Act 1, Scene 3, Page 6
(aside) Glamis, and thane of Cawdor!
The greatest is behind. (to ROSS and ANGUS) Thanks for your pains.
(aside to BANQUO) Do you not hope your children shall be kings,
When those that gave the thane of Cawdor to me
Promised no less to them?
(to himself) It’s just like they said—now I’m the thane of Glamis and the thane of Cawdor. And the best part of what they predicted is still to come. (to ROSS and ANGUS) Thank you for the news. (speaking so that only BANQUO can hear) Aren’t you beginning to hope your children will be kings? After all, the witches who said I was thane of Cawdor promised them nothing less.
That, trusted home,
Might yet enkindle you unto the crown,
Besides the thane of Cawdor. But ’tis strange.
And oftentimes, to win us to our harm,
The instruments of darkness tell us truths,
Win us with honest trifles, to betray ’s
In deepest consequence.
(to ROSS and ANGUS) Cousins, a word, I pray you.
If you trust what they say, you might be on your way to becoming king, as well as thane of Cawdor. But this whole thing is strange. The agents of evil often tell us part of the truth in order to lead us to our destruction. They earn our trust by telling us the truth about little things, but then they betray us when it will damage us the most. (to ROSS and ANGUS) Gentlemen, I’d like to have a word with you, please.
BANQUO, ROSS, and ANGUS move to one side
ROSS, ANGUS, and BANQUO move to one side.
(aside) Two truths are told,
As happy prologues to the swelling act
Of the imperial theme. (to ROSS and ANGUS) I thank you, gentlemen.
(aside) This supernatural soliciting
Cannot be ill, cannot be good. If ill,
Why hath it given me earnest of success,
Commencing in a truth? I am thane of Cawdor.
If good, why do I yield to that suggestion
Whose horrid image doth unfix my hair
And make my seated heart knock at my ribs,
Against the use of nature? Present fears
Are less than horrible imaginings.
(to himself) So far the witches have told me two things that came true, so it seems like this will culminate in my becoming king. (to ROSS and ANGUS) Thank you, gentlemen. (to himself) This supernatural temptation doesn’t seem like it can be a bad thing, but it can’t be good either. If it’s a bad thing, why was I promised a promotion that turned out to be true? Now I’m the thane of Cawdor, just like they said I would be. But if this is a good thing, why do I find myself thinking about murdering King Duncan, a thought so horrifying that it makes my hair stand on end and my heart pound inside my chest? The dangers that actually threaten me here and now frighten me less than the horrible things I’m imagining.