This page contains the original text of Act 4 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 4, SCENE 1. A cavern. In the middle, a boiling cauldron.
Thunder. Enter the three Witches
Thrice the brinded cat hath mew’d.
Thrice and once the hedge-pig whined.
Harpier cries ‘Tis time, ’tis time.
Round about the cauldron go;
In the poison’d entrails throw.
Toad, that under cold stone
Days and nights has thirty-one
Swelter’d venom sleeping got,
Boil thou first i’ the charmed pot.
Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn, and cauldron bubble.
Fillet of a fenny snake,
In the cauldron boil and bake;
Eye of newt and toe of frog,
Wool of bat and tongue of dog,
Adder’s fork and blind-worm’s sting,
Lizard’s leg and owlet’s wing,
For a charm of powerful trouble,
Like a hell-broth boil and bubble.
Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn and cauldron bubble.
Scale of dragon, tooth of wolf,
Witches’ mummy, maw and gulf
Of the ravin’d salt-sea shark,
Root of hemlock digg’d i’ the dark,
Liver of blaspheming Jew,
Gall of goat, and slips of yew
Silver’d in the moon’s eclipse,
Nose of Turk and Tartar’s lips,
Finger of birth-strangled babe
Ditch-deliver’d by a drab,
Make the gruel thick and slab:
Add thereto a tiger’s chaudron,
For the ingredients of our cauldron.
Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn and cauldron bubble.
Cool it with a baboon’s blood,
Then the charm is firm and good.
Enter HECATE to the other three Witches
O well done! I commend your pains;
And every one shall share i’ the gains;
And now about the cauldron sing,
Live elves and fairies in a ring,
Enchanting all that you put in.
Music and a song: ‘Black spirits,’ & c
By the pricking of my thumbs,
Something wicked this way comes.
How now, you secret, black, and midnight hags!
What is’t you do?
A deed without a name.
I conjure you, by that which you profess,
Howe’er you come to know it, answer me:
Though you untie the winds and let them fight
Against the churches; though the yesty waves
Confound and swallow navigation up;
Though bladed corn be lodged and trees blown down;
Though castles topple on their warders’ heads;
Though palaces and pyramids do slope
Their heads to their foundations; though the treasure
Of nature’s germens tumble all together,
Even till destruction sicken; answer me
To what I ask you.
Say, if thou’dst rather hear it from our mouths,
Or from our masters?
Call ‘em; let me see ‘em.
Pour in sow’s blood, that hath eaten
Her nine farrow; grease that’s sweaten
From the murderer’s gibbet throw
Into the flame.
Come, high or low;
Thyself and office deftly show!
Thunder. First Apparition: an armed Head
Tell me, thou unknown power,–
He knows thy thought:
Hear his speech, but say thou nought.
Macbeth! Macbeth! Macbeth! beware Macduff;
Beware the thane of Fife. Dismiss me. Enough.
Whate’er thou art, for thy good caution, thanks;
Thou hast harp’d my fear aright: but one
He will not be commanded: here’s another,
More potent than the first.
Thunder. Second Apparition: A bloody Child
Macbeth! Macbeth! Macbeth!
Had I three ears, I’ld hear thee.
Be bloody, bold, and resolute; laugh to scorn
The power of man, for none of woman born
Shall harm Macbeth.
Then live, Macduff: what need I fear of thee?
But yet I’ll make assurance double sure,
And take a bond of fate: thou shalt not live;
That I may tell pale-hearted fear it lies,
And sleep in spite of thunder.
Thunder. Third Apparition: a Child crowned, with a tree in his hand
What is this
That rises like the issue of a king,
And wears upon his baby-brow the round
And top of sovereignty?
Listen, but speak not to’t.
Be lion-mettled, proud; and take no care
Who chafes, who frets, or where conspirers are:
Macbeth shall never vanquish’d be until
Great Birnam wood to high Dunsinane hill
Shall come against him.
