Macbeth: Act 2, Scene 3
Enter a PORTER. Knocking within.
1Here's a knocking indeed! If a man were
2. old turning the key: plenty of occasions to turn the key [to let in sinners].
2porter of Hell Gate, he should have old turning the
3key. (Knock.) Knock, knock, knock! Who's there,
4-5. a farmer ... plenty: i.e., a hoarder.
4i' the name of Beelzebub? Here's a farmer, that hang'd
5. Come in time!: you have come at a good time! 6. Have napkins ... for't: i.e., be sure to carry plenty of handkerchiefs because here in hell you'll sweat for what you did. 8-11. an equivocator ... to heaven: i.e., a believable equivocator who couldn't talk his way into heaven. <More.>
5himself on th' expectation of plenty. Come in time!
6Have napkins enow about you; here you'll sweat for't.
7(Knock.) Knock, knock! Who's there, in the other
8devil's name? Faith, here's an equivocator, that could
9swear in both the scales against either scale, who com-
10mitted treason enough for God's sake, yet could
11not equivocate to heaven. O, come in, equivocator.
12(Knock.) Knock, knock, knock! Who's there? Faith,
13. an English tailor come hither, for stealing out of a French hose: Some types of "French hose" (we would call the garment "breeches") were very baggy; a dishonest tailor might try to steal some of the cloth supplied to him and produce hose that was only baggy instead of extra-baggy. 15. roast your goose: A "tailor's goose" is a type of pressing iron, and "his goose is cooked" is slang for "he's done for."
13here's an English tailor come hither, for stealing
14out of a French hose: come in, tailor; here you may
15roast your goose. (Knock.) Knock, knock! Never
16at quiet! What are you? But this place is too
17cold for hell. I'll devil-porter it no further: I had
18thought to have let in some of all professions that go
19the primrose way to the everlasting bonfire. (Knock.)
20. remember the porter: This is a request for a tip.
20Anon, anon! [Opens the gate.] I pray you, remember
|Sydney Bromley as the Porter|
Image Source: Aveleyman.com
Enter MACDUFF and LENNOX.
22Was it so late, friend, ere you went to bed,
23That you do lie so late?
24. the second cock: i.e., three a.m..
24'Faith sir, we were carousing till the second cock;
25and drink, sir, is a great provoker of three things.
26What three things does drink especially pro-
28. Marry: indeed. nose-painting: reddening of the nose through drink.
28Marry, sir, nose-painting, sleep, and urine.
29Lechery, sir, it provokes, and unprovokes; it provokes
30the desire, but it takes away the performance. There-
31fore, much drink may be said to be an equivocator
32with lechery: it makes him, and it mars him; it sets him
33on, and it takes him off; it persuades him, and dis-
34. stand to: perform [sexually].
34heartens him; makes him stand to, and not stand to; in
35. equivocates him in a sleep, and, giving him the lie, leaves him: deceives him [i.e., "lechery"] in a dream, and, telling him that he is a liar, abandons him.
35conclusion, equivocates him in a sleep, and, giving him
36the lie, leaves him.
37. I believe drink gave thee the lie last night: To "give the lie" is to tell someone that he is a liar, but Macduff probably also means that drinking knocked the porter out, making him lie down in sleep. 38. i' the very throat on me: To "give the lie in the throat" was particularly insulting; we would say "tell him he's a liar to his face." requited him: paid him back. 40. though he took up my legs sometime, yet I made a shift to cast him: though he put me off balance a few times, I found a trick to throw him. The porter is using wrestling terms. Also, he is probably joking that although drinking made him unsteady on his feet, he solved the problem by throwing up.
37I believe drink gave thee the lie last night.
38That it did, sir, i' the very throat on me; but I re-
39quited him for his lie; and, I think, being too strong
40for him, though he took up my legs sometime, yet I
41made a shift to cast him.
42Is thy master stirring?
43Our knocking has awaked him; here he comes.
44Good morrow, noble sir.
Good morrow, both.
45Is the king stirring, worthy thane?
46. timely: early.
46He did command me to call timely on him:
47. slipp'd the hour: missed the time.
