One-Act Plays
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a one-act play version of the play by William Shakespeare

edited and condensed by J. P. Crabb

The following one-act play version of William Shakespeare's Hamlet is in the public domain and may be performed without paying royalties.


DUNCAN, King of Scotland.
MACBETH, BANQUO, generals of the king's army.
FLEANCE, son to Banquo.
SIWARD, Earl of Northumberland.
SEYTON, an officer attending on Macbeth.
Boy, son to Macduff.
A Sergeant.
A Porter.
Three Murderers.
Three Witches.
Lords, Officers, Soldiers, Attendants, and Messengers.

SCENE. Scotland and England.

SCENE I. A desert place.

[Thunder and lightning. Enter three Witches.]

FIRST WITCH: When shall we three meet again
In thunder, lightning, or in rain?

SECOND WITCH: When the hurlyburly's done,
When the battle's lost and won.

THIRD WITCH: That will be ere the set of sun.

FIRST WITCH: Where the place?

SECOND WITCH: Upon the heath.

THIRD WITCH: There to meet with Macbeth.

ALL: Fair is foul, and foul is fair:
Hover through the fog and filthy air.


SCENE II. A camp near Forres.

[Alarum within. Enter DUNCAN, MALCOLM, DONALBAIN, LENNOX, with Attendants, meeting a bleeding Sergeant.]

DUNCAN: What bloody man is that? He can report,
As seemeth by his plight, of the revolt.

MALCOLM: Hail, brave friend!
Say to the king the knowledge of the broil
As thou didst leave it.

SERGEANT: Doubtful it stood;
The merciless Macdonwald—
The multiplying villainies of nature
Do swarm upon him—from the western isles
Of kerns and gallowglasses is supplied;
And fortune, on his damned quarrel smiling,
Show'd like a rebel's whore: but all's too weak:
For brave Macbeth—well he deserves that name—
Disdaining fortune, with his brandish'd steel,
Carved out his passage till he faced the slave;
Which ne'er shook hands, nor bade farewell to him,
Till he unseam'd him from the nave to the chaps,
And fix'd his head upon our battlements.

DUNCAN: O valiant cousin! worthy gentleman!

SERGEANT: But I am faint, my gashes cry for help.

DUNCAN: Go get him surgeons.

[Exit Sergeant, attended. Enter ROSS.]

ROSS: God save the king!

DUNCAN: Whence camest thou, worthy thane?

ROSS: From Fife, great king;
Where the Norwegian banners flout the sky.
Norway himself, With terrible numbers,
Assisted by that most disloyal traitor
The thane of Cawdor, began a dismal conflict;
Till that Bellona's bridegroom, lapp'd in proof,
Confronted him with self-comparisons,
Point against point rebellious: and, to conclude,
The victory fell on us.

DUNCAN: Great happiness!
No more that thane of Cawdor shall deceive
Our bosom interest: go pronounce his present death,
And with his former title greet Macbeth.

ROSS: I'll see it done.

DUNCAN: What he hath lost noble Macbeth hath won.


SCENE III. A heath near Forres.

[Thunder. Enter the three Witches.]

FIRST WITCH: Where hast thou been, sister?

SECOND WITCH: Killing swine.

FIRST WITCH: Look what I have.

SECOND WITCH: Show me, show me.

FIRST WITCH: Here I have a pilot's thumb,
Wreck'd as homeward he did come.

[Drum within.]

THIRD WITCH: A drum, a drum! Macbeth doth come.


MACBETH: So foul and fair a day I have not seen.

BANQUO: How far is't call'd to Forres? What are these
So wither'd and so wild in their attire,
That look not like the inhabitants o' the earth,
And yet are on't?

MACBETH: Speak, if you can: what are you?

FIRST WITCH: All hail, Macbeth! hail to thee, thane of Glamis!

SECOND WITCH: All hail, Macbeth, hail to thee, thane of Cawdor!

THIRD WITCH: All hail, Macbeth, thou shalt be king hereafter!

BANQUO: Good sir, why do you start; and seem to fear
Things that do sound so fair? My noble partner
You greet with present grace and great prediction
Of noble having and of royal hope,
That he seems rapt withal: to me you speak not.
If you can look into the seeds of time,
And say which grain will grow and which will not,
Speak then to me, who neither beg nor fear
Your favors nor your hate.




FIRST WITCH: Lesser than Macbeth, and greater.

SECOND WITCH: Not so happy, yet much happier.

THIRD WITCH: Thou shalt get kings, though thou be none:
So all hail, Macbeth and Banquo!

FIRST WITCH: Banquo and Macbeth, all hail!

MACBETH: Stay, you imperfect speakers, tell me more:
By Sinel's death I know I am thane of Glamis;
But how of Cawdor? the thane of Cawdor lives,
A prosperous gentleman; and to be king
Stands not within the prospect of belief,
No more than to be Cawdor. Say from whence
You owe this strange intelligence? Speak, I charge you.

[Witches vanish.]

BANQUO: Whither are they vanish'd?

MACBETH: Into the air!

BANQUO: Were such things here as we do speak about?
Or have we eaten on the insane root
That takes the reason prisoner?

MACBETH: Your children shall be kings.

BANQUO: You shall be king.

MACBETH: And thane of Cawdor too: went it not so?

BANQUO: To the selfsame tune and words. Who's here?

[Enter ROSS and ANGUS.]

ROSS: The king hath happily received, Macbeth,
The news of thy success.

ANGUS: We are sent
To give thee from our royal master thanks.

ROSS: And, for an earnest of a greater honor,
He bade me, from him, call thee thane of Cawdor:
In which addition, hail, most worthy thane!
For it is thine.

BANQUO: What, can the devil speak true?

MACBETH: The thane of Cawdor lives: why do you dress me
In borrow'd robes?

ANGUS: Who was the thane lives yet;
But treasons capital, confess'd and proved,
Have overthrown him.

MACBETH: Glamis, and thane of Cawdor!


Do you not hope your children shall be kings,
When those that gave the thane of Cawdor to me
Promised no less to them?