That will never be
Who can impress the forest, bid the tree
Unfix his earth-bound root? Sweet bodements! good!
Rebellion’s head, rise never till the wood
Of Birnam rise, and our high-placed Macbeth
Shall live the lease of nature, pay his breath
To time and mortal custom. Yet my heart
Throbs to know one thing: tell me, if your art
Can tell so much: shall Banquo’s issue ever
Reign in this kingdom?
Seek to know no more.
I will be satisfied: deny me this,
And an eternal curse fall on you! Let me know.
Why sinks that cauldron? and what noise is this?
Show his eyes, and grieve his heart;
Come like shadows, so depart!
A show of Eight Kings, the last with a glass in his hand; GHOST OF BANQUO following
Thou art too like the spirit of Banquo: down!
Thy crown does sear mine eye-balls. And thy hair,
Thou other gold-bound brow, is like the first.
A third is like the former. Filthy hags!
Why do you show me this? A fourth! Start, eyes!
What, will the line stretch out to the crack of doom?
Another yet! A seventh! I’ll see no more:
And yet the eighth appears, who bears a glass
Which shows me many more; and some I see
That two-fold balls and treble scepters carry:
Horrible sight! Now, I see, ’tis true;
For the blood-bolter’d Banquo smiles upon me,
And points at them for his.
What, is this so?
Ay, sir, all this is so: but why
Stands Macbeth thus amazedly?
Come, sisters, cheer we up his sprites,
And show the best of our delights:
I’ll charm the air to give a sound,
While you perform your antic round:
That this great king may kindly say,
Our duties did his welcome pay.
Music. The witches dance and then vanish, with HECATE
Where are they? Gone? Let this pernicious hour
Stand aye accursed in the calendar!
Come in, without there!
What’s your grace’s will?
Saw you the weird sisters?
No, my lord.
Came they not by you?
No, indeed, my lord.
Infected be the air whereon they ride;
And damn’d all those that trust them! I did hear
The galloping of horse: who was’t came by?
‘Tis two or three, my lord, that bring you word
Macduff is fled to England.
Fled to England!
Ay, my good lord.
Time, thou anticipatest my dread exploits:
The flighty purpose never is o’ertook
Unless the deed go with it; from this moment
The very firstlings of my heart shall be
The firstlings of my hand. And even now,
To crown my thoughts with acts, be it thought and done:
The castle of Macduff I will surprise;
Seize upon Fife; give to the edge o’ the sword
His wife, his babes, and all unfortunate souls
That trace him in his line. No boasting like a fool;
This deed I’ll do before this purpose cool.
But no more sights!–Where are these gentlemen?
Come, bring me where they are.
ACT 4, SCENE 2. Fife. Macduff’s castle.
Enter LADY MACDUFF, her Son, and ROSS
What had he done, to make him fly the land?
You must have patience, madam.
He had none:
His flight was madness: when our actions do not,
Our fears do make us traitors.
You know not
Whether it was his wisdom or his fear.
Wisdom! to leave his wife, to leave his babes,
His mansion and his titles in a place
From whence himself does fly? He loves us not;
He wants the natural touch: for the poor wren,
The most diminutive of birds, will fight,
Her young ones in her nest, against the owl.
All is the fear and nothing is the love;
As little is the wisdom, where the flight
So runs against all reason.
My dearest coz,
I pray you, school yourself: but for your husband,
He is noble, wise, judicious, and best knows
The fits o’ the season. I dare not speak
But cruel are the times, when we are traitors
And do not know ourselves, when we hold rumour
From what we fear, yet know not what we fear,
But float upon a wild and violent sea
Each way and move. I take my leave of you:
Shall not be long but I’ll be here again:
Things at the worst will cease, or else climb upward
To what they were before. My pretty cousin,
Blessing upon you!
Father’d he is, and yet he’s fatherless.
I am so much a fool, should I stay longer,
It would be my disgrace and your discomfort:
I take my leave at once.
Sirrah, your father’s dead;
And what will you do now? How will you live?
