Scene:  The same.  Alone, Bathsheba is reading.  Enter Malcolm.  Bathsheba turns to him.

Bathsheba:  My lord.  *Bathsheba looks intently upon Malcolm.*  Your pain runs deep.

Malcolm:  What do you know of my pain?

Bathsheba:  Let us explore it… together. Each man hides a secret pain. It must be exposed and reckoned with. It must be dragged from the darkness and forced into the light. Share your pain. Share your pain with me… and gain strength from the sharing.

Malcolm:  ‘O, what excuse can your invention make, when I confess to you so black a deed?  In my soul what wrong, what shame, what sorrow I breed.  And you defend it all.  Justify the ways of god to man?  Nay, you justify the ways of man to god, and think that he will forever be naïve enough to take as truth what the devil plants on your tongue!

Bathsheba:  He that scowls and hates himself for his offence is a righteous man.

Malcolm:  In bloody death and ravishment delighting, nor children’s tears nor mothers’ groans respecting, I have, under your guidance, allowed my sin to fester and hath served it as though I were a slave to it.  Your words have served to turn a martial man to soft fancy’s slave.  All of our righteousness is as filthy rags!  They are not clean: they are only shaved and starched!

Bathsheba:  I my self am mortgaged to thy will, myself I’ll forfeit, so that other mine, thou wilt restore to be my comfort still.

Malcolm:  You would win me soon to hell, tempteth my better angel from my side, and would corrupt my saint to be a devil, wooing his purity with foul pride.  Why am I by all creatures waited on?  Why do the prodigal elements supply life and food to me, being more pure than I, simple, and further from corruption?  Why brook’st thou, ignorant horse, subjection?  Why dost thou, bull, and bore so seelily, dissemble weakness, and by one man’s stroke die, whose whole kind I might swallow and feed upon?  Weaker I am, woe is me.  Why doth the devil then usurp on me?  Why doth he steal, nay ravish that which is god’s right?  *Speaking upward as if to god.*  Except thou rise and for thine own work fight, oh I shall soon despair, when I do see that thou lov’st mankind well, yet wilt not choose me, and Satan hates me, yet is loath to lose me.

Bathsheba:  So are those errors that in thee are seen, to truths translated, and for true things deemed.  How many lambs might the stern wolf betray, if like a lamb he could his looks translate!  How many gazers mightst thou lead away, if thou wouldst use the strength of all thy state!

Malcolm:  Wouldst thou reward one sin for being less than another?  Are not all sins equal in the eyes of god?

Bathsheba:  As to prevent maladies unseen, we sicken to shun sickness when we purge.

Malcolm:  Wouldst thou inoculate a sinner with sin?  You dance around the subject of sin as if you were a flame dancing about a fire.

Bathsheba:  We, ignorant of ourselves, beg often our own harms, which the wise powers deny us for our good; so find we profit by losing of our prayers.

Malcolm:  You steal words corrupt’d from my very mouth.  So spoke I, but only to defend that which is wrong.  Did god not give man free will?  Would then god wish to have a nation of slaves?  Did he not have that already with his angels?  Were we not made so that we might choose god, not to be delivered to him by force?  Many there be that complain of divine Providence for suffering Adam to transgress. Foolish tongues! When god gave him reason, he gave him freedom to choose, for reason is but choosing; he had been else a mere artificial Adam, such an Adam as he is in the motions.  We ourselves esteem not of that obedience, or love, or gift, which is of force: god therefore left him free, set before him a provoking object ever almost in his eyes; herein consisted his merit, herein the right of his reward, the praise of his abstinence.  Wherefore did he create passions within us, pleasures round about us, but that these rightly tempered are the very ingredients of virtue?  They are not skilful considerers of human things, who imagine to remove sin by removing the matter of sin; for, besides that it is a huge heap increasing under the very act of diminishing, though some part of it may for a time be withdrawn from some persons, it cannot from all, in such a universal thing as books are; and when this is done, yet the sin remain entire. Though ye take from a covetous man all his treasure, he has yet one jewel left: ye cannot bereave him of his covetousness. Banish all objects of lust, shut up all youth into the severest discipline that can be exercised in any hermitage, ye cannot make them chaste that came not thither so: such great care and wisdom is required to the right managing of this point.

