Macbeth and Macduff Get Into an Argument Over Semantics.
[Originally published April 9, 2010.]
(Macbeth and Macduff are fencing in front of a castle.)
MACBETH: Macduff! Let fall thy blade on vulnerable crests. I bear a charmed life, which must not yield to one of woman born.
MACDUFF: Despair thy charm! Macduff was from his mother’s womb untimely ripped.
(They stop sword fighting.)
MACDUFF: I was extracted surgically, in an operation.
MACBETH: Okay, but thou wast still born, right?
MACDUFF: No. Untimely ripped.
MACBETH: Okay, but after thou wast ripped, thou wast of woman born.
MACDUFF: I don’t know…
MACBETH: Wast thou ripped from a man?
MACBETH: Then thou wast of woman born, what’s the problem?
MACDUFF: I think, technically, to be “born” you need to pass through the birth canal.
MACBETH: No. If you exist, then you were born.
MACDUFF: I grant you it’s a bit of a gray area.
MACBETH: No! Any sane definition of the word “born” would also house the subcategory of Cesarean sections.
MACDUFF: Okay, thou hast no need to get snippy.
MACBETH: I’m not snippy.
MACDUFF: Thou ist. A little bit.
MACBETH: Well I’m a little stressed out right now. They said, “No man of woman born—”
MACDUFF: Who said?
MACBETH: The old ladies. By the side of the road.
MACDUFF: Uh… huh.
(CUT TO: Macduff and Macbeth by the side of the road, looking at three old dancing witches.)
WITCH: Dibble dabble dribble doo. Put a monkey in a stew.
MACBETH: Okay, well, now they’re just talking gibberish but before they said, “Fear not till Birnam wood do come to Dunsinane” and—
MACDUFF: Which it did.
MACBETH: No! You dressed up like the wood. That’s not the same thing at all.
MACDUFF: Look. I’m just going to kill thee, okay?
MACBETH: No! Thou canst! Because thou wast of woman born!
MACDUFF: Okay, seriously though, thou needst to chill out, a little bit, with the “of woman born” stuff. Have you consulted a physician about this, or did you just declare yourself the expert on the differences between “born” and “not born”?
MACBETH: You want to consult a physician? Because honestly I would LOVE to consult a physician about this.
MACDUFF: Let’s go.
MACBETH: Let’s go right now, I’m not doing anything.
(CUT TO: Macduff and Macbeth in a doctor’s hut.)
DOCTOR: All right, explain it to me again?
MACBETH: Okay, Macduff—who is standing before you right here!—was he born? Or was he—and remember, we’re talking about this guy, who exists!—not born?
MACDUFF: Don’t forget, I was from my mother’s womb untimely ripped!
MACBETH: Yes, mother’s womb! MOTHER. OF WOMAN BORN.
DOCTOR: Yeah, I don’t know. This is like the thirteenth century. Medical science isn’t really… I mean, if you’re feeling sick, maybe you have a demon inside you and you could swallow a snake to find the demon and then the snake will eat the demon and you won’t be sick anymore, but then, yeah, how do we get the snake out, right?
MACBETH: Well, thank you very much; you were of no help at all.
MACDUFF: Look, I didn’t want to get into a whole THING with this… Yeah, I’m just gonna kill you now.
MACBETH: No! Thou ist of woman—I mean, is everyone else crazy here, or is it me?
(Macduff stabs Macbeth in the heart.)
(Macduff shrugs. Macbeth dies. Then Macduff puts Macbeth’s head on a stick, of all things. Audience applauds politely, but secretly thinks maybe this Shakespeare guy is kind of losing it.)
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