WIDTH=100% MACBETH, Act 5, Scene 8

Philip Weller caricature
Philip and Weller hugging

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-- 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 5, Scene 8

          Enter MACBETH.

1. play the Roman fool: i.e., be a noble suicide, like the famous Romans, Brutus and Mark Antony, who committed suicide after they lost battles. 2. lives: living people.
  1    Why should I play the Roman fool, and die
  2    On mine own sword? Whiles I see lives, the gashes
  3    Do better upon them.

          Enter MACDUFF.

                                       Turn, hell-hound, turn!

  4    Of all men else I have avoided thee:
5. charged: burdened.
  5    But get thee back; my soul is too much charged
6. blood of thine: i.e., the blood of Macduff's wife and children, who were murdered on Macbeth's orders.
  6    With blood of thine already.

                                              I have no words:
  7    My voice is in my sword, thou bloodier villain
8. Than terms can give thee out: i.e., than words can describe.
  8    Than terms can give thee out!

          Fight. Alarum.

                                                  Thou losest labour.
9. intrenchant: incapable of being cut.
  9    As easy mayst thou the intrenchant air
10. impress: wound, scar.
 10    With thy keen sword impress as make me bleed.
 11    Let fall thy blade on vulnerable crests;
 12    I bear a charmed life, which must not yield
 13    To one of woman born.

13. Despair thy charm: i.e., despair of any trust you have in your supposedly magical charm. 14. angel: i.e., evil angel, devil.
                                         Despair thy charm,
 14    And let the angel whom thou still hast served
 15    Tell thee, Macduff was from his mother's womb
16. Untimely: prematurely.
 16    Untimely ripp'd.

 17    Accursed be that tongue that tells me so,
18. my better part of man: i.e., his courage.
 18    For it hath cow'd my better part of man!
 19    And be these juggling fiends no more believed,
20. palter: mumble, babble, quibble.
 20    That palter with us in a double sense;
 21    That keep the word of promise to our ear,
 22    And break it to our hope. I'll not fight with thee.

 23    Then yield thee, coward,
 24    And live to be the show and gaze o' the time.
25-26. We'll have thee ... pole: i.e., we'll have your picture painted on a board and carried on a pole, as is done to advertise a monster in a freak show.
 25    We'll have thee, as our rarer monsters are,
 26    Painted on a pole, and underwrit,
 27    "Here may you see the tyrant."

                                                  I will not yield,
 28    To kiss the ground before young Malcolm's feet,
29. baited: taunted, mocked, harassed.
 29    And to be baited with the rabble's curse.
 30    Though Birnam wood be come to Dunsinane,
 31    And thou opposed, being of no woman born,
32. the last: i.e., the last thing he has, his courage and ability to fight.

MacDuff and Macbeth fighting by H.C. SelousIllustrator:
H. C. Selous
 32    Yet I will try the last. Before my body
 33    I throw my warlike shield. Lay on, Macduff,
 34    And damn'd be him that first cries, "Hold, enough!"

          Exeunt fighting. Alarums.

          Enter fighting, and MACBETH slain.
          [MACDUFF drags away the body of MACBETH.]

          Retreat and flourish. Enter, with drum and colours,
          MALCOLM, SIWARD, ROSS, Thanes, and Soldiers.

35. I would the friends we miss were safe arrived: I wish that the friends [fellow soldiers] that are unaccounted for would show up.
 35    I would the friends we miss were safe arrived.

36. go off: die. 36-37. by these I see, / So great a day as this is cheaply bought: i.e., by seeing the number of our soldiers who are safe, I believe we have won a great victory at a low price.
 36    Some must go off; and yet, by these I see,
 37    So great a day as this is cheaply bought.

 38    Macduff is missing, and your noble son.

 39    Your son, my lord, has paid a soldier's debt.
 40    He only lived but till he was a man;
 41    The which no sooner had his prowess confirm'd
42. In the unshrinking station where he fought: in the duty station where he fought without shrinking back.
 42    In the unshrinking station where he fought,
 43    But like a man he died.

                                           Then he is dead?

 44    Ay, and brought off the field. Your cause of sorrow
 45    Must not be measured by his worth, for then
 46    It hath no end.

46. Had he his hurts before?: were his wounds on the front of his body?
                                    Had he his hurts before?

 47    Ay, on the front.

                                    Why then, God's soldier be he!
 48    Had I as many sons as I have hairs,
 49    I would not wish them to a fairer death.
50. And so, his knell is knoll'd: And so [as an honorable soldier] his death-knell is tolled.
 50    And so, his knell is knoll'd.

                                             He's worth more sorrow,
 51    And that I'll spend for him.

51. He's worth no more: Siward is not disrespecting his son. His point is that there is no more worthy death than that of a soldier who does his duty. 52. paid his score: paid his bill; i.e., did his duty.
                                                 He's worth no more;
 52    They say he parted well, and paid his score,
 53    And so, God be with him! Here comes newer comfort.

          Enter MACDUFF with Macbeth's head.

54-55. Behold, where stands / The usurper's cursed head: Macbeth's head is probably brought in on a pike. <More.> 55. the time is free: i.e., because Macbeth is dead, we are now free of the terror he inspired. 56. compass'd with thy kingdom's pearl: surrounded with your kingdom's most noble men. 58. I desire aloud with mine: I request to hear aloud in unison with my voice.
 54    Hail, king! for so thou art. Behold, where stands
 55    The usurper's cursed head: the time is free.
 56    I see thee compass'd with thy kingdom's pearl,
 57    That speak my salutation in their minds;
 58    Whose voices I desire aloud with mine:
 59    Hail, King of Scotland!

 60    Hail, King of Scotland!


 61    We shall not spend a large expense of time
62. reckon with your several loves: count up the affection [and service] of each of you. 63. make us even with you: i.e., give you rewards which will justly repay your service to me.
 62    Before we reckon with your several loves,
 63    And make us even with you. My thanes and kinsmen,
 64    Henceforth be earls, the first that ever Scotland
 65    In such an honour named. What's more to do,
66. Which ... time: i.e., which should be started soon, in accordance with this time of happiness. 67. As: such as.
 66    Which would be planted newly with the time,
 67    As calling home our exiled friends abroad
 68    That fled the snares of watchful tyranny;
69. Producing forth the cruel ministers: bringing forth [for trial] the cruel people who carried out Macbeth's orders .
 69    Producing forth the cruel ministers
 70    Of this dead butcher and his fiend-like queen,
71. self and violent hands: i.e., her own violent hands.
 71    Who, as 'tis thought, by self and violent hands
 72    Took off her life; this, and what needful else
 73    That calls upon us, by the grace of Grace,
74. We will perform in measure, time and place: i.e., I will do in the proper way, at the appropriate time and place.
 74    We will perform in measure, time and place.
 75    So, thanks to all at once and to each one,
 76    Whom we invite to see us crown'd at Scone.

          Flourish. Exeunt omnes.