Enter LADY MACBETH and a Servant
Is Banquo gone from court?
Ay, madam, but returns again to-night.
Say to the king, I would attend his leisure
For a few words.
Madam, I will.
Nought's had, all's spent,
Where our desire is got without content:
'Tis safer to be that which we destroy
Than by destruction dwell in doubtful joy.
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? Things without all remedy
Should be without regard: what's done is done.
We have scotch'd the snake, not kill'd it:
She'll close and be herself, whilst our poor malice
Remains in danger of her former tooth.
But let the frame of things disjoint, both the
Ere we will eat our meal in fear and sleep
In the affliction of these terrible dreams
That shake us nightly: better be with the dead,
Whom we, to gain our peace, have sent to peace,
Than on the torture of the mind to lie
In restless ecstasy. Duncan is in his grave;
After life's fitful fever he sleeps well;
Treason has done his worst: nor steel, nor poison,
Malice domestic, foreign levy, nothing,
Can touch him further.
Gentle my lord, sleek o'er your rugged looks;
Be bright and jovial among your guests to-night.
So shall I, love; and so, I pray, be you:
Let your remembrance apply to Banquo;
Present him eminence, both with eye and tongue:
Unsafe the while, that we
Must lave our honours in these flattering streams,
And make our faces vizards to our hearts,
Disguising what they are.
You must leave this.
O, full of scorpions is my mind, dear wife!
Thou know'st that Banquo, and his Fleance, lives.
But in them nature's copy's not eterne.
There's comfort yet; they are assailable;
Then be thou jocund: ere the bat hath flown
His cloister'd flight, ere to black Hecate's summons
The shard-borne beetle with his drowsy hums
Hath rung night's yawning peal, there shall be done
A deed of dreadful note.
What's to be done?
Be innocent of the knowledge, dearest chuck,
Till thou applaud the deed. Come, seeling night,
Scarf up the tender eye of pitiful day;
And with thy bloody and invisible hand
Cancel and tear to pieces that great bond
Which keeps me pale! Light thickens; and the crow
Makes wing to the rooky wood:
Good things of day begin to droop and drowse;
While night's black agents to their preys do rouse.
Thou marvell'st at my words: but hold thee still;
Things bad begun make strong themselves by ill.
So, prithee, go with me.
Lady Macbeth entered the chamber looking tired and drained, as though even her capacity for evil could no longer cope with the implications of their butchery and ambition.
“Has Banquo left court?” she asked a servant.
“Yes, Madam, but he is returning tonight.”
“Tell the King I would like to speak to him.”
“Madam, I will.”
Alone she was gripped by the brooding she mocked in her husband: “Nothing is gained but all is lost when a fulfilled ambition turns out to be hollow. It would probably be better to be the victim than to experience destruction from the proceeds of one's own actions.”
The resemblance the corpse of King Duncan bore to her father still haunted her. Then Macbeth entered and Lady Macbeth composed herself and spoke in almost scoffing tone.
“Well, now, my Lord! Why do you keep your own company with only those morbid notions in your head as companions – thoughts which should have died with the very people they concern? Things without remedy should be disregarded. What's done is done.”
“We've wounded the snake, not killed it. She'll heal and be herself again, while our malice will be in danger from her venom. Let the universe crack and both Heaven and earth will suffer- but we won't eat our meals in fear and sleep in a prison of nightmares. Better to be with the dead, whom we to gain our peace have sent to their peace, rather than have the mind tortured by unrelenting agony. Duncan is in his grave. After an eventful life he sleeps peacefully. Treason has done its worst. Neither sword, nor poison, nor revolution in this land, nor foreign foe can touch him now.”
“Come, gentle husband. Throw away your haggard expression, be bright and jovial with your guests tonight.”
“So I shall, love. And so I hope will you. Spoil Banquo. Flatter him with smiles and compliments. This is a dangerous time, we must hide behind our flattery and ensure our faces mask our hearts.”
“You must stop this. Don't overdo it!”
“Oh, my mind is full of scorpions, dear wife! You know that Banquo and Fleance live.”
“Man's lifespan is surprisingly short.”
“There's comfort in that. They are assailable. Cheer up! Before the bat takes flight to rendezvous with witches, and insects fill the night air, there shall be done a deed of dreadful note.”
“What's going to happen?”
“Be innocent of the knowledge, dearest chick, until you applaud the deed. Come blinding night and cover the tender eye of pitying day, with your bloody and invisible hand destroy that life which keeps me in terror. Night falls. The crow takes wing to the dark woods. The good things of the day begin to droop and feel drowsy while the night's black agents prepare to hunt their prey. You marvel at my words! But there's more: Things with a bad beginning only get stronger with more of the same. So please, go with me.”