about a regicide
and its aftermath. It is Shakespeare's shortest tragedy
and is believed to have been written sometime between 1603 and 1607. The earliest account of a performance of what was probably Shakespeare's play is April 1611, when Simon Forman
recorded seeing such a play at the Globe Theatre
. It was first published in the Folio of 1623
, possibly from a prompt book
Shakespeare's source for the tragedy are the accounts of King Macbeth of Scotland
, Macduff, and Duncan
in Holinshed's Chronicles
(1587), a history of England, Scotland and Ireland familiar to Shakespeare and his contemporaries.
First Witch: When shall we three meet againIn thunder, lightning, or in rain?Second Witch: When the hurlyburly's done,When the battle's lost and won.
Fair is foul, and foul is fair;Hover through the fog and filthy air.
The merciless Macdonwald(Worthy to be a rebel, — for, to that,The multiplying villainies of natureDo swarm upon him) from the Western IslesOf kerns and gallowglasses is supplied;And Fortune, on his damned quarrel smiling,Showed like a rebel's whore: but all's too weak:For brave Macbeth (well he deserves that name)Disdaining Fortune, with his brandish'd steel,Which smoked with bloody execution,Like valour's minion,Carv'd out his passage.
A sailor's wife had chestnuts in her lap,And munched, and munched, and munched:Give me, quoth I:Aroint thee, witch! the rump-fed ronyon cries.
Sleep shall neither night nor dayHang upon his pent-house lid.
So foul and fair a day I have not seen.
If you can look into the seeds of time,And say which grain will grow, and which will not,Speak.
The earth hath bubbles, as water has,And these are of them.
Or have we eaten on the insane rootThat takes the reason prisoner?