BANQUO: 'Tis strange:
And oftentimes, to win us to our harm,
The instruments of darkness tell us truths,
Win us with honest trifles, to betray's
In deepest consequence.

MACBETH: [Aside] Cannot be ill, cannot be good: if ill,
Why hath it given me earnest of success,
Commencing in a truth? I am thane of Cawdor:
If good, why do I yield to that suggestion
Whose horrid image doth unfix my hair
And make my seated heart knock at my ribs,
Against the use of nature?

BANQUO: Look, how our partner's rapt.

MACBETH: [Aside]
If chance will have me king, why, chance may crown me,
Without my stir.

BANQUO: Worthy Macbeth, we stay upon your leisure.

MACBETH: Give me your favor: my dull brain was wrought
With things forgotten. Let us toward the king.

BANQUO: Very gladly.


SCENE IV. Forres. The palace.

[Flourish. Enter DUNCAN, MALCOLM, DONALBAIN, LENNOX, and Attendants.]

DUNCAN: Is execution done on Cawdor?

MALCOLM: My liege, he confess'd his treasons,
Implored your highness' pardon and set forth
A deep repentance: nothing in his life
Became him like the leaving it.


DUNCAN: O worthiest cousin!
The sin of my ingratitude even now
Was heavy on me:
More is thy due than more than all can pay.

MACBETH: The service and the loyalty I owe,
In doing it, pays itself.

DUNCAN: Noble Banquo,
That hast no less deserved, nor must be known
No less to have done so, let me enfold thee
And hold thee to my heart.

BANQUO: There if I grow,
The harvest is your own.

DUNCAN: Sons, kinsmen, thanes,
And you whose places are the nearest, know
We will establish our estate upon
Our eldest, Malcolm, whom we name hereafter
The Prince of Cumberland; signs of nobleness,
Like stars, shall shine on all deservers.

MACBETH: [Aside] The Prince of Cumberland! that is a step
On which I must fall down, or else o'erleap,
For in my way it lies. Stars, hide your fires;
Let not light see my black and deep desires.

[Flourish. Exeunt.]

SCENE V. Inverness. Macbeth's castle.

[Enter LADY MACBETH, reading a letter.]

LADY MACBETH: ‘When I burned to question further, they vanished. Then came missives from the king, who all-hailed me 'Thane of Cawdor;' by which title, before, these weird sisters saluted me, along with 'Hail, king that shalt be!' This have I thought good to deliver thee, my dearest partner, that thou mightst not be ignorant of what greatness is promised.'

Glamis thou art, and Cawdor; and shalt be
What thou art promised: yet do I fear thy nature;
It is too full o' the milk of human kindness
To catch the nearest way.— Hie thee hither,
That I may pour my spirits in thine ear;
And chastise with the valor of my tongue
All that impedes thee from the golden round,
Which fate and metaphysical aid doth seem
To have thee crown'd withal.

[Enter a Messenger.]

What is your tidings?

MESSENGER: The king comes here to-night.

LADY MACBETH: Thou'rt mad to say it.

MESSENGER: So please you, it is true: our thane is coming:
One of my fellows had the speed of him,
Who, almost dead for breath, had scarcely more
Than would make up his message.

LADY MACBETH: Give him tending;
He brings great news.

[Exit Messenger.]

The raven himself is hoarse
That croaks the fatal entrance of Duncan
Under my battlements. Come, you spirits
That tend on mortal thoughts, unsex me here,
And fill me from the crown to the toe top-full
Of direst cruelty! make thick my blood;
Stop up the access and passage to remorse,
That no compunctious visitings of nature
Shake my fell purpose, nor keep peace between
The effect and it! Come to my woman's breasts,
And take my milk for gall, you murdering ministers,
Wherever in your sightless substances
You wait on nature's mischief! Come, thick night,
And pall thee in the dunnest smoke of hell,
That my keen knife see not the wound it makes,
Nor heaven peep through the blanket of the dark,
To cry 'Hold, hold!'

[Enter MACBETH.]

Great Glamis! worthy Cawdor!
Greater than both, by the all-hail hereafter!
Thy letters have transported me beyond
This ignorant present, and I feel now
The future in the instant.

MACBETH: My dearest love,
Duncan comes here to-night.

LADY MACBETH: And when goes hence?

MACBETH: To-morrow, as he purposes.

Shall sun that morrow see! Leave all the rest to me.


SCENE VI. Before Macbeth's castle.

[Hautboys and torches. Enter DUNCAN, MALCOLM, DONALBAIN, BANQUO, LENNOX, MACDUFF, ROSS, ANGUS, and Attendants.]

DUNCAN: This castle hath a pleasant seat.

BANQUO: Heaven's breath
Smells wooingly here: I have observed,
The air is delicate.


DUNCAN: See, see, our honor'd hostess!

LADY MACBETH: All our service
In every point twice done and then done double
Were poor and single business to contend
Against those honors deep and broad wherewith
Your majesty loads our house.

DUNCAN: Give me your hand;
Conduct me to mine host: we love him highly,
And shall continue our graces towards him.


SCENE VII. Macbeth's castle.

[Hautboys and torches. Enter a Sewer, and divers Servants with dishes and service, and pass over the stage. Then enter MACBETH.]

MACBETH: He's here in double trust;
First, as I am his kinsman and his subject,
Strong both against the deed; then, as his host,
Who should against his murderer shut the door,
Not bear the knife myself. Besides, this Duncan
Hath borne his faculties so meek, hath been
So clear in his great office, that his virtues
Will plead like angels, trumpet-tongued, against
The deep damnation of his taking-off;
And pity, like a naked new-born babe,
Striding the blast, or heaven's cherubim, horsed
Upon the sightless couriers of the air,
Shall blow the horrid deed in every eye,
That tears shall drown the wind. I have no spur
To prick the sides of my intent, but only
Vaulting ambition, which o'erleaps itself
And falls on the other.


How now! what news?

LADY MACBETH: He has almost supp'd: why have you left the chamber?

