William Shakespeare’s “1 Henry IV”: A Retelling in Prose — Cast and Act 1, Scene 1



King Henry the Fourth.

Henry, Prince of Wales, son to the King. Aka Prince Hal.

Prince John of Lancaster, son to the King.

Earl of Westmoreland.

Sir Walter Blunt.


Thomas Percy, Earl of Worcester.

Henry Percy, Earl of Northumberland.

Henry Percy, his son.

Edmund Mortimer, Earl of March.

Scroop, Archbishop of York.

Sir Michael, his Friend.

Archibald, Earl of Douglas.

Owen Glendower.

Sir Richard Vernon.


Sir John Falstaff.

Edward “Ned” Poins.





Lady Percy, Wife to Hotspur.

Lady Mortimer, Daughter to Glendower.

Mrs. Quickly, Hostess in Eastcheap.


Lords, Officers, Sheriff, Vintner, Chamberlain, Drawers, Carriers, Travellers, and Attendants.

Chapter 1

— 1.1 —

In 1399, Henry Bolingbroke succeeded in deposing his first cousin King Richard II of England, thereby becoming King Henry IV. Even after becoming King, however, he ruled over an uneasy country, many citizens of which believed that he had unjustly seized the crown. After Richard II died, Henry IV vowed to go on a crusade to the Holy Land and return it to Christian hands. Political events, however, kept coming up that required delaying that crusade.

King Henry IV met with one of his younger sons, Lord John, who was Earl of Lancaster, as well as with the Earl of Westmoreland and Sir Walter Blunt, and others in his palace in London. King Henry IV was under great stress due to political and personal troubles.

Using the royal we, King Henry IV said, “We are shaken by events and wan with care, but let us find time and breath in this shaky and still-frightened peacetime to talk about the new battles that we intend to fight in distant foreign lands. No more will the English soil drink the blood of her children. No more will the English fields be filled with cutting war. No more will the English flowerets be bruised by the tread of armored warhorses. The soldiers of hostile forces that have recently opposed and killed each other in civil wars were all countrymen, as similar to each other as are shooting stars. Now, these formerly hostile forces shall all march as one in mutual well-ordered ranks. No more will they be opposed against acquaintances, relatives, and allies. They will be united for a common purpose. No more will the edge of war, as if it were an ill-sheathed knife, cut our people. Therefore, friends, we will hold a crusade and go as far as the sepulcher of Christ in Jerusalem. We are now the soldier of Christ, under Whose blessed cross we have been conscripted and for Whom we are pledged to fight. Therefore, we will raise an English army composed of people who were shaped in their mothers’ wombs and born to chase away the pagans from those holy fields over whose acres walked those blessed feet which fourteen hundred years ago were nailed for our benefit to the bitter cross. For twelve months, we have been planning to do this. You know this, so we need not tell you our plans again.”

He then ordered, “My noble kinsman Westmoreland, tell us what the council decided yesterday about planning this urgent crusade.”

The Earl of Westmoreland replied, “My liege, we hotly discussed this crusade, and we had assigned many specific military responsibilities, but we were interrupted by a messenger bearing important news from Wales. The news was bad concerning the noble Edmund Mortimer, Earl of March. He led the men of Herefordshire to fight the lawless and wild Owen Glendower, who captured him. The Welshmen butchered a thousand men of Herefordshire. The Welshwomen did such a beastly shameless transformation to those corpses that it cannot be retold or spoken about except with much shame.”

True, the Earl of Westmoreland thought. The wild Welshwomen castrated the English corpses.

King Henry IV said, “The news of this new battle must have necessarily stopped your debate about our crusade to the Holy Land.”

Westmoreland replied, “This news and other news did that. Other news, even more disturbing and unwelcome, came from the north of England. On Holy-rood day, September 14, young Harry Percy — known also as the gallant Hotspur — fought the brave Earl of Douglas, that ever-valiant Scot, at the hill of Holmedon. The news we received was that they were fighting a serious and bloody battle with much firing of artillery. Our messenger left at the peak of the battle and so was unable to report who would win the battle.”

