Macbeth Monologue (Act 3 Scene 1) | Monologues Unpacked
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Macbeth Monologue (Act 3 Scene 1)

Written by on | Monologues Unpacked Shakespeare

It’s safe to say Macbeth has put himself through the ringer so far throughout the play. He’s been in battle, he’s wrestled with his conscience and his wife over killing King Duncan, and ultimately he’s gone through with the regicide. But he’s still not settled. Why? Well, this is where we see Macbeth really start to spiral. Macbeth begins to become afraid of any and all around him who could take his power from him. First and foremost Banquo: his oldest and most trusted friend in the play. In this monologue Macbeth philosophizes the threat that Banquo, and his children hold to his power.

Original Text Act 3 Scene 1

To be thus is nothing;
But to be safely thus.–Our fears in Banquo
Stick deep; and in his royalty of nature
Reigns that which would be fear’d: ’tis much he dares;
And, to that dauntless temper of his mind,
He hath a wisdom that doth guide his valour
To act in safety. There is none but he
Whose being I do fear: and, under him,
My Genius is rebuked; as, it is said,
Mark Antony’s was by Caesar. He chid the sisters
When first they put the name of king upon me,
And bade them speak to him: then prophet-like
They hail’d him father to a line of kings:
Upon my head they placed a fruitless crown,
And put a barren sceptre in my gripe,
Thence to be wrench’d with an unlineal hand,
No son of mine succeeding. If ‘t be so,
For Banquo’s issue have I filed my mind;
For them the gracious Duncan have I murder’d;
Put rancours in the vessel of my peace
Only for them; and mine eternal jewel
Given to the common enemy of man,
To make them kings, the seed of Banquo kings!
Rather than so, come fate into the list.
And champion me to the utterance!

 

Modern Translation: “To be thus is nothing”

To be King is nothing
But to be safely King. My fears about Banquo
Are great; And in his natural royalness
Runs a bloodline that I should fear; Banquo is brave;
And his mind never stops
He has a wisdom that guides this bravery
While staying safe. There is one but Banquo
Who I fear, and around him
My guardian angel is afraid, and as legend goes
Marc Antonys angel was afraid of Caesar’s. Banquo talked down to the sisters
When they first told me I would be King
And told them to tell his future. Then like prophets
They said his children would be Kings
They placed upon my head an heir less crown
And put a sceptre in my hands that I can’t pass on
Then they will be wrenched from my hands by someone outside my family
Since I have no son to take my place; if this is true
Then I’ve destroyed my mind for Banquos children
I’ve killed King Duncan for Banquos children, for them
I’ve lost my peace
Just for Banquos children, I’ve handed my soul to the devil
To make them Kings! Banquos children, kings!
Rather than let that happen, I’ll fight fate
To the death!

 

Verse Breakdown

Bold = Stressed
Unbold = Unstressed
(F) = Feminine Ending

 

To be thus is nothing;
But to be safely thus.–Our fears in Banquo (F)
Stick deep; and in his royalty of nature
Reigns that which would be fear’d: ’tis much he dares;
And, to that dauntless temper of his mind,
He hath a wisdom that doth guide his valour (F)
To act in safety. There is none but he
Whose being I do fear: and, under him,
My Genius is rebuked; as, it is said,
Mark Antony’s was by Caesar. He chid the sisters (F)
When first they put the name of king upon me, (F)
And bade them speak to him: then prophet-like
They hail’d him father to a line of kings:
Upon my head they placed a fruitless crown,
And put a barren sceptre in my gripe,
Thence to be wrench’d with an unlineal hand,
No son of mine succeeding. If ‘t be so,
For Banquo’s issue have I filed my mind;
For them the gracious Duncan have I murder’d; (F)
Put rancours in the vessel of my peace
Only for them; and mine eternal jewel
Given to the common enemy of man,
To make them kings, the seed of Banquo kings!
Rather than so, come fate into the list.
And champion me to the utterance!

 

Thought Breakdown & Analysis

To be thus is nothing;
To be King is nothing;
We start the monologue with a strong statement. Being the king means nothing unless…


But to be safely thus.–Our fears in Banquo
But to be King and safe. — My fears in Banquo are strong.
Macbeth is afraid of Banquo. Which is why being the king means nothing unless he’s safe.


Stick deep; and in his royalty of nature
He is a natural King and this runs in his blood and that should be feared. 


Reigns that which would be fear’d: ’tis much he dares;
Banquo is brave.
Macbeth remembers the prophecies the witches gave him and Banquo. One of which was that his children would one day be Kings. He also know that Banquo is brave.


And, to that dauntless temper of his mind,
And his mind never stops.
Macbeth knows that Banquo will be thinking about this too.


