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The first page of Macbeth, printed in the Second Folio of 1632
Will all great Neptune's ocean wash this blood clean from my hand?

The Tragedie of Macbeth (c.1605) is a play by William Shakespeare in which a brave Scottish general named Macbeth receives a prophecy from a trio of witches that one day he will become King of Scotland. Consumed by ambition and spurred to action by his wife, Macbeth murders King Duncan and takes the Scottish throne for himself. He is then wracked with guilt and paranoia. Forced to commit more and more murders to protect himself from enmity and suspicion, he soon becomes a tyrannical ruler. The bloodbath and consequent civil war swiftly take Macbeth and Lady Macbeth into the realms of madness and death. It is often seen as an archetypal tale of the desire for power and the betrayal of loyalty.

Act I

  • First Witch: When shall we three meet again
    In thunder, lightning, or in rain?
    Second Witch: When the hurly-burly's done,
    When the battle's lost and won.
    Third Witch: That will be ere the set of sun.
    First Witch: Where's the place?
    Second Witch: Upon the heath
    Third Witch:There to meet with Macbeth.

    First Witch: I come, Graymalkin!
    Second Witch: Paddock calls.
    Third Witch: Anon.
    • Scene I

  • Fair is foul, and foul is fair;
    Hover through the fog and filthy air.
    • Witches, Scene I

  • The merciless Macdonwald
    (Worthy to be a rebel, — for, to that,
    The multiplying villainies of nature
    Do swarm upon him) from the Western Isles
    Of kerns and gallowglasses is supplied;
    And Fortune, on his damned quarrel smiling,
    Showed like a rebel's whore: but all's too weak:
    For brave Macbeth (well he deserves that name)
    Disdaining Fortune, with his brandish'd steel,
    Which smoked with bloody execution,
    Like valour's minion,
    Carv'd out his passage.
    • Captain, Scene II

  • A sailor's wife had chestnuts in her lap,
    And munched, and munched, and munched:
    Give me, quoth I:
    Aroint thee, witch! the rump-fed ronyon cries.
    • First Witch, Scene III

  • Sleep shall neither night nor day
    Hang upon his pent-house lid.
    • First Witch, Scene III

  • So foul and fair a day I have not seen.
    • Macbeth, Scene III

  • First Witch: All hail, Macbeth! hail to thee, Thane of Glamis!
    Second Witch: All hail, Macbeth! hail to thee, Thane of Cawdor!
    Third Witch: All hail, Macbeth! that shalt be king hereafter.
    • Scene III

  • If you can look into the seeds of time,
    And say which grain will grow, and which will not,
    • Banquo, Scene III

  • The earth hath bubbles, as water has,
    And these are of them.
    • Banquo, Scene III

  • Or have we eaten on the insane root
    That takes the reason prisoner?
    • Banquo, Scene III

  • But 'tis strange:
    And oftentimes, to win us to our harm,
    The instruments of darkness tell us truths,
    Win us with honest trifles, to betray's
    In deepest consequence.
    • Banquo, Scene III

  • If chance will have me king, why, chance may crown me
    without my stir.
    • Macbeth, Scene III

  • Come what come may,
    Time and the hour runs through the roughest day.
    • Macbeth, Scene III

  • The thane of Cawdor lives. Why do you dress me in borrowed robes?
    • Macbeth, Scene III

  • Nothing in his life
    Became him like the leaving it; he died
    As one that had been studied in his death,
    To throw away the dearest thing he ow'd,
    As 'twere a careless trifle.
    • Malcolm, Scene IV

  • There's no art
    To find the mind's construction in the face:

    He was a gentleman on whom I built
    An absolute trust.
    • Duncan, Scene IV

  • Stars, hide your fires!
    Let not light see my black and deep desires.
    • Macbeth, Scene IV

  • Glamis thou art, and Cawdor; and shalt be
    What thou art promised. Yet do I fear thy nature;
    It is too full o' the milk of human kindness
    To catch the nearest way: thou wouldst be great;
    Art not without ambition; but without
    The illness should attend it.
    • Lady Macbeth, Scene V

