Macbeth - ACT 2
ACT TWO, SCENE ONE
(An open courtyard in Macbeth’s castle a few hours after the feast. Enter Banquo and his son, Fleance, who is carrying a light)
Banquo: What’s the time, boy?
Fleance: I did not hear the clock. It’s very dark. There is no moon tonight.
Banquo: The stars are covered. There are no lights in Heaven. The night is dark, black, like my thoughts. My heart is heavy and I cannot sleep. Who’s there?
(Enter Macbeth, with a servant)
Macbeth: A friend.
Banquo: Can’t you sleep either? The King’s in bed. He is well pleased with you and sends you gifts. He has given me this diamond for your wife, his gracious hostess, who has pleased him too.
Macbeth: We did our best. We did not have enough time to prepare.
Banquo: But all went well. I dreamt last night of the all-seeing sisters. Their words to you were partly true.
Macbeth: I haven’t thought about them. But what they said about my being King was strange. Ideas like that are dangerous. They could be treason.
Banquo: We need to talk about them.
Macbeth: We are the King’s friends, not his enemies.
Banquo: Of course. It is not wrong to talk about the witches. It may be wrong to trust them. Good night.
Macbeth: Good night, sleep well.
Banquo: Thanks, sir. May you sleep well too.
(Exit Banquo and Fleance)
Macbeth: (To his servant) Say to my wife, that when my drink is ready, to ring the bell. Then go to bed.
(As Macbeth is waiting, he imagines a dagger in the air in front of him)
Is this a dagger I can see before me, its handle near my hand? Let me take hold of it – no, it’s gone, it’s air. It was unreal, a picture in my mind. But, see, it’s there again, to lead me on. And now fresh blood is dripping from it… No, there’s nothing there. It is my murderous mind and nothing more that makes me see the dagger. Now half the world’s asleep and in the darkness, murder and mischief rule. Wolves howl. Night is the time for witchcraft and for evil. Now when I move, I must be silent. The stones on which I walk must not betray me and stop me carrying out my wicked plan.
(The bell rings)
The bell calls me to murder. If I go, it’s done. Do not hear it, Duncan – that same bell is calling you to Heaven, or to Hell.
ACT TWO SCENE TWO
(Inside Macbeth’s castle. Exit Macbeth towards Duncans bedroom. Then Lady Macbeth enters, a cup of wine in her hand. She smiles)
Lady Macbeth: The wine that made them drunk, has made me bold. It drowned their fire, but it has strengthened mine. Listen! No, it’s nothing but the owl, the bird of night. Macbeth’s at work. I drugged the servants’ drink. I’m sure they will not wake.
Who calls? Who’s there?
Lady Macbeth: Oh, no! They’ve woken up. The deed’s not done. But the attempt betrays us! Listen! What’s that noise? I left the daggers near. He must have seen them. If the King had not looked like my father as he slept, I would have murdered him myself.
(Enter Macbeth with the blood-covered daggers)
Macbeth: I have done the deed. Did you not hear a noise?
Lady Macbeth: I heard the owl cry. Did you not speak?
Lady Macbeth: Just now.
Macbeth: As I came down the stairs?
Lady Macbeth: That’s right.
Macbeth: Listen! Who’s sleeping in the second room?
Lady Macbeth: The King’s young son, Donalbain.
(Macbeth holds out his hands and the blood-covered daggers) Macbeth: This is a fearful sight.
Lady Macbeth: A foolish thought to say a fearful sight.
Macbeth: One laughed in his sleep and one cried ‘Murder!’ As though he saw my bloody hands. They both woke up, then they began to pray. One said ‘God bless us’. The other said ‘Amen’. I wanted to say Amen too, but I couldn’t.
Lady Macbeth: Don’t think about that now.
Macbeth: You do not understand. I couldn’t say it.
Lady Macbeth: Don’t talk like that – you’ll send us mad. Macbeth: I thought I heard a voice cry, ‘Sleep no more! Macbeth has murdered sleep.’ That sweet sleep that calms our troubled thoughts. Sleep that brings rest to tired minds and bodies sleep that’s both medicine and food…
Lady Macbeth: What do you mean?
Macbeth: And still that voice cried, ‘Sleep no more! Glamis has murdered sleep, and so Cawdor Shall sleep no more. Macbeth shall sleep no more.’
Lady Macbeth: Quiet. Talk like that will send us mad. Now get some water, clean this blood away.
(She sees the daggers)
Why did you bring these daggers from the room? Carry them back and coat the men with blood.
Macbeth: I won’t go back. I dare not think what I have done. I cannot look at him again.
Lady Macbeth: Weak-minded coward! Give me the daggers. Asleep or dead? What is the difference? Children are afraid of death, not soldiers. I’ll cover those two men with Duncan’s blood then all will know they’re guilty.
(Exit Lady Macbeth. There is loud knocking at the castle gate)
Macbeth: Who’s knocking at the gate? I cannot bear it. My hands are red. I dare not look at them. Will all the water of the world’s great oceans. Wash this blood from my hands? No, never! One drop of Duncan’s blood will turn the green sea red.
Lady Macbeth: Look, now my hands are red, like yours. But I’m not white with fear, like you. Someone’s at the gate. Let’s go back to our room. A little water will soon clean our hands – that’s easy. (Loud knocking) More knocking! Your courage left you for a time. Put on your night-gown. Everyone must think we were both in bed. Come on, the deed is done.
Macbeth: I still cannot believe what I have done. I dare not think about it. (Loud knocking) More knocking! Oh, wake Duncan up… how I wish you could!
ACT TWO, SCENE THREE
(The knocking at Macbeth’s castle gate goes on. After some time, an old porter opens the gate and lets in Macduff and Lennox)
Macduff: You got up late. Did you go to bed late too?
