Act III - Scene V

[A heath.]

Thunder. Enter the three Witches, meeting Hecate.

FIRST WITCH:
Why, how now, Hecate? You look angerly.
HECATE:
Have I not reason, beldams as you are,
Saucy and overbold? How did you dare
To trade and traffic with Macbeth
In riddles and affairs of death;(5)
And I, the mistress of your charms,
The close contriver of all harms,
Was never call'd to bear my part,
Or show the glory of our art?
And, which is worse, all you have done(10)
Hath been but for a wayward son,
Spiteful and wrathful: who, as others do,
Loves for his own ends, not for you.
But make amends now. Get you gone,
And at the pit of Acheron(15)
Meet me i’ the morning. Thither he
Will come to know his destiny.
Your vessels and your spells provide,
Your charms and every thing beside.
I am for the air; this night I'll spend(20)
Unto a dismal and a fatal end.
Great business must be wrought ere noon:
Upon the corner of the moon
There hangs a vaporous drop profound;
I'll catch it ere it come to ground.(25)
And that distill'd by magic sleights
Shall raise such artificial sprites
As by the strength of their illusion
Shall draw him on to his confusion.
He shall spurn fate, scorn death, and bear(30)
His hopes ’bove wisdom, grace, and fear.
And you all know security
Is mortals’ chiefest enemy. Music, and a song
Hark! I am call'd; my little spirit, see,
Sits in a foggy cloud and stays for me.(35)

Sing within[:] Come away, Come away, etc.

FIRST WITCH:
Come, let's make haste; she'll soon be back
again.

Exeunt.

Footnotes

  1. Acheron is one of the rivers in Hades according to classical Greek mythology. Since it is associated with the underworld, then it has connections to the Christian concept of hell, evil, and the devil. The witches have been portrayed as associated with the devil, so Hecate suggesting they all meet at "the pit of Acheron" reinforces this notion that they are wholly evil.

    — Wesley, Owl Eyes Editor
  2. Hecate chastises the other witches for their attention to Macbeth. She states here that he "loves for his own ends," which means that Macbeth only listens to the witches for his own purposes and not for any kind of loyalty or love. This concept is another example of how dissimilar this scene is with the other scene with the witches, because Hecate is referring to attitudes and feelings that Shakespeare did not discuss nor mention early in the play.

    — Wesley, Owl Eyes Editor
  3. This scene is generally considered incongruous with the rest of the play, and the part of Hecate is omitted from some modern representations. Shakespearean scholar A. C. Bradley suggests that Thomas Middleton potentially included this scene at a later date, based on, for example, the fact that the two songs in the stage directions here have been found in Middleton's The Witch. Considering this, Act III Scene v may be skipped in its entirety and the play will easily continue without any of the information here.

    — Wesley, Owl Eyes Editor