Hoboys and torches. Enter King Duncan, Malcolm, Donalbain, Banquo, Lennox, Macduff, Ross, Angus, and Attendants:
In this scene, the lamb is brought to the door of the slaughter-house. King Duncan is most gracious and kind to his hostess, who means to kill him. stage direction:
The King's arrival is announced not with the usual flourish of trumpets, but with "Hoboys," which are the ancestors of our mournful-sounding oboes. Also, the King's followers and servants are carrying torches, to indicate that the sun is down. Both the sound of the oboes and the darkness of the hour remind us that the King will never again see the light of day. Pausing at the gate of Macbeth's castle with his loyal followers, Duncan remarks that "This castle hath a pleasant seat [location]; the air / Nimbly and sweetly recommends itself / Unto our gentle senses" (1.6.1-3). Banquo agrees. The air must indeed be sweet, he says, because swallows have built their nests here. Banquo describes those nests as the swallows' "pendant bed and procreant cradle" (1.6.8). In other words, the nests that are hanging ("pendant") high on the castle walls are the beds of the birds, the place ("procreant cradle") where they make love and produce chicks and keep their chicks safe. Thus, on the outside of the castle, everything looks homey and cozy, but inside the castle, Duncan will be murdered. Now Lady Macbeth enters, and King Duncan makes a gentle jest. He says to her: See, see, our honour'd hostess!
The love that follows us sometime is our trouble,
Which still we thank as love. Herein I teach you
How you shall bid God 'ield us for your pains,
And thank us for your trouble. (1.6.10-14)
Duncan's whole speech is based on our ancient custom of a guest saying something like "I don't want to trouble you," and the host replying with some version of "It's my pleasure." By saying that his people's love is sometimes his "trouble," King Duncan is saying that his loving people go to a...
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