As birds do, mother.
What, with worms and flies?
With what I get, I mean; and so do they.
Poor bird! thou’ldst never fear the net nor lime,
The pitfall nor the gin.
Why should I, mother? Poor birds they are not set for.
My father is not dead, for all your saying.
Yes, he is dead; how wilt thou do for a father?
Nay, how will you do for a husband?
Why, I can buy me twenty at any market.
Then you’ll buy ‘em to sell again.
Thou speak’st with all thy wit: and yet, i’ faith,
With wit enough for thee.
Was my father a traitor, mother?
Ay, that he was.
What is a traitor?
Why, one that swears and lies.
And be all traitors that do so?
Every one that does so is a traitor, and must be hanged.
And must they all be hanged that swear and lie?
Who must hang them?
Why, the honest men.
Then the liars and swearers are fools,
for there are liars and swearers enow to beat
the honest men and hang up them.
Now, God help thee, poor monkey!
But how wilt thou do for a father?
If he were dead, you’ld weep for
him: if you would not, it were a good sign
that I should quickly have a new father.
Poor prattler, how thou talk’st!
Enter a Messenger
Bless you, fair dame! I am not to you known,
Though in your state of honour I am perfect.
I doubt some danger does approach you nearly:
If you will take a homely man’s advice,
Be not found here; hence, with your little ones.
To fright you thus, methinks, I am too savage;
To do worse to you were fell cruelty,
Which is too nigh your person. Heaven preserve you!
I dare abide no longer.
Whither should I fly?
I have done no harm. But I remember now
I am in this earthly world; where to do harm
Is often laudable, to do good sometime
Accounted dangerous folly: why then, alas,
Do I put up that womanly defence,
To say I have done no harm?
What are these faces?
Where is your husband?
I hope, in no place so unsanctified
Where such as thou mayst find him.
He’s a traitor.
Thou liest, thou shag-hair’d villain!
What, you egg!
Young fry of treachery!
He has kill’d me, mother:
Run away, I pray you!
Exit LADY MACDUFF, crying ‘Murder!’ Exeunt Murderers, following her
ACT 4, SCENE 3. England. Before the King’s palace.
Enter MALCOLM and MACDUFF
Let us seek out some desolate shade, and there
Weep our sad bosoms empty.
Let us rather
Hold fast the mortal sword, and like good men
Bestride our down-fall’n birthdom: each new morn
New widows howl, new orphans cry, new sorrows
Strike heaven on the face, that it resounds
As if it felt with Scotland and yell’d out
Like syllable of dolour.
What I believe I’ll wail,
What know believe, and what I can redress,
As I shall find the time to friend, I will.
What you have spoke, it may be so perchance.
This tyrant, whose sole name blisters our tongues,
Was once thought honest: you have loved him well.
He hath not touch’d you yet. I am young;
You may deserve of him through me, and wisdom
To offer up a weak poor innocent lamb
To appease an angry god.
I am not treacherous.
But Macbeth is.
A good and virtuous nature may recoil
In an imperial charge. But I shall crave
That which you are my thoughts cannot transpose:
Angels are bright still, though the brightest fell;
Though all things foul would wear the brows of grace,
Yet grace must still look so.
I have lost my hopes.
Perchance even there where I did find my doubts.
Why in that rawness left you wife and child,
Those precious motives, those strong knots of love,
Without leave-taking? I pray you,
Let not my jealousies be your dishonours,
But mine own safeties. You may be rightly just,
Whatever I shall think.
Bleed, bleed, poor country!
Great tyranny! lay thou thy basis sure,
For goodness dare not cheque thee: wear thou
The title is affeer’d! 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.
Be not offended:
I speak not as in absolute fear of you.
I think our country sinks beneath the yoke;
It weeps, it bleeds; and each new day a gash
Is added to her wounds: I think withal
There would be hands uplifted in my right;
And here from gracious England have I offer
Of goodly thousands: but, for all this,
When I shall tread upon the tyrant’s head,
Or wear it on my sword, yet my poor country
Shall have more vices than it had before,
More suffer and more sundry ways than ever,
By him that shall succeed.
