Lady Macbeth is hugely ambitious. She wants her husband (Macbeth), an esteemed general, to rise to power as the King of Scotland. In order to achieve this, she has arranged a banquet for the current King, Duncan, so that they can murder him and Macbeth can take the throne. But halfway through the dinner, Macbeth gets cold feet. In this speech, she does everything she can to nip his doubts in the bud and convince him to go ahead with the murder, even reassuring him that they will get the King’s servants so drunk that they will be blamed for the crime…
Was the hope drunk Wherein you dress’d yourself? hath it slept since? And wakes it now, to look so green and pale at what it did so freely? From this time such I account thy love. Art thou afeard to be the same in thine own act and valour as thou art in desire? Wouldst thou have that which thou esteem’st the ornament of life, and live a coward in thine own esteem, letting ‘I dare not’ wait upon ‘I would’, like the poor cat i’ the adage?
What beast was’t, then, that made you break this enterprise to me? When you durst do it, then you were a man; and, to be more than what you were, you would be so much more the man. Nor time nor place did then adhere, and yet you would make both: they have made themselves, and that their fitness now does unmake you. I have given suck, and know how tender ’tis to love the babe that milks me: I would, while it was smiling in my face, have pluck’d my nipple from his boneless gums, and dash’d the brains out, had I so sworn as you have done to this.
[MACBETH: If we should fail?)
But screw your courage to the sticking-place, and we’ll not fail. When Duncan is asleep— whereto the rather shall his day’s hard journey soundly invite him—his two chamberlains will I with wine and wassail so convince that memory, the warder of the brain, hall be a fume, and the receipt of reason a limbeck only: when in swinish sleep their drenchèd natures lie as in a death, what cannot you and I perform upon the unguarded Duncan? What not put upon his spongy officers, who shall bear the guilt of our great quell?