Bathsheba:  Since thy original lapse, true liberty is lost.

Malcolm:  To indulge in your rhetoric would mean that men should put an enemy in their mouths to steal away their brains.

Bathsheba:  Thou know’st, the first time that we smell the air, we cry, for we are born to suffer, and to do so as noble creatures.

Malcolm:  You are too absolute!  Whilst here, can we not take shame with joy?

Bathsheba:  Do not banish reason, but let your reason serve to make the truth appear where it seems hid, and hide the false seems true.

Malcolm:  Must you always twist vice with virtue?  What hast your words offer’d my brother?  My own flesh and blood?  I did seek advice from you and you sent me out to war with words.  Though I kill’d him not, I am the cause of his death as it was so effected: better ’twere I met the ravenous lion when he roar’d with sharp constraint of hunger, better ’twere that all the miseries which nature owes were mine at once, than I should have let my own flesh and blood die in such a way.

Bathsheba:  Sir, I can nothing say, but that I am your most obedient servant.

Malcolm:  Your words have made me falser than vows made in wine!  Though riches abound around me, I live in such poverty of grace.

Bathsheba:  If you know that there is some soul of goodness in things evil, wouldst thou yet distil it out?

Malcolm:  That you would continue to justify vice!  *Again speaking as if to god.*  Teach me, dear creature, how to think and speak; lay open to my earthy-gross conceit, smother’d in errors, feeble, shallow, weak, the folded meaning of your words’deceit.  Against my soul’s pure truth why labour you to make it wander in an unknown field?  Are you a god?  Would you create me new?  Transform me, then, and to your power I’ll yield.

Bathsheba:  Why do you speak to god, when you are god in the flesh?

Malcolm:  Nay!  I speak it plainly to you, I think the king is but a man, as I am: the violet smells to him as it doth to me: the element shows to him as it doth to me; all his senses have but human conditions: his ceremonies laid by, in his nakedness he appears but a man; though his affections are higher mounted than ours.  Those were the words of a man who was slain on my behalf.  A man who is now dead because I did indulge in sin guised as virtue by he who was to serve as my conscience.

Bathsheba:  We are all devils to ourselves.  But men may construe things after their fashion, clean from the purpose of the things themselves.

Malcolm:  What of the truth!  Does wisdom and goodness to the vile seem vile?

Bathsheba:  By being once false forever to be true.  Virtuous sin, virtuous sinner.

Malcolm:  Wouldst thou mak’st thy faith an enemy to faith, and, like a civil war, sett’st oath to oath, thy tongue against tongue.  O, let thy vow first made to heaven, first be to heaven perform’d.  Youappareled sin in virtuous sentences.

Bathsheba:  We boast of our light, but if we lock not wisely on the sun itself, it smites us into darkness.

Malcolm:  What of my conscience?  It tears me from within.

Bathsheba:  The conscience is but fear of society, and society is a malevolent and insane beast.

Malcolm:  I am not answerable to society.  My conscience fears them not, but rather I fear my own self.  I know my soul is rank, and he that is a rank weed, must be root’d out.

Bathsheba:  *Looking up as if speaking to god.*  Here, pale with fear, he doth premeditate the dangers of his loathsome enterprise.  *Bathsheba walking backwards exit’s the stage.  Enter; Volumnia, Celie, Elizabeth and Ardea, Helen, Donalbain, and Spurius.*

Volumnia:  And the king shall answer…

Celie: …and say unto them…

Elizabeth:  ‘Verily I say unto you…

Ardea:  …inasmuch as ye have done…

Helen:  …unto one of the least of these my children…

Donalbain: …unto my brethren…

Spurius:  … so to have ye have done unto me.’  *Exit all but Malcolm, each walking backwards off stage.*


Pages: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11



Pages: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11

Rambler About Rambler

Jason John Horn is a writer and critic who recently completed his Master's in English Literature at the University of Windsor. He has composed a play, a novella and a number of short stories and satirical essays.

Speak Your Mind