Knocking within. Enter a Porter
Here's a knocking indeed! If a
man were porter of hell-gate, he should have
old turning the key.
knock, knock! Who's there, i' the name of
Beelzebub? Here's a farmer, that hanged
himself on the expectation of plenty: come in
time; have napkins enow about you; here
you'll sweat for't.
knock! Who's there, in the other devil's
name? Faith, here's an equivocator, that could
swear in both the scales against either scale;
who committed treason enough for God's sake,
yet could not equivocate to heaven: O, come
knock, knock! Who's there? Faith, here's an
English tailor come hither, for stealing out of
a French hose: come in, tailor; here you may
roast your goose.
knock; never at quiet! What are you? But
this place is too cold for hell. I'll devil-porter
it no further: I had thought to have let in
some of all professions that go the primrose
way to the everlasting bonfire.
Anon, anon! I pray you, remember the porter.
Opens the gate
Enter MACDUFF and LENNOX
Was it so late, friend, ere you went to bed,
That you do lie so late?
'Faith sir, we were carousing till the
second cock: and drink, sir, is a great
provoker of three things.
What three things does drink especially provoke?
Marry, sir, nose-painting, sleep, and
urine. Lechery, sir, it provokes, and unprovokes;
it provokes the desire, but it takes
away the performance: therefore, much drink
may be said to be an equivocator with lechery:
it makes him, and it mars him; it sets
him on, and it takes him off; it persuades him,
and disheartens him; makes him stand to, and
not stand to; in conclusion, equivocates him
in a sleep, and, giving him the lie, leaves him.
I believe drink gave thee the lie last night.
That it did, sir, i' the very throat on
me: but I requited him for his lie; and, I
think, being too strong for him, though he took
up my legs sometime, yet I made a shift to cast
Is thy master stirring?
Our knocking has awaked him; here he comes.
Good morrow, noble sir.
Good morrow, both.
Is the king stirring, worthy thane?
He did command me to call timely on him:
I have almost slipp'd the hour.
I'll bring you to him.
I know this is a joyful trouble to you;
But yet 'tis one.
The labour we delight in physics pain.
This is the door.
I'll make so bold to call,
For 'tis my limited service.
Goes the king hence to-day?
He does: he did appoint so.
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,
And prophesying with accents terrible
Of dire combustion and confused events
New hatch'd to the woeful time: the obscure bird
Clamour'd the livelong night: some say, the earth
Was feverous and did shake.
'Twas a rough night.
My young remembrance cannot parallel
A fellow to it.
O horror, horror, horror! Tongue nor heart
Cannot conceive nor name thee!
What's the matter.
Confusion now hath made his masterpiece!
Most sacrilegious murder hath broke ope
The Lord's anointed temple, and stole thence
The life o' the building!
What is 't you say? the life?
Mean you his majesty?
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
Ring the alarum-bell. Murder and treason!
Banquo and Donalbain! Malcolm! awake!
Shake off this downy sleep, death's counterfeit,
And look on death itself! up, up, and see
The great doom's image! Malcolm! Banquo!
As from your graves rise up, and walk like sprites,
To countenance this horror! Ring the bell.
Enter LADY MACBETH
What's the business,
That such a hideous trumpet calls to parley
The sleepers of the house? speak, speak!
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.
O Banquo, Banquo,
Our royal master 's murder'd!
What, in our house?
Too cruel any where.
Dear Duff, I prithee, contradict thyself,
And say it is not so.
Re-enter MACBETH and LENNOX, with ROSS
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;
The wine of life is drawn, and the mere lees
Is left this vault to brag of.
Enter MALCOLM and DONALBAIN
What is amiss?
You are, and do not know't:
The spring, the head, the fountain of your blood
Is stopp'd; the very source of it is stopp'd.
Your royal father 's murder'd.
O, by whom?
Those of his chamber, as it seem'd, had done 't:
Their hands and faces were an badged with blood;
So were their daggers, which unwiped we found
Upon their pillows:
They stared, and were distracted; no man's life
Was to be trusted with them.
O, yet I do repent me of my fury,
That I did kill them.
Wherefore did you so?
Who can be wise, amazed, temperate and furious,
Loyal and neutral, in a moment? No man:
The expedition my violent love
Outrun the pauser, reason. 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 colours 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 kno wn?
Help me hence, ho!
Look to the lady.
[Aside to DONALBAIN] Why do we hold our tongues,
That most may claim this argument for ours?
[Aside to MALCOLM] What should be spoken here,
where our fate,
Hid in an auger-hole, may rush, and seize us?
