Act V. Scene I. - Dunsinane. A Room in the Castle
Lady Macbeth: "Out, damned spot! out, I say! One;
two: why, then, 'tis time to do't. Hell is murky!"
Lady Macbeth's insanity becomes clear... First
her doctor and a nurse discuss Lady Macbeth's sleepwalking
and talking to herself and then we, the audience see
this for ourselves. Lady Macbeth makes her famous speech
that she cannot wipe away the blood on her hands, indicating
her battle to suppress her guilty conscience has failed
This scene begins with a Doctor conversing with a Waiting-Gentle-woman
(nurse). We learn that Lady Macbeth has been sleepwalking,
uttering words the Gentlewomen is reluctant to discuss
with the Doctor.
Lady Macbeth enters and we see her sleepwalking for
ourselves. She is rubbing her hands and we learn this
can go on for a quarter of an hour.
Lady Macbeth is distressed, famously saying: "Out,
damned spot! out, I say! One; two: why, then, 'tis [it
is] time to do't [do it]. Hell is murky!" (Line
Lady Macbeth refers to her counterpart, Lady Macduff:
"The Thane of Fife had a wife: where is she now? What!
Will these hands ne'er [never] be clean? No more o'[of]
that, my lord, no more o' that: you mar all with this
starting" (Line 46).
She laments the permanency of her disturbance, "Here's
the smell of the blood still: all the perfumes of Arabia
will not sweeten this little hand. Oh! oh! oh!" (Line
55). The Doctor explains that "This disease is
beyond my practice:" (this disease is beyond my abilities),
Lady Macbeth continues her sleep talking echoing earlier
events, "To bed, to bed: there's knocking at the gate.
Come, come, come, come, give me your hand. What's done
cannot be undone. To bed, to bed, to bed" (Line 72).
Act V. Scene II. - The Country near Dunsinane.
Macbeth's enemies gather near his castle at
Dunsinane as Macbeth strongly fortifies its defenses.
We learn that Macbeth's hold on Scotland is less
Menteith, Caithness, Angus, Lennox and Soldiers are
all gathered near Macbeth's castle at Dunsinane hill.
Menteith explains that "The English power is near, led
on by Malcolm, / His uncle Siward, and the good Macduff"
We learn that "Revenges burn in them;" (Line 3). Menteith
has little love for Macbeth, asking "What does
the tyrant?" We learn from Caithness that "Great
Dunsinane he [Macbeth] strongly fortifies. Some say
he's mad; others that lesser hate him / Do call it valiant
fury; but, for certain, / He cannot buckle his distemper'd
cause / Within the belt of rule" (Line 12).
We discover from Angus that Macbeth's title, far from
be secure, is said to "Hang loose about him, like a
giant's robe / Upon a dwarfish thief" (Line 22). Macbeth
is clearly being described metaphorically as a man in
borrowed robes too large for him like the rule of Scotland.
Act V. Scene III. - Dunsinane. A Room in the
Macbeth: "Bring me no more reports; let them fly
all: / Till Birnam wood remove to Dunsinane / I cannot
taint with fear."
Macbeth prepares to defiantly fight his enemies
armed with the prophecy that he will only be defeated
when the nearby "Birnam wood" moves on his
castle. Macbeth learns of the ten thousand strong army
against him. Seyton confirms this bad news and Macbeth
donning his armor, prepares to fight his enemies recalling
the "Birnam wood" prophecy once more as a
source of comfort...
Macbeth is receiving reports of the English army; he
is not concerned and seeks solace in the prophecy, saying
"Bring me no more reports; let them fly all: Till Birnam
wood remove to Dunsinane / I cannot taint with fear.
What's the boy Malcolm? Was he not born of women?" (Line
A Servant informs Macbeth that the army numbers ten
thousand. Macbeth doesn't believe it asking if he means
ten thousand "Geese, villain?" (Line 14).
Learning from the Servant that there are ten thousand
soldiers against him, Macbeth resigns himself to his
fate, "As honour, love, obedience, troops of friends,
/ I must look to have; but, in their stead, / Curses,
not loud but deep, mouth-honour, breath, / Which poor
heart would fain deny, and dare not" (Line 25).
