This page contains the original text of Act 1 of Macbeth. Shakespeare’s original Macbeth text is extremely long, so we’ve split the text into one Act per page. All Acts are listed on the Macbeth text page, or linked to from the bottom of this page.
MACBETH ACT 1, SCENE 1: A desert place.
Thunder and lightning. Enter three Witches
When shall we three meet again
In thunder, lightning, or in rain?
When the hurlyburly’s done,
When the battle’s lost and won.
That will be ere the set of sun.
Where the place?
Upon the heath.
There to meet with Macbeth.
I come, Graymalkin!
Fair is foul, and foul is fair:
Hover through the fog and filthy air.
ACT1, SCENE 2: A camp near Forres
Alarum within. Enter DUNCAN, MALCOLM, DONALBAIN, LENNOX, with Attendants, meeting a bleeding Sergeant
What bloody man is that? He can report,
As seemeth by his plight, of the revolt
The newest state.
This is the sergeant
Who like a good and hardy soldier fought
‘Gainst my captivity. Hail, brave friend!
Say to the king the knowledge of the broil
As thou didst leave it.
Doubtful it stood;
As two spent swimmers, that do cling together
And choke their art. The merciless Macdonwald–
Worthy to be a rebel, for to that
The multiplying villanies of nature
Do swarm upon him–from the western isles
Of kerns and gallowglasses is supplied;
And fortune, on his damned quarrel smiling,
Show’d 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 carved out his passage
Till he faced the slave;
Which ne’er shook hands, nor bade farewell to him,
Till he unseam’d him from the nave to the chaps,
And fix’d his head upon our battlements.
O valiant cousin! worthy gentleman!
As whence the sun ‘gins his reflection
Shipwrecking storms and direful thunders break,
So from that spring whence comfort seem’d to come
Discomfort swells. Mark, king of Scotland, mark:
No sooner justice had with valour arm’d
Compell’d these skipping kerns to trust their heels,
But the Norweyan lord surveying vantage,
With furbish’d arms and new supplies of men
Began a fresh assault.
Dismay’d not this
Our captains, Macbeth and Banquo?
As sparrows eagles, or the hare the lion.
If I say sooth, I must report they were
As cannons overcharged with double cracks, so they
Doubly redoubled strokes upon the foe:
Except they meant to bathe in reeking wounds,
Or memorise another Golgotha,
I cannot tell.
But I am faint, my gashes cry for help.
So well thy words become thee as thy wounds;
They smack of honour both. Go get him surgeons.
Exit Sergeant, attended
Who comes here?
The worthy thane of Ross.
What a haste looks through his eyes! So should he look
That seems to speak things strange.
God save the king!
Whence camest thou, worthy thane?
From Fife, great king;
Where the Norweyan banners flout the sky
And fan our people cold. Norway himself,
With terrible numbers,
Assisted by that most disloyal traitor
The thane of Cawdor, began a dismal conflict;
Till that Bellona’s bridegroom, lapp’d in proof,
Confronted him with self-comparisons,
Point against point rebellious, arm ‘gainst arm.
Curbing his lavish spirit: and, to conclude,
The victory fell on us.
Sweno, the Norways’ king, craves composition:
Nor would we deign him burial of his men
Till he disbursed at Saint Colme’s inch
Ten thousand dollars to our general use.
No more that thane of Cawdor shall deceive
Our bosom interest: go pronounce his present death,
And with his former title greet Macbeth.
I’ll see it done.
What he hath lost noble Macbeth hath won.
ACT 1, SCENE 3: A heath near Forres
Thunder. Enter the three Witches
Where hast thou been, sister?
Sister, where thou?
A sailor’s wife had chestnuts in her lap,
And munch’d, and munch’d, and munch’d:–
‘Give me,’ quoth I:
‘Aroint thee, witch!’ the rump-fed ronyon cries.
Her husband’s to Aleppo gone, master o’ the Tiger:
But in a sieve I’ll thither sail,
And, like a rat without a tail,
I’ll do, I’ll do, and I’ll do.
I’ll give thee a wind.
And I another.
I myself have all the other,
And the very ports they blow,
All the quarters that they know
I’ the shipman’s card.
I will drain him dry as hay:
Sleep shall neither night nor day
Hang upon his pent-house lid;
He shall live a man forbid:
Weary se’nnights nine times nine
Shall he dwindle, peak and pine:
Though his bark cannot be lost,
Yet it shall be tempest-tost.
