c. 1040 | Inverness

False Face, False Heart

What lurks inside the hearts of Scotsmen?


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’ld jump the life to come. But in these cases

We still have judgment here, that we but teach

Bloody instructions, which, being taught, return

To plague th’ inventor. This even-handed justice

Commends th’ ingredience of our poisoned

To our own lips. He’s here in double trust:

First, as I am his kinsman and his subject,

Strong both against the deed; then, as his host,

Who should against his murderer shut the   

Not bear the knife myself. Besides, this Duncan

Hath borne his faculties so meek, hath been

So clear in his great office, that his virtues

Will plead like angels, trumpet-tongued 

The deep damnation of his taking-off;

And pity, like a naked newborn babe

Striding the blast, or heaven’s cherubin horsed

Upon the sightless couriers of the air,

Shall blow the horrid deed in every eye

That tears shall drown the wind. I have no spur

To prick the sides of my intent, but only

Vaulting ambition, which o’erleaps itself

And falls on th’other—

[enter Lady Macbeth]

        How now? What news?


Lady Macbeth

He has almost supped. Why have you left the  


Hath he asked for me?


Lady Macbeth 

          Know you not he has?


We will proceed no further in this business. 

He hath honored me of late, and I have bought 

Golden opinions from all sorts of people, 

Which would be worn now in their newest

Not cast aside so soon.


Lady Macbeth

        Was the hope drunk

Wherein you dressed yourself? Hath it slept

And wakes it now to look so green and pale

At what it did so freely? From this time

Such I account thy love. Art thou afeard

To be the same in thine own act and valor

As thou art in desire? Wouldst thou have that

Which thou esteem’st the ornament of life,

And live a coward in thine own esteem,

Letting “I dare not” wait upon “I would,”

Like the poor cat i’ th’ adage?



  Prithee peace!

I dare do all that may become a man;

Who dares do more is none.


Lady Macbeth

          What beast was’t then

That made you break this enterprise to me?

When you durst do it, then you were a man;

And to be more than what you were, you would

Be so much more the man. Nor time nor place

Did then adhere, and yet you would make both.

They have made themselves, and that their 

    fitness now

Does unmake you. 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 his boneless 

And dashed the brains out, had I so sworn as you

Have done to this.


If we should fail?

Lady Macbeth

We fail?

But screw your courage to the sticking place

And we’ll not fail. When Duncan is asleep

(Whereto the rather shall his day’s hard journey

Soundly invite him), his two chamberlains

Will I with wine and wassail so convince

That memory, the warder of the brain,

Shall be a fume, and the receipt of reason

A limbeck only. When in swinish sleep

Their drenched natures lies as in a death,

What cannot you and I perform upon

Th’ unguarded Duncan? What not put upon

His spongy officers, who shall bear the guilt

Of our great quell?



        Bring forth men-children only;

For thy undaunted mettle should compose

Nothing but males. Will it not be received,

When we have marked with blood those 
    sleepy two

Of his own chamber and used their very

That they have done’t?


Lady Macbeth

  Who dares receive it other,

As we shall make our griefs and clamor roar

Upon his death?



I am settled, and bend up

Each corporal agent to this terrible feat.

Away, and mock the time with fairest show;

False face must hide what the false heart doth


William Shakespeare

William Shakespeare, from Macbeth. For the plot and setting of his shortest and bloodiest tragedy, Shakespeare relied on Raphael Holinshed’s Chronicles of England, Scotland, and Ireland. Believed to be cursed, Macbeth is often referred to in the theater world as the “The Scottish Play,” so as to ward off any ill omens. Shakespeare died in 1616 at the age of fifty-one, having introduced nearly seventeen hundred words into the English language.