Seyton confirms the reports and Macbeth instructs him
to "Hang those that talk of fear: Give me mine [my]
armour" (Line 36). The Doctor enters and we learn from
him that "therein the patient [Lady Macbeth] / Must
minister to himself " though strictly speaking the Doctor
should have said "herself" (Line 45).
Macbeth appeals to the Doctor to try and help his wife
and Macbeth ends this scene exclaiming, "I will not
be afraid of death and bane / Till Birnam forest come
to Dunsinane" (Line 60).
Act V. Scene IV. - Country near Birnam
With his troops loyally around him, Malcolm orders
each man to cut down a branch from the nearby Birnam
Wood as his army now camouflaged under an umbrella of
"Birnam wood", heads towards Macbeth's
castle at Dunsinane.
Again with drum and colours, we see Malcolm, Old Siward
and son, Macduff, Menteith, Caithness, Angus, Lennox,
Ross and Soldiers marching. Malcolm rallies his troops,
"Cousins, I hope the days are near at hand / That chambers
will be safe" (Line 1). The men supportive of Malcolm,
reply, "We doubt it nothing" (Line 2).
Malcolm instructs every soldier to now "hew him down
a bough / And bear't before him: thereby shall we shadow
/ The numbers of our host, and make discovery / Err
in report of us" (cut down some wood or leafy branches
and carry it so we will hide our true numbers from the
enemy and when discovered cause them to make mistakes
in reporting us), (Line 5).
The scene ends with troops marching toward Dunsinane
where Siward announces "We learn no other but the confident
tyrant / Keeps still in Dunsinane," (we have heard nothing
but that the tyrant Macbeth remains still in his castle
at Dunsinane), (Line 9).
We also learn from Malcolm that those still fighting
on Macbeth's side are merely "constrained things
[people] / Whose hearts are absent too" or whose
hearts are not in defending Macbeth but rather defend
the tyrant under pressure, not devotion (Line 14).
Act V. Scene V. - Dunsinane. Within the
Macbeth: "Life's but a walking shadow, a poor
player / That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
/ And then is heard no more; it is a tale / Told by
an idiot, full of sound and fury, / Signifying nothing."
Macbeth laughs off his enemies' numbers, certain
of the "Birnam wood" prophecy and equally
certain that his fortifications should laugh off any
attack. We hear a women's cry later learning that
Lady Macbeth is dead. Macbeth coldly shrugs off the
news that his once "dearest chuck," is dead
with complete apathy. Macbeth learns that Birnam Wood
or rather Malcolm's forces are moving on his castle.
Realizing what this means, Macbeth nonetheless defiantly
sets off to meet his destiny...
Macbeth and Seyton enter with colours or flags flying.
Macbeth instructs Seyton to hang banners on the outside
walls, confident that he can outlast any siege since,
"Our castle's strength / Will laugh a siege to scorn;
here let them lie / Till famine and the ague eat them
up;" (Line 2).
We hear a cry of a woman. Macbeth asks what it is
to which Seyton replies, "It is the cry of women, my
good lord" (Line 8).
Macbeth answers that he has "almost forgot the taste
of fears", adding "I have supp'd full [eaten
full / I am full ] with horrors; / Direness, familiar
to my slaughterous thoughts, / Cannot once start me"
Seyton returns, telling Macbeth "The queen, my
lord, is dead" (Line 16).
Macbeth coldly replies that "She should have died hereafter;
/ There would have been a time for such a word"
Macbeth famously bids his wife farewell and likening
life to an actor on stage, describes life as a fleeting
experience signifying nothing:
Out, out, brief candle! Life's but a walking
shadow, a poor player / That struts and frets his hour
upon the stage, / And then is heard no more; it is a
tale / Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, / Signifying
nothing. (Line 23)
A Messenger reports that he saw the wood begin to move.