“I have received more recent news than you about that battle,” King Henry IV said. “A dear, truly devoted friend, Sir Walter Blunt, has newly alighted from his horse. He and his horse are stained with the various kinds of soil that lie between the hill of Holmedon and this palace of ours in London. He has brought us pleasant and welcome news: Hotspur has defeated the Earl of Douglas. Sir Walter Blunt himself saw the bloody corpses of ten thousand bold Scots and twenty-two knights heaped in piles on the plains by Holmedon. Hotspur has taken some nobles prisoner: Mordake, who is the Earl of Fife and the oldest son of the defeated Douglas; and the Earl of Athol, the Earl of Murray, the Earl of Angus, and the Earl of Menteith. Is not this an honorable spoil? Is not this a gallant prize? Ha, Westmoreland, is it not?”

“Truly,” Westmoreland replied, “it is a conquest for a Prince to boast of.”

“Indeed it is,” King Henry IV said, “but you make me sad and make me sin in envy when you say that. I am envious that the Earl of Northumberland is the father to so blest a son as Hotspur. Anyone who wishes to speak of honor speaks about Hotspur. In a crowd of young men, Hotspur stands out; if he were a tree in a grove, he would be the very straightest tree in that grove. Hotspur is the darling and the pride of Fortune. I see people praise Hotspur, and then I look at my own oldest son, my young Harry — my Prince Hal and the future King of England — and I see debauchery and dishonor upon his brow. I wish that I could prove that a mischievous fairy had come by when the two Harrys were infants and had swapped them! In that case, Hotspur would be my son, and Prince Hal would be the son of the Earl of Northumberland. Such thinking is sinful. But let us move on to other matters. What is your opinion of young Hotspur’s pride? He has sent word to me that he shall deliver to me, from all his prisoners, only one: Mordake, the Earl of Fife. He has sent word to me that he will keep all the other prisoners. Hotspur knows that he cannot keep as prisoner Mordake, who is of royal blood, but all prisoners are required to be turned over to me, the King, so that we can ransom them.”

Westmoreland replied, “Hotspur must be following the advice of Thomas Percy, the Earl of Worcester, who is his uncle. Worcester is opposed to you in every way possible, and his advice is making Hotspur proud and resistant to your authority. He is like a proud bird that preens its feathers and raises its crest.”

“I have sent word to Hotspur to come to me and to answer for his actions,” King Henry IV said. “Because of this, I must for a while put aside my crusade to Jerusalem. On Wednesday, we will meet with the council at Windsor. Inform all the lords about the meeting, and then quickly return here. More is to be said and to be done. I am angry now, and I do not wish to speak publicly.”

“I will do as you wish, my liege,” Westmoreland said.

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Some Good Deeds from Reddit

“What’s the Greatest Thing Another Woman has Done For You?“

1) StrikeDearMistress wrote this:

“A girl from my university I had never really spoken to heard me cry in the bathroom and let me stay at her place for six weeks when I ran away from my abusive boyfriend. He tried his best to cut off my supporting network, but this perfect stranger saved me. 

“She even refused money for electricity and water! I cleaned the bath and the kitchen, cooked dinner, and did both our laundry, so I could at least thank her a little. During that time, she gave me plenty of personal space and access to her computer, so I could find a new place and write my papers. Without her, I would probably still be trapped and beaten into submission. She was my angel.”

2) LegsForAboutAnHour wrote, “Held me while I cried because of abortion pains, then drove me to the ER [Emergency Room] when I was dying. Also saved me from suicide. Forever thankful for my mom.”

3) amgov wrote, “Gave birth to me. Thanks, Mum!”

4) crazyaunt0 wrote, “I was 17, had a whole year of high school ahead and had to have an abortion. Abortions are free here, but I’d just treated a yeast infection and had to take a test to make sure it was gone. Usually it’s also free, but takes several days, and time was almost up, so I was supposed to pay for it to be done urgently. It was ridiculously cheap, like $3, but I didn’t have ANY money, there was no such thing as allowance and ‘my’ money in our family. Parents didn’t know, so I couldn’t ask them. I didn’t even have to tell all this to my gynecologist, she just paid for the test herself. Or maybe she somehow let this go as a free test in her paperwork, I don’t know. So this woman helped me not to fuck up my life with this seemingly small deed. I’ve realised it only recently, almost 10 years after, and I’m very grateful, but I have no idea what her name was, and I’m kinda sad about this. (She wasn’t my usual gynecologist; I chose her randomly only for the abortion and never went to that clinic again).”[1]


“What is the Nicest Secret You Know about Someone Else Which They Aren’t Aware You Know?”