MACBETH: Hath he ask'd for me?

LADY MACBETH: Know you not he has?

MACBETH: We will proceed no further in this business:
He hath honor'd me of late; and I have bought
Golden opinions from all sorts of people,
Which would be worn now in their newest gloss,
Not cast aside so soon.

LADY MACBETH: Was the hope drunk
Wherein you dress'd yourself? Art thou afeard
To be the same in thine own act and valor
As thou art in desire?

MACBETH: Prithee, peace:
I dare do all that may become a man;
Who dares do more is none.

LADY MACBETH: What beast was't, then,
That made you break this enterprise to me?
When you durst do it, then you were a man;
I have given suck, and know
How tender 'tis to love the babe that milks me:
I would, while it was smiling in my face,
Have pluck'd my nipple from his boneless gums,
And dash'd the brains out, had I so sworn as you
Have done to this.

MACBETH: If we should fail?

But screw your courage to the sticking-place,
And we'll not fail. When Duncan is asleep,
His two chamberlains will I with wine and wassail so convince
That memory, the warder of the brain,
Shall be a fume, and the receipt of reason
A limbeck only: when in swinish sleep
Their drenched natures lie as in a death,
What cannot you and I perform upon
The unguarded Duncan?

MACBETH: Bring forth men-children only;
For thy undaunted mettle should compose
Nothing but males. Will it not be received,
When we have mark'd with blood those sleepy two
Of his own chamber and used their very daggers,
That they have done't?

LADY MACBETH: Who dares receive it other,
As we shall make our griefs and clamor roar
Upon his death?

MACBETH: Away, and mock the time with fairest show:
False face must hide what the false heart doth know.


SCENE VIII. Court of Macbeth's castle.

[Enter BANQUO, and FLEANCE bearing a torch before him.]

BANQUO: How goes the night, boy?

FLEANCE: The moon is down; I have not heard the clock.

[Enter MACBETH with a torch.]

Give me my sword. Who's there?

MACBETH: A friend.

BANQUO: What, sir, not yet at rest?
I dreamt last night of the three weird sisters:
To you they have show'd some truth.

MACBETH: I think not of them:
Yet, when we can entreat an hour to serve,
We would spend it in some words upon that business,
If you would grant the time.

BANQUO: At your kind'st leisure.

[Exeunt BANQUO and FLEANCE.]

MACBETH: Is this a dagger which I see before me,
The handle toward my hand? Come, let me clutch thee.
I have thee not, and yet I see thee still.
Art thou not, fatal vision, sensible
To feeling as to sight? or art thou but
A dagger of the mind, a false creation,
Proceeding from the heat-oppressed brain?
Nature seems dead, and wicked dreams abuse
The curtain'd sleep; witchcraft celebrates
Pale Hecate's offerings, and wither'd murder,
Alarum'd by his sentinel, the wolf,
Whose howl's his watch, thus with his stealthy pace,
With Tarquin's ravishing strides, towards his design
Moves like a ghost.

[A bell rings.]

I go, and it is done; the bell invites me.
Hear it not, Duncan; for it is a knell
That summons thee to heaven or to hell.


SCENE IX. The same.


LADY MACBETH: Alack, I am afraid they have awaked,
And 'tis not done. Had he not resembled
My father as he slept, I had done't.

[Enter MACBETH.]

My husband!

MACBETH: I have done the deed. Didst thou not hear a noise?

LADY MACBETH: I heard the owl scream and the crickets cry.

MACBETH: Who lies i' the second chamber?

LADY MACBETH: Donalbain.

MACBETH: This is a sorry sight.

[Looking on his hands.]

LADY MACBETH: A foolish thought, to say a sorry sight.

MACBETH: There's one did laugh in's sleep, and one cried 'Murder!'
That they did wake each other: I stood and heard them:
But they did say their prayers, and address'd them again to sleep.
One cried 'God bless us!' and 'Amen' the other;
As they had seen me with these hangman's hands.
Listening their fear, I could not say 'Amen,'
When they did say 'God bless us!'

LADY MACBETH: Consider it not so deeply.

MACBETH: But wherefore could not I pronounce 'Amen'?
I had most need of blessing, and 'Amen
Stuck in my throat.

LADY MACBETH: These deeds must not be thought
After these ways; so, it will make us mad.
Go get some water, and wash this filthy witness from your hand.
Why did you bring these daggers from the place?
They must lie there: go carry them; and smear
The sleepy grooms with blood.

MACBETH: I'll go no more:
I am afraid to think what I have done;
Look on't again I dare not.

LADY MACBETH: Infirm of purpose!
Give me the daggers: the sleeping and the dead
Are but as pictures: 'tis the eye of childhood
That fears a painted devil. If he do bleed,
I'll gild the faces of the grooms withal;
For it must seem their guilt.

[Exit. Knocking within.]

MACBETH: Whence is that knocking?
How is't with me, when every noise appalls me?

[Re-enter LADY MACBETH.]

LADY MACBETH: My hands are of your color; but I shame
To wear a heart so white.

[Knocking within.]

I hear a knocking
At the south entry: retire we to our chamber;
A little water clears us of this deed:
How easy is it, then!


SCENE X. The same.

[Knocking within. Enter a Porter.]

PORTER: Knock, knock, knock! Who's there, i' the name of Beelzebub?

[Opens the gate.]


MACDUFF: Was it so late, friend, ere you went to bed,
That you do lie so late?

PORTER: 'Faith sir, we were carousing till the second cock.

MACDUFF: Is thy master stirring?

[Enter MACBETH.]

Our knocking has awaked him; here he comes.

LENNOX: Good morrow, noble sir.

MACBETH: Good morrow, both.

MACDUFF: Is the king stirring, worthy thane?

MACBETH: Not yet.

MACDUFF: He did command me to call timely on him:
I have almost slipp'd the hour.

MACBETH: I'll bring you to him.

MACDUFF: I'll make so bold to call,
For 'tis my limited service.