What should he be?
It is myself I mean: in whom I know
All the particulars of vice so grafted
That, when they shall be open’d, black Macbeth
Will seem as pure as snow, and the poor state
Esteem him as a lamb, being compared
With my confineless harms.
Not in the legions
Of horrid hell can come a devil more damn’d
In evils to top Macbeth.
I grant him bloody,
Luxurious, avaricious, false, deceitful,
Sudden, malicious, smacking of every sin
That has a name: but there’s no bottom, none,
In my voluptuousness: your wives, your daughters,
Your matrons and your maids, could not fill up
The cistern of my lust, and my desire
All continent impediments would o’erbear
That did oppose my will: better Macbeth
Than such an one to reign.
In nature is a tyranny; it hath been
The untimely emptying of the happy throne
And fall of many kings. But fear not yet
To take upon you what is yours: you may
Convey your pleasures in a spacious plenty,
And yet seem cold, the time you may so hoodwink.
We have willing dames enough: there cannot be
That vulture in you, to devour so many
As will to greatness dedicate themselves,
Finding it so inclined.
With this there grows
In my most ill-composed affection such
A stanchless avarice that, were I king,
I should cut off the nobles for their lands,
Desire his jewels and this other’s house:
And my more-having would be as a sauce
To make me hunger more; that I should forge
Quarrels unjust against the good and loyal,
Destroying them for wealth.
Sticks deeper, grows with more pernicious root
Than summer-seeming lust, and it hath been
The sword of our slain kings: yet do not fear;
Scotland hath foisons to fill up your will.
Of your mere own: all these are portable,
With other graces weigh’d.
But I have none: the king-becoming graces,
As justice, verity, temperance, stableness,
Bounty, perseverance, mercy, lowliness,
Devotion, patience, courage, fortitude,
I have no relish of them, but abound
In the division of each several crime,
Acting it many ways. Nay, had I power, I should
Pour the sweet milk of concord into hell,
Uproar the universal peace, confound
All unity on earth.
O Scotland, Scotland!
If such a one be fit to govern, speak:
I am as I have spoken.
Fit to govern!
No, not to live. O nation miserable,
With an untitled tyrant bloody-scepter’d,
When shalt thou see thy wholesome days again,
Since that the truest issue of thy throne
By his own interdiction stands accursed,
And does blaspheme his breed? Thy royal father
Was a most sainted king: the queen that bore thee,
Oftener upon her knees than on her feet,
Died every day she lived. Fare thee well!
These evils thou repeat’st upon thyself
Have banish’d me from Scotland. O my breast,
Thy hope ends here!
Macduff, this noble passion,
Child of integrity, hath from my soul
Wiped the black scruples, reconciled my thoughts
To thy good truth and honour. Devilish Macbeth
By many of these trains hath sought to win me
Into his power, and modest wisdom plucks me
From over-credulous haste: but God above
Deal between thee and me! for even now
I put myself to thy direction, and
Unspeak mine own detraction, here abjure
The taints and blames I laid upon myself,
For strangers to my nature. I am yet
Unknown to woman, never was forsworn,
Scarcely have coveted what was mine own,
At no time broke my faith, would not betray
The devil to his fellow and delight
No less in truth than life: my first false speaking
Was this upon myself: what I am truly,
Is thine and my poor country’s to command:
Whither indeed, before thy here-approach,
Old Siward, with ten thousand warlike men,
Already at a point, was setting forth.
Now we’ll together; and the chance of goodness
Be like our warranted quarrel! Why are you silent?
Such welcome and unwelcome things at once
‘Tis hard to reconcile.
Enter a Doctor
Well; more anon.–Comes the king forth, I pray you?
Ay, sir; there are a crew of wretched souls
That stay his cure: their malady convinces
The great assay of art; but at his touch–
Such sanctity hath heaven given his hand–
They presently amend.
