Philip Weller caricature
Philip and Weller hugging

Welcome to my web site, now under development for more than twenty years.   
-- Philip Weller, November 13, 1941 - February 1, 2021
Dr. Weller, an Eastern Washington University professor of English and Shakespearean scholar for more than 50 years.

Macbeth: Act 1, Scene 3

Brewhouse Young Theatre Company, 2014
           Thunder. Enter the three Witches.

      First Witch
  1   Where hast thou been, sister?

      Second Witch
  2   Killing swine.

      Third Witch
  3   Sister, where thou?

      First Witch
  4   A sailor's wife had chestnuts in her lap,
  5   And munch'd, and munch'd, and munch'd.
5. quoth: said.
           "Give me!" quoth I:
6. aroint: be gone. rump-fed: fat-rumped? ronyon: scabby woman. 7. Aleppo: A trading city at the other end of the world from Scotland. the Tiger: The name of the bark captained by the husband of the woman who refused to give the witch chestnuts. 9. like: in the shape of. a rat without a tail: It was thought that witches could take the shape of animals, but not perfect ones, so when this witch appears as a rat, the rat will have no tail. I'll do: "Do" was used as slang for "perform sexual intercourse," so "I'll do" could be translated as "I'll f--k him over." 11. I'll give thee a wind: Folklore said that witches could make bad weather for their victims.
  6   "Aroint thee, witch!" the rump-fed ronyon cries.
  7   Her husband's to Aleppo gone, master o' the Tiger:
  8   But in a sieve I'll thither sail,
  9   And, like a rat without a tail,
 10   I'll do, I'll do, and I'll do.

      Second Witch
 11   I'll give thee a wind.

      First Witch
 12   Thou'rt kind.

      Third Witch
 13   And I another.

      First Witch
14-17. I myself ... shipman's card: The witch boasts that she has control of all the other winds, their locations, and all their possible directions ["quarters that they know / I' the shipman's card"]. A "shipman's card" is now known as a "compass card."
 14   I myself have all the other,
 15   And the very ports they blow,
 16   All the quarters that they know
 17   I' the shipman's card.
 18   I will drain him dry as hay:
 19   Sleep shall neither night nor day
20. penthouse lid: eyelid. A "penthouse" is a lean-to structure, the roof of which resembles the half-shut eyelid of a weary person. 21. forbid: under a curse. 22. se'nnights: seven-nights, weeks. 23. peak: become sickly pine: waste away from grief. 24. bark: a kind of sailing ship.
 20   Hang upon his penthouse lid;
 21   He shall live a man forbid:
 22   Weary se'nnights nine times nine
 23   Shall he dwindle, peak and pine:
 24   Though his bark cannot be lost,
 25   Yet it shall be tempest-toss'd.
H.M. Bark Endeavour

Image Source:
The Sydney
Morning Herald
 26   Look what I have.

      Second Witch
 27   Show me, show me.

      First Witch
 28   Here I have a pilot's thumb,
 29   Wreck'd as homeward he did come.

           Drum within.

      Third Witch
 30   A drum, a drum!
 31   Macbeth doth come.

32. weird sisters: goddesses of destiny? ...more 33. Posters of: swift travelers over. 34. Thus do go about, about: The witches probably do a dance, in which they take three steps one way ["thrice to thine"], then another way ["thrice to mine"]. 37. Peace!: Quiet! wound up: ready [like the spring of a trap].
 32   The weird sisters, hand in hand,
 33   Posters of the sea and land,
 34   Thus do go about, about:
 35   Thrice to thine and thrice to mine
 36   And thrice again, to make up nine.
 37   Peace! the charm's wound up.

           Enter MACBETH and BANQUO.

38. So foul and fair a day: Evidently, it's a "foul" day because of the foul weather indicated by the thunder with which the scene opens. It could be a "fair" day either because the sun sometimes appears or because Macbeth and Banquo have just won a great victory. 39. Forres: The location of King Duncan's palace.
 38   So foul and fair a day I have not seen.

 39   How far is't call'd to Forres? — What are these
 40   So wither'd and so wild in their attire,
 41   That look not like the inhabitants o' the earth,
 42   And yet are on't? Live you? or are you aught
 43   That man may question? You seem to understand me,
44. choppy: chapped.
 44   By each at once her choppy finger laying
45. you should be women: i.e., you look like women.
 45   Upon her skinny lips: you should be women,
 46   And yet your beards forbid me to interpret

Macbeth and the Three Witches
Theodore Chasseriau

 47   That you are so.

                               Speak, if you can: what are you?

      First Witch
 48   All hail, Macbeth! hail to thee, Thane of Glamis!

      Second Witch
 49   All hail, Macbeth, hail to thee, Thane of Cawdor!

      Third Witch
 50   All hail, Macbeth, thou shalt be king hereafter!

