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Macbeth

by William Shakespeare

Act 4, Scene 2 Easiest-to-Read Edition

 

 

 

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Macbeth Act 4, Scene 2



Fife. Macduff's castle

Enter LADY MACDUFF, her SON, and ROSS

Enter LADY MACDUFF, her SON, and ROSS

LADY MACDUFF

What had he done to make him fly the land?

 

LADY MACDUFF

What had he done to make him fly the land?

 

ROSS

You must have patience, madam.

 

ROSS

You must have patience, madam.

 

LADY MACDUFF

     He had none.

His flight was madness. When our actions do not,

Our fears do make us traitors.

(Macduff’s actions were not traitorous, but his fearful fleeing made him seem to be)

 

LADY MACDUFF

     He had none.

His flight was madness. When our actions do not,

Our fears do make us traitors.

 

ROSS

     You know not

Whether it was his wisdom or his fear.

 

ROSS

     You know not

Whether it was his wisdom or his fear.

 

LADY MACDUFF

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.

 

LADY MACDUFF

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.

 

ROSS

     My dearest coz,

I pray you school yourself. But for your husband,

school yourself=blame yourself

but for your husband=as for your husband

He is noble, wise, judicious, and best knows

The fits o' th' season. I dare not speak much further;

fits o’ th’ season=events of the times

But cruel are the times when we are traitors

And do not know ourselves; when we hold rumor

hold rumor=judge rumor (?)

From what we fear, yet know not what we fear,

from what we fear=by what we fear (?)

But float upon a wild and violent sea

Each way and none. 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.—[addressing the boy] My pretty cousin,

Blessing upon you.

 

ROSS

     My dearest coz,

I pray you school yourself. But for your husband,

He is noble, wise, judicious, and best knows

The fits o' th' season. I dare not speak much further;

But cruel are the times when we are traitors

And do not know ourselves; when we hold rumor

From what we fear, yet know not what we fear,

But float upon a wild and violent sea

Each way and none. 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.

 

LADY MACDUFF

Fathered he is, and yet he’s fatherless.

 

LADY MACDUFF

Fathered he is, and yet he’s fatherless.

 

ROSS

I am so much a fool, should I stay longer

It would be my disgrace and your discomfort.

(by bursting into tears)

I take my leave at once.

 

ROSS

I am so much a fool, should I stay longer

It would be my disgrace and your discomfort.

I take my leave at once.

 

Exit

Exit

LADY MACDUFF

     Sirrah, your father’s dead.

And what will you do now? How will you live?

 

LADY MACDUFF

     Sirrah, your father’s dead.

And what will you do now? How will you live?

 

SON

As birds do, Mother.

 

SON

As birds do, Mother.

 

LADY MACDUFF

What, with worms and flies?

 

LADY MACDUFF

What, with worms and flies?

 

SON

With what I get, I mean, and so do they.

(birds also live with what they get)

 

SON

With what I get, I mean, and so do they.

 

LADY MACDUFF

Poor bird! Thou ’dst never fear the net nor lime,

(twigs were smeared with lime, which is sticky, to catch small birds)

The pitfall [trap] nor the gin [snare].

 

LADY MACDUFF

Poor bird! Thou ’dst never fear the net nor lime,

The pitfall nor the gin.

 

SON

Why should I, mother? Poor birds they are not set for.

they=traps and snares

My father is not dead, for all your saying.

 

SON

Why should I, mother? Poor birds they are not set for.

My father is not dead, for all your saying.

 

LADY MACDUFF

Yes, he is dead. How wilt thou do for a father?

 

LADY MACDUFF

Yes, he is dead. How wilt thou do for a father?

 

SON

Nay, how will you do for a husband?

 

SON

Nay, how will you do for a husband?

 

LADY MACDUFF

Why, I can buy me twenty at any market.

 

LADY MACDUFF

Why, I can buy me twenty at any market.

 

SON

Then you’ll buy 'em to sell again.

 

SON

Then you’ll buy 'em to sell again.

