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[ A banquet prepared. Enter MACBETH, LADY MACBETH, ROSS, LENNOX, Lords, and Attendants ]
[Thunder. Enter the three Witches meeting HECATE]
First WitchWhy, how now, Hecate! you look angerly.
HECATEHave I not reason, beldams as you are,
Saucy and overbold? How did you dare
To trade and traffic with Macbeth
In riddles and affairs of death;
And I, the mistress of your charms,
The close contriver of all harms,
Was never call’d to bear my part,
Or show the glory of our art?
And, which is worse, all you have done10
Hath been but for a wayward son,
Spiteful and wrathful, who, as others do,
Loves for his own ends, not for you.
But make amends now: get you gone,
And at the pit of Acheron
Meet me i’ the morning: thither he
Will come to know his destiny:
Your vessels and your spells provide,
Your charms and every thing beside.
I am for the air; this night I’ll spend20
Unto a dismal and a fatal end:
Great business must be wrought ere noon:
Upon the corner of the moon
There hangs a vaporous drop profound;
I’ll catch it ere it come to ground:
And that distill’d by magic sleights
Shall raise such artificial sprites
As by the strength of their illusion
Shall draw him on to his confusion:
He shall spurn fate, scorn death, and bear30
He hopes ‘bove wisdom, grace and fear:
And you all know, security
Is mortals’ chiefest enemy.
[ Music and a song within: ‘Come away, come away,’ &c ]
Hark! I am call’d; my little spirit, see,
Sits in a foggy cloud, and stays for me.
First WitchCome, let’s make haste; she’ll soon be back again.

Next: Macbeth, Act 3, Scene 6

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

As this scene is now generally considered un-Shakespearean we need not dwell upon it. The part of Hecate is wholly omitted from some modern representations, and there can be no doubt that the play gains in effectiveness by this excision. Were it not for the fact that Hecate reappears in iv. i. we might even in reading simply pass over this scene.

2. bedlams, hags.

7. close contriver, secret plotter.

13. Loves for his own ends, follows you for his own purposes.

15. the pit of Acheron, In classical mythology Acheron is one of the rivers of Hades. The “pit” may be taken here as meaning some dark ravine, or cave, supposed to lead down to the lower world.

20. I am for th’ air, I must fly up.

24. profound, ready to fall.

26. sleights, devices.

27. artificial sprites, spirits called up, made visible, by magic art.

32. security, confidence.

34. my little spirit, my familiar demon.

35. a song.


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