\u00a0Macbeth: Summary & Analysis Act 5, Scene 1 At the Scottish royal home of Dunsinane, a gentlewoman has summoned a doctor\u00a0to watch\u00a0Lady Macbeth\u2019s sleepwalking. The doctor reports that he has watched her\u00a0for 2\u00a0nights now and has yet\u00a0to ascertain\u00a0anything strange. The gentlewoman describes how she has seen Lady Macbeth rise, dress, leave her room, write something on\u00a0a bit\u00a0of paper, read it, seal it, and return to bed\u2014all without\u00a0awakening. The gentlewoman dares not repeat what Lady Macbeth says while thus sleepwalking. The two are interrupted by a sleepwalking Lady Macbeth, who enters carrying a candle. The gentlewoman reports that Lady Macbeth asks\u00a0to possess\u00a0a light-weight\u00a0by her all night. The doctor\u00a0and therefore the\u00a0gentlewoman watch as Lady Macbeth rubs her hands as if washing them and says " Yet here's a spot. . . Out, damned spot; out I say\u201d (27-30). As she continues to "wash" her hands, her words betray her guilt to\u00a0the 2\u00a0onlookers. Lady Macbeth seems to be reliving the events on the night of Duncan\u2019s death. She cannot get the stain or smell of blood off her hand: "What, will these hands ne'er be clean. . . All the perfumes of Arabia\u00a0won't\u00a0sweeten\u00a0this tiny\u00a0hand" (37-43).\u00a0because the\u00a0sleepwalking Lady Macbeth imagines she hears knocking at the gate and returns to her chamber, the doctor concludes that Lady Macbeth needs a priest's help and not a physician's. He takes his leave, asserting that he\u00a0and therefore the\u00a0gentlewoman had better not reveal what\u00a0they need\u00a0seeing or hearing. Act 5, Scene 2 The thanes Menteith, Caithness, Angus, and Lennox march with\u00a0a corporation\u00a0of soldiers toward Birnam Wood, where\u00a0they're going to\u00a0join Malcolm\u00a0and therefore the\u00a0English army. They claim that\u00a0they're going to\u00a0"purge" the country of Macbeth's sickening influence (28). Act 5, Scene 3 At Dunsinane, Macbeth tires of hearing reports of nobles who have defected\u00a0to hitch\u00a0English\u00a0forces. He feels consoled, however, by the witches' prophesy that he has nothing to fear until Birnam Wood\u00a0involves\u00a0Dunsinane, or until he counters\u00a0a person\u00a0not born of woman. Since both of the events seem impossible, Macbeth feels invincible. A servant enters with the news that the enemy has rallied\u00a0a thousand\u00a0men but Macbeth sends him away, scolding him for cowardice. After calling for his servant Seyton\u00a0to assist\u00a0him\u00a0placed on\u00a0his armor, Macbeth demands the doctor\u2019s prognosis about Lady Macbeth. The doctor replies that she is \u201cnot so sick\u201d but troubled with visions (39). In\u00a0how\u00a0or other, she must cure herself\u00a0of those\u00a0visions\u2014an answer that displeases Macbeth. As attendants\u00a0placed on\u00a0his armor, he declares that he would applaud the doctor if he could analyze the country's urine and therein derive\u00a0a drug\u00a0for woman\u00a0Macbeth. Abruptly, Macbeth leaves\u00a0the space, professing\u00a0once more\u00a0that he\u00a0won't\u00a0fear \u201cdeath and bane\u201d until Birnam Wood\u00a0involves\u00a0Dunsinane (61). Aside, the doctor confesses that he\u00a0would like\u00a0to be as\u00a0distant\u00a0from Dunsinane as possible. Act 5, Scene 4 Malcolm, Siward, Young Siward, Macduff, Menteith, Caithness, and Angus march toward Birnam Wood. As they approach the forest, Malcolm instructs the soldiers\u00a0to chop\u00a0off branches and hold them up\u00a0to disguise their numbers. Siward informs Malcolm that Macbeth confidently holds Dunsinane,\u00a0expecting\u00a0their arrival. Malcolm comments\u00a0that nearly\u00a0all of Macbeth\u2019s men have deserted him.\u00a0the military\u00a0marches on. Act 5, Scene 5 Macbeth orders his men\u00a0to hold\u00a0his banners on the outer walls of the castle, claiming that\u00a0it'll\u00a0hold until the attackers die of famine. If only\u00a0the opposite\u00a0side\u00a0weren't\u00a0reinforced with men who deserted him, he claims, he\u00a0wouldn't\u00a0consider rushing\u00a0bent\u00a0meet\u00a0English\u00a0army head-on. Upon hearing the cry of\u00a0a lady\u00a0within, Macbeth comments that he has almost forgotten the taste of fears. Seyton returns and announces the death of Lady Macbeth. Seemingly unfazed, Macbeth comments that she should have died later, at a more appropriate time. He stops to muse on the meaning of life: Life\u2019s but a walking shadow, a poor player That struts and frets his hour upon the stage And then is heard no more.