51. start: move suddenly and involuntarily; show signs of being startled .
 51   Good sir, why do you start, and seem to fear
 52   Things that do sound so fair? — I' the name of truth,
53. fantastical: imaginary, stuff of fable.
 53   Are ye fantastical, or that indeed
54. show: appear to be.
 54   Which outwardly ye show? My noble partner
55. present grace: current honor [as Thane of Cawdor].
 55   You greet with present grace and great prediction
56. noble having: acquisition of [another] honor. royal hope: hope of being 'king hereafter'. 57. That he seems rapt withal: so that he seems carried away by it.
 56   Of noble having and of royal hope,
 57   That he seems rapt withal; to me you speak not.
 58   If you can look into the seeds of time,
 59   And say which grain will grow and which will not,
60-61. neither beg nor fear / Your favours nor your hate: neither beg your favors nor fear your hate.
 60   Speak then to me, who neither beg nor fear
 61   Your favours nor your hate.

      First Witch
 62   Hail!

      Second Witch
 63   Hail!

      Third Witch
 64   Hail!

      First Witch
 65   Lesser than Macbeth, and greater.

      Second Witch
66. happy: fortunate.
 66   Not so happy, yet much happier.

      Third Witch
67. get: beget.
 67   Thou shalt get kings, though thou be none:
 68   So all hail, Macbeth and Banquo!

      First Witch
 69   Banquo and Macbeth, all hail!

70. Stay: wait. It appears that the witches are already starting to vanish. imperfect: incomplete. Macbeth wants to know the whole story of how all of the witches' prophecies are to come about. Sinel: Macbeth's father. 72-73.The ... gentleman.
 70   Stay, you imperfect speakers, tell me more:
 71   By Sinel's death I know I am Thane of Glamis;
 72   But how of Cawdor? The Thane of Cawdor lives,
 73   A prosperous gentleman; and to be king
 74   Stands not within the prospect of belief,
 75   No more than to be Cawdor. Say from whence
76-77. Say ... intelligence: say where you got this unnatural information. blasted: wretched, blighted. stop our way: stop our journey, intercept us
 76   You owe this strange intelligence, or why
 77   Upon this blasted heath you stop our way
 78   With such prophetic greeting? Speak, I charge you.

"Blasted Heath" by piglet365 at Deviant Art
           Witches vanish.

 79   The earth hath bubbles, as the water has,
 80   And these are of them. Whither are they vanish'd?

81. corporal: bodily.
 81   Into the air; and what seem'd corporal melted
 82   As breath into the wind. Would they had stay'd!

 83   Were such things here as we do speak about?
84. eaten on the insane root: eaten of the root which causes insanity. It's not known what root is meant
 84   Or have we eaten on the insane root
 85   That takes the reason prisoner?

 86   Your children shall be kings.

                                                   You shall be king.

 87   And Thane of Cawdor too: went it not so?

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

           Enter ROSS and ANGUS.

 89   The King hath happily received, Macbeth,
90. reads: considers .
 90   The news of thy success; and when he reads
91. Thy personal venture in the rebels' fight: your risk of harm in the fight against the rebels. 92-93. His wonders ... his: His [King Duncan's] amazement [at what you have accomplished] and his praises [of you] compete over which one of them should be foremost. 93. Silenced with that: At a loss for words because of that. 95. finds thee: pictures you. in the stout Norweyan ranks: in the midst of the dangerous Norwegian warriors. 96-97 nothing ... death: not at all afraid of that which you yourself were creating — astounding, unprecedented forms of death. 97-98 As thick as tale / Came post with post: as fast as could be counted came one messenger after another.
 91   Thy personal venture in the rebels' fight,
 92   His wonders and his praises do contend
 93   Which should be thine or his. Silenced with that,
 94   In viewing o'er the rest o' the selfsame day,
 95   He finds thee in the stout Norweyan ranks,
 96   Nothing afeard of what thyself didst make,
 97   Strange images of death. As thick as tale
 98   Came post with post; and every one did bear
 99   Thy praises in his kingdom's great defense,
100   And pour'd them down before him.

                                                       We are sent
101   To give thee from our royal master thanks;
102. Only to herald thee into his sight, / Not pay thee: only to call you—with great honor—into his sight, not to reward you for all you have done.
102   Only to herald thee into his sight,
103   Not pay thee.

104. for an earnest of: as a pledge of.
104   And, for an earnest of a greater honour,
105   He bade me, from him, call thee Thane of Cawdor:
106. In which addition: with which added title of honor.
106   In which addition, hail, most worthy thane!
107. it: the title of "Thane of Cawdor."
107   For it is thine.

What, can the devil speak true?: It's unlikely that Banquo lets Ross and Angus hear this. Maybe he says it to Macbeth, maybe only to himself.
                               What, can the devil speak true?