Zugzoolives wrote this:

“This was years ago.

“When I was a child, my house was robbed. The man was caught when he tried pawning some of the stolen items. He was sent to jail. We will call him Q.

“Out of curiosity, she [my mother] had a P.I. [Private Investigator] look into Q’s life, and found that Q had two small kids, and the children’s mother was not involved in their lives. The two kids were now in custody of their grandmother, who lived in public housing on SS [Social Security] income. 

“One Christmas, I found boxes with a strange address of them. My stepdad told me that my mom had been secretly sending Christmas gifts to Q’s children every year. She didn’t want them to have a sad Christmas just because their father was in jail. She hadn’t told anyone but him [my stepfather], and didn’t want to make a big deal about it. 

“P.S. — I know the P.I. thing sounds weird. Her hobby is genealogy. She has a P.I. she regularly uses to track down long-lost cousins and whatnot, in order to map out family trees. So it’s not like she went and found one specifically for this. It’s more like she was shaken up by being burglarized, and wanted to know as much as possible about why someone would do that to us, and she happened to be working with a P.I. at the time.”[2]


“What is the Best Thing You’ve Ever Gotten for Free?”

1) Top-Floor wrote, “Back when I was working in a coffee shop in the early 90’s, one of my regular customers gave me a check for $450 to pay for a dentist visit to fix my abscessed tooth. He saw that I was in pain throughout the week and asked me why I didn’t just go to the dentist to get it fixed. I told him I had no insurance and couldn’t afford to pay for it. He walked back to work after getting his coffee and showed up 10 minutes later with the check. I was blown away. Refused payment of any kind when I tried to pay him back.”

2) ksozay wrote this:

“All right, I’m going to post this and I hope one person sees it:

“My mother and I didn’t have the best relationship growing up. Parents divorced when I was 11 and I chose to live with my dad, just because I didn’t want to move for what felt like the 45th time and try to make new friends again. That didn’t make my mom very happy, and our relationship never recovered.

“My mom came to live with me when I was in my 20s. She was sick, only we didn’t know it at the time. In the year we lived together, one day her father passed. She was distraught and sat on the staircase sobbing. I just held her, but didn’t have the maturity or understanding to be as empathetic as I should have been. So I just held her. 

“She left a few days later, moving to take care of her mom. Before she left, my mother gave me this small stone that had the word ‘Remember’ engraved in it. And she handed me this stone and told me to always remember what she felt for me. That no matter what happened between us, she never stopped loving me, never stopped wanting the best for me, never stopped being proud that I was her son. 

“My mother died a few years later from an illness she had suffered from, unbeknownst to my family, for quite some time. She passed in 2006. While she lay in a coma on her deathbed, I repeated those words back to her, ensuring that she knew that I did in fact remember.

“I’ve been given, purchased, accumulated some shit in my life. I’ve married a woman that I feel a type of love for that I didn’t think was possible. And she’s given me a daughter whom I’d give my life to protect. But the best thing in life I’ve ever gotten for free?

“That rock. 

“Because that rock is largely responsible for the man I am. My ability to recognize the amazing love I feel for my wife, and the determination to BE a good husband and parent for my family. I owe my mother that, and her gift to me is a reminder of that EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.

“Mom, if you are somewhere and if you can read this, 

“This one is for you. 

“Thank you for everything.”[3]


“Reddit, How Did You Ask Your First Person on a Date?”

billbapapa wrote this:

“Football practice in high school.

“I kept running into this girl each night after practice, and she actually wanted to talk to me. She was on the field hockey team and looked pretty cute in her kilt.

“The other players noticed I was talking to her each night after practice. One day when we were warming up they all started laying into me about how I needed to ask her out — like RIGHT THEN. They were pointing over [to her] and calling her my girlfriend and wouldn’t shut up.

“So 15 years old, peer pressure is a bitch, but in this case, it was useful.