  • The raven himself is hoarse
    That croaks the fatal entrance of Duncan
    Under my battlements. Come, you spirits
    That tend on mortal thoughts! unsex me here,
    And fill me from the crown to the toe, top-full
    Of direst cruelty;
    make thick my blood,
    Stop up the access and passage to remorse,
    That no compunctious visitings of nature
    Shake my fell purpose, nor keep peace between
    The effect and it! Come to my woman's breasts,
    And take my milk for gall, you murdering ministers,
    Wherever in your sightless substances
    You wait on nature's mischief! Come, thick night,
    And pall thee in the dunnest smoke of hell
    That my keen knife see not the wound it makes
    Nor heaven peep through the blanket of the dark
    To cry, "Hold, hold!"
    • Lady Macbeth, Scene V

  • Look like the innocent flower,
    But be the serpent under it.
    • Lady Macbeth, Scene V

  • If it were done when 'tis done, then 'twere well
    It were done quickly;
    if the 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,
    But here, upon this bank and shoal of time,
    We'd jump the life to come. But in these cases
    We still have judgement here; that we but teach
    Bloody instructions, which being taught, return
    To plague the inventor: this even-handed justice
    Commends the ingredients of our poison'd 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,
    Not 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:
    And pity, like a naked new-born babe,
    Striding the blast, or heaven's cherubin, hors'd
    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
    To prick the sides of my intent, but only
    Vaulting ambition, which o'erleaps itself,
    And falls on the other -
    • Macbeth, Scene VII

  • I have no spur
    To prick the sides of my intent, but only
    Vaulting ambition, which o'erleaps itself
    And falls on the other.
    • Macbeth, Scene VII

  • I dare do all that may become a man;
    Who dares do more, is none.
    • Macbeth, Scene VII

  • I have given suck, and know
    How tender 'tis to love the babe that milks me:
    I would, while it was smiling in my face,
    Have pluck'd my nipple from his boneless gums,
    And dash'd the brains out, had I so sworn
    As you have done to this.
    • Lady Macbeth, Scene VII

  • Macbeth: If we should fail —
    Lady Macbeth: We fail!
    But screw your courage to the sticking-place,
    And we'll not fail.
    • Scene VII

  • Away, and mock the time with fairest show:
    False face must hide what the false heart doth know.
    • Macbeth, Scene VII
  • What a haste looks through his eyes!
    • Lennox

Act II

  • The moon is down; I have not heard the clock.
    • Fleance, Scene I

  • There's [husbandry]] in heaven;
    Their candles are all out.

  • Merciful powers!
    Restrain in me the cursèd thoughts that nature
    Gives way to in repose.
    • Banquo, Scene I

Is this a dagger which I see before me, The handle toward my hand?
  • Is this a dagger which I see before me,
    The handle toward my hand? Come, let me clutch thee;
    I have thee not, and yet I see thee still.
    Art thou not, fatal vision, sensible
    To feeling as to sight? or art thou but
    A dagger of the mind, a false creation,
    Proceeding from the heat-oppressed brain?
    I see thee yet, in form as palpable
    As this which now I draw.
    • Macbeth, Scene I

  • Now o'er the one-half world
    Nature seems dead, and wicked dreams abuse
    The curtain'd sleep; witchcraft celebrates
    Pale Hecate's offerings.
    • Macbeth, Scene I

  • Thou sure and firm-set earth,
    Hear not my steps, which way they walk, for fear
    The very stones prate of my where-about.
    • Macbeth, Scene I

  • I go, and it is done; the bell invites me.
    Hear it not, Duncan, for it is a knell
    That summons thee to heaven, or to hell.
    • Macbeth, Scene I

  • Methought I heard a voice cry, Sleep no more!
    Macbeth does murder sleep,
    — the innocent sleep;
    Sleep, that knits up the ravell'd sleave of care,
    The death of each day's life, sore labor's bath,
    Balm of hurt minds, great nature's second course,
    Chief nourisher in life's feast.
    • Macbeth, Scene II

  • Infirm of purpose!
    Give me the daggers. The sleeping and the dead
    Are but as pictures. 'Tis the eye of childhood
    That fears a painted devil.
    • Lady Macbeth, Scene II

  • Whence is that knocking?
    How is't with me, when every noise appals me?
    What hands are here? Ha, they pluck out mine eyes.
    Will all great Neptune's ocean wash this blood
    Clean from my hand? No; this my hand will rather
    The multitudinous seas incarnadine,
    Making the green one red.
    • Macbeth, Scene II

