Act 2, Scene 2: Video Link Paragraphs Index Item: Character Interview: Macbeth and Lady Macbeth (2023)

RALPH: Good evening, Lady Macbeth. I know it's the middle of the night, so thanks so much for taking the time. And I guess we all know why you're still up, since you seem to have every intention of killing King Duncan tonight. You've even mentioned your plan earlier of getting Duncan's guards drunk and blaming the murder on them.

LADY MACBETH: That which hath made them drunk hath made me bold.

RALPH: Oh, so you've gotten them drunk already. And you've been drinking a little yourself, huh? Is that what you mean? Which, if you don't mind my saying, is a little surprising, isn't it? I mean, you seem to have been pretty bold this whole time. Do you really have to drink something to make yourself braver?

LADY MACBETH: What hath quenched them hath given me fire.

RALPH: Yes, I'm kind of getting that vibe. And by quenched them, I assume you mean you've put out their fire? They must be unconscious now.

LADY MACBETH: Hark. Peace.

RALPH: I'm sorry, did you hear something?

LADY MACBETH: No. It was the owl that shrieked.

RALPH: I don't think so. There's no owls in here.

LADY MACBETH: The fatal bellmen, which gives the stern'st good night.

RALPH: Hm, I guess they say that about owls, don't they, that they're somehow connected to death. That's what you mean, I assume, that the hoot of an owl is like someone ringing a bell. And it's a fatal bellman because it's announcing death. Oh, I get it. That's pretty clever.

LADY MACBETH: Which gives the sternest good night.

RALPH: It's the sternest, or strongest, good night, because death is like a sleep that you never wake up from. Does that mean it's happened already? Where is Macbeth, anyway?

LADY MACBETH: He is about it.

RALPH: Oh, my. So he's doing it right now, the great business.

LADY MACBETH: The doors are open, and the surfeited grooms do mock their charge with snores.

RALPH: So the room is ready, you mean. And surfeited groom—oh, you mean Duncan's attendants, his groomsmen. And they're surfeited, or full, because they've had so much food and wine, I assume. And let's see, what was the rest? That they mock their charge with snores. I guess that's a good way to put it. The fact that they're snoring mocks, or makes fun of, the fact that they're supposed to be on watch protecting the king. And all you had to do was get them drunk.

LADY MACBETH: I have drugged their possets. That death and nature to contend about them whether they live or die.

RALPH: Oh, dear. So you've used some kind of drug, too. I don't remember that being part of the plan. And this drug could kill them. Where did you even get such a thing? Oh, and what was that? You drugged their possets. What's a posset?

LADY MACBETH: Have you never had a posset?

RALPH: I don't think so.

LADY MACBETH: Oh, they're delicious. It's just some warm milk, and then you put some kind of liquor in it, some wine or ale or something, and it curdles up a bit. They're wonderful as a nightcap, can really help you sleep.

RALPH: Well, unless they've got some drug in them which might kill you.

LADY MACBETH: Yes, well, don't drink any of the possets you find around here tonight.

RALPH: I'll be sure not to. Maybe we should call that drink the sternest good night.

LADY MACBETH: Who's there? What ho? Oh. I wonder if they woke up and it's not done.

RALPH: Yes, that would be bad, wouldn't it? Let's see. As you put it, the attempt and not the deed confounds us. You seem to think that trying to kill the king would ruin you, but actually killing him won't.

LADY MACBETH: Shh. I put the daggers out in plain sight. There's no way he didn't see them. You know, if Duncan hadn't looked like my father as he slept, I would have done it myself.

RALPH: Really? That's what stopped you, that he looked like your father? I thought you said earlier that you could take a baby that you were breastfeeding—

LADY MACBETH: Oh, my husband.

MACBETH: I've done the deed.

RALPH: Oh, dear.

MACBETH: Did you hear a noise?

LADY MACBETH: You mean him?

MACBETH: No, no, no, before.

LADY MACBETH: Well, I heard an owl scream and crickets cry. Didn't you say something?



MACBETH: On my way here?


MACBETH: Who's staying in the second room?

LADY MACBETH: Donalbain.

RALPH: You mean the king's younger son. He's staying in a room next to the king?

MACBETH: This is a sorry sight.

RALPH: Oh, yikes.

LADY MACBETH: Foolish thought, to say a sorry sight.

RALPH: Do you already feel sorry about what you've done?

MACBETH: One of them started laughing in his sleep. And the other one cried murder, and they woke each other up.

RALPH: Do you mean Duncan's guards, or are you talking about that other bedroom, the one with Donalbain?

MACBETH: I just stood there and listened. But then they said their prayers and went back to sleep.

LADY MACBETH: They're staying together in the same room.

RALPH: I'm sorry, but who are you two talking about?