“I yelled to the coach, ‘Sir, I need a few minutes, I really gotta do something…’ and jumped outta the line where everyone was stretching, ran over to her end of the football field, and told her, “Hey, I’m not good at this, but I really like talking to you each night, and wondered if maybe you’d wanna go on a date or something?”

“She grabbed the marker from their little white board thing they drew plays on, grabbed my arm and wrote her phone number on my forearm, and told me to call her.

“Then I ran back with my arm in the air like a champion.

“Coach was still really pissed and made me run laps.”[4]


“[Serious] Scientists of Reddit, What Happened When Your Research Found the Opposite of What Your Funder Wanted?”

billbapapa wrote this:

“I was only a grad student at the time, my paper wasn’t some smoking gun that would kill the funder’s reputation, but it basically said, ‘Yeah, I did a survey of all the uses of ______ medical procedure, put it into a math machine, and it came back saying there was no proof the procedure had any impact positive or negative on the outcome.’ The funder did sell equipment used in the procedure, etc.

“So I took it to my prof who had the grant, he looked at it, I asked, ‘What should I do?’

“So he printed it out, which was weird. Then he took a pen and crossed his name off the front, flipped to the end and scratched the part out where I thanked the funder.

“Then said, ‘Now your paper is perfect, please submit it to ______, it should get accepted, it was good work but let’s not talk about it again.’”[5]

[1] Source: jordsmamords, “What’s the greatest thing another woman has done for you?“ AskWomen. Reddit. 24 June 2017 <http://tinyurl.com/y7eq4sxg>.

[2] Source: ThnkWthPrtls, “What is the nicest secret you know about someone else which they aren’t aware you know?” AskReddit. 26 June 2017 <http://tinyurl.com/y7jkdznr>.

[3] Source: eflam3, “What is the Best Thing You’ve Ever Gotten for Free?” Reddit. 26 June 2017 <http://tinyurl.com/y7647bq2>.

[4] Source: bradytheg0at, “Reddit, How Did You Ask Your First Person on a Date?” Reddit. 21 June 2017 <https://tinyurl.com/ycywxk7n>.

[5] Source: ocallanan, “[Serious] Scientists of Reddit, what happened when your research found the opposite of what your funder wanted?” Reddit. 22 June 2017 <http://tinyurl.com/ybw66snl>.

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William Shakespeare’s “Macbeth”: A Retelling in Prose — Act 5, Scene 8 (Conclusion)

— 5.8 —

Macbeth, knowing that he had lost the battle, thought, Why should I play the Roman fool, and commit suicide by throwing myself on my own sword? Let Brutus or Cassius commit suicide when they see that their cause is lost. While I see enemy soldiers, gashes made by my sword look better on their bodies.

Macduff saw Macbeth and ordered, “Turn around, Hell-hound, turn around!”

Recognizing Macduff, Macbeth said, “Of all men, I have been avoiding you. Don’t fight me. My soul is already too much burdened with the blood of your wife and children. I do not want to add your blood to my burden of guilt.”

“I will not talk,” Macduff said. “My sword will do the talking. You are a bloodier villain than words can express.”

Macduff attacked Macbeth, who fiercely fought back.

At a pause in the fight, Macbeth said to Macduff, “You are wasting your time trying to kill me. You can kill air with your sword as easily as you can kill me. Go and fight soldiers who can be killed. I lead a charmed life. No man born of woman can kill me.”

“Your charm is worthless,” Macduff replied. “The evil spirit whom you have served and still serve can tell you that I was from my mother’s womb prematurely ripped. I was not born through the birth canal but had to be cut out of her womb to save my life.”

“May you be damned to Hell for telling me this!” Macbeth shouted. “You have taken away my confidence. Let no one believe the Weird Sisters — those deceiving fiends who trick mortals with equivocating words that appear as if they are good but that are in reality evil. I will not fight you.”

“Then surrender, coward,” Macduff said. “We will exhibit you before the gaze of your former subjects. We will treat you the way we treat deformed animals and make you a freakshow. We will paint your portrait on a sign on a pole along with the words ‘Here may you see the tyrant’!”

