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ACT V SCENE IIIDunsinane. A room in the castle.
[Enter MACBETH, Doctor, and Attendants]
MACBETHBring me no more reports; let them fly all:
Till Birnam wood remove to Dunsinane,
I cannot taint with fear. What’s the boy Malcolm?
Was he not born of woman? The spirits that know
All mortal consequences have pronounced me thus:
‘Fear not, Macbeth; no man that’s born of woman
Shall e’er have power upon thee.’ Then fly,
false thanes,
And mingle with the English epicures:
The mind I sway by and the heart I bear
Shall never sag with doubt nor shake with fear.10
[Enter a Servant]
The devil damn thee black, thou cream-faced loon!
Where got’st thou that goose look?
ServantThere is ten thousand–
MACBETHGeese, villain!
ServantSoldiers, sir.
MACBETHGo prick thy face, and over-red thy fear,
Thou lily-liver’d boy. What soldiers, patch?
Death of thy soul! those linen cheeks of thine
Are counsellors to fear. What soldiers, whey-face?
ServantThe English force, so please you.
MACBETHTake thy face hence.
[Exit Servant]
Seyton!–I am sick at heart,
When I behold–Seyton, I say!–This push20
Will cheer me ever, or disseat me now.
I have lived long enough: my way of life
Is fall’n into the sear, the yellow leaf;
And that which should accompany old age,
As honour, love, obedience, troops of friends,
I must not look to have; but, in their stead,
Curses, not loud but deep, mouth-honour, breath,
Which the poor heart would fain deny, and dare not. Seyton!
[Enter SEYTON]
SEYTONWhat is your gracious pleasure?
MACBETHWhat news more?30
SEYTONAll is confirm’d, my lord, which was reported.
MACBETHI’ll fight till from my bones my flesh be hack’d.
Give me my armour.
SEYTON‘Tis not needed yet.
MACBETHI’ll put it on.
Send out more horses; skirr the country round;
Hang those that talk of fear. Give me mine armour.
How does your patient, doctor?
DoctorNot so sick, my lord,
As she is troubled with thick coming fancies,
That keep her from her rest.
MACBETHCure her of that.
Canst thou not minister to a mind diseased,40
Pluck from the memory a rooted sorrow,
Raze out the written troubles of the brain
And with some sweet oblivious antidote
Cleanse the stuff’d bosom of that perilous stuff
Which weighs upon the heart?
DoctorTherein the patient
Must minister to himself.
MACBETHThrow physic to the dogs; I’ll none of it.
Come, put mine armour on; give me my staff.
Seyton, send out. Doctor, the thanes fly from me.
Come, sir, dispatch. If thou couldst, doctor, cast
The water of my land, find her disease,50
And purge it to a sound and pristine health,
I would applaud thee to the very echo,
That should applaud again.–Pull’t off, I say.–
What rhubarb, cyme, or what purgative drug,
Would scour these English hence? Hear’st thou of them?
DoctorAy, my good lord; your royal preparation
Makes us hear something.
MACBETHBring it after me.
I will not be afraid of death and bane,
Till Birnam forest come to Dunsinane.60
Doctor[Aside] Were I from Dunsinane away and clear,
Profit again should hardly draw me here.

Next: Macbeth, Act 5, Scene 4

Explanatory Notes for Act 5, Scene 3
From Macbeth. Ed. Thomas Marc Parrott. New York: American Book Co.
(Line numbers have been altered.)

Macbeth, who has been absent from the stage for some time, reappears in this scene. The student will note at once that he is in a different mood from that which characterized him in the earlier acts. He is no longer disturbed by “terrible dreams” and seeking to lull them by the perpetration of acts of violence. On the contrary, he relies so fully on the witches’ prediction that not even the revolt of his thanes and the approach of the English army alarm him. Nevertheless he is restless, imperious, and gloomy. He has obtained all that he sought to win and is confident of the future, and yet he knows all happiness has gone out of his life.

1. reports, of the revolt of his subjects.

3. taint, be infected.

5. all mortal consequences, the future of all men.

5. me, the indirect object of “pronounced.” The line contains a feminine ending before the caesura and a trisyllabic fourth foot.

8. English epicures. The hardy Scotch despised the luxurious manners of their English neighbours.

11. loon, fool, a characteristically Scottish term of abuse.

12. goose look, look of foolish fear.

15. lily-liver’d, cowardly.

15. patch, fool.

20. behold, Macbeth interrupts his speech here to call Seyton again. Perhaps he would have added some such phrase as “these cowards around me.”

20, 21. This push … now, this struggle, i.e. the approaching battle, will give me peace forever, or will at once push me from my throne.

21. disseat, dethrone.

22. way of life, course of life, or simply, life.

27. breath, flattery.

30. The unaccented syllable is wanting in the first foot of this line.

43. oblivious, causing forgetfulness.

47. Throw physic, etc. Macbeth turns impatiently from the doctor. If “physic” can do nothing, if the cure for such a sickness as Lady Macbeth’s lies in the power of the patient only, Macbeth scorns the medical art. He, too, has been troubled by “thick-coming fancies,” but he means to seek relief from them in action, not in a doctor’s prescription.

48. staff, baton.

50. Come, sir. Probably addressed to the servant who is buckling on Macbeth’s armour.

50. dispatch, be quick.

50, 51. cast The water, inspect the urine. This was an Elizabethan method of diagnosis.

52. purge … health, cure it so that the land would be as healthy as before.

54. Pull’t off. Another phrase addressed to the attendant. Macbeth’s restlessness is shown in the way he orders his armour to be put on in haste, although there is no need of it, and then has it, or part of it, perhaps the helmet, taken off again. The phrase, “Bring it after me,” in line 58, refers to the same piece of armour.

55. rhubard, senna. Plants from which purgative medicines are obtained.

61, 62. Were I … here. The doctor is thoroughly frightened. Between his discovery of Lady Macbeth’s terrible secrets and the rough contempt with which Macbeth has treated him, his one desire is to get out of this dangerous neighbourhood as quickly as possible.


How to cite the explanatory notes:Shakespeare, William. Macbeth. Ed. Thomas Marc Parrott. New York: American Book Co., 1904.