LENNOX: The night has been unruly: where we lay,
Our chimneys were blown down; and, as they say,
Lamentings heard i' the air; strange screams of death
Clamor'd the livelong night: some say, the earth
Was feverous and did shake.

MACBETH: 'Twas a rough night.

[Re-enter MACDUFF.]

MACDUFF: O horror, horror, horror! Tongue nor heart
Cannot conceive nor name thee!

MACBETH AND LENNOX: What's the matter?

MACDUFF: Most sacrilegious murder!

MACBETH: What is 't you say?

LENNOX: Mean you his majesty?

MACDUFF: Approach the chamber, and destroy your sight
With a new Gorgon: do not bid me speak;
See, and then speak yourselves.

[Exeunt MACBETH and LENNOX.]

Awake, awake! Ring the alarum-bell. Murder and treason!

[Bell rings. Enter LADY MACBETH.]

LADY MACBETH: What's the business,

That such a hideous trumpet calls to parley

The sleepers of the house? speak, speak!

MACDUFF: O gentle lady,
'Tis not for you to hear what I can speak:
The repetition, in a woman's ear,
Would murder as it fell.

[Enter BANQUO.]

O Banquo, Banquo,
Our royal master's murder'd!

LADY MACBETH: Woe, alas!
What, in our house?

BANQUO: Dear Duff, I prithee, contradict thyself,
And say it is not so.

[Re-enter MACBETH and LENNOX, with ROSS.]

MACBETH: Had I but died an hour before this chance,
I had lived a blessed time; for, from this instant,
There 's nothing serious in mortality:
All is but toys: renown and grace is dead.


DONALBAIN: What is amiss?

MACDUFF: Your royal father 's murder'd.

MALCOLM: By whom?

LENNOX: Those of his chamber, as it seem'd, had done 't:
Their hands and faces were all badged with blood;
So were their daggers.

MACBETH: O, yet I do repent me of my fury,
That I did kill them.

MACDUFF: Wherefore did you so?

MACBETH: Who can be wise, amazed, temperate and furious,
Loyal and neutral, in a moment? Here lay Duncan,
His silver skin laced with his golden blood;
And his gash'd stabs look'd like a breach in nature
For ruin's wasteful entrance: there, the murderers,
Steep'd in the colors of their trade, their daggers
Unmannerly breech'd with gore: who could refrain,
That had a heart to love, and in that heart
Courage to make 's love known?

LADY MACBETH: Help me hence, ho!

BANQUO: Look to the lady!

[LADY MACBETH is carried out.]

Let us meet, and question this most bloody piece of work,
To know it further. Fears and scruples shake us:
In the great hand of God I stand; and thence
Against the undivulged pretence I fight
Of treasonous malice.

MACDUFF: And so do I.

ALL: So all.

MACBETH: Let's briefly put on manly readiness,
And meet i' the hall together.

[Exeunt all but MALCOLM and DONALBAIN.]

MALCOLM: What will you do? I'll to England.

DONALBAIN: To Ireland, I; our separated fortune
Shall keep us both the safer: where we are,
There's daggers in men's smiles.


SCENE XI. Outside Macbeth's castle.

[Enter ROSS and MACDUFF.]

ROSS: Is't known who did this more than bloody deed?

MACDUFF: Those that Macbeth hath slain.

ROSS: Alas, the day!
What good could they pretend?

MACDUFF: They were suborn'd:
Malcolm and Donalbain, the king's two sons,
Are stol'n away and fled; which puts upon them
Suspicion of the deed.

ROSS: 'Gainst nature still!
Thriftless ambition, that wilt ravin up
Thine own life's means! Then 'tis most like
The sovereignty will fall upon Macbeth.

MACDUFF: He is already named, and gone to Scone
To be invested.

ROSS: Will you to Scone?

MACDUFF: No, cousin, I'll to Fife.

ROSS: Well, I will thither.

MACDUFF: Well, may you see things well done there: adieu!
Lest our old robes sit easier than our new!


SCENE XII. Forres. The palace.

[Enter BANQUO.]

BANQUO: Thou hast it now: king, Cawdor, Glamis, all,
As the weird women promised, and, I fear,
Thou play'dst most foully for't: yet it was said
It should not stand in thy posterity,
But that myself should be the root and father
Of many kings. If there come truth from them—
But hush! no more.

[Sennet sounded. Enter MACBETH, as king, LADY MACBETH, as queen, LENNOX, ROSS, Lords, Ladies, and Attendants.]

MACBETH: Here's our chief guest.

LADY MACBETH: If he had been forgotten,
It had been as a gap in our great feast.

MACBETH: To-night we hold a solemn supper sir,
And I'll request your presence.

BANQUO: Let your highness
Command upon me; to the which my duties
Are with a most indissoluble tie
Forever knit.

MACBETH: Ride you this afternoon?

BANQUO: Ay, my good lord.

MACBETH: Is't far you ride?

BANQUO: As far, my lord, as will fill up the time
'Twixt this and supper.

MACBETH: Fail not our feast.

BANQUO: My lord, I will not.

MACBETH: We hear, our bloody cousins are bestow'd
In England and in Ireland, not confessing
Their cruel parricide, filling their hearers
With strange invention: but of that to-morrow.
Goes Fleance with you?

BANQUO: Ay, my good lord.

MACBETH: I wish your horses swift and sure of foot. Farewell.

[Exeunt all but MACBETH, and an attendant.]

Sirrah, a word with you: attend those men our pleasure?

ATTENDANT: They are, my lord, without the palace gate.

MACBETH: Bring them before us.

[Exit Attendant.]

To be thus is nothing;
But to be safely thus.—Our fears in Banquo
Stick deep. He chid the sisters
When first they put the name of king upon me,
And bade them speak to him: then prophet-like
They hail'd him father to a line of kings:
Upon my head they placed a fruitless crown,
And put a barren sceptre in my gripe,
Thence to be wrench'd with an unlineal hand,
No son of mine succeeding. If 't be so,
For Banquo's issue have I filed my mind;
For them the gracious Duncan have I murder'd;
To make them kings, the seed of Banquo kings!
Rather than so, come fate into the list.
And champion me to the utterance! Who's there!

