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Macbeth (c.1605) is a play by William Shakespeare. It is often seen as an archetypal tale of the desire for power and the betrayal of loyalty.[1]

Act I

  • Fair is foul, and foul is fair
    • Witches, scene i
Simple: In the witches' mind, what is normally good is evil, and vice versa.
  • So foul and fair a day I have not seen.
    • Macbeth, scene iii
Simple: This is after the battle he just won, and it is a great day for a great victory, and a terrible day for the terrible losses.
  • 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.
    • scene iii
Simple: The Witches are first greeting Macbeth as Thane of Glamis (which he is), then Thane of Cawdor (which he is, but is not aware yet,) and then as King from now on.
  • If you can look into the seeds of time,
    And say which grain will grow, and which will not,
    • Banquo, scene iii
Simple: If you can look at the future, and see what will happen, talk to me.
  • But 'tis strange:
    And oftentimes, to win us to our harm,
    The instruments of darkness tell us truths,
    Win us with honest trifles, to betray's
    In deepest consequence.
    • Banquo, scene iii
Simple: Sometimes evil people will tell us small truths, to gain our trust, and then betray us.
  • There's no art
    To find the mind's construction in the face:

    He was a gentleman on whom I built
    An absolute trust.
    • Duncan, scene iv
Simple: There's no way to tell what a mind is thinking from the face, He (the rebel) was a man who I trusted.
  • Stars, hide your fires!
    Let not light see my black and deep desires.
    • Macbeth, scene iv
Simple: This quote he is asking the stars to hide their light, so his evil thoughts cannot be seen.
  • Glamis thou art, and Cawdor; and shalt be
    What thou art promised. Yet do I fear thy nature;
    It is too full o' the milk of human kindness
    To catch the nearest way: thou wouldst be great;
    Art not without ambition; but without
    The illness should attend it.
    • Lady Macbeth, scene v
Simple: You are Thane of Glamis, and of Cawdor; and you will be King. Yet I fear you are too kind, and without ambition/greed.
  • Look like the innocent flower,
    But be the serpent under it.
    • Lady Macbeth, scene v
Simple: Look innocent/true, but be evil underneath.
  • If it were done when 'tis done, then 'twere well
    It were done quickly;
    if the 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, scene vii
  • Away, and mock the time with fairest show:

False face must hide what the false heart doth know.

    • Macbeth, scene vii
Simple: The face must hide what the evil heart knows (his plans to murder Duncan.)

Act II

  • The moon is down; I have not heard the clock.
    • Fleance, scene i
Simple: It is day, yet the clock has not rang.
  • Is this a dagger which I see before me,
    The handle toward my hand? Come, let me clutch thee;
    I have thee not, and yet I see thee still.
    Art thou not, fatal vision, sensible
    To feeling as to sight? or art thou but
    A dagger of the mind, a false creation,
    Proceeding from the heat-oppressed brain?
    I see thee yet, in form as palpable
    As this which now I draw.
    • Macbeth, scene i
Simple: Is this a dagger I see before me? Are not you an image of my mind, an untrue creation, yet I see you, as solid as this dagger which I now draw.
  • Now o'er the one-half world
    Nature seems dead, and wicked dreams abuse
    The curtain'd sleep; witchcraft celebrates
    Pale Hecate's offerings.
    • Macbeth, scene i
  • Thou sure and firm-set earth,
    Hear not my steps, which way they walk, for fear
    The very stones prate of my where-about.
    • Macbeth, scene i
Simple: The firm and solid earth, do not hear my steps, for I fear the very stones talk of where I am.
  • I go, and it is done; the bell invites me.
    Hear it not, Duncan, for it is a knell
    That summons thee to heaven, or to hell.
    • Macbeth, scene i
Simple: I go to do the act; the bell calls me, do not hear it Duncan, for it is the call that summons you to heaven, or to hell
  • Methought I heard a voice cry, Sleep no more!
    Macbeth does murder sleep,
    — the innocent sleep;
    Sleep, that knits up the ravell'd 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.
    • Macbeth, scene ii
Simple: I thought I heard a voice cry 'Sleep no more Macbeth has killed sleep." The sleep that heals the body and mind at the end of each day.
  • Infirm of purpose!
    Give me the daggers. The sleeping and the dead
    Are but as pictures. 'Tis the eye of childhood
    That fears a painted devil.
    • Lady Macbeth, scene i
Simple: Weak of purpose! give me the daggers. The sleeping and the dead are like pictures, only children fears pictures.
  • 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.
    • Macbeth, scene i
Simple: All the oceans of the world would not wash the blood from my hand, rather my hands would make the seas red.
  • Confusion now hath made his masterpiece!
    Most sacrilegious murder hath broke ope
    The Lord's anointed temple, and stole thence
    The life o' the building!
    • Macduff, scene ii
  • Who can be wise, amaz'd, temperate and furious,
    Loyal and neutral, in a moment? No man:
    The expedition of my violent love
    Outrun the pauser, reason.
    • Macbeth, scene ii
Simple: No man can be wise, amazed, calm and angry, neutral and loyal all at the same time. My violent love has surpassed reason.
  • To show an unfelt sorrow is an office
    Which the false man does easy.
    • Malcolm, scene ii
Simple: A dishonest man can easily show a sadness he does not feel