108   The Thane of Cawdor lives; why do you dress me
109   In borrow'd robes?

109. Who was the thane: the person who held the title of thane. 110. heavy judgment: a severe sentence.
                                       Who was the thane lives yet;
110   But under heavy judgment bears that life
111-112. was combined / With those of Norway: i.e.,fought alongside the Norwegians. 112. line the rebel: assist the rebel [Macdonwald].
111   Which he deserves to lose. Whether he was combined
112   With those of Norway, or did line the rebel
113   With hidden help and vantage, or that with both
114. labor'd in his country's wrack: attempted to accomplish the wreck of his country. 115. treasons capital: acts of treason deserving of the death penalty.
114   He labor'd in his country's wrack, I know not;
115   But treasons capital, confess'd and proved,
116   Have overthrown him.

      MACBETH  [Aside.]
                                         Glamis, and Thane of Cawdor!
117. is behind: will follow.
117   The greatest is behind.

           [To ROSS and ANGUS.]

                                         Thanks for your pains.

           [Aside to BANQUO.]

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

[Aside.]: (Editors usually put "Aside to Macbeth" here, but it seems to me that Banquo wouldn't voice his suspicions about Macbeth to Macbeth anymore than he would tell them to Ross and Angus. And Macbeth doesn't respond in any way to what Banquo says here. 120. trusted home: trusted completely. 121. enkindle you unto: fire you up to pursue.
      BANQUO  [Aside.]
                                                       That trusted home
121   Might yet enkindle you unto the crown,
122   Besides the Thane of Cawdor. But 'tis strange;
123   And oftentimes, to win us to our harm,
124   The instruments of darkness tell us truths,
125-126. Win us with honest trifles, to betray's / In deepest consequence: win us over with unimportant truths, in order to betray us in the most serious matters that follow.
125   Win us with honest trifles, to betray's
126   In deepest consequence.—

           [To ROSS and ANGUS.]

127. Cousins, a word, I pray you: colleagues, a word with you, please. I think Banquo may be trying to divert the attention of Ross and Angus from Macbeth's behavior.
127   Cousins, a word, I pray you.

      MACBETH  [Aside.]
                                                 Two truths are told,
128. swelling act: grand drama.
128   As happy prologues to the swelling act
129   Of the imperial theme.—

           [To ROSS and ANGUS.]

                                           I thank you, gentlemen.            


130. soliciting: tempting, enticement.
130   This supernatural soliciting
131   Cannot be ill, cannot be good: if ill,
132. earnest: promise, down payment (as in "earnest money").
132   Why hath it given me earnest of success,
133   Commencing in a truth? I am Thane of Cawdor.
134   If good, why do I yield to that suggestion
135. unfix my hair: make my hair stand on end.
135   Whose horrid image doth unfix my hair
136. seated: [normally] steady and calm.
136   And make my seated heart knock at my ribs,
137. Against the use of nature: unnaturally. Present fears: things feared in the present.
137   Against the use of nature? Present fears
138   Are less than horrible imaginings:
139. My thought, whose murder yet is but fantastical: My thought [about what is to come], in which murder [of King Duncan] is currently only imagined. 140. single state of man: weak human condition. function / Is smother'd in surmise: the normal power of action is smothered in thoughts of imagined action. 141-142. nothing is / But what is not: i.e., only the imagined is real to me.
139   My thought, whose murder yet is but fantastical,
140   Shakes so my single state of man that function
141   Is smother'd in surmise, and nothing is
142   But what is not.

                                     Look, how our partner's rapt.

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

                                    New honors come upon him,
145. Like our strange garments, cleave not to their mould / But with the aid of use: like any new clothes, don't fit the body correctly without being worn for a while.
145   Like our strange garments, cleave not to their mould
146   But with the aid of use.

      MACBETH  [Aside.]
                                                     Come what come may,
147. Come what come may, / Time and the hour runs through the roughest day: I'm not sure what Macbeth means here.
147   Time and the hour runs through the roughest day.

148. stay: wait.
148   Worthy Macbeth, we stay upon your leisure.

149. favor: pardon. wrought: occupied.
149   Give me your favor: my dull brain was wrought
150. pains: efforts [on my behalf].
150   With things forgotten. Kind gentlemen, your pains
151-152. Are register'd where every day I turn / The leaf to read them: i.e., are recorded in the book of my memory, and I will remember them every day.
151   Are register'd where every day I turn
152   The leaf to read them. Let us toward the king.

            [Aside to Banquo.]

153. at more time: i.e., when we have the time.
153   Think upon what hath chanced, and, at more time,
154. The interim having weigh'd it: in the meantime having thought it over. 155-156. speak / Our free hearts: speak freely.
154   The interim having weigh'd it, let us speak
155   Our free hearts each to other.

                                                         Very gladly.

156   Till then, enough.— Come, friends.