Look what I have.
Show me, show me.
Here I have a pilot’s thumb,
Wreck’d as homeward he did come.
A drum, a drum!
Macbeth doth come.
The weird sisters, hand in hand,
Posters of the sea and land,
Thus do go about, about:
Thrice to thine and thrice to mine
And thrice again, to make up nine.
Peace! the charm’s wound up.
Enter MACBETH and BANQUO
So foul and fair a day I have not seen.
How far is’t call’d to Forres? What are these
So wither’d and so wild in their attire,
That look not like the inhabitants o’ the earth,
And yet are on’t? Live you? or are you aught
That man may question? You seem to understand me,
By each at once her chappy finger laying
Upon her skinny lips: you should be women,
And yet your beards forbid me to interpret
That you are so.
Speak, if you can: what are you?
All hail, Macbeth! hail to thee, thane of Glamis!
All hail, Macbeth, hail to thee, thane of Cawdor!
All hail, Macbeth, thou shalt be king hereafter!
Good sir, why do you start; and seem to fear
Things that do sound so fair? I’ the name of truth,
Are ye fantastical, or that indeed
Which outwardly ye show? My noble partner
You greet with present grace and great prediction
Of noble having and of royal hope,
That he seems rapt withal: to me you speak not.
If you can look into the seeds of time,
And say which grain will grow and which will not,
Speak then to me, who neither beg nor fear
Your favours nor your hate.
Lesser than Macbeth, and greater.
Not so happy, yet much happier.
Thou shalt get kings, though thou be none:
So all hail, Macbeth and Banquo!
Banquo and Macbeth, all hail!
Stay, you imperfect speakers, tell me more:
By Sinel’s death I know I am thane of Glamis;
But how of Cawdor? the thane of Cawdor lives,
A prosperous gentleman; and to be king
Stands not within the prospect of belief,
No more than to be Cawdor. Say from whence
You owe this strange intelligence? or why
Upon this blasted heath you stop our way
With such prophetic greeting? Speak, I charge you.
The earth hath bubbles, as the water has,
And these are of them. Whither are they vanish’d?
Into the air; and what seem’d corporal melted
As breath into the wind. Would they had stay’d!
Were such things here as we do speak about?
Or have we eaten on the insane root
That takes the reason prisoner?
Your children shall be kings.
You shall be king.
And thane of Cawdor too: went it not so?
To the selfsame tune and words. Who’s here?
Enter ROSS and ANGUS
The king hath happily received, Macbeth,
The news of thy success; and when he reads
Thy personal venture in the rebels’ fight,
His wonders and his praises do contend
Which should be thine or his: silenced with that,
In viewing o’er the rest o’ the selfsame day,
He finds thee in the stout Norweyan ranks,
Nothing afeard of what thyself didst make,
Strange images of death. As thick as hail
Came post with post; and every one did bear
Thy praises in his kingdom’s great defence,
And pour’d them down before him.
We are sent
To give thee from our royal master thanks;
Only to herald thee into his sight,
Not pay thee.
And, for an earnest of a greater honour,
He bade me, from him, call thee thane of Cawdor:
In which addition, hail, most worthy thane!
For it is thine.
What, can the devil speak true?
The thane of Cawdor lives: why do you dress me
In borrow’d robes?
Who was the thane lives yet;
But under heavy judgment bears that life
Which he deserves to lose. Whether he was combined
With those of Norway, or did line the rebel
With hidden help and vantage, or that with both
He labour’d in his country’s wreck, I know not;
But treasons capital, confess’d and proved,
Have overthrown him.
[Aside] Glamis, and thane of Cawdor!
The greatest is behind.
To ROSS and ANGUS
Thanks for your pains.
Do you not hope your children shall be kings,
When those that gave the thane of Cawdor to me
Promised no less to them?
That trusted home
Might yet enkindle you unto the crown,
Besides the thane of Cawdor. 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.
Cousins, a word, I pray you.
[Aside] Two truths are told,
As happy prologues to the swelling act
Of the imperial theme.–I thank you, gentlemen.
Cannot be ill, cannot be good: if ill,
Why hath it given me earnest of success,
Commencing in a truth? I am thane of Cawdor:
If good, why do I yield to that suggestion
Whose horrid image doth unfix my hair
And make my seated heart knock at my ribs,
Against the use of nature? Present fears
Are less than horrible imaginings:
My thought, whose murder yet is but fantastical,
Shakes so my single state of man that function
Is smother’d in surmise, and nothing is
But what is not.