  • Porter: Drink, sir, is a great provoker of three things.
    Macduff: What three things does drink especially provoke?
    Porter: Marry, sir, nose-painting, sleep, and urine.
    Lechery, sir, it provokes, and unprovokes;
    it provokes the desire, but it takes away the performance:
    therefore, much drink may be said to be an equivocator with lechery:
    it makes him, and it mars him;
    it sets him on, and it takes him off;
    it persuades him, and disheartens him;
    makes him stand to, and not stand to;
    in conclusion, equivocates him in a sleep,
    and, giving him the lie, leaves him.
    • Scene III

  • Confusion now hath made his masterpiece!
    Most sacrilegious murder hath broke ope
    The Lord's anointed temple, and stole thence
    The life o' the building!
    • Macduff, Scene III

  • Ring the alarum-bell. Murder and treason!
    Banquo and Donalbain! Malcolm! awake!
    Shake off this downy sleep, death's counterfeit,
    And look on death itself! up, up, and see
    The great doom's image!
    • Macduff, Scene III

  • Had I but died an hour before this chance
    I had liv'd a blessed time; for, from this instant,
    There's nothing serious in mortality:
    All is but toys; renown and grace is dead;
    The wine of life is drawn, and the mere lees
    Is left this vault to brag of.
    • Macbeth, Scene III

  • Who can be wise, amaz'd, temperate and furious,
    Loyal and neutral, in a moment? No man:
    The expedition of my violent love
    Outrun the pauser, reason. Here lay Duncan,
    His silver skin lac'd with his golden blood,
    And his gash'd stabs looked like a breach in nature,
    for Ruin's wasteful entrance. There, the murderers;
    Steeped in the colors of their trade, their very daggers
    unmannerly breached with gore. Who could refrain,
    That had a heart to love, and in that heart,
    Courage to make's love known?
    • Macbeth, Scene III

  • In the great hand of God I stand; and thence
    Against the undivulg'd pretence I fight
    Of treasonous malice!
    • Banquo, Scene III

  • To show an unfelt sorrow is an office
    Which the false man does easy.
    • Malcolm, Scene III

  • There’s daggers in men’s smiles.
    • Donalbain, Scene III

  • A falcon, touring in her pride of place,
    Was by a mousing owl hawk'd at and kill'd.
    • Old Man, Scene IV

  • Here comes the good Macduff. —
    How goes the world, sir, now?
    • Ross, Scene IV

  • God's benison go with you; and with those
    That would make good of bad, and friends of foes!
    • Old Man, Scene IV


  • I must become a borrower of the night
    For a dark hour or twain.
    • Banquo, Scene I

  • To be thus is nothing,
    But to be safely thus.
    • Macbeth, Scene I

  • Upon my head they placed a fruitless crown,
    And put a barren sceptre in my grip,
    Thence to be wrench'd with an unlineal hand,
    No son of mine proceeding.
    • Macbeth, Scene I

  • First Murderer: We are men, my liege.
    Macbeth: Ay, in the catalogue ye go for men.
    • Scene I

  • Second Murderer: I am one, my liege,
    Whom the vile blows and buffets of the world
    Have so incens'd, that I am reckless what I do
    To spite the world.
    First Murderer: And I another,
    So weary with disasters, tugg'd with fortune,
    That I would set my life on any chance,
    To mend it, or be rid on't.
    • Scene I

  • Naught'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.
    • Lady Macbeth, Scene II

  • Things without all remedy
    Should be without regard: what's done is done.
    • Lady Macbeth, Scene II

  • We have scotch'd the snake, not killed it.
    • Macbeth, Scene II
    • Variant: We have scorch'd the snake, not killed it.