[Re-enter Attendant, with two Murderers.]

Now go to the door, and stay there till we call.

[Exit Attendant.]

Have you consider'd my speeches? Both of you
Know Banquo was your enemy.

BOTH MURDERERS: True, my lord.

MACBETH: So is he mine; and though I could
With barefaced power sweep him from my sight
And bid my will avouch it, yet I must not,
For certain friends that are both his and mine,
Whose loves I may not drop, but wail his fall
Who I myself struck down; and thence it is,
That I to your assistance do make love,
Masking the business from the common eye
For sundry weighty reasons.

SECOND MURDERER: We shall, my lord,
Perform what you command us.

MACBETH: Within this hour at most
I will advise you where to plant yourselves;
Acquaint you with the perfect spy o' the time,
The moment on't; for't must be done to-night.
Fleance his son, that keeps him company,
Whose absence is no less material to me
Than is his father's, must embrace the fate
Of that dark hour. Resolve yourselves apart:
I'll come to you anon.

[Exeunt Murderers.]

It is concluded. Banquo, thy soul's flight,
If it find heaven, must find it out to-night.


LADY MACBETH: How now, my lord! why do you keep alone,
Of sorriest fancies your companions making,
Using those thoughts which should indeed have died
With them they think on? What's done is done.

MACBETH: We have scotch'd the snake, not kill'd it.

LADY MACBETH: Gentle my lord, sleek o'er your rugged looks;
Be bright and jovial among your guests to-night.

MACBETH: So shall I, love; and so, I pray, be you.


SCENE XIII. A park near the palace.

[Enter three Murderers.]

THIRD MURDERER: Hark! I hear horses.

BANQUO: [Within] Give us a light there, ho!

SECOND MURDERER: Then 'tis he: the rest already are i' the court.

FIRST MURDERER: His horses go about.

SECOND MURDERER: A light, a light!

[Enter BANQUO, and FLEANCE with a torch.]



BANQUO: It will be rain to-night.

FIRST MURDERER: Let it come down.

[They set upon BANQUO.]

BANQUO: O, treachery! Fly, good Fleance, fly, fly, fly!
Thou mayst revenge. O slave!

[Dies. FLEANCE escapes.]

THIRD MURDERER: Who did strike out the light?

FIRST MURDERER: Wast not the way?

THIRD MURDERER: There's but one down; the son is fled.

SECOND MURDERER: We have lost best half of our affair.

FIRST MURDERER: Well, let's away, and say how much is done.


SCENE XIV. The same. Hall in the palace.

[A banquet prepared. Enter MACBETH, LADY MACBETH, ROSS, LENNOX, Lords, and Attendants.]

[First Murderer appears at the door.]

MACBETH: Be large in mirth; anon we'll drink a measure
The table round.

[Approaching the door.]

There's blood on thy face.

FIRST MURDERER: 'Tis Banquo's then.

MACBETH: Is he dispatch'd?

FIRST MURDERER: My lord, his throat is cut; that I did for him.

MACBETH: Thou art the best o' the cut-throats: yet he's good
That did the like for Fleance.

FIRST MURDERER: Most royal sir, Fleance is 'scaped.

MACBETH: But Banquo's safe?

FIRST MURDERER: Ay, my good lord: safe in a ditch he bides.

MACBETH: Get thee gone: to-morrow
We'll hear, ourselves, again.

[Exit Murderer.]

LADY MACBETH: My royal lord,
You do not give the cheer.

LENNOX: May't please your highness sit.

[The GHOST OF BANQUO enters, and sits in MACBETH's place.]

MACBETH: The table's full.

LENNOX: Here is a place reserved, sir.


LENNOX: Here, my good lord. What is't that moves your highness?

MACBETH: Which of you have done this?

LORDS: What, my good lord?

MACBETH: Thou canst not say I did it: never shake
Thy gory locks at me!

ROSS: Gentlemen, rise: his highness is not well.

LADY MACBETH: Sit, worthy friends: pray you, keep seat;
The fit is momentary; upon a thought
He will again be well: if much you note him,
You shall offend him and extend his passion:
Feed, and regard him not. Are you a man?

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

LADY MACBETH: Why do you make such faces?
You look but on a stool.

MACBETH: Prithee, see there! behold! look! lo!

[GHOST OF BANQUO vanishes.]

If I stand here, I saw him.

LADY MACBETH: Fie, for shame!

MACBETH: The times have been,
That, when the brains were out, the man would die,
And there an end; but now they rise again,
With twenty mortal murders on their crowns,
And push us from our stools!

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

MACBETH: I do forget.
Do not muse at me, my most worthy friends,
I'll sit down. Give me some wine; fill full.
I drink to the general joy o' the whole table.

LORDS: Our duties, and the pledge.


MACBETH: Avaunt! and quit my sight! let the earth hide thee!
Hence, horrible shadow! Unreal mockery, hence!

[GHOST OF BANQUO vanishes.]

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

MACBETH: You make me strange
Even to the disposition that I owe,
When now I think you can behold such sights,
And keep the natural ruby of your cheeks,
When mine is blanched with fear.

ROSS: What sights, my lord?

LADY MACBETH: I pray you, speak not; he grows worse and worse;
Stand not upon the order of your going,
But go at once.

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

[Exeunt all but MACBETH and LADY MACBETH.]

MACBETH: I am in blood
Stepp'd in so far that, should I wade no more,
Returning were as tedious as go o'er.

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

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


SCENE XV. A Heath.

[Thunder. Enter the three Witches meeting HECATE.]

FIRST WITCH: Why, how now, Hecate! you look angerly.

HECATE: Have I not reason, beldams as you are,
Saucy and overbold? How did you dare
To trade and traffic with Macbeth
In riddles and affairs of death;
And I, the mistress of your charms,
The close contriver of all harms,
Was never call'd to bear my part?
But make amends now: get you gone,
And at the pit of Acheron
Meet me i' the morning: thither he
Will come to know his destiny.

