The Murder

From “Macbeth,” Act II. Sc. 2. SCENE in the Castle. Enter LADY MACBETH. LADY MACBETH.—That which hath made them drunk hath made me bold, What hath quenched them hath given me fire. Hark!—Peace! It was the owl that shrieked, the fatal bellman, Which gives the stern’st good night. He is about it: The doors are open; and the surfeited grooms Do mark their charge with snores: I have drugged their possets, That death and nature do contend about them, Whether they live or die. MACBETH (within).—Who ’s there? What, ho! LADY MACBETH.—Alack, I am afraid they have awaked And ’t is not done:—the attempt and not the deed Confounds us.—Hark!—I laid their daggers ready; He could not miss them.—Had he not resembled My father, as he slept, I had done ’t.—My husband! (Enter MACBETH.) MACBETH.—I have done the deed. Didst thou not hear a noise? LADY MACBETH.—I heard the owl scream, and the crickets cry. Did not you speak? MACBETH.—When? LADY MACBETH.— Now. MACBETH.— As I descended? LADY MACBETH.—Ay. MACBETH.—Hark!— Who lies i’ the second chamber? LADY MACBETH.— Donalbain. MACBETH (looking on his hands).—This is a sorry sight. LADY MACBETH.—A foolish thought, to say a sorry sight. MACBETH.—There ’s one did laugh in ’s sleep, and one cried, “Murder!” That they did wake each other: I stood and heard them: But they did say their prayers, and addressed them Again to sleep. LADY MACBETH.—There are two lodged together. MACBETH.—One cried, “God bless us!” and, “Amen,” the other; As they had seen me with these hangman’s hands. Listening their fear, I could not say, “Amen,” When they did say, “God bless us.” LADY MACBETH.—Consider it not so deeply. MACBETH.—But wherefore could not I pronounce “Amen”? I had most need of blessing, and “Amen” Stuck in my throat. LADY MACBETH.—These deeds must not be thought After these ways; so, it will make us mad. MACBETH.—Methought I heard a voice cry, “Sleep no more! Macbeth does murder sleep,”—the innocent sleep, Sleep that knits up the ravelled 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,— LADY MACBETH.— What do you mean? MACBETH.—Still it cried, “Sleep no more!” to all the house: “Glamis hath murdered sleep; and therefore Cawdor Shall sleep no more,—Macbeth shall sleep no more!” LADY MACBETH.—Who was it that thus cried? Why, worthy thane, You do unbend your noble strength, to think So brainsickly of things.—Go, get some water, And wash this filthy witness from your hand. Why did you bring these daggers from the place? They must lie there: go carry them; and smear The sleepy grooms with blood. MACBETH.— I ’ll go no more! I am afraid to think what I have done; Look on ’t again, I dare not. LADY MACBETH.— Infirm of purpose! Give me the daggers: the sleeping, and the dead, Are but as pictures: ’t is the eye of childhood That fears a painted devil. If he do bleed, I ’ll gild the faces of the grooms withal; For it must seem their guilt. [Exit. Knocking within. MACBETH.—Whence is that knocking? How is ’t with me, when every noise appalls 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. (Re-enter LADY MACBETH.) LADY MACBETH.—My hands are of your color; but I shame To wear a heart so white. (Knocking.) I hear a knocking At the south entry:—retire we to our chamber: A little water clears us of this deed: How easy is it then! Your constancy Hath left you unattended. (Knocking.) Hark, more knocking. Get on your nightgown, lest occasion call us, And show us to be watchers:—be not lost So poorly in your thoughts. MACBETH.—To know my deed, ’t were best not know myself. (Knocking.) Wake Duncan with thy knocking! I would thou couldst.

English
Year Written: 
1584
Year Rounded: 
1 500
Sub Title: 
Poems of Tragedy: X. Scotland
Year Estimate Only: 

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