.
 71    Those that we bury back, our monuments
 72    Shall be the maws of kites.

            [Exit GHOST.]

       LADY MACBETH
                                                What, quite unmann'd in folly?

       MACBETH
 73    If I stand here, I saw him.

       LADY MACBETH
                                              Fie, for shame!

       MACBETH
 74    Blood 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.
 75    Ere humane statute purged the gentle weal;
 76    Ay, and since too, murders have been perform'd
 77    Too terrible for the ear: the times have been,
 78    That, when the brains were out, the man would die,
 79    And there an end, but now they rise again,
 80    With twenty mortal murders on their crowns,
 81    And push us from our stools: this is more strange
 82    Than such a murder is.

       LADY MACBETH
                                          My worthy lord,
 83    Your noble friends do lack you.

       MACBETH
                                          I do forget.
84. muse: wonder.
 84    Do not muse at me, my most worthy friends,
 85    I have a strange infirmity, which is nothing
 86    To those that know me. Come, love and health to all;
 87    Then I'll sit down. Give me some wine; fill full.
 88    I drink to the general joy o' the whole table,
 89    And to our dear friend Banquo, whom we miss;
90. thirst: drink eagerly.
 90    Would he were here! to all, and him, we thirst,
91. all to all: everyone [drink to] the whole company here.
 91    And all to all.

       Lords
91. Our duties, and the pledge: i.e., we drink as a pledge of our duties to you.
                              Our duties, and the pledge.

            Enter GHOST.

       MACBETH
 92    Avaunt! and quit my sight! let the earth hide thee!
 93    Thy bones are marrowless, thy blood is cold;
94. speculation: sight.
 94    Thou hast no speculation in those eyes
 95    Which thou dost glare with!

       LADY MACBETH
                                                  Think of this, good peers,
 96    But as a thing of custom: 'tis no other;
 97    Only it spoils the pleasure of the time.

       MACBETH
 98    What man dare, I dare.
99. like: in the likeness of.
 99    Approach 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.
100    The arm'd rhinoceros, or th' Hyrcan tiger;
101    Take any shape but that, and my firm nerves
102    Shall never tremble. Or be alive again,
103    And 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.
104    If trembling I inhabit then, protest me
105    The baby of a girl. Hence, horrible shadow!
106    Unreal mockery, hence!

            [Exit Ghost.]

                                       Why, so: being gone,
107   I am a man again. Pray you, sit still.

       LADY MACBETH
108    You have displaced the mirth, broke the good meeting,
109. admired: wondered at.
109    With most admired disorder.

       MACBETH
                                                    Can such things be,
110    And 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.
111    Without our special wonder? You make me strange
112    Even to the disposition that I owe,
113    When now I think you can behold such sights,
114    And keep the natural ruby of your cheeks,
115    When mine is blanched with fear.

       ROSS
                                                            What sights, my lord?

       LADY MACBETH
116    I 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.
117    Question enrages him. At once, good night:
118    Stand not upon the order of your going,
119    But go at once.

       LENNOX
                            Good night; and better health
130    Attend his majesty!

       LADY MACBETH
                                      A kind good night to all!

            Exeunt Lords [and all but Macbeth and Lady Macbeth].

       MACBETH
121    It will have blood; they say, blood will have blood.
122    Stones 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?
123    Augurs and understood relations have
124    By maggot-pies and choughs and rooks brought forth
125    The secret'st man of blood. What is the night?

       LADY MACBETH
126    Almost at odds with morning, which is which.

       MACBETH
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?
127    How say'st thou, that Macduff denies his person
128    At our great bidding?

       LADY MACBETH
128. Did you send to him, sir?: i.e., did you make an actual official request?
                                        Did you send to him, sir?

       MACBETH
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].
129    I hear it by the way; but I will send.
130    There's not a one of them but in his house
131    I keep a servant fee'd. I will tomorrow,
132    And betimes I will, to the weird sisters:
133. bent: determined.
133    More shall they speak; for now I am bent to know,
134    By 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.
135    All causes shall give way: I am in blood
136    Stepp'd in so far that, should I wade no more,
137    Returning were as tedious as go o'er.
138    Strange things I have in head, that will to hand;
139. ere they may be scann'd: before they may be thought about carefully.
139    Which must be acted ere they may be scann'd.

       LADY MACBETH
140. season: preservative.
140    You lack the season of all natures, sleep.

       MACBETH
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.
141    Come, we'll to sleep. My strange and self-abuse
142    Is the initiate fear that wants hard use:
143    We are yet but young in deed.

            Exeunt.