SCENES FOR ACTORS

Macbeth & Witches—Act 4, Scene VI


ACT 4, SCENE VI

Sunset. The flames of the firepit die down. 

The moon crests the night sky. 

Weird Sister #2 rises, stokes the firepit.

In the light of the flames, enter weird sisters #1 and #3, who join the first; they chant, surround the firepit and set the cauldron. 

ALL

Fair is foul, and foul is fair.

Hover through the smog and filthy air. 

(joining hands)

And now about the cauldron sing,

Like elves and fairies in a ring,

Enchanting all that you put in. 

Thrice to thine, and thrice to mine,

And thrice again, to make up nine. 

(circling three times, adding ingredients to the broth)

To trade and traffic with Macbeth

In riddles and affairs of death, 

And passions of a wayward son, 

And gentle princess, battle-won:  

Your vessels and your spells provide, 

Your charms and everything beside. 

Great business must be wrought ere noon: 

Upon the corner of the moon 

There hangs a vaporous drop profound; 

Hell catch it ere it come to ground. 

And that distilled by magic sleights 

Shall raise such artificial sprites 

As by the strength of their illusion 

Shall draw them on to their confusion.

They shall spurn fate, scorn death, and bear

Their hopes 'bove wisdom, grace, and fear. 

Peace! The charm's wound up. 

Moon sets: a hint of sun.

Dawn is wet and foggy.

Macbeth, in the high-grown field  at the edge of the grounds.

KING MACBETH

(to himself)

So foul and fair a day I have not seen. 

Macbeth moves though the threshold of spear-grass. 

WEIRD SISTER #2

By the pricking of my thumbs, 

Something wicked this way comes. 

Macbeth emerges. 

KING MACBETH

How now, you secret, black, and midnight hags? 

What is't you do? 

ALL

A deed without a name. 

KING MACBETH

I conjure you, by that which you profess, 

Howe'er you come to know it, answer me; 

Though  the Devil it is that's your master, 

Even till destruction sicken, answer me 

To what I ask you. 

WEIRD SISTER #1

Speak. 

WEIRD SISTER #2

Demand. 

WEIRD SISTER #3

We'll answer.

WEIRD SISTER #1

Say, if thou'dst rather hear it from our mouths, 

Or from our master's? 

KING MACBETH

Call 'im, let me see 'im. 

WEIRD SISTER #1

(adding ingredient)

Finger of birth-strangled babe 

Ditch-delivered by a drab, 

Make the gruel thick and slab. 

The fire flares. 

WEIRD SISTER #1

Show! 

WEIRD SISTER #2

Show! 

WEIRD SISTER #3

Show! 

ALL

Show his eyes, and grieve his heart;

Come like shadows, so depart. 

An apparition rises: a bloody infant wearing a crown.

KING MACBETH

What's this?  The great baby is not yet out of his swaddling clothes. 

Tell me, thou unknown power—

WEIRD SISTER #1

He knows thy thought: 

Hear his speech, but say thou nought. 

APPARITION

Macbeth! Macbeth!  The prince will doom thee death!  

KING MACBETH

Whate'er thou art, for thy good caution, thanks—

WEIRD SISTER #1

Listen, but speak not to'it. 

KING MACBETH

But one word more—

APPARITION 

Be bloody, bold, and resolute: laugh to scorn 

The power of man, for none of woman born 

Shall harm Macbeth. 

Apparition descends. 

KING MACBETH

Then live, Hamlet. What need I fear of thee? 

But yet I'll make assurance double sure, 

And take a bond of fate: thou shalt not live,

That I may tell pale-hearted fear it lies,

And sleep in spite of thunder.

A violent eruption of steam, as the last ingredient is added to the broth.

WEIRD SISTER #2

Cool it with a baboon's blood,

Then the charm is firm and good. 

Into the cloud of vapor, the Weird Sisters vanish.

KING MACBETH

Where are they? Gone?

(calls out to vanished Weird Sisters)

I will be satisfied!  

(calls out to vanished apparition)

Fiend, thou  anticipatest my dread exploits. 

Yet flighty purpose never is o'ertook 

Unless the deed go with it; from this moment 

The very firstlings of my heart shall be 

The firstlings of my hand. And even now, 

To crown my thoughts with acts, be it thought and done.  

It is the prince of blood that threatens thee; 

And therefore, instantly, this prince must die. 

Seize upon him, give to the edge o' the sword 

His neck, his wife, and all the unfortunate souls 

That are either true or fair.