“I will not surrender and kiss the ground before young Malcolm’s feet, and I will not be subjected to cruel treatment and abuse by my subjects,” Macbeth said. “Although Birnam Forest has marched to Dunsinane and although you are not of woman born, yet I will try to kill you. In front of my body, I hold my shield. Fight, Macduff, and damned be the first man who cries, ‘Stop! I have had enough!’”

They fought.

Elsewhere, Malcolm, Siward, Ross, and the other Thanes were meeting.

“Not all of our friends are accounted for,” Malcolm said. “I hope that they survived the battle.”

“Some soldiers die in every battle,” Old Siward said. “Judging by the number of corpses we see, we have won a great battle while losing very few lives.”

“Macduff is missing, and so is your noble son,” Malcolm said.

Ross said to Old Siward, “Your son, my lord, has paid a soldier’s debt on the battlefield. He lived only until he reached adulthood. As soon as he became an adult, he proved his manhood by valiantly fighting. He died courageously, as befits a man.”

“My son is dead?” Old Siward asked.

“Yes,” Ross replied. “His corpse has been carried off the battlefield. If you were to mourn him as much as he is worth, you would never stop mourning him.”

“Were his wounds in the front?” Old Siward asked, knowing that cowards who run away are wounded in the back.

“Yes, they were in the front,” Ross replied.

“Then he deserves to be — and is — a soldier of God,” Old Siward said. “Had I as many sons as I have hairs, none could have a more honorable death than that of Young Siward. And so the death bell tolls for my son.”

“He deserves to be mourned more greatly than this,” Malcolm said, “and I shall mourn him.”

“No greater mourning is needed,” said the stoical Old Siward. “He died well and honorably. He settled all of his accounts. Look! Here comes better news!”

Macduff, carrying the decapitated head of Macbeth, said to Malcolm, “You are now King. Hail, King! Look at the cursed head of the tyrant. Scotland is now free from tyranny. I see around you the nobles of Scotland, and I ask them to join me in this cry: Hail, King of Scotland!”

Macduff and the nobles shouted, “Hail, King of Scotland!”

Malcolm said, “Not much time will pass before I reward you for your loyalty. I owe you now, and I will repay you. My Thanes and kinsmen, henceforth be Earls — the first Earls ever in Scotland. Much remains to be done with the dawn of this new era. We must call from abroad our friends in exile who fled from Macbeth’s tyranny. We must find the cruel supporters of this dead butcher and his fiend-like Queen, who is thought to have committed suicide. These and other things, God willing, we will do justly and at the right time and place. Thank you, all, and I invite you to see me crowned at Scone as the rightful King of Scotland.”

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Michael Gregor, MD: Turning the Clock Back 14 Years (YouTube)

Michael Gregor, MD: Turning the Clock Back 14 Years (YouTube)

Four simple health behaviors may cut our risk of chronic disease by nearly 80%, potentially dropping our risk of dying equivalent to that of being 14 years younger.



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Lize Bard: Pace — Haiku out of africa

I want to slow down ~ I want to have some more time ~ to count my words © Lize Bard @ https://wandererhaiku.wordpress.com/

via Pace — Haiku out of africa

COMMENT: I see what you did there — CLEVER!

Posted in Haiku, Impressive, Poetry | Leave a comment

William Shakespeare’s “Macbeth”: A Retelling in Prose — Act 5, Scenes 4, 5, 6, and 7

— 5.4 —

Malcolm, Old Siward and Young Siward, Macduff, Menteith, Caithness, Angus, Lennox, and Ross rode horses near Birnam Forest. Many soldiers marched near them.

“Kinsmen,” Malcolm said, “I hope the time is near at hand when Scots can again be safe in their own homes.”

Menteith said, “All of us believe that will happen soon.”

Old Siward asked, “What forest is this ahead of us?”

“Birnam Forest,” Menteith said.

Malcolm ordered the soldiers, “Let every soldier cut down a branch and carry it in front of him. That way, we can hide the number of soldiers in our army and Macbeth’s scouts will make false reports of our army’s strength.”

The soldiers replied, “We shall do it.”

Old Siward said, “According to our own scouts, the impudent Macbeth is fortifying Dunsinane and will not attack us in open battle. He is willing to endure our setting siege to the castle.”