Let 's away;
Our tears are not yet brew'd.
[Aside to DONALBAIN] Nor our strong sorrow
Upon the foot of motion.
Look to the lady:
LADY MACBETH is carried out
And when we have our naked frailties hid,
That suffer in exposure, 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.
And so do I.
Let's briefly put on manly readiness,
And meet i' the hall together.
Exeunt all but Malcolm and Donalbain.
What will you do? Let's not consort with them:
To show an unfelt sorrow is an office
Which the false man does easy. I'll to England.
To Ireland, I; our separated fortune
Shall keep us both the safer: where we are,
There's daggers in men's smiles: the near in blood,
The nearer bloody.
This murderous shaft that's shot
Hath not yet lighted, and our safest way
Is to avoid the aim. Therefore, to horse;
And let us not be dainty of leave-taking,
But shift away: there's warrant in that theft
Which steals itself, when there's no mercy left.
The knocking at the gate disturbed the porter’s drunken sleep. The alcohol had made him unsteady but talkative.
“Listen to that,” he said as if addressing a company, “that's what I call knocking. If I was the gateman of hell I'd forever been turning the key! Knock, knock! Who in the devil is there? Maybe it'll be a farmer who's hanged himself because... because he thought he was going to get more for his crop than he did. In you come gambler - bring your towels, here you'll have to sweat it out! Still knocking, are ye? Who's there? This time it'll be a devil's advocate who could agree with anything at any time but told so many lies he'll never be able to talk his way into Heaven. In you come, snake in the grass! Knock! Knock! Who's there? This time it will be... an English tailor, sent here for... stealing cloth for a pair of trousers. Still, they knock. Who are you? This place is too cold for hell. I'll be the devil's porter no more. I had planned to let in a fellow from all the professions, including those who go the prim and proper way to the everlasting bonfire. Ah, the knocking just gets louder. I'm coming! I'm coming! Please remember some gratitude for the porter, sir.”
When he finally opened the gate he found the lords Macduff and Lennox waiting. He rubbed his weary eyes and put out his hands for a tip.
“Was it so late when you went to bed that you had to sleep so late?” asked Macduff.
“Oh sir, we were feasting until past the second crow of the cock. Drink sir is a great provoker of three things.”
“We would like to know what three things drink especially provokes. Eh, Lennox?”
Lord Lennox laughed.
“Well, sirs, red noses, sleep and urine. Lust, sir, it provokes and then unprovokes, if you get my meaning. It provokes the desire, but it takes away the performance. Drink plays tricks with lechery. It persuades him, and then it hinders him. It sets him up, if you see what I mean, and then it pulls him down. Lastly, it tricks him with dreams and when he buys them, he falls asleep.”
“Clearly,” said Macduff, “drink bought you last night!”
“Bought me, sir? Caught me, it did. By the throat! It had me by the legs a few times, too. But I gave drink a run for its money!”
“Is your master awake? Ah, here is coming. Our persistent knocking must have disturbed him.”
Macbeth arrived at the gate looking agitated. The porter smiled lamely at Macbeth hoping his master wasn't annoyed.
“Good morning, sir,” said Lennox.
“Good morning to both of you,” said Macbeth.
“Is the King up yet, worthy Thane?” asked Macduff.
Macbeth surprised himself by remaining so composed.
“He ordered me to give him an early call,” said Macduff, “I'm almost late.”
“I'll take you to his room.”
They made small talk as they walked to King Duncan's chamber.
“Having the King is a joyful trouble to you but a trouble, nonetheless,” said Macduff.
“The labours we delight in never seem arduous. Here's the room.”
“Allow me to disturb him, that's what he asked,” Macduff said.
When Macduff entered the chamber Lennox stood alone with the tense Macbeth.
“Is the King leaving this morning?” asked Lennox.
“I believe that is his plan.”
“It’s been a stormy night,” Lennox said. “In the lodge where we stayed the chimneys were blown down by the wind. Travellers who arrived during the night said the wind wailed like a screaming man. They heard curses, and prophecies of uprising and chaos. These are woeful times. A night bird screeched all night. Some said the very earth shook.”
“It was a rough night,” Macbeth said.
“My short memory remembers nothing like it,” Lennox added.
From the chamber Macduff emerged shaken and yelling: “Horror! Horror! Horror! I can't find the words to tell you what I have just seen in there.”
“What's the matter?” Macbeth and Lennox asked in unison.
“Chaos has completed its masterpiece! God's favoured king has been murdered. His life has been stolen from him.”