Look, how our partner’s rapt.
[Aside] If chance will have me king, why, chance may crown me,
Without my stir.
New horrors come upon him,
Like our strange garments, cleave not to their mould
But with the aid of use.
[Aside] Come what come may,
Time and the hour runs through the roughest day.
Worthy Macbeth, we stay upon your leisure.
Give me your favour: my dull brain was wrought
With things forgotten. Kind gentlemen, your pains
Are register’d where every day I turn
The leaf to read them. Let us toward the king.
Think upon what hath chanced, and, at more time,
The interim having weigh’d it, let us speak
Our free hearts each to other.
Till then, enough. Come, friends.
ACT 1, SCENE 4: The palace at Forres
Flourish. Enter DUNCAN, MALCOLM, DONALBAIN, LENNOX, and Attendants
Is execution done on Cawdor? Are not
Those in commission yet return’d?
They are not yet come back. But I have spoke
With one that saw him die: who did report
That very frankly he confess’d his treasons,
Implored your highness’ pardon and set forth
A deep repentance: 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 owed,
As ’twere a careless trifle.
There’s no art
To find the mind’s construction in the face:
He was a gentleman on whom I built
An absolute trust.
Enter MACBETH, BANQUO, ROSS, and ANGUS
O worthiest cousin!
The sin of my ingratitude even now
Was heavy on me: thou art so far before
That swiftest wing of recompense is slow
To overtake thee. Would thou hadst less deserved,
That the proportion both of thanks and payment
Might have been mine! only I have left to say,
More is thy due than more than all can pay.
The service and the loyalty I owe,
In doing it, pays itself. Your highness’ part
Is to receive our duties; and our duties
Are to your throne and state children and servants,
Which do but what they should, by doing every thing
Safe toward your love and honour.
I have begun to plant thee, and will labour
To make thee full of growing. Noble Banquo,
That hast no less deserved, nor must be known
No less to have done so, let me enfold thee
And hold thee to my heart.
There if I grow,
The harvest is your own.
My plenteous joys,
Wanton in fulness, seek to hide themselves
In drops of sorrow. Sons, kinsmen, thanes,
And you whose places are the nearest, know
We will establish our estate upon
Our eldest, Malcolm, whom we name hereafter
The Prince of Cumberland; which honour must
Not unaccompanied invest him only,
But signs of nobleness, like stars, shall shine
On all deservers. From hence to Inverness,
And bind us further to you.
The rest is labour, which is not used for you:
I’ll be myself the harbinger and make joyful
The hearing of my wife with your approach;
So humbly take my leave.
My worthy Cawdor!
[Aside] The Prince of Cumberland! that is a step
On which I must fall down, or else o’erleap,
For in my way it lies. Stars, hide your fires;
Let not light see my black and deep desires:
The eye wink at the hand; yet let that be,
Which the eye fears, when it is done, to see.
True, worthy Banquo; he is full so valiant,
And in his commendations I am fed;
It is a banquet to me. Let’s after him,
Whose care is gone before to bid us welcome:
It is a peerless kinsman.
ACT1, SCENE 5: Inverness. Macbeth’s castle.
Enter LADY MACBETH, reading a letter
‘They met me in the day of success: and I have
learned by the perfectest report, they have more in
them than mortal knowledge. When I burned in desire
to question them further, they made themselves air,
into which they vanished. Whiles I stood rapt in
the wonder of it, came missives from the king, who
all-hailed me ‘Thane of Cawdor;’ by which title,
before, these weird sisters saluted me, and referred
me to the coming on of time, with ‘Hail, king that
shalt be!’ This have I thought good to deliver
thee, my dearest partner of greatness, that thou
mightst not lose the dues of rejoicing, by being
ignorant of what greatness is promised thee. Lay it
to thy heart, and farewell.’
Glam is 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: what thou wouldst highly,
That wouldst thou holily; wouldst not play false,
And yet wouldst wrongly win: thou’ldst have, great Glamis,
That which cries ‘Thus thou must do, if thou have it;
And that which rather thou dost fear to do
Than wishest should be undone.’ Hie thee hither,
That I may pour my spirits in thine ear;
And chastise with the valour of my tongue
All that impedes thee from the golden round,
Which fate and metaphysical aid doth seem
To have thee crown’d withal.