  • First Murderer: We are men, my liege.
    Macbeth: Ay, in the catalogue ye go for men.
    • Scene i
Simple: 'We are men my lord' 'you are technically men, but little more'
  • Naught's had, all's spent
    Where our desire is got without content.
    'Tis safer to be that which we destroy
    Than, by destruction, dwell in doubtful joy.
    • Lady Macbeth, scene ii
Simple: We have nothing, it is better to be that which we have killed, than be in our doubtful joy.
  • Things without all remedy
    Should be without regard: what's done is done.
    • Lady Macbeth, scene ii
Simple: We should not look at that which we cannot help, what is done is done.
  • Duncan is in his grave;
    After life's fitful fever he sleeps well;
    Treason has done his worst: nor steel, nor poison,
    Malice domestic, foreign levy, nothing,
    Can touch him further.
    • Macbeth, scene ii
Simple: Duncan is dead; after a tiresome life he sleeps well, now nothing can touch him further.
  • But now, I am cabin'd, cribb'd, confined, bound in
    To saucy doubts and fears.
    • Macbeth, scene iv
Simple: But now, I am confined, trapped in doubts and fears
  • Thou canst not say I did it: never shake
    Thy gory locks at me.
    • Macbeth, scene iv
Simple: You cannot say I did it: Do not blame me.
  • Lady Macbeth: Are you a man?
    Macbeth: Ay, and a bold one, that dare look on that
    Which might appall the devil.
    • Scene iv
Simple: 'Are you a man?' ' Yes, and a brave one that would look on that which would frighten the devil'
  • I am in blood
    Stepp'd in so far, that, should I wade no more,
    Returning were as tedious as go o'er.
    • Macbeth, scene iv
Simple: I am in a river of blood, so far in that if I were to turn around, it would be as hard as to continue on.

Act IV

  • By the pricking of my thumbs,
    Something wicked this way comes:

    Open, locks,
    Whoever knocks!
    • Second Witch, scene i
Simple: I feel something evil comes this way: Come in whoever knocks.
  • Be bloody, bold, and resolute; laugh to scorn
    The power of man, for none of woman born
    Shall harm Macbeth.
    • Second Apparition, scene i
Simple: Be bold and violent; laugh at scorn, for noone born from a woman can kill Macbeth.
  • Third Apparition: Macbeth shall never vanquish'd be, until
    Great Birnam wood to high Dunsinane hill
    Shall come against him.

    Macbeth: That will never be.
    Who can impress the forest, bid the tree,
    Unfix his earthbound root?
    • Scene i
Simple: 'Macbeth will never be defeated until Great Birnam wood (forest) comes to High Dunsinane hill.That will never be, who can tell the trees to walk.
  • Angels are bright still, though the brightest fell;
    Though all things foul would wear the brows of grace,
    Yet grace must still look so.
    • Malcolm, scene iii
Simple: Good people are still good, though the best fell; even though evil things pertend to be good, good must still act good.
  • Give sorrow words: the grief that does not speak
    Whispers the o'er-fraught heart, and bids it break.
    • Malcolm, scene iii
  • All my pretty ones?
    Did you say all? — O, hell-kite! All?
    What, all my pretty chickens and their dam
    At one fell swoop?
    • Macduff, scene iii
Simple: All my family did you say? All my family dead in one evil act.

Act V

  • Here's the smell of the blood still: all the perfumes of Arabia will not sweeten this little hand. Oh, oh, oh!
    • Lady Macbeth, scene i
Simple: All the perfumes of Arabia would not cover the smell of blood from my little hand.
  • What's done cannot be undone.
    • Lady Macbeth, scene i
  • Those he commands move only in command,
    Nothing in love: now does he feel his title
    Hang loose about him, like a giant's robe
    Upon a dwarfish thief.
    • Angus, scene ii
Simple: Those Macbeth command only do as he bids in command. They have no Love for him, who is not fit for his title.
  • I would applaud thee to the very echo,
    That should applaud again.
    • Macbeth, scene iii
  • She should have died hereafter;
    There would have been 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, scene v
Simple: She should have died later. Life moves on in this slow pace from day to day. Life is short and, full of sound and fury, it is meaningless.
  • I 'gin to be a-weary of the sun,
    And wish the estate o' the world were now undone.
    • Macbeth, scene v
Simple: I begin to be tired of the sun, and wish the state of the world would be undone.
  • Why should I play the Roman fool, and die
    On mine own sword?
    • Macbeth, scene viii
Simple: Refrencing that Roman generals after losing would kill themself, why should I give up my life?
  • Turn, hell-hound, turn!
    • Macduff, scene viii
  • Macbeth: I bear a charmed life, which must not yield
    To one of woman born.
    Macduff: Despair thy charm;
    And let the angel whom thou still hast served
    Tell thee, Macduff was from his mother's womb
    Untimely ripp'd.

    Macbeth: Accursed be the tongue that tells me so,
    For it hath cow'd my better part of man!
    And be these juggling fiends no more believ'd,
    That palter with us in a double sense;
    That keep the word of promise to our ear,
    And break it to our hope.
    • Scene viii
  • Lay on, Macduff,
    And damn'd be him that first cries, Hold, enough!
    • Macbeth, scene viii
Simple: Attack, Macduff, and cursed be the one that first cries 'enough!'


  1. "Bookrags". Retrieved on 2009-09-21

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