Porter: There was a big feast, sir, in honour of the King. Lots Of good food, sir. Drink too.
Macduff: I can see you had plenty of that. Is your master up yet? (Exit porter. Enter Macbeth, in his dressing-gown) Ah, here he is now.
Lennox: Good morning, noble sir.
Macbeth: Good morning to both of you.
Macduff: Is the King awake yet, worthy thane?
Macbeth: Not yet.
Macduff: The King told me to come and see him early. I hope that I am not late.
Macbeth: I’ll take you to him. Follow me. There is the door.
Macduff: I’ll go inside and wake him.
Lennox: Does the King plan to leave today?
Macbeth: He does. That’s what he said last night.
Lennox: I hope he slept well. The wind was very strong. It blew down trees and damaged all our houses. Strange cries were heard and dreadful dying screams. The owl sang all night long to warn us all, and some men said they felt the earth shake too.
Macbeth: Yes, it was a rough night.
Macduff: Oh, horror, horror, horror! I cannot speak. I don’t know what to say!
Macbeth: what’s the matter?
Lennox: what’s the matter?
Macduff: The most awful thing has happened! He, whom God had chosen, has been taken. I mean his sacred life’s been taken, stolen from him by foul murder!
Macbeth: Life taken? Murder? Is someone dead?
Lennox: Do you mean the King?
Macduff: See for yourselves. The sight will strike you blind. I cannot speak of it. It is too horrible.
(Exit Macbeth and Lennox) Awake! Awake! Wake up every one! Ring the alarm bell. Murder! Treason! Banquo and Donalbain! Malcolm, wake up! Wake up and see this horror, if you dare!
(The alarm bell rings. Enter Lady Macbeth)
Lady Macbeth: What has happened? What is the cause of all this dreadful noise that wakes the peaceful sleepers in this house? Speak, speak!
Macduff: Oh, gracious lady, it’s not right for you to hear the fearful news. Heard by a woman’s ear, the word would kill again. (Enter Banquo, half-dressed) Oh, Banquo, Banquo! Our royal master’s murdered.
Lady Macbeth: No! How terrible! Murdered in our house?
Banquo: Murder is cruel, anywhere. Macduff, I pray you, say it is not true.
(Enter Macbeth and Lennox)
Macbeth: If I had died an hour before this time, I would have died happy. But from this moment, there’s nothing left worth living for. Nothing has meaning, now that honour’s dead. All that we live for, has been taken away.
(Enter Malcolm and Donalbain)
Donalbain: What is the problem here?
Macbeth: The problem’s yours, but you don’t know it. The noble King who gave you both your lives has left us.
Macduff: Your royal father’s murdered.
Malcolm: Oh! By whom?
Lennox: The servants sleeping in his room have done it – that’s what we think. Their hands and faces were all red with blood. So were their daggers. They stared at us, half-mad. No man is safe with them.
Macbeth: I thought so too and, in sudden anger, I killed them both.
Macduff: Why? We should have questioned them.
Macbeth: Who can be wise, surprised, calm and angry, Loyal and neutral, all in a moment? No one. Strong feelings made me act. I did not stop to think. There lay Duncan, his silver skin covered with gold-red blood and every wound was like a door, through which death had entered. There lay the murderers, red with Duncan’s blood. There lay their daggers, blood-red too. Who could hold back from killing them? No one with a loving heart and courage To prove that love!
Lady Macbeth: Help me! I am ill.
Macduff: Someone help the lady! She has fainted.
Malcolm: (To his brother) Why do we stand here silent? We should be the first to speak.
Donalbain: What can we say? We may be the next to die. Let’s go, before our tears begin to fall.
Malcolm: It is too soon for us to take revenge.
Banquo: (To Lady Macbeth’s servants) Help the lady.
(The servants take her out)
And when we have had time to dress ourselves, let’s meet again, discuss this dreadful deed and then decide on action. Fears and terrors fill my mind, but I stand here Under God’s protection. When I know the truth, I’ll fight against this treason.
Macduff: And so will I.
Macbeth: When we are ready, we’ll meet in the hall, together.
All: We agree.
(All exit except Malcolm and Donalbain)
Malcolm: What will you do? We’re not safe here. Trust no one. I shall go to England.
Donalbain: And I shall go to Ireland. We shall be safer if we are not together. If we stay here, we’ll be the next to die.
Malcolm: Our father’s killer may still be alive. Let’s go before he kills again. We’ll ride away, without a word to anyone.
Donalbain: There’s nothing for us here. We’ll go at once. (Exit Malcolm and Donalbain)
ACT TWO SCENE FOUR
(Ross meets Macduff, as he is leaving Macbeth’s castle)
Ross: What news, good Macduff? Is it known yet who did the bloody deed?
Macduff: The two killed by Macbeth. That’s what men say.
Ross: Then curse them both. What did they hope to gain from it?
Macduff: They were paid to do it. Or so it’s thought.
Malcolm and Donalbain, the King’s own sons, have run away – left Scotland. So people think those young men planned the murder.
Ross: That’s an unnatural deed. Ambition makes no sense when evil sons kill their own father. Then, I suppose, Macbeth will wear the crown.
Macduff: Yes, Macbeth will be our King. He has already gone to royal Scone, for his coronation.
Ross: Where is Duncan’s body?
Macduff: It has been taken to the royal palace, where Scotland’s kings are buried.
Ross: Will you go to Scone?
Macduff: No, my good friend. I’m going home, to Fife.
Ross: Well, I’ll go to Scone, to see the coronation.
Macduff: Let’s hope our new King’s worthy of his crown. Farewell, good thane.
Ross: Go safely, good Macduff.