Enter a Messenger
What is your tidings?
The king comes here to-night.
Thou’rt mad to say it:
Is not thy master with him? who, were’t so,
Would have inform’d for preparation.
So please you, it is true: our thane is coming:
One of my fellows had the speed of him,
Who, almost dead for breath, had scarcely more
Than would make up his message.
Give him tending;
He brings great news.
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!’
Great Glamis! worthy Cawdor!
Greater than both, by the all-hail hereafter!
Thy letters have transported me beyond
This ignorant present, and I feel now
The future in the instant.
My dearest love,
Duncan comes here to-night.
And when goes hence?
To-morrow, as he purposes.
Shall sun that morrow see!
Your face, my thane, is as a book where men
May read strange matters. To beguile the time,
Look like the time; bear welcome in your eye,
Your hand, your tongue: look like the innocent flower,
But be the serpent under’t. He that’s coming
Must be provided for: and you shall put
This night’s great business into my dispatch;
Which shall to all our nights and days to come
Give solely sovereign sway and masterdom.
We will speak further.
Only look up clear;
To alter favour ever is to fear:
Leave all the rest to me.
ACT 1,SCENE 6: Before Macbeth’s castle.
Hautboys and torches. Enter DUNCAN, MALCOLM, DONALBAIN, BANQUO, LENNOX, MACDUFF, ROSS, ANGUS, and Attendants
This castle hath a pleasant seat; the air
Nimbly and sweetly recommends itself
Unto our gentle senses.
This guest of summer,
The temple-haunting martlet, does approve,
By his loved mansionry, that the heaven’s breath
Smells wooingly here: no jutty, frieze,
Buttress, nor coign of vantage, but this bird
Hath made his pendent bed and procreant cradle:
Where they most breed and haunt, I have observed,
The air is delicate.
Enter LADY MACBETH
See, see, our honour’d hostess!
The love that follows us sometime is our trouble,
Which still we thank as love. Herein I teach you
How you shall bid God ‘ild us for your pains,
And thank us for your trouble.
All our service
In every point twice done and then done double
Were poor and single business to contend
Against those honours deep and broad wherewith
Your majesty loads our house: for those of old,
And the late dignities heap’d up to them,
We rest your hermits.
Where’s the thane of Cawdor?
We coursed him at the heels, and had a purpose
To be his purveyor: but he rides well;
And his great love, sharp as his spur, hath holp him
To his home before us. Fair and noble hostess,
We are your guest to-night.
Your servants ever
Have theirs, themselves and what is theirs, in compt,
To make their audit at your highness’ pleasure,
Still to return your own.
Give me your hand;
Conduct me to mine host: we love him highly,
And shall continue our graces towards him.
By your leave, hostess.
ACT 1, SCENE 7: Macbeth’s castle.
Hautboys and torches. Enter a Sewer, and divers Servants with dishes and service, and pass over the stage. Then enter MACBETH
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’ld 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 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 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
To prick the sides of my intent, but only
Vaulting ambition, which o’erleaps itself
And falls on the other.
Enter LADY MACBETH
How now! what news?
He has almost supp’d: why have you left the chamber?
Hath he ask’d for me?
Know you not he has?
We will proceed no further in this business:
He hath honour’d me of late; and I have bought
Golden opinions from all sorts of people,
Which would be worn now in their newest gloss,
Not cast aside so soon.
Was the hope drunk
Wherein you dress’d yourself? hath it slept since?
And wakes it now, to look so green and pale
At 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 valour
As thou art in desire? Wouldst thou have that
Which thou esteem’st the ornament of life,
And live a coward in thine own esteem,
Letting ‘I dare not’ wait upon ‘I would,’
Like the poor cat i’ the adage?
I dare do all that may become a man;
Who dares do more is none.
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
Be 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:
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.
If we should 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
Will 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 drenched natures lie as in a death,
What cannot you and I perform upon
The unguarded Duncan? what not put upon
His spongy officers, who shall bear the guilt
Of our great quell?
Bring forth men-children only;
For thy undaunted mettle should compose
Nothing but males. Will it not be received,
When we have mark’d with blood those sleepy two
Of his own chamber and used their very daggers,
That they have done’t?
Who dares receive it other,
As we shall make our griefs and clamour roar
Upon his death?
I am settled, and bend up
Each corporal agent to this terrible feat.
Away, and mock the time with fairest show:
False face must hide what the false heart doth know.