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Navigate this workMacbeth
Act 4, scene 2
Ross visits Lady Macduff and tries to justify to her Macduff’s flight to England, a flight that leaves his family defenseless. After Ross leaves, a messenger arrives to warn Lady Macduff to flee. Before she can do so, Macbeth’s men attack her and her son.Enter Macduff’s Wife, her Son, and Ross.
1656 What had he done to make him fly the land?
1657 You must have patience, madam.
LADY MACDUFF 1658 He had none.
1659 His flight was madness. When our actions do not,
1660 5 Our fears do make us traitors.
ROSS 1661 You know not
1662 Whether it was his wisdom or his fear.
1663 Wisdom? To leave his wife, to leave his babes,
1664 His mansion and his titles in a place
1665 10 From whence himself does fly? He loves us not;
1666 He wants the natural touch; for the poor wren,
1667 The most diminutive of birds, will fight,
1668 Her young ones in her nest, against the owl.
1669 All is the fear, and nothing is the love,
1670 15 As little is the wisdom, where the flight
1671 So runs against all reason.
ROSS 1672 My dearest coz,
1673 I pray you school yourself. But for your husband,
1674 He is noble, wise, judicious, and best knows
1675 20 The fits o’ th’ season. I dare not speak much
1677 But cruel are the times when we are traitors
1678 And do not know ourselves; when we hold rumor
1679 From what we fear, yet know not what we fear,
1680 25 But float upon a wild and violent sea
1681 Each way and move—I take my leave of you.
1682 Shall not be long but I’ll be here again.
1683 Things at the worst will cease or else climb upward
1684 To what they were before.—My pretty cousin,
1685 30 Blessing upon you.
p. 135LADY MACDUFF
1686 Fathered he is, and yet he’s fatherless.
1687 I am so much a fool, should I stay longer
1688 It would be my disgrace and your discomfort.
1689 I take my leave at once.Ross exits.
LADY MACDUFF 1690 35Sirrah, your father’s dead.
1691 And what will you do now? How will you live?
1692 As birds do, mother.
LADY MACDUFF 1693 What, with worms and flies?
1694 With what I get, I mean; and so do they.
1695 40 Poor bird, thou ’dst never fear the net nor lime,
1696 The pitfall nor the gin.
1697 Why should I, mother? Poor birds they are not set
1699 My father is not dead, for all your saying.
1700 45 Yes, he is dead. How wilt thou do for a father?
SON 1701 Nay, how will you do for a husband?
1702 Why, I can buy me twenty at any market.
SON 1703 Then you’ll buy ’em to sell again.
LADY MACDUFF 1704 Thou speak’st with all thy wit,
1705 50 And yet, i’ faith, with wit enough for thee.
SON 1706 Was my father a traitor, mother?
LADY MACDUFF 1707 Ay, that he was.
SON 1708 What is a traitor?
LADY MACDUFF 1709 Why, one that swears and lies.
SON 1710 55And be all traitors that do so?
LADY MACDUFF 1711 Every one that does so is a traitor
1712 and must be hanged.
SON 1713 And must they all be hanged that swear and lie?
p. 137LADY MACDUFF 1714 Every one.
SON 1715 60Who must hang them?
LADY MACDUFF 1716 Why, the honest men.
SON 1717 Then the liars and swearers are fools, for there
1718 are liars and swearers enough to beat the honest
1719 men and hang up them.
LADY MACDUFF 1720 65Now God help thee, poor monkey! But
1721 how wilt thou do for a father?
SON 1722 If he were dead, you’d weep for him. If you would
1723 not, it were a good sign that I should quickly have a
1724 new father.
LADY MACDUFF 1725 70Poor prattler, how thou talk’st!
Enter a Messenger.
1726 Bless you, fair dame. I am not to you known,
1727 Though in your state of honor I am perfect.
1728 I doubt some danger does approach you nearly.
1729 If you will take a homely man’s advice,
1730 75 Be not found here. Hence with your little ones!
1731 To fright you thus methinks I am too savage;
1732 To do worse to you were fell cruelty,
1733 Which is too nigh your person. Heaven preserve
1735 80 I dare abide no longer.Messenger exits.
LADY MACDUFF 1736 Whither should I fly?
1737 I have done no harm. But I remember now
1738 I am in this earthly world, where to do harm
1739 Is often laudable, to do good sometime
1740 85 Accounted dangerous folly. Why then, alas,
1741 Do I put up that womanly defense
1742 To say I have done no harm?
1743 What are these faces?
MURDERER 1744 Where is your husband?
p. 139LADY MACDUFF
1745 90 I hope in no place so unsanctified
1746 Where such as thou mayst find him.
MURDERER 1747 He’s a traitor.
1748 Thou liest, thou shag-eared villain!
MURDERER 1749 What, you egg?
1750 95 ⌜Stabbing him.⌝ Young fry of treachery!
SON 1751 He has killed
1752 me, mother.
1753 Run away, I pray you.
⌜Lady Macduff⌝ exits, crying “Murder!” ⌜followed by the
Murderers bearing the Son’s body.⌝