[Music and a song within: 'Come away, come away,' & c.]

Hark! I am call'd; my little spirit, see,
Sits in a foggy cloud, and stays for me.


SCENE XVI. Forres. The palace.

[Enter LENNOX and another Lord.]

LENNOX: I hear Macduff lives in disgrace: sir, can you tell
Where he bestows himself?

LORD: The son of Duncan,
From whom this tyrant holds the due of birth
Lives in the English court: thither Macduff
Is gone to pray the holy king, upon his aid
To wake Northumberland and warlike Siward:
That, by the help of these—with Him above
To ratify the work—we may again
Give to our tables meat, sleep to our nights,
Free from our feasts and banquets bloody knives,
Do faithful homage and receive free honors:
All which we pine for now: and this report
Hath so exasperate the king that he
Prepares for some attempt of war.

LENNOX: Sent he to Macduff?

LORD: He did: and with an absolute 'Sir, not I,'
The cloudy messenger turns me his back.

LENNOX: And that well might
Advise him to a caution, to hold what distance
His wisdom can provide.


SCENE XVII. A cavern. In the middle, a boiling cauldron.

[Thunder. Enter the three Witches.]

FIRST WITCH: Fillet of a fenny snake,
In the cauldron boil and bake.

SECOND WITCH: Eye of newt and toe of frog,
Wool of bat and tongue of dog.

THIRD WITCH: Adder's fork and blind-worm's sting,
Lizard's leg and owlet's wing.

ALL: Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn, and cauldron bubble.

[Enter HECATE to the other three Witches.]

HECATE: O well done! I commend your pains;
And every one shall share i' the gains;
And now about the cauldron sing,
Live elves and fairies in a ring,
Enchanting all that you put in.

[Music and a song: 'Black spirits,' & c.]

[HECATE retires.]

SECOND WITCH: By the pricking of my thumbs,
Something wicked this way comes.

[Enter MACBETH.]

MACBETH: How now, you secret, black, and midnight hags!
What is't you do?

ALL: A deed without a name.

MACBETH: I conjure you, by that which you profess,
Howe'er you come to know it, answer me.



THIRD WITCH: We'll answer.

FIRST WITCH: Say, if thou'dst rather hear it from our mouths,
Or from our masters?

MACBETH: Call 'em; let me see.

FIRST WITCH: Pour in sow's blood, that hath eaten
Her nine farrow; grease that's sweaten
From the murderer's gibbet throw
Into the flame.

ALL: Come, high or low;
Thyself and office deftly show!

[Thunder. First Apparition: an armed Head.]

MACBETH: Tell me, thou unknown power,—

FIRST WITCH: He knows thy thought:
Hear his speech, but say thou nought.

FIRST APPARITION: Macbeth! Macbeth! Macbeth! beware Macduff;
Beware the thane of Fife. Dismiss me. Enough.


MACBETH: Whate'er thou art, for thy good caution, thanks;
Thou hast harp'd my fear aright: but one word more,—

FIRST WITCH: He will not be commanded: here's another,
More potent than the first.

[Thunder. Second Apparition: A bloody Child.]

SECOND APPARITION: Macbeth! Macbeth! Macbeth!
Be bloody, bold, and resolute; laugh to scorn
The power of man, for none of woman born
Shall harm Macbeth.


MACBETH: Then live, Macduff: what need I fear of thee?

[Thunder. Third Apparition: a Child crowned, with a tree in his hand.]

What is this that rises like the issue of a king?

THIRD APPARITION: Be lion-mettled, proud; and take no care
Who chafes, who frets, or where conspirers are:
Macbeth shall never vanquish'd be until
Great Birnam wood to high Dunsinane hill
Shall come against him.


MACBETH: That will never be
Who can impress the forest, bid the tree
Unfix his earth-bound root? Sweet bodements! good!
Yet tell me, shall Banquo's issue ever
Reign in this kingdom?

ALL: Seek to know no more.

MACBETH: I will be satisfied: deny me this,
And an eternal curse fall on you!





ALL: Show his eyes, and grieve his heart; Come like shadows, so depart!

[A show of Eight Kings, the last with a glass in his hand; GHOST OF BANQUO following.]

MACBETH: Thou art too like the spirit of Banquo: down!
Thy crown does sear mine eye-balls. And thy hair,
Thou other gold-bound brow, is like the first.
A third is like the former. Filthy hags!
Why do you show me this? A fourth! Start, eyes!
What, will the line stretch out to the crack of doom?
Horrible sight! Now, I see, 'tis true;
For the blood-bolter'd Banquo smiles upon me,
And points at them for his.

[Apparitions vanish.]

What, is this so?

FIRST WITCH: Ay, sir, all this is so: but why

Stands Macbeth thus amazedly?

[Music. The witches dance and then vanish, with HECATE.]

MACBETH: Where are they? Gone? Come in, without there!

[Enter LENNOX.]

I did hear the galloping of horse: who was't came by?

LENNOX: 'Tis two or three, my lord, that bring you word
Macduff is fled to England.

MACBETH: Fled to England!

LENNOX: Ay, my good lord.

MACBETH: Time, thou anticipatest my dread exploits:
The castle of Macduff I will surprise;
Seize upon Fife; give to the edge o' the sword
His wife, his babes, and all unfortunate souls
That trace him in his line.


SCENE XVIII. Fife. Macduff's castle.

[Enter LADY MACDUFF, her Son, and ROSS.]

LADY MACDUFF: What had he done, to make him fly the land?

ROSS: You must have patience, madam.

LADY MACDUFF: He had none:
His flight was madness: when our actions do not,
Our fears do make us traitors.

ROSS: You know not whether it was his wisdom or his fear.

LADY MACDUFF: Wisdom! to leave his wife, to leave his babes,
His mansion and his titles in a place
From whence himself does fly? He loves us not;
He wants the natural touch: for the poor wren,
The most diminutive of birds, will fight,
Her young ones in her nest, against the owl.

