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MACBETH is often one of the first plays of Shakespeare that one encounters in school or in performance, but this mature masterpiece seems fuller, richer, and more thrilling every time it's read or seen. The story of Macbeth's downfall is accomplished with breathtaking speed and felt most deeply by the man himself, whose towering poetic imagination drives him relentlessly on while remorselessly lashing his conscience.


First Witch: When shall we three meet again?
In thunder, lightning, or rain?
Second Witch: When the hurly-burly's done,
When the battle's lost and won.
     Act I scene i

Doubtful it stood,
As two spent swimmers that do cling together
And choke their art.
     Bloody Captain Act I scene ii

A drum, a drum:
Macbeth doth come.
     Third Witch Act I scene iii

So fair and foul a day I have not seen.
     Macbeth Act I scene iii

First Witch: All hail Macbeth,

                  hail to thee Thane of Glamis.
Second Witch: All hail Macbeth,

                  hail to thee Thane of Cawdor.
Third Witch: All hail Macbeth,

                   that shalt be King hereafter.
     Act I scene iii

Nothing in his life
Became him like the leaving it.
     Malcolm Act I scene iv

Glamis thou art, and Cawdor, and shalt be
What thou art promised; yet do I fear thy nature,
It is too full o'th'milk of human kindness
To catch the nearest way.
     Lady Macbeth Act I scene v

The raven himself is hoarse
That croaks the fatal entrance of Duncan
Under my battlements. Come, you spirits
That tend on mortal thoughts, unsex me here,
And fill me from the crown to the toe, top-full
Of direst cruelty.
     Lady Macbeth Act I scene v

If it were done when 'tis done, then 'twere well
It were done quickly: if th'assassination
Could trammel up the consequence and catch
With his surcease, success, that but this blow
Might be the be-all and the end-all -- here,
But here, upon this bank and shoal of time,
We'd jump the life to come.
     Macbeth Act I scene vii

Lady Macbeth: I have given suck, and know
How tender 'tis to love the babe that milks me:
I would, while it was smiling in my face,
Have plucked my nipple from its boneless gums
And dashed the brains out, had I so sworn
As you have done to this.
Macbeth: If we should fail?
Lady Macbeth: We fail?
But screw your courage to the sticking place,
And we'll not fail.
     Act I scene vii

There's husbandry in heaven,
Their candles are all out.
     Banquo Act II scene i

Is this a dagger which I see before me,
The handle toward my hand? Come, let me clutch thee.
     Macbeth Act II scene i

Macbeth: This is a sorry sight.
Lady Macbeth: A foolish thought
To say a sorry sight.
     Act II scene ii

Methought I heard a voice cry "Sleep no more;
Macbeth does murder sleep, the innocent sleep,
Sleep that knits up the ravelled sleeve of care..."
     Macbeth Act II scene ii

Infirm of purpose;
Give me the daggers; the sleeping, and the dead,
Are but as pictures; 'tis the eye of childhood
That fears the painted devil.
     Lady Macbeth Act II scene ii

Knock, knock, knock. Who's there in the name of Beelzebub?
     Porter Act II scene iii

Nought's had, all's spent,
When our desire is got without content:
'Tis safer to be that which we destroy,
Than by destruction dwell in doubtful joy.
     Lady Macbeth Act III scene ii

Come, seeling night,
Scarf up the tender eye of pitiful day,
And with thy bloody and invisible hand
Cancel and tear to pieces that great bond
Which keeps me pale. Light thickens,
And the crow makes wing to th' rooky wood;
Good things of day begin to droop and drowse,
Whiles night's black agents to their preys do rouse.
     Macbeth Act III scene ii

Double, double, toil and trouble,
Fire burn and cauldron bubble.
     The Witches Act IV scene i

Macbeth shall never vanquished be, until
Great Birnam Wood to high Dunsinan Hill
Shall come against him.
      Third Apparition Act IV scene i

front to front
Bring thou this fiend of Scotland and myself.
     Macduff Act IV scene iii

Out damned spot -- out I say.
     Lady Macbeth Act V scene i

She should have died hereafter;
There would have been a time for such a word.
Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,
To the last syllable of recorded time;
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle,
Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury
Signifying nothing.
     Macbeth Act V scene v

Lay on Macduff,
And damned be him that first cries "Hold, enough!"
     Macbeth Act V scene v

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