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Last updated: Fri, Jul 31, 2015
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Navigate this workMacbeth
Act 1, scene 5
Lady Macbeth reads her husband’s letter about his meeting the witches. She fears that Macbeth lacks the ruthlessness he needs to kill Duncan and fulfill the witches’ second prophecy. When she learns that Duncan is coming to visit, she calls upon supernatural agents to fill her with cruelty. Macbeth arrives, and Lady Macbeth tells him that she will take charge of the preparations for Duncan’s visit and for his murder.Enter Macbeth’s Wife, alone, with a letter.
LADY MACBETH, ⌜reading the letter⌝ 0332 They met me in the
0333 day of success, and I have learned by the perfect’st
0334 report they have more in them than mortal knowledge.
0335 When I burned in desire to question them further, they
0336 5 made themselves air, into which they vanished.
0337 Whiles I stood rapt in the wonder of it came missives
0338 from the King, who all-hailed me “Thane of Cawdor,”
0339 by which title, before, these Weïrd Sisters saluted me
0340 and referred me to the coming on of time with “Hail,
0341 10 king that shalt be.” This have I thought good to deliver
0342 thee, my dearest partner of greatness, that thou
0343 might’st not lose the dues of rejoicing by being ignorant
0344 of what greatness is promised thee. Lay it to thy
0345 heart, and farewell.
0346 15 Glamis thou art, and Cawdor, and shalt be
0347 What thou art promised. Yet do I fear thy nature;
0348 It is too full o’ th’ milk of human kindness
0349 To catch the nearest way. Thou wouldst be great,
0350 Art not without ambition, but without
0351 20 The illness should attend it. What thou wouldst
0353 That wouldst thou holily; wouldst not play false
0354 And yet wouldst wrongly win. Thou ’dst have, great
0356 25 That which cries “Thus thou must do,” if thou have
0358 And that which rather thou dost fear to do,
0359 Than wishest should be undone. Hie thee hither,
0360 That I may pour my spirits in thine ear
0361 30 And chastise with the valor of my tongue
0362 All that impedes thee from the golden round,
0363 Which fate and metaphysical aid doth seem
0364 To have thee crowned withal.
p. 33Enter Messenger.
0365 What is your tidings?
0366 35 The King comes here tonight.
LADY MACBETH 0367 Thou ’rt mad to say it.
0368 Is not thy master with him, who, were ’t so,
0369 Would have informed for preparation?
0370 So please you, it is true. Our thane is coming.
0371 40 One of my fellows had the speed of him,
0372 Who, almost dead for breath, had scarcely more
0373 Than would make up his message.
LADY MACBETH 0374 Give him tending.
0375 He brings great news.Messenger exits.
0376 45 The raven himself is hoarse
0377 That croaks the fatal entrance of Duncan
0378 Under my battlements. Come, you spirits
0379 That tend on mortal thoughts, unsex me here,
0380 And fill me from the crown to the toe top-full
0381 50 Of direst cruelty. Make thick my blood.
0382 Stop up th’ access and passage to remorse,
0383 That no compunctious visitings of nature
0384 Shake my fell purpose, nor keep peace between
0385 Th’ effect and it. Come to my woman’s breasts
0386 55 And take my milk for gall, you murd’ring ministers,
0387 Wherever in your sightless substances
0388 You wait on nature’s mischief. Come, thick night,
0389 And pall thee in the dunnest smoke of hell,
0390 That my keen knife see not the wound it makes,
0391 60 Nor heaven peep through the blanket of the dark
0392 To cry “Hold, hold!”
0393 Great Glamis, worthy Cawdor,
0394 Greater than both by the all-hail hereafter!
p. 350395 Thy letters have transported me beyond
0396 65 This ignorant present, and I feel now
0397 The future in the instant.
MACBETH 0398 My dearest love,
0399 Duncan comes here tonight.
LADY MACBETH 0400 And when goes hence?
0401 70 Tomorrow, as he purposes.
LADY MACBETH 0402 O, never
0403 Shall sun that morrow see!
0404 Your face, my thane, is as a book where men
0405 May read strange matters. To beguile the time,
0406 75 Look like the time. Bear welcome in your eye,
0407 Your hand, your tongue. Look like th’ innocent
0409 But be the serpent under ’t. He that’s coming
0410 Must be provided for; and you shall put
0411 80 This night’s great business into my dispatch,
0412 Which shall to all our nights and days to come
0413 Give solely sovereign sway and masterdom.
0414 We will speak further.
LADY MACBETH 0415 Only look up clear.
0416 85 To alter favor ever is to fear.
0417 Leave all the rest to me.