c. 1050 | Forres

Ghost Story

Enter Banquo.

[Banquet prepared. Enter Macbeth, Lady Macbeth, Ross, Lennox, Lords, and Attendants.]

Macbeth: You know your own degrees, sit down;
At first and last, the hearty welcome.

[The Lords sit. Enter First Murderer.]

Macbeth: [to First Murderer] There’s blood upon thy face.

First Murderer: ’Tis Banquo’s then.

Macbeth: ’Tis better thee without, than he within.
Is he dispatched?

First Murderer: Ay, my good lord: safe in a ditch he bides,
With twenty trenchèd gashes on his head,
The least a death to nature.

Macbeth:                               Thanks for that.

[Exit Murderer. Enter the Ghost of Banquo and sits in Macbeth’s place.]

Macbeth: Which of you have done this?

Lords:                 What, my good lord?

Ross: Gentlemen, rise, his highness is not well.

Lady Macbeth: Sit, worthy friends. My lord is often thus,
And hath been from his youth. Pray you, keep seat.
The fit is momentary; upon a thought
He will again be well. If much you note him
You shall offend him and extend his passion.
Feed, and regard him not. [To Macbeth] Are you a man?

Macbeth: Ay, and a bold one, that dare look on that
Which might appal the devil. 

Lady Macbeth:        O proper stuff!
This is the very painting of your fear;
This is the air-drawn dagger which you said
Led you to Duncan. O, these flaws and starts,
Impostors to true fear, would well become
A woman’s story at a winter’s fire
Authorised by her grandam. Shame itself!
Why do you make such faces? When all’s done
You look but on a stool.

Macbeth: Prithee, see there! Behold, look, lo! How say you?
[To Ghost] Why, what care I? If thou canst nod, speak too.
If charnel-houses and our graves must send
Those that we bury back, our monuments
Shall be the maws of kites.
Avaunt and quit my sight! Let the earth hide thee!
Thy bones are marrowless, thy blood is cold;
Thou hast no speculation in those eyes
Which thou dost glare with. 

Lady Macbeth:                     Think of this, good peers,
But as a thing of custom. ’Tis no other,
Only it spoils the pleasure of the time.

Macbeth: What man dare, I dare;
Approach thou like the rugged Russian bear,
The armed rhinoceros, or th’Hyrcan tiger,
Take any shape but that, and my firm nerves
Shall never tremble. Or be alive again,
And dare me to the desert with thy sword;
If trembling I inhabit then, protest me
The baby of a girl. Hence horrible shadow,
Unreal mock’ry hence.

[Exit Ghost of Banquo.]

                               Why so, being gone,
I am a man again. – Pray you, sit still.

Lady Macbeth: You have displaced the mirth, broke the good meeting
With most admired disorder.

Macbeth:                              Can such things be,
And overcome us like a summer’s cloud,
Without our special wonder? You make me strange
Even to the disposition that I owe,
When now I think you can behold such sights
And keep the natural ruby of your cheeks,
When mine is blanched with fear.

Lady Macbeth: You lack the season of all natures, sleep.

Macbeth: Come, we’ll to sleep. My strange and self-abuse
Is the initiate fear that wants hard use;
We are yet but young in deed.


William Shakespeare

From Macbeth. Banquo, whom Macbeth ordered murdered based on a prophecy that Banquo’s sons would rule the kingdom, appears as an apparition again later in the play, parading with his royal descendants. “Horrible sight!” Macbeth exclaims. “Now, I see, ’tis true.” Shakespeare took the character of Banquo from a 1577 historical chronicle. In that telling, he was an accomplice rather than an enemy; Shakespeare may have changed the role to please King James, who was thought to be a descendant of the historical personage.