  • 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.
    • Macbeth, Scene II

  • 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.
    • Macbeth, Scene II

  • 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.
    • Macbeth, Scene II

  • Things bad begun make strong themselves by ill.
    • Macbeth, Scene II

  • Banquo: It will be rain to-night.
    First Murderer: Let it come down.
    Banquo: O, treachery! — Fly, good Fleance, fly, fly, fly!
    Thou mayst revenge. — O, slave!
    • Scene III

  • Now spurs the lated traveller apace
    To gain the timely inn; and near approaches
    The subject of our watch.
    • First Murderer, Scene III

  • But now, I am cabin'd, cribb'd, confined, bound in
    To saucy doubts and fears.
    • Macbeth, Scene IV

  • Thou canst not say I did it: never shake
    Thy gory locks at me.
    • Macbeth, Scene IV

  • Lady Macbeth: Are you a man?
    Macbeth: Ay, and a bold one, that dare look on that
    Which might appall the devil.
    • Scene IV

  • I drink to the general joy o' the whole table,
    And to our dear friend Banquo, whom we miss;
    Would he were here! to all, and him, we thirst,
    And all to all.
    • Macbeth, Scene IV

  • What man dare, I dare:
    Approach thou like the rugged Russian bear,
    The arm'd rhinoceros, or the Hyrcan tiger;
    Take any shape but that, and my firm nerves
    Shall never tremble: or be alive again,
    And dare me to the desert with thy sword;
    If trembling I inhabit then, protest me
    The baby of a girl. Hence, horrible shadow!
    Unreal mockery, hence!
    • Macbeth, Scene IV

  • Stand not upon the order of your going,
    But go at once.
    • Lady Macbeth, Scene IV

  • It will have blood; they say, blood will have blood:
    Stones have been known to move and trees to speak.
    • Macbeth, Scene IV

  • I am in blood
    Stepp'd in so far, that, should I wade no more,
    Returning were as tedious as go o'er.
    • Macbeth, Scene IV

Act IV

  • Double, double toil and trouble;
    Fire burn and cauldron bubble.

  • By the pricking of my thumbs,
    Something wicked this way comes:

    Open, locks,
    Whoever knocks!
    • Second Witch, Scene I

  • Macbeth! Macbeth! Macbeth! beware Macduff;
    Beware the thane of Fife. Dismiss me. Enough.
    • First Apparition, Scene I

  • Be bloody, bold, and resolute; laugh to scorn
    The power of man, for none of woman born
    Shall harm Macbeth.
    • Second Apparition, Scene I

  • Macbeth shall never vanquish'd be, until
    Great Birnam wood to high Dunsinane hill
    Shall come against him.

    Macbeth: That will never be.
    Who can impress the forest, bid the tree,
    Unfix his earthbound root?
    • Third Apparition, Scene I

  • When our actions do not,
    Our fears do make us traitors.
    • Lady Macduff, Scene II

  • Things at the worst will cease, or else climb upward
    To what they were before.
    • Ross, Scene II

  • First Murderer: Where is your husband?
    Lady Macduff: I hope, in no place so unsanctified,
    Where such as thou mayst find him.
    First Murderer: He's a traitor.
    Son: Thou liest, thou shag-hair'd villain!
    First Murderer: What, you egg!
    • Scene II

  • Angels are bright still, though the brightest fell;
    Though all things foul would wear the brows of grace,
    Yet grace must still look so.
    • Malcolm, Scene III

  • Fare thee well, lord:
    I would not be the villain that thou think'st
    For the whole space that's in the tyrant's grasp,
    And the rich East to boot.
    • Macduff, Scene III

  • Nay, had I power, I should
    Pour the sweet milk of concord into hell,
    Uproar the universal peace, confound
    All unity on earth.
    • Malcolm, Scene III

  • Where sighs, and groans, and shrieks that rent the air,
    Are made, not markt; where violent sorrow seems
    A modern ecstasy: the dead man's knell
    Is there scarce askt for who; and good men's lives
    Expire before the flowers in their caps,
    Dying or e'er they sicken.
    • Ross, Scene III

  • Give sorrow words: the grief that does not speak
    Whispers the o'er-fraught heart, and bids it break.
    • Malcolm, Scene III

  • All my pretty ones?
    Did you say all? — O, hell-kite! All?
    What, all my pretty chickens and their dam
    At one fell swoop?
    • Macduff, Scene III

  • Malcolm: Dispute it like a man.
    Macduff: I shall do so;
    But I must also feel it as a man:
    I cannot but remember such things were,
    That were most precious to me.
    • Scene III

Act V

Here's the smell of the blood still: all the perfumes of Arabia will not sweeten this little hand.
  • Out, damned spot! out, I say!— One; two; why, then 'tis
    time to do't ;—Hell is murky!—Fie, my lord, fie! a soldier,
    and afeard? What need we fear who knows it, when none can call
    our power to account?—Yet who would have thought the old man to
    have had so much blood in him?
    • Lady Macbeth, Scene I