“What are you saying?” Macbeth asked. “He's dead?”
“You mean the King?” Lennox asked in horror.
“Go to the bedroom but be warned the sight will blind you as if it were a Gorgon! Don't ask me anymore about it. See it for yourself and then speak.”
Lennox ran up the stairwell to the guest chambers with Macbeth behind, now gripped by the implications of his irreversible act. Macduff sounded the alarm. As Lennox followed him Macbeth seized the chance to kill the guards, still drunk and oblivious to the chaos.
“Wake up! Wake up! Murder and treason! Banquo, Donalbain, Malcolm, wake up! “ Macduff bawled. “Shake off your sleep - you don't need death's imitation, the real thing is here this morning. Malcolm, Banquo wake up and see an image of doom. Wake up!”
Bells rang throughout the castle. Lady Macbeth was the first to arrive at the guest room to be met by Macduff.
“What's the matter? Why are screams, like hideous trumpets, disturbing the sleep of our guests? Explain yourself!”
“Oh, gentle lady, it's not for you to hear what I've got to tell. I might as well murder you as tell you it.”
Lady Macbeth looked innocent and puzzled as Banquo entered.
“Banquo, the King has been murdered!” Macduff said.
“Monstrous! No, no, not in my house!” protested Lady Macbeth.
“That would be cruel wherever it happened, dear Duff, I beg you to contradict yourself and tell me it isn't true!” pleaded Banquo.
Macbeth and Lennox returned. Macbeth spoke: “If I had died an hour before this terrible fate, I would have lived a blessed life. From now on there is no in mortality for me. My life is worthless. Renown and grace are dead, too. The wine of life has been drunk and all we have left is the sediment.”
Although he spoke only to disguise his role in the murder Macbeth knew his articulate words were the truest expression of his guilt. As he finished speaking Malcolm and Donalbain, the King's sons reached the landing.
“What's the trouble?” asked Donalbain.
“Yours, but you don't know it.” Macbeth said. “The spring, the source and the fountain of your family has been stopped.”
“Your royal father has been murdered.” Macduff said.
“It can't be! By whom?” Malcolm asked.
“It seems those in his chamber did it- his servants,” said Lennox. “Their hands and faces were all splashed with blood. As were their daggers, which we found on their pillows still stained with blood. They stared blankly, like men possessed. No man was safe near them.”
“Now I wish in my fury I hadn't killed them!” Macbeth said.
“Why did you do so?” asked Macduff.
The question stumped Macbeth. Both he and his wife knew it was a blunder. Instead of letting the other thanes or the King's sons satisfy their vengeance on a couple of drunken servants Macbeth had focused the incident on himself.
“Who can be wise, amazed, temperate, furious, loyal and neutral simultaneously?” Macbeth reasoned. “No man. My passion to avenge the King outran the pause of reason. There lay Duncan, his silver skin laced with his golden blood, his wounds looking like a breach of nature for death's wicked entrance. The murderers were steeped in the colours of their trade, their daggers dripping with gore. Who could love the King and not show it then.”
Macbeth's explanation still wasn't enough. Sensing their future was in peril Lady Macbeth staged a faint: “Oh, help me, please.”
“Look after the lady!” said Macduff.
In the commotion Malcolm whispered to his brother Donalbain: “Why are we holding our tongues when this business is ours?”
“What can we say here? Our fate could be in the cracks of these walls waiting to pounce. We must leave. Our tears are still brewing.”
“Yes, nor is our sorrow fully understood.”
Just then the brothers realised Macbeth had been watching them. Banquo ordered the servants to ensure Lady Macbeth was taken care of, but he also caught Macbeth watching every move. To the others he said: “We're catching cold here. Let’s retire, get dressed then later meet to discuss this most bloody piece of work to understand its motivation. Fears and scruples shake us. I stand before God swearing that I will confront treasonable malice in all its manifestations.”
“I too,” said Macduff.
“All of us.”
“Let's get dressed quickly,” said Macbeth, nervous that control was slipping from his grasp, “and meet in the great hall.”
As they left Malcolm and Donalbain stood in the silence, whispering.
“Let's not consort with them. Showing unfelt sorrow is second nature to the false man. I'm going to England. What will you do?” asked Malcolm.
“To Ireland for me,” said Donalbain. “Separate fortunes will be safer. Here the smiles look like daggers. Our nearest in blood are bloody.”
“This murder is just the first shot; we must avoid the aim. Let's go for our horses and leave without any attention to protocol. Let's go. Where there is no mercy, there is no immorality in stealing away.”