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Internet Shakespeare Editions

About this text

  • Title: Macbeth: Modern (Modern)
  • Editor: Anthony Dawson
  • Coordinating editor: Michael Best
  • Research assistant: Katie Davion
  • ISBN: 978-1-55058-528-5

    Copyright Anthony Dawson. This text may be freely used for educational, non-profit purposes; for all other uses contact the Editor.
    Author: William Shakespeare
    Editor: Anthony Dawson
    Not Peer Reviewed

    Modern (Modern)

    Hautboys. Torches. Enter a sewer and divers servants with dishes and service over the stage. Then enter Macbeth.
    475Macbeth
    If it were done when 'tis done, then 'twere well
    It were done quickly. If th'assassination
    Could trammel up the consequence and catch
    With his surcease success, that but this blow
    Might be the be-all and the end-all here,
    480But here, upon this bank and shoal of time,
    We'd jump the life to come. But in these cases,
    We still have judgment here, that we but teach
    Bloody instructions which, being taught, return
    To plague th'inventor. This even-handed justice
    485Commends th'ingredience of our poisoned chalice
    To our own lips. He's here in double trust:
    First, as I am his kinsman and his subject,
    Strong both against the deed; then, as his host,
    Who should against his murderer shut the door,
    490Not bear the knife myself. Besides, this Duncan
    Hath borne his faculties so meek, hath been
    So clear in his great office, that his virtues
    Will plead like angels, trumpet-tongued against
    The deep damnation of his taking off;
    495And pity, like a naked newborn babe
    Striding the blast, or heaven's cherubim, horsed
    Upon the sightless couriers of the air,
    Shall blow the horrid deed in every eye
    That tears shall drown the wind. I have no spur
    500To prick the sides of my intent, but only
    Vaulting ambition, which o'erleaps itself
    And falls on th'other--
    Enter Lady [Macbeth].
    How now, what news?
    Lady Macbeth
    He has almost supped. Why have you left the chamber?
    505Macbeth
    Hath he asked for me?
    Lady Macbeth
    Know you not he has?
    Macbeth
    We will proceed no further in this business.
    He hath honored me of late and I have bought
    Golden opinions from all sorts of people,
    510Which would be worn now in their newest gloss,
    Not cast aside so soon.
    Lady Macbeth
    Was the hope drunk
    Wherein you dressed yourself? Hath it slept since?
    And wakes it now to look so green and pale
    515At what it did so freely? From this time
    Such I account thy love. Art thou afeard
    To be the same in thine own act and valor
    As thou art in desire? Wouldst thou have that
    Which thou esteem'st the ornament of life,
    520And live a coward in thine own esteem,
    Letting "I dare not" wait upon "I would"
    Like the poor cat i'th' adage?
    Macbeth
    Prithee, peace.
    I dare do all that may become a man;
    525Who dares do more is none.
    Lady Macbeth
    What beast was't then
    That made you break this enterprise to me?
    When you durst do it, then you were a man.
    And to be more than what you were, you would
    530Be so much more the man. Nor time nor place
    Did then adhere, and yet you would make both.
    They have made themselves and that their fitness now
    Does unmake you. I have given suck and know
    How tender 'tis to love the babe that milks me;
    535I would, while it was smiling in my face,
    Have plucked my nipple from his boneless gums
    And dashed the brains out, had I so sworn
    As you have done to this.
    Macbeth
    If we should fail?
    540Lady Macbeth
    We fail.
    But screw your courage to the sticking place
    And we'll not fail. When Duncan is asleep,
    Whereto the rather shall his day's hard journey
    Soundly invite him, his two chamberlains
    545Will I with wine and wassail so convince
    That memory, the warder of the brain,
    Shall be a fume, and the receipt of reason
    A limbeck only. When in swinish sleep
    Their drenchèd natures lies as in a death,
    550What cannot you and I perform upon
    Th'unguarded Duncan? What not put upon
    His spongy officers who shall bear the guilt
    Of our great quell?
    Macbeth
    Bring forth men-children only:
    555For thy undaunted mettle should compose
    Nothing but males. Will it not be received
    When we have marked with blood those sleepy two
    Of his own chamber, and used their very daggers,
    That they have done't?
    560Lady Macbeth
    Who dares receive it other,
    As we shall make our griefs and clamor roar
    Upon his death?
    Macbeth
    I am settled and bend up
    Each corporal agent to this terrible feat.
    565Away, and mock the time with fairest show,
    False face must hide what the false heart doth know.
    Exeunt.