Macbeth: Act 5, Scene 8
1. play the Roman fool: i.e., be a noble suicide, like the famous Romans, Brutus and Mark Antony, who committed suicide after they lost battles. 2. lives: living people.
1Why should I play the Roman fool, and die
2On mine own sword? Whiles I see lives, the gashes
3Do better upon them.
Turn, hell-hound, turn!
4Of all men else I have avoided thee:
5. charged: burdened.
5But get thee back; my soul is too much charged
6. blood of thine: i.e., the blood of Macduff's wife and children, who were murdered on Macbeth's orders.
6With blood of thine already.
I have no words:
7My voice is in my sword, thou bloodier villain
8. Than terms can give thee out: i.e., than words can describe.
8Than terms can give thee out!
Thou losest labour.
9. intrenchant: incapable of being cut.
9As easy mayst thou the intrenchant air
10. impress: wound, scar.
10With thy keen sword impress as make me bleed.
11Let fall thy blade on vulnerable crests;
12I bear a charmed life, which must not yield
13To one of woman born.
13. Despair thy charm: i.e., despair of any trust you have in your supposedly magical charm. 14. angel: i.e., evil angel, devil.
Despair thy charm,
14And let the angel whom thou still hast served
15Tell thee, Macduff was from his mother's womb
16. Untimely: prematurely.
17Accursed be that tongue that tells me so,
18. my better part of man: i.e., his courage.
18For it hath cow'd my better part of man!
19And be these juggling fiends no more believed,
20. palter: mumble, babble, quibble.
20That palter with us in a double sense;
21That keep the word of promise to our ear,
22And break it to our hope. I'll not fight with thee.
23Then yield thee, coward,
24And live to be the show and gaze o' the time.
25-26. We'll have thee ... pole: i.e., we'll have your picture painted on a board and carried on a pole, as is done to advertise a monster in a freak show.
25We'll have thee, as our rarer monsters are,
26Painted on a pole, and underwrit,
27"Here may you see the tyrant."
I will not yield,
28To kiss the ground before young Malcolm's feet,
29. baited: taunted, mocked, harassed.
29And to be baited with the rabble's curse.
30Though Birnam wood be come to Dunsinane,
31And thou opposed, being of no woman born,
32. the last: i.e., the last thing he has, his courage and ability to fight.
H. C. Selous
32Yet I will try the last. Before my body
33I throw my warlike shield. Lay on, Macduff,
34And damn'd be him that first cries, "Hold, enough!"
Exeunt fighting. Alarums.
Enter fighting, and MACBETH slain.
[MACDUFF drags away the body of MACBETH.]
Retreat and flourish. Enter, with drum and colours,
MALCOLM, SIWARD, ROSS, Thanes, and Soldiers.
35. I would the friends we miss were safe arrived: I wish that the friends [fellow soldiers] that are unaccounted for would show up.
35I would the friends we miss were safe arrived.
36. go off: die. 36-37. by these I see, / So great a day as this is cheaply bought: i.e., by seeing the number of our soldiers who are safe, I believe we have won a great victory at a low price.
36Some must go off; and yet, by these I see,
37So great a day as this is cheaply bought.
38Macduff is missing, and your noble son.
39Your son, my lord, has paid a soldier's debt.
40He only lived but till he was a man;
41The which no sooner had his prowess confirm'd
42. In the unshrinking station where he fought: in the duty station where he fought without shrinking back.
42In the unshrinking station where he fought,
43But like a man he died.
Then he is dead?
44Ay, and brought off the field. Your cause of sorrow
45Must not be measured by his worth, for then
46It hath no end.
46. Had he his hurts before?: were his wounds on the front of his body?
Had he his hurts before?
47Ay, on the front.
Why then, God's soldier be he!
48Had I as many sons as I have hairs,
49I would not wish them to a fairer death.
50. And so, his knell is knoll'd: And so [as an honorable soldier] his death-knell is tolled.
50And so, his knell is knoll'd.
He's worth more sorrow,
51And that I'll spend for him.
51. He's worth no more: Siward is not disrespecting his son. His point is that there is no more worthy death than that of a soldier who does his duty. 52. paid his score: paid his bill; i.e., did his duty.
He's worth no more;
52They say he parted well, and paid his score,
53And so, God be with him! Here comes newer comfort.
Enter MACDUFF with Macbeth's head.
54-55. Behold, where stands / The usurper's cursed head: Macbeth's head is probably brought in on a pike. <More.> 55. the time is free: i.e., because Macbeth is dead, we are now free of the terror he inspired. 56. compass'd with thy kingdom's pearl: surrounded with your kingdom's most noble men. 58. I desire aloud with mine: I request to hear aloud in unison with my voice.
54Hail, king! for so thou art. Behold, where stands
55The usurper's cursed head: the time is free.
56I see thee compass'd with thy kingdom's pearl,
57That speak my salutation in their minds;
58Whose voices I desire aloud with mine:
59Hail, King of Scotland!
60Hail, King of Scotland!
61We shall not spend a large expense of time
62. reckon with your several loves: count up the affection [and service] of each of you. 63. make us even with you: i.e., give you rewards which will justly repay your service to me.
62Before we reckon with your several loves,
63And make us even with you. My thanes and kinsmen,
64Henceforth be earls, the first that ever Scotland
65In such an honour named. What's more to do,
66. Which ... time: i.e., which should be started soon, in accordance with this time of happiness. 67. As: such as.
66Which would be planted newly with the time,
67As calling home our exiled friends abroad
68That fled the snares of watchful tyranny;
69. Producing forth the cruel ministers: bringing forth [for trial] the cruel people who carried out Macbeth's orders .
69Producing forth the cruel ministers
70Of this dead butcher and his fiend-like queen,
71. self and violent hands: i.e., her own violent hands.
71Who, as 'tis thought, by self and violent hands
72Took off her life; this, and what needful else
73That calls upon us, by the grace of Grace,
74. We will perform in measure, time and place: i.e., I will do in the proper way, at the appropriate time and place.
74We will perform in measure, time and place.
75So, thanks to all at once and to each one,
76Whom we invite to see us crown'd at Scone.
Flourish. Exeunt omnes.