Act IV, Scene 2 Fife. Macduff's castle.

Enter LADY MACDUFF, her Son, and ROSS


LADY MACDUFF What had he done, to make him fly the land?
ROSS You must have patience, madam.
LADY MACDUFF He had none:
His flight was madness: when our actions do not,
Our fears do make us traitors.
ROSS You know not
Whether it was his wisdom or his fear.
LADY MACDUFF Wisdom! to leave his wife, to leave his babes,
His mansion and his titles in a place
From whence himself does fly? He loves us not;
He wants the natural touch: for the poor wren,
The most diminutive of birds, will fight,
Her young ones in her nest, against the owl.
All is the fear and nothing is the love;
As little is the wisdom, where the flight
So runs against all reason.
ROSS My dearest coz,
I pray you, school yourself: but for your husband,
He is noble, wise, judicious, and best knows
The fits o' the season. I dare not speak
much further;
But cruel are the times, when we are traitors
And do not know ourselves, when we hold rumour
From what we fear, yet know not what we fear,
But float upon a wild and violent sea
Each way and move. I take my leave of you:
Shall not be long but I'll be here again:
Things at the worst will cease, or else climb upward
To what they were before. My pretty cousin,
Blessing upon you!
LADY MACDUFF Father'd he is, and yet he's fatherless.
ROSS I am so much a fool, should I stay longer,
It would be my disgrace and your discomfort:
I take my leave at once.
LADY MACDUFF Sirrah, your father's dead;
And what will you do now? How will you live?
Son As birds do, mother.
LADY MACDUFF What, with worms and flies?
Son With what I get, I mean; and so do they.
LADY MACDUFF Poor bird! thou'ldst never fear the net nor lime,
The pitfall nor the gin.
Son Why should I, mother? Poor birds they are not set for.
My father is not dead, for all your saying.
LADY MACDUFF Yes, he is dead; how wilt thou do for a father?
Son Nay, how will you do for a husband?
LADY MACDUFF Why, I can buy me twenty at any market.
Son Then you'll buy 'em to sell again.
LADY MACDUFF Thou speak'st with all thy wit: and yet, i' faith,
With wit enough for thee.
Son Was my father a traitor, mother?
LADY MACDUFF Ay, that he was.
Son What is a traitor?
LADY MACDUFF Why, one that swears and lies.
Son And be all traitors that do so?
LADY MACDUFF Every one that does so is a traitor, and must be hanged.
Son And must they all be hanged that swear and lie?
Son Who must hang them?
LADY MACDUFF Why, the honest men.
Son Then the liars and swearers are fools,
for there are liars and swearers enow to beat
the honest men and hang up them.
LADY MACDUFF Now, God help thee, poor monkey!
But how wilt thou do for a father?
Son If he were dead, you'ld weep for
him: if you would not, it were a good sign
that I should quickly have a new father.
LADY MACDUFF Poor prattler, how thou talk'st!
  [Enter a Messenger]
Messenger Bless you, fair dame! I am not to you known,
Though in your state of honour I am perfect.
I doubt some danger does approach you nearly:
If you will take a homely man's advice,
Be not found here; hence, with your little ones.
To fright you thus, methinks, I am too savage;
To do worse to you were fell cruelty,
Which is too nigh your person. Heaven preserve you!
I dare abide no longer.
LADY MACDUFF Whither should I fly?
I have done no harm. But I remember now
I am in this earthly world; where to do harm
Is often laudable, to do good sometime
Accounted dangerous folly: why then, alas,
Do I put up that womanly defence,
To say I have done no harm?
  [Enter Murderers]
  What are these faces?
First Murderer Where is your husband?
LADY MACDUFF I hope, in no place so unsanctified
Where such as thou mayst find him.
First Murderer He's a traitor.
Son Thou liest, thou shag-hair'd villain!
First Murderer What, you egg!
  [Stabbing him]
  Young fry of treachery!
Son He has kill'd me, mother:
Run away, I pray you!
  [Exit LADY MACDUFF, crying 'Murder!' Exeunt
Murderers, following her]


To see other scenes from the show:

Full Text Act III, Scene 3 A park near the palace./Act III, Scene 4 The same. A hall in the palace.
Act I, Scene 1 A desert place./Act I, Scene 2 A camp near Forres. Act III, Scene 5 A heath./Act III, Scene 6 Forres. The palace.
Act I, Scene 3 A heath near Forres. Act IV, Scene 1 A cavern in the middle a boiling cauldron
Act I, Scene 4 Forres. The palace. Act IV, Scene 2 Fife. Macduff's castle.
Act I, Scene 5 Inverness Macbeth's castle. Act IV, Scene 3 England, Before the King's palace.
Act I, Scene 6 Before Macbeth's castle. /Act I, Scene 7 Macbeth's castle. Act V, Scene 1 Dunsinane. Anteroom in the castle.
Act II, Scene 1 Court of Macbeth's castle./Act II, Scene 2 The same. Act V, Scene 2 The country near Dunsinane/Act V, Scene 3 Dunsinane. A room in the castle.
Act II, Scene 3 The same. Act V, Scene 4Country near Birnam wood./Act V, Scene 5 Dunsinane. Within the castle.
Act II, Scene 4 Outside Macbeth's castle. Act V, Scene 6 Dunsinane.  Before the castle./Act V, Scene 7 Another part of the field. 
Act III, Scene 1 Forres. The castle. Act V, Scene 8 Another part of the field.
Act III, Scene 2 The palace.  


To view other Macbeth sections:

Main Play Page        Play Text     Scene by Scene Synopsis      Character Directory     Commentary  


To view the other Plays click below:

By  Comedies    Histories    Romances    Tragedies

All's Well the Ends Well Antony & Cleopatra As You Like It Cardenio Comedy of Errors Coriolanus
Cymbeline Edward III Hamlet Henry IV, Part 1 Henry IV, Part 2 Henry V
Henry VI, Part 1 Henry VI, Part 2 Henry VI, Part 3 Henry VIII Julius Caesar King John
King Lear Love's Labours Lost Love's Labours Wonne Macbeth Measure for Measure Merchant of Venice
The Merry Wives of Windsor A Mid Summer Night's Dream  Much Ado About Nothing Othello Pericles Richard II
Richard III Romeo & Juliet Sir Thomas More Taming of the Shrew The Tempest Timon of Athens
Titus Andronicus Troilus & Cressida Twelfth Night Two Gentlemen of Verona The Two Noble Kinsman The Winter's Tale


To view other Shakespeare Library sections:

Biography     Plays     Poems     Sonnets     Theaters     Shake Links 

Send mail to with questions or comments about this web site.
[Home]  [Upcoming Shows]  [HSC Venues]  [Past Productions]  [Articles] [HSC Programs]
 [Shakespeare Library] [Actor Resources]   [Contact Us]  [Links]  [Site Map]