Scene by Scene – Macbeth Act 5

Act 5 Scene 1 – Lady Macbeth’s waiting-gentlewoman tells a doctor of the Lady’s sleep-walking. Lady Macbeth walks and talks in her sleep, revealing guilty secrets. “A great perturbation in nature””That sir, which I will not report after her” – tension built up by structure, language and form “She has light by her continually” “Out damn spot, out I say!” “Yet who would have thought the old man to have so much blood in him?” “There’s knocking at the gate” – hell’s gate”Unnatural deeds do breed unnatural troubles” Analysis – – We see the price she has to pay for giving herself up to spirits- Her loss of reason jars with her seeming sense of indifference to the unnatural in previous scenes (“the death are but of pictures”) – This scene draws a parallel to the scene where she convinces Macbeth to kill Duncan, as Macbeth says that doing any more would make him not a man – she is no longer human – Lots of repetition, rhyme and sensory imagery- She learns the hard way that a little water does NOT wash her of her deed- The spot symbolises he guilt or shows that she is possessed (a spot marking her out as evil) and she may be trying to get her soul back – This furthers the idea of Macbeth’s isolation- Parallel with the scene where she consoles Macbeth after Duncan’s murder, she is hopelessly consoling herself, emphasises her downfall, sense of change in play
Act 5 Scene 2 -The Scottish forces arrayed against Macbeth are on the march. The Scottish leaders comment on Macbeth’s desperate rage. “Some say he’s mad, others, that lesser hate him, do call it valiant fury””His secret murders sticking on his hands” “His title hang loose about him, like a giant’s robe upon a dwarfish thief” “March we on” – sense of tension and foreshadowing “To dew the sovereign flower, and drown the weeds. Make we our march towards Birnam” Analysis – – Creation of tension (idea of forces edging ever closer to Macbeth, inevitability) – Sense of anger towards him, further isolation
Act 5 Scene 3 – Macbeth hears that his thanes are abandoning him, that the English army is approaching, and that his wife is soul-sick, but he tries to convince himself that he has nothing to fear, and prepares to fight. “Thou lilly-livered boy” “Cure her of that” – seeming indifference, he is more concerned about the country and himself”The yellow leaf” – sense of desperation and ending, he wilts “Seyton! – I am sick at heart when I behold – Seyton, I say! – This push” – desperation, lack of control, erratic mind, appearance vs reality “I’ll fight till from my bones my flesh be hacked” Analysis — Macbeth draws parallel between sick wife and sick country (echoing Edward healing his people) making Macbeth culpable for his countries illness- Macbeth sweeps through rage, misery, loss of hope and then determination, showing how he has become mentally unstable
Act 5 Scene 4 – The forces opposed to Macbeth enter Birnam wood, and Malcolm gives the order for every soldier to cut a tree branch and hold it before him. Analysis – – Dramatic irony and tension – Birnham wood will come to Dunsinane – Macbeth’s whole-hearted belief in witch’s prophecy (from scene 3) makes this tense and worrying- Witches have clearly been manipulating – The inevitable tragedy becomes more and more evident
Act 5 Scene 5 – Macbeth expresses his defiance of the forces marching against him, then hears a cry of women and receives the news of his wife’s death. A messenger reports that Birnam woods is coming to Dunsinane; Macbeth goes out to meet his fate. “I have almost forgot the taste of fears” “I have supped full with horrors” – inverse idea of nourishment, reference to banquet scene “She should have died hereafter” “Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow” – disillusioned and tired “Liar and slave!” – misery and disbelief”If thou speech be sooth, I care not if thou dost for me as much” – no longer cares if he lives or dies “It is a tale, told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing” – very anti-Christian, absolute desperation but also clarity Analysis – – Responds to Lady Macbeth’s death either with her death as an annoyance or that she shouldn’t have died yet (relationship broken down) – Macbeth’s soliloquy responds to his wife’s death with contemplation of his own life – sense of no meaning to life- Speech rich with imagery and metaphor, using theatre as a metaphor for life with ideas of borrowed robes, bloody daggers and the painted dead – Life is just a story told by an idiot and means nothing, desperation and no confidence- He realises his situation and responds with sorrow but determination to fight to the last moment, seemingly for no other reason than to remain valiant – Complete isolation – Despite having “play’d most foully for it” Macbeth’s values now are noble and courageous, extending tha tension and drama of the play and reflecting his former self – free of the witches influence he returns to his brave beginnings
Act 5 Scene 6 -The English and Scottish forces, led by Malcolm, begin their attack upon Dunsinane. “Make all our trumpets speak, give them all breath, those clamorous harbingers of blood and death” – tension, drama, ideas of nobility, bravery, sense of finality Analysis — Extremely short scene- Reminds us of the imminent arrival of forces- Tension- Increase in pace, form used to accentuate drama
Act 5 Scene 7 – Macbeth fights Young Siward and kills him. Macduff seeks Macbeth. Malcolm and Siward take possession of Dunsinane. “They have tied me to a stake: I cannot fly, but bear-like I must fight the course” “My name’s Macbeth” – tension, dramaAnalysis — Repetition of “woman born” almost dementedly clings to prophecy – Macbeth and Macduff in same place almost, for first time, use of form to create tension – Macbeth returns to our original introduction to him – a warier – Macbeth’s soldiers seem to be turning their backs on him
Act 5 Scene 8 – Macduff and Macbeth do battle. Macbeth boasts that he cannot be harmed by “one of woman born,” but Macduff replies that he was “from his mother’s womb / Untimely ripp’d.” They fight on and Macduff kills Macbeth. Malcolm, Siward and the rest enter. Siward receives the news of his son’s heroic death. Macduff enters with the head of Macbeth. Malcolm is hailed king of Scotland, whereupon he rewards his followers and invites all to see him crowned. “Turn hell-hound, turn!” – perhaps Macbeth’s only way to turn from hell is to die “My soul is too much charged with blood of thine already” “Tell thee, Macduff was from his mother’s womb untimely ripped” “Live to be the show and gaze o’ th’ time. We’ll have thee, as our rarer monsters are, painted upon a pole” – mockery, humiliation, degradation “Damned to him that first cries ‘Hold, enough!'” – finality, determination, beyond the tipping point Analysis — Sense of finality to play – Macbeth and Macduff finally meet, tension culminates- Macbeth scorns suicide and wants to kill as many enemies as possible- Macbeth tries to make Macduff leave and shows a sense of guilt (the old Macbeth resurfaces somewhat) – Revelation of Macduff’s abnormal birth removes all of his confidence – After being taunted he chooses to die fighting – Macbeth is always taunted or bullied into doing thing (do we feel sorry for him?) – Macbeth ends up ultimately completely lonely and left to face his death – the audience is left to choose whether this awful fate is Macbeth’s fault, Lady Macbeth’s, the witches or fate?
Act 5 Scene 9 – Malcolm and his soldiers contemplate their victory and rejoice when Macduff enters with Macbeth’s head. “Dead butcher” – complete contrast to original view of Macbeth (classic tragic hero – a good man with a flaw that leads to his downfall, or an evil man who exploited his circumstances to do what he always wanted to do) Analysis – – Dramatic form emphasises Macbeth’s death – severed head – graphic, dramatic, exciting – Order has been restored