ROSS: Cruel are the times. I take my leave of you.


SON: Was my father a traitor, mother?

LADY MACDUFF: Ay, that he was.

SON: What is a traitor?

LADY MACDUFF: Why, one that swears and lies.

SON: And be all traitors that do so?

LADY MACDUFF: Every one that does so is a traitor, and must be hanged.

SON: Who must hang them?

LADY MACDUFF: Why, the honest men.

SON: Then the liars and swearers are fools,
for there are liars and swearers enow to beat
the honest men and hang up them.

LADY MACDUFF: Now, God help thee, poor monkey!

[Enter Murderers.]

What are these faces?

FIRST MURDERER: Where is your husband?

LADY MACDUFF: I hope, in no place so unsanctified
Where such as thou mayst find him.

FIRST MURDERER: He's a traitor.

SON: Thou liest, thou shag-hair'd villain!

FIRST MURDERER: What, you egg!

[Stabbing him.]

SON: He has kill'd me, mother:
Run away, I pray you!


[Exit LADY MACDUFF, crying 'Murder!' Exeunt Murderers, following her.]

SCENE XIX. England. Before the King's palace.


MACDUFF: Let us hold fast the mortal sword, and like good men
Bestride our down-fall'n birthdom: each new morn
New widows howl, new orphans cry, new sorrows
Strike heaven on the face, that it resounds
As if it felt with Scotland and yell'd out
Like syllable of dolor.

MALCOLM: This tyrant, whose sole name blisters our tongues,
Was once thought honest: you have loved him well.
He hath not touch'd you yet. I am young; but something
You may deserve of him through me, and wisdom
To offer up a weak poor innocent lamb
To appease an angry god.

MACDUFF: I am not treacherous.

MALCOLM: But Macbeth is.
A good and virtuous nature may recoil
In an imperial charge.

MACDUFF: Fare thee well, lord:
I would not be the villain that thou think'st
For the whole space that's in the tyrant's grasp.

MALCOLM: Be not offended:
I think our country sinks beneath the yoke;
It weeps, it bleeds; and each new day a gash
Is added to her wounds: but, for all this,
When I shall tread upon the tyrant's head,
Or wear it on my sword, yet my poor country
Shall have more vices than it had before,
By him that shall succeed.

MACDUFF: What should he be?

MALCOLM: It is myself I mean: in whom I know
All the particulars of vice so grafted
That, when they shall be open'd, black Macbeth
Will seem as pure as snow.

MACDUFF: Not in the legions
Of horrid hell can come a devil more damn'd
In evils to top Macbeth.

MALCOLM: I grant him bloody, but there's no bottom, none,
In my voluptuousness: your wives, your daughters,
Your matrons and your maids, could not fill up
The cistern of my lust, and my desire
All continent impediments would o'erbear
That did oppose my will: better Macbeth
Than such an one to reign.

MACDUFF: We have willing dames enough: there cannot be
That vulture in you, to devour so many
As will to greatness dedicate themselves,
Finding it so inclined.

MALCOLM: With this there grows
In my most ill-composed affection such
A stanchless avarice that, were I king,
I should cut off the nobles for their lands,
Desire his jewels and this other's house:
And my more-having would be as a sauce
To make me hunger more; that I should forge
Quarrels unjust against the good and loyal,
Destroying them for wealth.

MACDUFF: This avarice
Sticks deeper, grows with more pernicious root
Than summer-seeming lust;
O Scotland, Scotland!

MALCOLM: If such a one be fit to govern, speak:
I am as I have spoken.

MACDUFF: Fit to govern!
No, not to live. Fare thee well!
These evils thou repeat'st upon thyself
Have banish'd me from Scotland. O my breast,
Thy hope ends here!

MALCOLM: Macduff, this noble passion,
Child of integrity, hath from my soul
Wiped the black scruples; for even now
I put myself to thy direction, and
Unspeak mine own detraction. I am yet
Unknown to woman, never was forsworn,
Scarcely have coveted what was mine own,
At no time broke my faith, would not betray
The devil to his fellow and delight
No less in truth than life: my first false speaking
Was this upon myself: what I am truly,
Is thine and my poor country's to command:
Whither indeed, before thy here-approach,
Old Siward, with ten thousand warlike men,
Already at a point, was setting forth.
Now we'll together; and the chance of goodness
Be like our warranted quarrel! Why are you silent?

MACDUFF: Such welcome and unwelcome things at once
'Tis hard to reconcile.

[Enter ROSS.]

MACDUFF: See, who comes here?

MALCOLM: My countryman; Good God, betimes remove
The means that makes us strangers!

MACDUFF: Stands Scotland where it did?

ROSS: Alas, poor country!
Almost afraid to know itself. It cannot
Be call'd our mother, but our grave; where good men's lives
Expire before the flowers in their caps.

MALCOLM: Be't their comfort
We are coming thither: gracious England hath
Lent us good Siward and ten thousand men;
An older and a better soldier none
That Christendom gives out.

ROSS: Would I could answer
This comfort with the like! But I have words
That would be howl'd out in the desert air,
Where hearing should not latch them.

MACDUFF: What concern they?

ROSS: No mind that's honest
But in it shares some woe; though the main part
Pertains to you alone.

MACDUFF: If it be mine,
Keep it not from me, quickly let me have it.

ROSS: Your castle is surprised;
Your wife and babes savagely slaughter'd.

MACDUFF: My children too?

ROSS: Wife, children, servants, all
That could be found.

MALCOLM: Be comforted:
Let's make us medicines of our great revenge,
To cure this deadly grief.

MACDUFF: All my pretty ones? Did you say all?

MALCOLM: Dispute it like a man.

MACDUFF: I shall do so; gentle heavens,
Cut short all intermission; front to front
Bring thou this fiend of Scotland and myself;
Within my sword's length set him!

MALCOLM: This tune goes manly.
Come, go we to the king; our power is ready.


SCENE XX. Dunsinane. Ante-room in the castle.

