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Shakespeare Quotes: What's done is done

Shakespeare Quotes: What's done is done



What's done is done Introduction

I'm Lady Macbeth. I'm a strong, powerful woman. I know what I want and I'm not afraid to go after it. And you know what I think?

Nought's had, all's spent,
Where our desire is got without content:
'Tis safer to be that which we destroy
Than by destruction dwell in doubtful joy.


How now, my lord! why do you keep alone,
Of sorriest fancies your companions making,
Using those thoughts which should indeed have died
With them they think on? Things without all remedy
Should be without regard: what's done is done. (3.2.4-12)

Who Said It and Where

Macbeth wants to be king so he and his wife hatch a plan to make that happen. Is it really a big deal if you kill the current king when you want the crown really, really bad? To the Macbeths, evidently not.

But their problems don't stop there. Once Macbeth is crowned king, everything should be gravy. But the dynamic duo starts wondering about the enemies they've made along the way. Some people aren't so convinced Macbeth should really be king (we wonder why). Others might suspect him of some foul play (duh).

And what about that whole prophecy thing where Macbeth was told that he'd become king but his kids never would? Before Macbeth offed King Duncan, three witches appeared to him in the woods and told him that all of this would happen… and then it did. So Macbeth is worried the rest of their prophecy will come true too. Uh oh.

Here, Lady Macbeth asks a servant to get Macbeth for a little chat. Macbeth comes along, and Lady Macbeth tells him to look more chipper and not dwell on dark thoughts, because "what's done is done."

Macbeth points out they've merely scorched the snake, not killed it. Macbeth compares Duncan's death as a state preferable to his; at least Duncan doesn't have to worry about loose ends. All right, Debbie Downer, says Lady Macbeth. Just chill out there.
Macbeth says she should say a lot of really nice things about Banquo, who will be otherwise engaged and not attending the dinner party. (Hmm… is it just us, or does "otherwise engaged" = dead?) Um, isn't that a bad idea? Nah, says Macbeth.

Lady Macbeth states that everybody dies, which may be a warning to Macbeth to cool it, or may be a self-reassurance that everyone has to go sometime, so her husband might as well murder their friend and his kid. Who knows.

But really, Macbeth says, he's about to do something bad. In one of her less astute moments, Lady Macbeth asks what that naughty thing might possibly be. Macbeth dodges the question, saying it's better for her to "be innocent" and not know his plans until they're accomplished and she can applaud him for it.

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