I thank you, doctor.
What’s the disease he means?
‘Tis call’d the evil:
A most miraculous work in this good king;
Which often, since my here-remain in England,
I have seen him do. How he solicits heaven,
Himself best knows: but strangely-visited people,
All swoln and ulcerous, pitiful to the eye,
The mere despair of surgery, he cures,
Hanging a golden stamp about their necks,
Put on with holy prayers: and ’tis spoken,
To the succeeding royalty he leaves
The healing benediction. With this strange virtue,
He hath a heavenly gift of prophecy,
And sundry blessings hang about his throne,
That speak him full of grace.
See, who comes here?
My countryman; but yet I know him not.
My ever-gentle cousin, welcome hither.
I know him now. Good God, betimes remove
The means that makes us strangers!
Stands Scotland where it did?
Alas, poor country!
Almost afraid to know itself. It cannot
Be call’d our mother, but our grave; where nothing,
But who knows nothing, is once seen to smile;
Where sighs and groans and shrieks that rend the air
Are made, not mark’d; where violent sorrow seems
A modern ecstasy; the dead man’s knell
Is there scarce ask’d for who; and good men’s lives
Expire before the flowers in their caps,
Dying or ere they sicken.
Too nice, and yet too true!
What’s the newest grief?
That of an hour’s age doth hiss the speaker:
Each minute teems a new one.
How does my wife?
And all my children?
The tyrant has not batter’d at their peace?
No; they were well at peace when I did leave ‘em.
But not a niggard of your speech: how goes’t?
When I came hither to transport the tidings,
Which I have heavily borne, there ran a rumour
Of many worthy fellows that were out;
Which was to my belief witness’d the rather,
For that I saw the tyrant’s power a-foot:
Now is the time of help; your eye in Scotland
Would create soldiers, make our women fight,
To doff their dire distresses.
Be’t their comfort
We are coming thither: gracious England hath
Lent us good Siward and ten thousand men;
An older and a better soldier none
That Christendom gives out.
Would I could answer
This comfort with the like! But I have words
That would be howl’d out in the desert air,
Where hearing should not latch them.
What concern they?
The general cause? or is it a fee-grief
Due to some single breast?
No mind that’s honest
But in it shares some woe; though the main part
Pertains to you alone.
If it be mine,
Keep it not from me, quickly let me have it.
Let not your ears despise my tongue for ever,
Which shall possess them with the heaviest sound
That ever yet they heard.
Hum! I guess at it.
Your castle is surprised; your wife and babes
Savagely slaughter’d: to relate the manner,
Were, on the quarry of these murder’d deer,
To add the death of you.
What, man! ne’er pull your hat upon your brows;
Give sorrow words: the grief that does not speak
Whispers the o’er-fraught heart and bids it break.
My children too?
Wife, children, servants, all
That could be found.
And I must be from thence!
My wife kill’d too?
I have said.
Let’s make us medicines of our great revenge,
To cure this deadly grief.
He has no children. All my pretty ones?
Did you say all? O hell-kite! All?
What, all my pretty chickens and their dam
At one fell swoop?
Dispute it like a man.
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. Did heaven look on,
And would not take their part? Sinful Macduff,
They were all struck for thee! naught that I am,
Not for their own demerits, but for mine,
Fell slaughter on their souls. Heaven rest them now!
Be this the whetstone of your sword: let grief
Convert to anger; blunt not the heart, enrage it.
O, I could play the woman with mine eyes
And braggart with my tongue! But, gentle heavens,
Cut short all intermission; front to front
Bring thou this fiend of Scotland and myself;
Within my sword’s length set him; if he ‘scape,
Heaven forgive him too!
This tune goes manly.
Come, go we to the king; our power is ready;
Our lack is nothing but our leave; Macbeth
Is ripe for shaking, and the powers above
Put on their instruments. Receive what cheer you may:
The night is long that never finds the day.