 

LADY MACDUFF

Thou speak’st with all thy wit; and yet, i' faith,

With wit enough for thee.

 

LADY MACDUFF

Thou speak’st with all thy wit; and yet, i' faith,

With wit enough for thee.

 

SON

Was my father a traitor, Mother?

 

SON

Was my father a traitor, Mother?

 

LADY MACDUFF

Ay, that he was.

 

LADY MACDUFF

Ay, that he was.

 

SON

What is a traitor?

 

SON

What is a traitor?

 

LADY MACDUFF

Why, one that swears and lies.

(one who makes a promise and then breaks it)

 

LADY MACDUFF

Why, one that swears and lies.

 

LADY MACDUFF

Every one that does so is a traitor and must be hanged.

 

LADY MACDUFF

Every one that does so is a traitor and must be hanged.

 

SON

And must they all be hanged that swear and lie?

 

SON

And must they all be hanged that swear and lie?

 

LADY MACDUFF

Every one.

 

LADY MACDUFF

Every one.

 

SON

Who must hang them?

 

SON

Who must hang them?

 

LADY MACDUFF

Why, the honest men.

 

LADY MACDUFF

Why, the honest men.

 

SON

Then the liars and swearers are fools, for there are liars and swearers enough to beat the honest men and hang up them.

(if the swearers and liars would band together, they could hang those honest men who want to hang them)

 

SON

Then the liars and swearers are fools, for there are liars and swearers enough to beat the honest men and hang up them.

 

LADY MACDUFF

Now, God help thee, poor monkey! But how wilt thou do for a father?

 

LADY MACDUFF

Now, God help thee, poor monkey! But how wilt thou do for a father?

 

SON

If he were dead, you’d weep for him. If you would not, it were a good sign that I should quickly have a new father.

 

SON

If he were dead, you’d weep for him. If you would not, it were a good sign that I should quickly have a new father.

 

LADY MACDUFF

Poor prattler, how thou talk’st!

 

LADY MACDUFF

Poor prattler, how thou talk’st!

 

Enter a MESSENGER

Enter a MESSENGER

MESSENGER

Bless you, fair dame! I am not to you known,

Though in your state of honor I am perfect.

state of honor=nobility

perfect=perfectly knowledgeable

I doubt some danger does approach you nearly.

doubt=suspect

nearly=closely

If you will take a homely man’s advice,

homely=simple

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,

fell=terrible

Which is too nigh your person. Heaven preserve you!

too nigh=too much at hand (near)

I dare abide no longer.

 

MESSENGER

Bless you, fair dame! I am not to you known,

Though in your state of honor 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.

 

Exit

Exit

LADY MACDUFF

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 sometimes

Accounted dangerous folly. Why, then, alas,

Do I put up that womanly defense,

To say I have done no harm?

 

LADY MACDUFF

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 defense,

To say I have done no harm?

 

Enter MURDERERS

Enter MURDERERS

What are these faces?

What are these faces?

FIRST MURDERER

Where is your husband?

 

FIRST MURDERER

Where is your husband?

 

LADY MACDUFF

I hope, in no place so unsanctified

unsanctified=disreputable

Where such as thou mayst find him.

 

LADY MACDUFF

I hope, in no place so unsanctified

Where such as thou mayst find him.

 

FIRST MURDERER

     He’s a traitor.

 

FIRST MURDERER

     He’s a traitor.

 

SON

Thou liest, thou shag-haired villain!

 

SON

Thou liest, thou shag-haired villain!

 

FIRST MURDERER

     (Stabbing him)     What, you egg?

Young fry of treachery!

fry=offspring

 

FIRST MURDERER

     (Stabbing him)     What, you egg?

Young fry of treachery!

 

SON

He has killed me, mother.

Run away, I pray you!

 

SON

He has killed me, mother.

Run away, I pray you!

 

He dies. Exit LADY MACDUFF, crying “Murder!” followed by MURDERERS

He dies. Exit LADY MACDUFF, crying “Murder!” followed by MURDERERS

 

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