Macbeth, enraged at this apparent impossibility replies,
"If thou speak'st false, / Upon the next tree shalt
thou hang alive, / Till famine cling thee;" (if you
are lying, upon the next tree will you hang alive until
famine kills you), (Line 40).
Macbeth repeats the Birnam wood prophecy; sees this
very fact and panics, "Arm, arm, and out!" (Line 46),
"Ring the alarum-bell! Blow, wind! come, wrack! At least
we'll die with harness on our back" (Line 52).
Act V. Scene VI. - The Same. A Plain
before the Castle.
Malcolm's men drop their leafy camouflage and
the battle begins...
Malcolm and company are near Macbeth's castle. Malcolm
instructs his men to drop their "leavy screens... And
show like those you are [reveal yourselves for the soldiers
you are]" (Line 1).
Malcolm tells his men where they shall attack, "You
worthy uncle, / Shall, with my cousin, your right-noble
son, / Lead our first battle;" (Line 2).
Macduff ends the scene on a note of optimism: "Make
all our trumpets speak; give them all breath, / Those
clamorous harbingers of blood and death" (Line 9).
Act V. Scene VII. - The Same. Another
Part of the Plain.
Macduff: "Turn, hell-hound, turn!"
Macbeth fights, Siward killing him. Macbeth is now
confronted by Macduff, a man he has consciously avoided
and one he refuses to fight. Macbeth famously exclaims
that he has lived a charmed life and is unable to be
killed by a man, naturally born. Macduff now explains
that he has born by Caesarian section and the two men
fight, Macbeth dying and order being restored when Malcolm
is hailed as the new King of Scotland...
Macbeth can no longer run, "They have tied me
to a stake; I cannot fly [escape / run], / But bear-like
I must fight the course. What's he / That was not born
of women? Such a one / Am I to fear, or none" (Malcolm
and his troops have surrounded me or tied me to a stake.
I cannot escape but like a bear must fight my enemies.
But who is not born by a woman. Only such a person should
I fear), (Line 1).
Siward enters and asks who Macbeth is. Upon learning
the fact he replies, "The devil himself could not
pronounce [say] a title / More hateful to mine [my]
ear" (Line 8).
Macbeth responds "No, nor more fearful"
Macbeth kills Young Siward. Encouraged by his triumph,
Macbeth gloats: "Thou wast born of women: / But
swords I smile at, weapons laugh to scorn, / Brandish'd
by man that's of a women born" (you were born from
a woman. But swords I smile at, weapons I laugh at in
scorn carried by men who are woman born), (Line 11).
Macduff enters, exclaiming that "My wife and children's
ghosts will haunt me still" (Line 16). Malcolm and Old
Siward begin to enter the Macbeth's castle (Line 24).
Macbeth reenters and finally as prophecy warned, Macduff
and Macbeth meet. "Turn, hell-hound, turn!" Macduff
shouts at Macbeth (Line 32).
Macbeth and Macduff exchange threats; Macbeth explaining
that "I bear a charmed life, which must not yield
/ To one of women born" (I live a lucky or charmed life
which cannot yield or fall to one born from a woman),
Macduff explains to Macbeth that he may "Despair thy
charm;" (despair at his charm), (Line 42) since Macduff
was "from his mother's womb / Untimely ripp'd" (born
of Caesarian section or untimely ripped from his mother
thus not being naturally born), (Line 44).
Macbeth, worried says that "I'll not fight with thee"
(I will not fight with you), (Line 51). Macduff argues
otherwise telling him to surrender so that he may be
placed on a pole as an illustration of a tyrant.
Macduff explains that Macbeth's near future will involve
his head being "Painted [planted] upon a pole,
and underwrit," or written underneath will be the
lines, "'Here may you see the tyrant [Macbeth].'"
The two men fight.
With colours, Malcolm, Old Siward, Ross and Thanes
and Soldiers reenter and we learn "Macduff is missing,"
(Line 67). Old Siward learns that he lost his son proudly
exclaiming though sad, "God's soldier be he!" (Line
76). Macduff returns with Macbeth's head. All hail Malcolm
as the new King of Scotland.