“Dunsinane is his main fortress,” Malcolm said. “He is forced to stay there. Whoever is able to desert him does so, whether they are nobility or common people. The soldiers who stay with him are forced to stay. They do not respect Macbeth and do not want to die for him. If Macbeth were to take the field, his soldiers would desert him.”

Macduff said, “Let us do our judging of soldiers after the battle is over. For now, let us fight.”

Old Siward said, “Soon we will find out whether we win or lose the war. We can talk and we can hope, but it will be fighting that wins the war.”

— 5.5 —

In a room in the castle at Dunsinane stood Macbeth, Seyton, and some soldiers.

Macbeth ordered, “Hang our banners on the walls of the castle that face the enemy. The news is still, ‘They come!’ But the strength of our castle will laugh a siege to scorn. Let the enemy soldiers lay siege until famine and fever eat them up. If they were not reinforced with deserters from my army, we might have boldly met them in open battle, beard to beard, and beat them back to England.”

Some women in the castle screamed.

“What is that noise?” Macbeth asked.

“It is the cry of women, my good lord,” Seyton said. He left to investigate the cause of the screams.

I have almost forgot what fear tastes like, Macbeth thought. At one time, my senses would have cooled if I had heard a scream at night and my hair would have risen and stood on end when I heard a scary story. But I have experienced so many murderous horrors that they are so familiar to me that a new horror cannot startle me.

Seyton entered the room.

“What is the cause of that screaming?” Macbeth asked.

“The Queen, my lord, is dead,” Seyton replied.

“She should have died at a later time,” Macbeth said. “Then I would have had time to mourn her. But she would inevitably die sometime, so now is as good a time as any.”

He thought, Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow creep along from day to day until the end of time. And all our yesterdays have lighted fools the way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle of life! Life is only a walking shadow that passes quickly away. Life is only a poor actor who struts and frets his hour upon the stage and then is heard no more. Life is meaningless: It is a tale told by an idiot, it is full of sound and fury, and it means nothing.

A messenger entered the room.

“You came here to tell me something,” Macbeth said. “Tell me quickly what you have to say.”

“My gracious lord,” the messenger said, “I need to report to you what I saw, but I do not know how to do it.”

“Just tell me,” Macbeth ordered.

“As I was doing guard duty on the hill, I looked toward Birnam Forest, and it seemed to me that the forest began to move.”

“Liar and slave!” Macbeth raged.

“If I am lying, punish me,” the messenger said. “Look for yourself and you will see the forest is now only three miles away and moving toward us.”

Macbeth said, “If you are lying, I will hang you alive from the nearest tree and let you die of hunger. If you are telling the truth, I will not mind if you do that to me.”

Macbeth thought, My confidence is disappearing, and I suspect that the apparition the three Weird Sisters showed me was equivocating and deliberately misleading me, making me think that one thing is true when actually something different is true. The apparition told me, “Fear not, until Birnam Forest comes to Dunsinane.”

Macbeth said, “Let us not wait to be besieged! Instead, let us arm for battle and go forth from the castle! If this messenger is telling the truth, it is no use for me either to try to run away or to stay here and endure a siege.”

Macbeth thought, I begin to grow weary of the Sun and of life itself. I wish that the universe were plunged into chaos.

Macbeth said, “Ring the alarm bell! Blow, storm! Come, vengeance!”

Macbeth thought, At least I’ll die with armor on my back.

He had decided that if he should die, so be it. Still, he had some confidence in the third apparition’s prophecy: “No man born of woman shall harm Macbeth.”

— 5.6 —

Malcolm, Old Siward, and Macduff, along with many soldiers holding tree branches in front of them, stood outside Macbeth’s castle at Dunsinane.

Malcolm ordered, “We are close enough to the castle. Throw down the leafy tree branches and show yourselves to the enemy. Old Siward, you and your noble son, Young Siward, shall lead our first battalion. Macduff and I will do whatever else is needed to be done.”

Old Siward replied, “Fare you well. We go to find the tyrant’s army. If we cannot conquer the tyrant, we deserve to be beaten.”

“Make all our trumpets speak,” Malcolm said. “Blow all of them. Give them all breath, those noisy announcers of blood and death.”