47I have almost slipp'd the hour.
I'll bring you to him.
48I know this is a joyful trouble to you;
49But yet 'tis one.
50. physics pain: takes away the pain.
50The labour we delight in physics pain.
51This is the door.
I'll make so bold to call,
52. limited service: appointed duty.
52For 'tis my limited service.
53Goes the king hence today?
53. He did appoint so: i.e., he's already made the schedule.
He does; he did appoint so.
Image Source: Andrew Haynes Wildlife Photography
54The night has been unruly: where we lay,
55Our chimneys were blown down; and, as they say,
56Lamentings heard i' the air; strange screams of death,
57And prophesying with accents terrible
58. combustion: tumult.
58Of dire combustion and confused events
59. obscure bird: bird of darkness, i.e., the owl. The owl was thought to be a prophet of death and destruction.
59New hatch'd to the woeful time: the obscure bird
60Clamour'd the livelong night: some say, the earth
61. Was feverous and did shake: had a fever and shook [with chills].
61Was feverous and did shake.
'Twas a rough night.
62-63. My young remembrance cannot parallel / A fellow to it: my young memory cannot recall anything like it.
62My young remembrance cannot parallel
63A fellow to it.
64O horror, horror, horror! Tongue nor heart
65Cannot conceive nor name thee!
MACBETH and LENNOX
What's the matter?
66. Confusion: chaotic destruction, utter ruin.
66Confusion now hath made his masterpiece!
67. ope: open.
67Most sacrilegious murder hath broke ope
68The Lord's anointed temple, and stole thence
69The life o' th' building!
What is 't you saythe life?
70Mean you his Majesty?
71Approach the chamber, and destroy your sight
|Image Source: |
72With a new Gorgon: do not bid me speak;
73See, and then speak yourselves.
Exeunt Macbeth and Lennox.
74Ring the alarum-bell! Murder and treason!
75Banquo and Donalbain! Malcolm! awake!
76Shake off this downy sleep, death's counterfeit,
77And look on death itself! Up, up, and see
78. The great doom's image: exact image of Doomsday.
78The great doom's image! Malcolm! Banquo!
79-80. walk like sprites, / To countenance this horror: walk like ghosts in keeping with the sight of this horror.
79As from your graves rise up, and walk like sprites,
80To countenance this horror! Ring the bell.
Enter LADY [MACBETH].
81What's the business,
82That such a hideous trumpet calls to parley
83The sleepers of the house? Speak, speak!
O gentle lady,
84'Tis not for you to hear what I can speak:
85. repetition: report, telling.
85The repetition, in a woman's ear,
86. Would murder as it fell: would murder the instant it was heard.
86Would murder as it fell.
O Banquo, Banquo,
87Our royal master's murder'd!
88What, in our house?
Too cruel any where.
89Dear Duff, I prithee, contradict thyself,
90And say it is not so.
Enter MACBETH, LENNOX, ROSS.
91. chance: stroke of fate.
91Had I but died an hour before this chance,
92I had lived a blessed time; for, from this instant,
93. serious in mortality: worthwhile in human life.
93There 's nothing serious in mortality:
94. toys: trifles.
94All is but toys: renown and grace is dead;
95. drawn: emptied out.
95The wine of life is drawn, and the mere lees
96. this vault: i.e., this world. The world, with the vaulted sky as its roof, is metaphorically represented as an empty wine-vault.
96Is left this vault to brag of.
Enter MALCOLM and DONALBAIN.
97What is amiss?
You are, and do not know't:
98The spring, the head, the fountain of your blood
99Is stopp'd; the very source of it is stopp'd.
100Your royal father's murder'd.
O, by whom?
101Those of his chamber, as it seem'd, had done 't:
102. badged: marked with large spots that look like badges.
102Their hands and faces were all badged with blood;
103So were their daggers, which unwiped we found
104Upon their pillows. They stared, and were distracted;
105No man's life was to be trusted with them.
106O, yet I do repent me of my fury,
107That I did kill them.
Wherefore did you so?