MACBETH: One said, God bless us, and the other said amen, as if they could see me with these hangman's hands. They looked terrified. And yet I couldn't say amen when they said, God bless us.

LADY MACBETH: Don't make such a big deal out of it.

RALPH: Well, it makes sense that he'd be at least a little upset.

LADY MACBETH: And you stay out of this.

MACBETH: Why couldn't I say that word? Amen. I, of all people, having killed a king, could use God's blessing more than anyone. And the word got stuck in my throat. We can't think about it like that, or we'll go crazy.

RALPH: Think about it like what? Do you mean feel guilty?


RALPH: Sorry.

MACBETH: I thought I heard someone cry out, sleep no more. Macbeth has murdered sleep.

RALPH: Sorry, if I could just interrupt. Just a quick observation. You know, the Weird Sisters were talking about getting revenge on a sailor by not letting him sleep for weeks. Do you guys think there's some connection there?

MACBETH: Innocent sleep.

RALPH: Innocent sleep. Well, I guess that's right. Sleep never hurt anybody.

MACBETH: Sleep that knits up the raveled sleeve of care.

RALPH: What a wonderful image. Did you get that? It's like he's saying that we spend our days caring about things, worrying about them, and that all that caring starts to unravel. And then sleep knits it back up again so that we can go on caring the next day.

LADY MACBETH: Yeah, I got it.

MACBETH: The death of each day's life.

RALPH: So sleep is like the death of the day. This guy's a poet.

MACBETH: A sore labor's bath.

RALPH: Ain't that the truth. Hey, have you ever tried an Epsom salt bath? That would be good with a posset, I bet.

MACBETH: Balm of hurt minds.

RALPH: So something you could use right about now. Are there going to be a lot more of these?

MACBETH: Great nature's second course.

RALPH: Second course. Oh, you mean like second way, like a course or a track. So awake is one course, and sleep the second course. For a second, I thought you were talking about food, like courses in a meal.

MACBETH: Chief nourisher in life's feast.

RALPH: Oh, so you did mean food. Or did you mean both? And wait, you said chief nourisher. So you're saying sleep is like a second course in life's feast, but that it nourishes us even more than food.

LADY MACBETH: What are you blathering about?

MACBETH: And then again, the voice cried, for everyone to hear, sleep no more. Glamis has murdered sleep, therefore Cawdor will sleep no more. Macbeth will sleep no more.

LADY MACBETH: Who was saying all of this? My worthy thane, you are making yourself look bad with all this crazy talk. Come on. Let's go get some water to wash the blood off of your hands.

RALPH: The filthy witness, as you call it.


RALPH: The blood. You refer to the blood as a filthy witness. I think that's actually pretty clever, as far as the language goes.


LADY MACBETH: Are those the daggers? What are you doing with those here? They're supposed to stay in the room. Take them back and make sure Duncan's guards are smeared with blood while they're still asleep.

RALPH: Oh, dear. I guess that is an important part of the plan, isn't it?

MACBETH: I'm not going back in there. I'm afraid to even think about what I've done, and you expect me to look at him again?

LADY MACBETH: I guess you're not up to this after all. I'll take them. What is there to be afraid of? Dead people look the same as people who are sleeping, nothing more than pictures. Only a child fears a painted devil. If Duncan's bleeding, I'll wipe some of the blood on the guards' faces so that everyone will assume they're the guilty ones.

RALPH: She's quite a woman. How'd the two of you meet?


RALPH: What was that?

MACBETH: Where's that coming from?

RALPH: I don't know. I'm not expecting anyone.

MACBETH: Why am I so on edge? Every little noise freaks me out.

RALPH: Well, you know, it makes sense to me. I mean, you've just done something, well, pretty horrible.

MACBETH: And whose hands are these? They pluck out mine eyes. Could all of the water in the ocean wash them clean? No. My hands would dye the ocean red before they would ever be clean.

LADY MACBETH: My hands are of your color. But I shame to wear a heart so white.

RALPH: Do you really want to call your husband a coward at this point? I mean, he did do the deed, after all.


LADY MACBETH: Someone's knocking. Let's get to our bedroom. A little water will clear us of this deed. You see? Easy. So pull yourself together.


LADY MACBETH: There it is again. Come on. Get on your robe so that nobody thinks that we've been up all night. And snap out of it.

MACBETH: To know my deed, 'twere best not know myself.

RALPH: It's almost as if you're two people now. You're the one who could do something like kill the king. But you're also still the person you were before and somehow still are. It that right? I'm just not sure a little water is going to solve that problem.



MACBETH: Wake Duncan with your knocking.

RALPH: Oh. So I'm not doing the knocking. I'm not sure who that is, actually.

MACBETH: I wish it were possible to wake him.

RALPH: Waking Duncan at this point doesn't seem likely.

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