— 5.7 —

Macbeth had led his few forces out of the castle and onto the battlefield, where they were badly losing.

Macbeth thought, I am like a bear that is tied to a stake for the night’s bloody entertainment of a bear fighting dogs. I cannot run away, but I must fight the dogs that attack me. Who is the man, if anyone, who was not born of woman? I must fear that man, or no man.

Young Siward saw Macbeth and asked him, “What is your name?”

“If I tell you my name, I will frighten you,” Macbeth said.

“No, you won’t,” Young Siward said. “Not even if you have a name that is hotter than any name in Hell.”

“My name is Macbeth.”

“Satan himself could not pronounce a name that is more hateful to my ear.”

“Or one that makes you more afraid.”

“You lie, hated tyrant! With my sword I will show you that your name causes no fear in me!”

Macbeth and Young Siward fought, and Macbeth killed Young Siward.

Macbeth said over the corpse, “You were born of woman, but I smile at the swords and laugh at the other weapons of all men who were born of woman.”

Macduff, who was seeking Macbeth elsewhere on the battlefield, shouted, “I seek the place where the most fighting is because that is where Macbeth will be. Tyrant, show your face! If you are already slain by no stroke of mine, my wife’s and my children’s ghosts will continue to haunt me. I will not strike at wretched foot soldiers, mercenaries who bear arms for money. Either I kill you, Macbeth, or I sheathe my sword with an unbloodied and unbattered edge. The great clamor I hear must be announcing your presence. Let me find Macbeth, god of Fortune! I ask for nothing more.”

Elsewhere, Old Siward and Malcolm met and talked about the battle.

“This way, my lord,” Old Siward said to Malcolm. “The castle surrendered to us without a fight. Most of the tyrant’s soldiers have turned against him and are now on our side. The battle is almost won. Little is left to do.”

Malcolm said, “We have met with ‘enemy’ soldiers who join our cause and fight by our sides against a common enemy: Macbeth.”

“Sir, enter the castle,” Old Siward said.

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William Shakespeare’s “Macbeth”: A Retelling in Prose — Act 5, Scenes 2 and 3

— 5.2 —

The Scottish nobles Menteith, Caithness, Angus, and Lennox, as well as many Scottish soldiers, were in a field. These nobles — rebels against Macbeth — were planning to meet and join the soldiers led by Malcolm.

Menteith said, “The English army is near, led on by Malcolm, his uncle Old Siward and the good Macduff. They burn to get revenge against Macbeth. The causes they have for revenge would rouse even a dead man to the bloody and fierce call to arms against Macbeth.”

Angus said, “We will meet the English army near Birnam Forest. That is the way their soldiers are marching.”

Caithness asked, “Is Donalbain with his brother, Malcolm?”

“No, sir, he is not,” Lennox replied. “I have a list of the gentry who are with Malcolm. Old Siward’s son is with Malcolm, as are many beardless youths who are now declaring themselves to be men by marching against Macbeth.”

“What is the tyrant Macbeth doing?” Menteith asked.

“He is fortifying his castle at Dunsinane,” Caithness replied. “Some people say that he is insane. Other people, who hate him less, call it valiant fury. Either way, he lacks self-control, and he cannot control the soldiers who should be fighting for him. Because he lacks soldiers who are willing to fight for him in open battle, he is preparing for a siege.”

“Now he can no longer blame his murders on other people, the way he blamed King Duncan’s murder on the King’s bodyguards and the King’s sons,” Angus said. “The blood of the people he has murdered now sticks to his hands. His subjects now continually rebel against him because of his many treacheries. He forces his soldiers to obey his orders — none of his soldiers obeys him out of respect. His crown is too large for him — he is not man enough to be King. His wearing the crown is like a dwarfish thief trying to wear a giant’s robe.”

“Everything that is inside Macbeth condemns his murders and other evils,” Menteith said. “No one can blame Macbeth’s tormented senses and awareness of guilt for causing him to act in fits of irrational anger.”

“Let us march forward,” Caithness said. “We will obey the orders of Malcolm, the true King to whom we truly owe allegiance. He will be the doctor of our sickly country, and with our blood we will help him purge the evil that is Macbeth.”

