Macbeth meets Banquo in the courtyard of his castle. Banquo is restless because he cannot decide how he feels about the witches and their prophecies. Macbeth pretends indifference, but casually agrees to talk about it if Banquo would like. They agree, and Banquo leaves. Macbeth again takes time to examine the pros and cons of going through with the plot, and begins to see illusions, starting with a dagger floating in the air in front of him. He seems to go back and forth, but eventually decides to kill Duncan. Enter
To come on stage.
A courtyard, possibly the forecourt.
bearing a torch before him
Fleance is carrying a torch because this scene is set at night. Since the play was originally performed in the open air, in the afternoon, the torch helps us accept that it’s night. she
I take’t, ’tis later
I assume that it’s later than midnight.
Most people had no accurate way to tell time. Clocks were few and watches had not been invented. There’s husbandry in heaven; / Their candles are all out.
husbandry — conservation
All the candles of heaven (the stars) are dark, unseen. The night is cloudy. Take thee that too.
Banquo asks his son, Fleance, to take something else he’s been carrying, in addition to his sword. A heavy summons lies like lead upon me . . . Gives way to in repose! Banquo is tired and wants to sleep, but he can’t. This is a problem, since he knows he’ll worry over unwelcome thoughts if he stays awake. He prays, briefly, that he won’t be bothered by thoughts we naturally would think when we have the time to reflect on things. Give me my sword.
Banquo immediately asks for his sword back again, since someone is approaching. It’s dark, so he can’t yet tell it’s Macbeth. Who’s there?
Banquo asks “Who’s there?” — challenging the stranger to identify himself. not yet at rest?
Why haven’t you gone to bed?
The king’s a-bed
The king has already gone to his sleep
in unusual pleasure, and / Sent forth great largess to your offices. The king has been in an unusually good mood, and has given gifts in great measure to your household. This diamond he greets your wife withal, / By the name of most kind hostess Here’s a gem the king asked me to give to you, to give to your wife, as thanks for all her kindness as hostess. shut up / In measureless content.
The king has now gone to bed in his private chamber, where he is locked in — “shut up” — for the night, completely happy with the way things are — “in measureless content.” Being unprepared, / Our will became the servant to defect; / Which else should free have wrought. I wasn’t expecting all this (I was unprepared), so I left the dinner early (I “defected”). Otherwise I would have remained the whole time, and done what anyone would normally have done.
Macbeth may be making excuses. Possibly he had so much on his mind that he couldn’t be a good host and left earlier than expected. Possibly he just wanted time, alone, to think. All’s well. / I dreamt last night of the three weird sisters: / To you they have show’d some truth. Banquo first says that there’s no harm done. He then invites Macbeth to talk about their meeting with the witches, by stating that he dreamed of the weird sisters — the sisters of Fate — the three witches. He also reminds Macbeth that they have spoken truth so far. I think not of them
Macbeth is lying, trying to appear unconcerned. He definitely has been thinking about what the witches have said. Yet, when we can entreat an hour to serve, / We would spend it in some words upon that business, / If you would grant the time. But, if we have nothing better to do, we can talk about that, if you want. I don’t mind.
Macbeth wants to conceal how eager he is to talk about this. At your kind’st leisure.
When it’s convenient for you.
If you shall cleave to my consent, when ’tis, / It shall make honour for you. If you agree to act with me, join me, when it’s time to do so, you’ll benefit by it. So I lose none / In...