Summary

The witches gather again; Hecate, the chief goddess of spells and witchcraft, chides them for their past behavior, and instructs them to meet Macbeth tomorrow at the cavern. She will do her work, behind the scenes, to help. They sing and dance, and then vanish.

Enter

To come on stage.

heath

Desolate plain in Scotland.

Meeting

The witches enter the stage from one side, and meet Hecate, who enters from the other side, in the middle.

Hecate

Hecate was the chief goddess of spells and witchcraft. In this play, pronounced HEH-kut (properly pronounced HEH-kuh-tee).

Why, how now, Hecate! you look angerly.

Well, how are things, Hecate? You look angry.

Have I not reason, beldams as you are, / Saucy and overbold?

Don’t I have reason to be angry with you, you hags (beldams); aren’t you too bold?

How did you dare / To trade and traffic with Macbeth / In riddles and affairs of death

How could you dare to deal with Macbeth, in matters of life and death?

And I, the mistress of your charms, / The close contriver of all harms . . .

And I, the master (mistress) of your magic (charms), the one who is intimately involved (the close contriver) with all harm, was never called to do my job (bear my part), or show what our art is capable of?

And, which is worse, all you have done . . .

Worse, everything you’ve done has been for a lost son (Macbeth), who is ungrateful and angry, who loves what he wants, and doesn’t act for your benefit.

But make amends now: get you gone . . .

To make up for all this, go now, and at the pit of Acheron (pronounced ATCH-er-on, thought to be the entrance to hell), meet me tomorrow morning. That’s where Macbeth will come, to find out his destiny.

Your vessels and your spells provide, / Your charms and every thing beside.

Bring everything you need — a cauldron (a large pot), and your spells and charms.

I am for the air; this night I’ll spend / Unto a dismal and a fatal end . . .

I’m going to fly away now (I am for the air) and spend tonight working toward a dark and fatal purpose (a dismal and a fatal end). Great work must be finished (wrought) before noon tomorrow. On the hook of the moon (on one of the tips of a crescent moon) hangs a drop of liquid (a vaporous drop) with great power; I’ll catch it before it falls to the ground, and using that, with magic, I’ll create spirits (sprites) that will (by their power of illusion) bring Macbeth to his destruction (confusion). He will deny fate, scorn death, and rely on his hopes even over wisdom, grace, and fear. And, as you all know, the feeling of security is mankind’s chief enemy.

Music and a song within: “Come away, come away,” etc.

Music and a dance should occur at this point, but we have little or nothing to go by. It’s possible that Shakespeare didn’t even write this entire scene, and it’s almost certain that he didn’t write the dance material. This is lost, and must be supplied for each new performance. There was likely a song called “Come Away,” four hundred years ago, and supplied by another artist, but we have no substantial materials to work with.

Imagine witches dancing and appropriate music.

Hark! I am call’d . . .

Hecate asks the witches to listen; she can hear her own familiar, sitting in a cloud, calling to her and waiting.

Come, let’s make haste; she’ll soon be back again.

Let’s get to work quickly; Hecate will come back soon.

Aside

In an aside, the character speaks privately to himself for a moment, or directly to the audience, or privately to some (but not all) of the other characters present.

As a matter of convention, an aside is always a true statement of what the character thinks. A character speaking in an aside may be mistaken, but may not be dishonest.

An aside (again as a matter of convention) cannot be heard by those not spoken to.

Exit

The character leaves the stage.

Exeunt Murderers.

Latin, literally “they leave.” The Murderers leave the stage.

Pronounced EX-ee-uhnt.

Exeunt all but Macbeth and Lady Macbeth.

Latin, literally “they leave.” Most of the players leave the stage, leaving Macbeth alone with Lady Macbeth.

Pronounced EX-ee-uhnt.

Exeunt

Latin, literally “they leave.” Everyone leaves the stage.

Pronounced EX-ee-uhnt.