108Who can be wise, amazed, temperate and furious,
109Loyal and neutral, in a moment? No man.
110. expedition: haste. violent: passionate.
110Th' expedition of my violent love
111. Outrun: outran. pauser: that which makes us pause and consider. 112. golden blood: Blood was often referred to as golden. 113. a breach in nature: a gaping wound in all that sustains all life. 114. wasteful: wantonly destructive.
111Outrun the pauser, reason. Here lay Duncan,
112His silver skin laced with his golden blood;
113And his gash'd stabs look'd like a breach in nature
114For ruin's wasteful entrance: there, the murderers,
115Steep'd in the colours of their trade, their daggers
116. Unmannerly breech'd with gore: rudely clothed in gore. The bloody gore is imagined as a pair of sloppy breeches on the blades of the daggers. Cleanth Brooks authored a famous study of this image; use this link to view a review of his article.
116Unmannerly breech'd with gore. Who could refrain,
117That had a heart to love, and in that heart
118Courage to make's love known?
Help me hence, ho!
[LADY MACBETH swoons.]
119Look to the lady.
MALCOLM [Aside to DONALBAIN.]
Why do we hold our tongues,
120. argument:topic, reason [for expressing horror and grief]. Malcolm asks his brother why everyone else is making more noise about King Duncan's murder than they are; he may be implying that Macbeth's speech and Lady Macbeth's fainting are suspiciously melodramatic. 122. auger-hole: An auger is a drill. An "auger-hole" is a hole made by an auger, and also, metaphorically, a tiny hiding-place. 124-125. brew'd: i.e., ready to spring forth. our strong sorrow / Upon the foot of motion: our strong sorrow converted into action [to avenge our father's death].
120That most may claim this argument for ours?
DONALBAIN [Aside to MALCOLM.]
121What should be spoken here, where our fate,
122Hid in an auger-hole, may rush, and seize us?
124Our tears are not yet brew'd.
MALCOLM [Aside to DONALBAIN.]
Nor our strong sorrow
125Upon the foot of motion.
Look to the lady.
[LADY MACBETH is carried out.]
126-127. when we have our naked frailties hid, / That suffer in exposure: when we have clothed our weak bodies, which suffer from being exposed [to the cold]. Apparently all except Macduff and Lennox are wearing only nightclothes. Although people in Shakespeare's time did sleep in the nude, it seems unlikely that the actors were literally "naked." 128. question: discuss. 129. Fears and scruples shake us: fears and doubts unsettle us. 130-132. In the great hand of God ... malice: under the protection of God I stand, and from there I [will] fight against the secret plot of [whoever had] treasonous enmity [against the dead king].
126And when we have our naked frailties hid,
127That suffer in exposure, let us meet,
128And question this most bloody piece of work,
129To know it further. Fears and scruples shake us.
130In the great hand of God I stand; and thence
131Against the undivulged pretence I fight
132Of treasonous malice.
And so do I.
133. Let's briefly put on manly readiness: let's quickly put on manly clothes [and adopt manly attitudes, suitable for discussing this important matter].
133Let's briefly put on manly readiness,
134And meet i' the hall together.
Exeunt [all but Malcolm and Donalbain].
135. consort with: keep company with.
135What will you do? Let's not consort with them;
136. office: task.
136To show an unfelt sorrow is an office
137Which the false man does easy. I'll to England.
138To Ireland, I; our separated fortune
139Shall keep us both the safer. Where we are,
140-141. the near in blood, / The nearer bloody: the nearer in bloodline [anyone is to King Duncan], the nearer they are to being murdered.
140There's daggers in men's smiles: the near in blood,
141The nearer bloody.
141. shaft: arrow.
This murderous shaft that's shot
142. lighted: finished its course.
142Hath not yet lighted, and our safest way
143. avoid the aim: avoid being a taget.
143Is to avoid the aim. Therefore, to horse;
144. dainty of leave-taking: particular about saying goodbye.
144And let us not be dainty of leave-taking,
145. shift away: stealthily disappear. warrant: justification.
145But shift away. There's warrant in that theft
146Which steals itself, when there's no mercy left.