[Enter LADY MACBETH, with a taper, sleepwalking.]

LADY MACBETH: Out, damned spot! out, I say!—One: two: why, then, 'tis time to do't.—Hell is murky!—Fie, my lord, fie! a soldier, and afeard? What need we fear who knows it, when none can call our power to account?—Yet who would have thought the old man to have had so much blood in him. The thane of Fife had a wife: where is she now?— What, will these hands ne'er be clean?—No more o' that, my lord, no more o' that: you mar all with this starting. Here's the smell of the blood still: all the perfumes of Arabia will not sweeten this little hand. Oh, oh, oh! Wash your hands, put on your nightgown; look not so pale.—I tell you yet again, Banquo's buried; he cannot come out on's grave. To bed, to bed! there's knocking at the gate: come, come, come, come, give me your hand. What's done cannot be undone.—To bed, to bed, to bed!


SCENE XXI. Dunsinane. A room in the castle.

[Enter MACBETH, SEYTON, and Attendants.]

MACBETH: Bring me no more reports; let them fly all:
Till Birnam wood remove to Dunsinane,
I cannot taint with fear. Give me my armor.

SEYTON: 'Tis not needed yet.

MACBETH: I'll put it on.
Send out more horses; skirr the country round;
Hang those that talk of fear. Give me mine armor.
I will not be afraid of death and bane,
Till Birnam forest come to Dunsinane.


SCENE XXII. Country near Birnam wood.

[Drum and colors. Enter MALCOLM, SIWARD, MACDUFF, MENTEITH, ANGUS, LENNOX, ROSS, and Soldiers, marching.]

SIWARD: What wood is this before us?

MENTEITH: The wood of Birnam.

MALCOLM: Let every soldier hew him down a bough
And bear't before him: thereby shall we shadow
The numbers of our host and make discovery
Err in report of us.

SOLDIERS: It shall be done.

[Exeunt, marching.]

SCENE XXIII. Dunsinane. Within the castle.

[Enter MACBETH, SEYTON, and Soldiers, with drum and colors.]

MACBETH: Our castle's strength
Will laugh a siege to scorn: here let them lie
Till famine and the ague eat them up.

[A cry of women within.]

What is that noise?

SEYTON: It is the cry of women, my good lord.


MACBETH: The time has been, my senses would have cool'd
To hear a night-shriek; and my fell of hair
Would at a dismal treatise rouse and stir
As life were in't: I have supp'd full with horrors;
Direness, familiar to my slaughterous thoughts
Cannot once start me.

[Re-enter SEYTON.]

Wherefore was that cry?

SEYTON: The queen, my lord, is dead.

MACBETH: She should have died hereafter;
There would have been a time for such a word.
To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day
To the last syllable of recorded time,
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more: it is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.

[Enter a Messenger.]

Thou comest to use thy tongue; thy story quickly.

MESSENGER: As I did stand my watch upon the hill,
I look'd toward Birnam, and anon, methought,
The wood began to move.

MACBETH: Liar and slave!

MESSENGER: Within this three mile may you see it coming;
I say, a moving grove.

MACBETH: I begin to doubt the equivocation of the fiend
That lies like truth: 'Fear not, till Birnam wood
Do come to Dunsinane:' and now a wood
Comes toward Dunsinane. Arm, arm, and out!
Ring the alarum-bell! Blow, wind! come, wrack!
At least we'll die with harness on our back.


SCENE XXIV. Dunsinane. Before the castle.

[Alarums. Enter MACBETH.]

MACBETH: They have tied me to a stake; I cannot fly,
But, bear-like, I must fight the course.

[Enter MACDUFF.]

MACDUFF: Turn, hell-hound, turn!

[They fight.]

MACBETH: Thou losest labor:
As easy mayst thou the intrenchant air
With thy keen sword impress as make me bleed:
I bear a charmed life, which must not yield,
To one of woman born.

MACDUFF: Despair thy charm;
And let the angel whom thou still hast served
Tell thee, Macduff was from his mother's womb
Untimely ripp'd.

MACBETH: Accursed be that tongue that tells me so,
I'll not fight with thee.

MACDUFF: Then yield thee, coward!

MACBETH: I will not yield,
To kiss the ground before young Malcolm's feet,
And to be baited with the rabble's curse.
Though Birnam wood be come to Dunsinane,
And thou opposed, being of no woman born,
Yet I will try the last. Lay on, Macduff,
And damn'd be him that first cries, 'Hold, enough!'

[Exeunt, fighting. Alarums.]

[Retreat. Flourish. Enter, with drum and colors, MALCOLM, SIWARD, ROSS, the other Thanes, and Soldiers.]

MALCOLM: I would the friends we miss were safe arrived.

SIWARD: Some must go off: and yet, by these I see,
So great a day as this is cheaply bought.

MALCOLM: Macduff is missing, and your noble son.

ROSS: Your son, my lord, has paid a soldier's debt.

SIWARD: Then he is dead?

ROSS: Ay, and brought off the field.

SIWARD: Had he his hurts before?

ROSS: Ay, on the front.

SIWARD: Why then, God's soldier be he!
Had I as many sons as I have hairs,
I would not wish them to a fairer death.

[Re-enter MACDUFF, with MACBETH's head.]

MACDUFF: Hail, king! for so thou art: behold, where stands
The usurper's cursed head: the time is free:
Hail, King of Scotland!

ALL: Hail, King of Scotland!


MALCOLM: My thanes and kinsmen,
Henceforth be earls, the first that ever Scotland
In such an honor named. What's more to do,
Which would be planted newly with the time,
As calling home our exiled friends abroad
That fled the snares of watchful tyranny;
Producing forth the cruel ministers
Of this dead butcher and his fiend-like queen,
Who, as 'tis thought, by self and violent hands
Took off her life; this, and what needful else
That calls upon us, by the grace of Grace,
We will perform in measure, time and place:
So, thanks to all at once and to each one,
Whom we invite to see us crown'd at Scone.

[Flourish. Exeunt]

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