“We will use our blood to water the flower that is our rightful King and make it grow, and we will use our blood to drown the weed that is Macbeth,” Lennox said. “Now let us march to Birnam Forest.”

— 5.3 —

In a room in the castle at Dunsinane, Macbeth raged — the doctor and some servants witnessed his rage.

“Bring me no more reports,” Macbeth ordered. “I know that the Thanes are deserting me and going to support Malcolm, and I don’t care. Until Birnam Forest marches to Dunsinane, I shall fear nothing. What is the boy Malcolm to me? A danger? No! He was born of woman. Supernatural spirits that know the future of mortals have told me, ‘Fear not, Macbeth; no man who is born of woman shall ever have power over you.’ So desert me, disloyal Thanes, and support the effeminate and decadent English. My mind and my heart shall never sag with doubt nor shake with fear.”

A servant, pale with fear, entered the room.

Macbeth yelled at the servant, “May Satan turn you black, you cream-faced fool! Where did you get that foolish look of fear? You look like a frightened goose.”

His voice shaking with fear, the servant said, “There is ten thousand —”

Macbeth finished the sentence for him, “Geese, fool?”

“Soldiers, sir,” the servant said.

“Go prick your face and use the red blood to cover the whiteness of your frightened face, you lily-livered boy! What soldiers, fool? May your soul die! Your linen cheeks are witnesses of your fear. What soldiers, milk-face?”

“The English force, so please you.”

“Take your face away from here,” Macbeth ordered.

The servant left the room.

Macbeth began to call for an officer, whose name was Seyton.

“Seyton!” Macbeth called. “I am sick at heart, when I see such cowards. Seyton, come here!”

Macbeth thought, This battle will either establish me permanently on the throne or take the throne away from me.

He paused, then he thought, I have lived long enough. My life is now like a withered, dry, yellow leaf of autumn, ready to fall and die as winter arrives. All those things that an old man who has lived well should have — honor, love, loyalty, and troops of friends — I will not have. Instead, I will have curses that are not loud but are deep, the signs of honor that I force my subjects to show to me, and flattery — flattery that my subjects will not like to engage in but will be too afraid not to.

He yelled, “Seyton!”

Seyton entered the room and said, “What is your gracious pleasure?”

“Is there any more news?”

“All that was reported to you has been confirmed to be true.”

“I’ll fight until my flesh is hacked from my bones,” Macbeth said, “Give me my armor.”

“It is not needed yet,” Seyton said.

“I’ll put it on anyway,” Macbeth said. “Send out more people on horseback; let them scout the country around the castle and hang anyone who talks of fear. Give me my armor.”

Then Macbeth said, “How is your patient, doctor?”

“She is not so sick, lord,” the doctor said, “as she is troubled with numerous illusions and hallucinations that keep her from sleeping.”

“Cure her of that,” Macbeth ordered, “if you can. Can you treat a diseased mind? Can you remove her sorrows from her memory? Can you give her a drug that will clean away everything that weighs upon her heart?”

“Only the patient can heal that kind of illness,” the doctor said.

“In that case, let medical science go to the dogs,” Macbeth thundered. “I don’t want it.”

He said to Seyton, “Come, put my armor on. Give me my lance.”

He said to the doctor, “The Thanes fly from me.”

He said to Seyton, “Faster.”

He said to the doctor, “If you are able to, analyze the urine of my country, discover what disease it suffers from, and cure it so that Scotland has a sound and pristine health. If you can do that, I will applaud you until the echo of my applause returns to you.”

Having finished putting on his armor, Macbeth said to Seyton, “Pull my armor off, I say.”

Macbeth said to the doctor, “What rhubarb, senna, or purgative drug would purge Scotland of these English soldiers? Have you heard about the soldiers?”

“Yes, my good lord,” the doctor said. “I know that you are preparing for war.”

Macbeth said to Seyton, who was holding the armor he had taken off Macbeth, “Carry the armor behind me. I will not be afraid of death and destruction and bane until Birnam Forest comes to Dunsinane.”

Macbeth and Seyton left, and the doctor thought, Were I from Dunsinane away and clear, a large sum of money would not again draw me here.

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