  • Here's the smell of the blood still: all the perfumes of Arabia will not sweeten this little hand. Oh, oh, oh!
    • Lady Macbeth, Scene I

  • What's done cannot be undone.
    • Lady Macbeth, Scene I

  • Those he commands move only in command,
    Nothing in love: now does he feel his title
    Hang loose about him, like a giant's robe
    Upon a dwarfish thief.
    • Angus, Scene II

  • The devil damn thee black, thou cream-faced loon!
    Where gott'st thou that goose look?
    • Macbeth, Scene III

  • Go prick thy face, and over-red thy fear,
    Thou lily-liver'd boy.
    • Macbeth, Scene III

  • I have liv'd long enough: my way of life
    Is fallen into the sear, the yellow leaf;
    And that which should accompany old age,
    As honour, love, obedience, troops of friends,
    I must not look to have; but, in their stead,
    Curses, not loud but deep, mouth-honour, breath,
    Which the poor heart would fain deny, and dare not.
    • Macbeth, Scene III

  • Macbeth: Canst thou not minister to a mind diseas'd;
    Pluck from the memory a rooted sorrow;
    Raze out the written troubles of the brain;
    And with some sweet oblivious antidote,
    Cleanse the stuff'd bosom of that perilous stuff
    Which weighs upon the heart?
    Doctor: Therein the patient
    Must minister to himself.
    Macbeth: Throw physic to the dogs; — I'll none of it.
    • Scene III

  • I would applaud thee to the very echo,
    That should applaud again.
    • Macbeth, Scene III

  • Hang out our banners on the outward walls;
    The cry is still, They come. Our castle's strength
    Will laugh a siege to scorn: here let them lie
    Till famine and the ague eat them up.
    Were they not forc'd with those that should be ours,
    We might have met them dareful, beard to beard,
    And beat them backward home.
    • Macbeth, Scene V

  • I have almost forgot the taste of fears;
    The time has been, my senses would have cool'd
    To hear a night-shriek; and my fell of hair
    Would at a dismal treatise rouse and stir
    As life were in't: I have supp'd full with horrors;
    Direness, familiar to my slaughterous thoughts
    Cannot once start me.
    • Macbeth, Scene V

  • She should have died hereafter;
    There would have been time for such a word.
    Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow
    Creeps in this petty pace from day to day
    To the last syllable of recorded time;
    And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
    The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
    Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player
    That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
    And then is heard no more. It is a tale
    Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
    Signifying nothing.
    • Macbeth, Scene V

  • I 'gin to be a-weary of the sun,
    And wish the estate o' the world were now undone.
    • Macbeth, Scene V

  • Blow, wind! come, wrack!
    At least we'll die with harness on our back.
    • Macbeth, Scene V

  • Make all our trumpets speak; give them all breath,
    Those clamorous harbingers of blood and death.
    • Macduff, Scene VI

They have tied me to a stake; I cannot fly,
But, bear-like, I must fight the course
  • They have tied me to a stake; I cannot fly,
    But, bear-like, I must fight the course
    • MacBeth, Scene VII

  • Why should I play the Roman fool, and die
    On mine own sword?
    • Macbeth, Scene VIII

  • Macduff: Turn, hell-hound, turn!
    Macbeth:Of all men else I have avoided thee.
    But get thee back. My soul is too much charged
    With blood of thine already.
    Macduff: I have no words.
    My voice is in my sword. Thou bloodier villain
    Than terms can give thee out!
    • Macduff, Scene VIII

  • Macbeth: I bear a charmed life, which must not yield
    To one of woman born.
    Macduff: Despair thy charm;
    And let the angel whom thou still hast served
    Tell thee, Macduff was from his mother's womb
    Untimely ripp'd.

    Macbeth: Accursed be the tongue that tells me so,
    For it hath cow'd my better part of man!
    And be these juggling fiends no more believ'd,
    That palter with us in a double sense;
    That keep the word of promise to our ear,
    And break it to our hope.
    • Scene VIII

  • Then yield thee, coward,
    And live to be the show and gaze o' the time.
    • Macduff, Scene VIII

  • Lay on, Macduff,
    And damn'd be him that first cries, Hold, enough!
    • Macbeth, Scene VIII
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