He hath a wisdom that doth guide his valour
His wisdom guides his bravery.
His smarts guide any bravery he exhibits to…


To act in safety. There is none but he
To keep himself safe. There is no one I fear but Banquo.
Macbeth knows his wisdom will keep him safe no matter how brave Banquo may be. And because of that Macbeth isn’t afraid of no one but him.


Whose being I do fear: and, under him,
And around him,


My Genius is rebuked; as, it is said, 
My guardian angel is afraid.
Macbeth thinks even his guardian angel can’t protect him. This shows us just how paranoid and deathly afraid Macbeth is of Banquo and how desperately he wants to cling to his power.


Mark Antony’s was by Caesar. He chid the sisters
As legend has it, Marc Antonys guardian angel was afraid of Octavius Caesar.
This is Macbeth comparing himself to Marc Antony.


When first they put the name of king upon me,
He laughed at the witches when they said I would be king.
He notes Banquos response to their prophecy.


And bade them speak to him: then prophet-like
And told them to speak to him: Then like prophets.


They hail’d him father to a line of kings:
They said he would be the father of Kings.
Macbeth is philosiphizing over Banquos prophecy.


Upon my head they placed a fruitless crown,
They placed a childless crown on my head.


And put a barren sceptre in my gripe,
And put a sceptre in my hands that can have no children.


Thence to be wrench’d with an unlineal hand,
Then they will be wrenched from my hands by someone outside my family.


No son of mine succeeding. If ‘t be so,
Since I have no son to take my place.
Macbeth is afraid because the witches said Banquos children would be Kings and Macbeth has no children. At least not anymore. 


For Banquo’s issue have I filed my mind;
If this is true: Then I’ve destroyed my mind for Banquos children.


For them the gracious Duncan have I murder’d;
For them I’ve murdered King Duncan.


Put rancours in the vessel of my peace
For them I’ve destroyed my peace of mind.
Macbeth realised that if the prophecies are true. Then everything he’s done so far will have all been for Banquos children.


Only for them; and mine eternal jewel
All for them; and my soul


Given to the common enemy of man,
Have I given to the devil.
He knows he’ll go to hell. But for what?


To make them kings, the seed of Banquo kings!
To make them kings, Banquos children Kings!
For Banquos children.


Rather than so, come fate into the list.
Rather than let that happen, let fate step up to the plate.


And champion me to the utterance!
And fight me to the death!
Macbeth has made the decision in this monologue to do whatever it takes to stay King. Even if it means killing his most trusted friend, his friends children, and driving his wife away and ultimately to madness.

 

Unfamiliar Language

Nature (n.)
personality, innate disposition, character

Stick (v.)
old form: sticke
pierce, stab, wound

Royalty (n.)
old form: Royaltie
regal quality, majestic character, lordliness

Safety (n.)
old form: safetie
prudent course of action, best safeguard

Rebuke (v.)
repress, put down, check

Genius (n.)
old form: rebuk’d
attendant spirit, guardian spirit

Chide (v.)
past form chid
scold, rebuke, reprove

Gripe (n.)
grip, hold, grasp

Unlineal (adj.)
old form: vnlineall
not of the same family, of different descent

Issue (n.)
child(ren), offspring, family, descendant

File (v.)
old form: fil’d
defile, corrupt, taint

Gracious (adj.)
filled with divine grace, godly, devout

Rancour (n.)
bitterness, hatred, malice

Eternal (adj.)
old form: eternall
immortal, everlasting

List (n.)
old form: Lyst
(usually plural) combat arena at a tournament

Champion (v.)
challenge, defy, face

Utterance (n.)
old form: vtterance
to the bitter end, to the death

Conclusion

So there you are! I hope that helped unlock this awesome Macbeth monologue. Remember this is only the beginning. Your work with Shakespeare is always very personal, and you have to do your own detective work. You may disagree with a lot of what we’ve discussed but hopefully, it’s given you plenty to reflect on. If you love the character of Macbeth, but feel this monologue isn’t the right fit, check out our full list of Macbeth Monologues.

About the Author

Jake Fryer-Hornsby

Jake Fryer-Hornsby is an actor, writer, and educator based in Sydney, and originally hailing from regional Western Australia. Jake graduated from WAAPA in 2017 and since then has gone on to work on and off stages around the country. You can find Jake taking shelter from the sun in any number of outdoor areas and/or on the hunt for his next caffeine fix.

About the Author

Jake Fryer-Hornsby

Jake Fryer-Hornsby is an actor, writer, and educator based in Sydney, and originally hailing from regional Western Australia. Jake graduated from WAAPA in 2017 and since then has gone on to work on and off stages around the country. You can find Jake taking shelter from the sun in any number of outdoor areas and/or on the hunt for his next caffeine fix.

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