Thus thou must do, if thou have it;
And that which rather thou dost fear to do
Than wishest should be undone.
This passage is one of the most misunderstood in all of Shakespeare's works. The best explanation I have encountered comes from editor Kenneth Muir:
The chief difficulty here is the extent of the quotation. Pope put the whole passage in inverted commas [British name for quotation marks], and he has been followed by most editors (i.e., "Thus...undone"). Hanmer, Capell, Verity, Wilson and others end the quotation at the end of line 23. Hunter (Illustrations, ii. 172) only marks "Thus thou must do" as such. I think he is right, because that which cries is the crown, and if "it" were part of the quotation one would expect "me" instead. As Verity explains, "thou'ldst have" has two objects, the crown and the murder by which the crown may be obtained (24-5)." (Shakespeare, William. Macbeth. Kenneth Muir, ed. London. Methuen, 1953. [p.p.28])
How to cite this article:
Mabillard, Amanda. Macbeth Glossary. Shakespeare Online. 20 Aug. 2000. (date when you accessed the information) < http://www.shakespeare-online.com/plays/macbeth/macbethglossary/macbeth1_1/macbethglos_beundone.html >.