\u00a0it's\u00a0a tale Told by an idiot,\u00a0filled with\u00a0sound and fury, Signifying nothing. (23-27) A messenger enters and reports that he has seen something unbelievable: as he looked out toward Birnam Wood, it appeared that the forest began\u00a0to maneuver\u00a0toward the castle. Macbeth is stunned and begins to fear that the witch's words may come true\u00a0in any case. He instructs his men to ring the alarm. Act 5, Scene 6 Malcolm tells his soldiers that\u00a0they're\u00a0near enough to the castle now to throw down the branches they carry. He announces that Siward and Young Siward will lead\u00a0the primary\u00a0battle. He and Macduff will follow behind. The trumpeters sound a charge. Act 5, Scene 7 Macbeth waits on the battlefield to defend his castle. He\u00a0seems like\u00a0a bear that has been tied to a stake for dogs to attack. Young Siward enters and demands his name. Macbeth responds that he\u00a0is going to be\u00a0afraid\u00a0to listen to\u00a0it. Macbeth kills Young Siward\u00a0within the\u00a0ensuing duel, commenting that Young Siward must\u00a0are\u00a0\u201cborn of woman" (12). Act 5, Scene 8 Macduff enters alone and shouts a challenge to Macbeth, swearing to avenge the death of his wife\u00a0and youngsters. As he exists, he asks Fortune\u00a0to assist\u00a0him to find Macbeth. Act 5, Scene 9 Malcolm and Siward enter and charge the castle. Act 5, Scene 10 Macbeth enters, asserting that he\u00a0shouldn't\u00a0\u201cplay the Roman fool\u201d and\u00a0kill\u00a0(2). Macduff finds him and challenges him. Macbeth replies that he has\u00a0so far\u00a0avoided Macduff but that\u00a0he's\u00a0now\u00a0able to\u00a0fight. As they fight, Macbeth tells him that he \u201cbears a charmed life\u201d: he will only fall to\u00a0a person\u00a0who\u00a0isn't\u00a0born of woman (12). Macduff replies that the time has come for Macbeth to despair: "let the angel whom thou still hast served \/ Tell thee Macduff was from his mother's womb \/ Untimely ripped"\u2014Macduff was born through the equivalent of a caesarian section (13-16). Hearing this, Macbeth quails and says that he\u00a0won't\u00a0fight. Macduff replies by commanding him to yield and become the laughing stock of Scotland under Malcolm's rule. This enrages Macbeth, who swears he will never yield to swear allegiance to Malcolm. They fight on and thus exit. Act 5, Scene 11 Malcolm, Siward,\u00a0and therefore the\u00a0other thanes enter. Although\u00a0they need\u00a0to win the battle, Malcolm notes that Macduff and Young Siward are missing. Ross reports that Young Siward is dead and eulogizes him by stating that "he only lived but till he was\u00a0a person, \/ The which no sooner had his prowess confirmed \/\u00a0within the\u00a0unshrinking station where he fought, \/ But\u00a0sort of a\u00a0man he died" (6-9). After confirming that his son\u2019s wounds were on his front\u2014in other words, that the Young Siward died bravely in battle\u2014Siward declares that he does not wish for\u00a0a far better\u00a0death for his son. Macduff enters, carrying Macbeth's severed head and shouting "Hail, King of Scotland!"\u00a0the lads\u00a0echo this shout\u00a0and therefore the\u00a0trumpets flourish as Malcolm accepts the kingship. Malcolm announces that he will rename\u00a0the present\u00a0thanes as earls. He will call back all\u00a0the lads\u00a0whom Macbeth has exiled\u00a0and can\u00a0plan to\u00a0heal the scarred country. All exit towards Scone, where Malcolm\u00a0is going to be\u00a0crowned as King of Scotland. \u00a0Analysis Until Act 5, Macbeth has been tormented with visions and nightmares while Lady Macbeth has derided him for his weakness. Now the audience witnesses the way\u00a0during which\u00a0the murders have also preyed on Lady Macbeth. In her sleepwalking, Lady Macbeth plays out the theme of washing and cleansing that runs throughout the play. After killing Duncan, she flippantly tells Macbeth that "a little water clears us of this deed" (II ii 65). But the deed now returns to haunt Lady Macbeth in her sleep. Lady Macbeth's stained hands are\u00a0like\u00a0the biblical mark of Cain\u2014the mark that God placed on Cain for murdering his brother Abel (Genesis 4:15). But Cain's mark\u00a0may be a\u00a0sign from God that protects Cain from the revenge of others. Lady Macbeth's mark\u00a0doesn't\u00a0protect her from death, as she dies only\u00a0a couple of\u00a0scenes later. The doctor's behavior in Act 5 Scene 3 resembles that of a psychoanalyst.\u00a0sort of a\u00a0Freudian psychoanalyst, the doctor observes Lady Macbeth's dreams and uses her words to infer the\u00a0explanation for\u00a0her distress. Lady Macbeth's language\u00a0during this\u00a0scene betrays her troubled mind in\u00a0some ways. Her speech in previous acts has been eloquent and smooth. In Act 1 Scene 4,\u00a0for instance, she declares to Duncan: All our service, In every point twice done\u00a0than\u00a0done double, Were poor and single business to contend Against those honors deep and broad wherewith Your Majesty loads our house. For those of old, And the late dignities heaped upon them, We rest your hermits. (I vi 14-19) In this speech, Lady Macbeth makes use of metaphor (Duncan's honor is "deep and broad"), metonymy (he honors "our house," meaning the Macbeths themselves), and hyperbole ("in every point twice done\u00a0than\u00a0done double"). Her syntax is complex but the rhythm of her speech remains smooth and flowing,\u00a0within the\u00a0iambic pentameter\u00a0employed by\u00a0noble characters in Shakespearean plays. What a contrast\u00a0it's, therefore, when she talks in her sleep in Act 5: Out, damned spot, out, I say! One. Two. Why then, \u2018tis time to do. Hell is murky. Fie, my lord, fie, a soldier and afeard? What need do we fear who knows it when none can call our power to account? Yet who would have thought the old man\u00a0to possess\u00a0had\u00a0such a lot\u00a0blood in him. . . The Thane of Fife had a wife. Where is she now? What, will these hands ne'er be clean? No more o' that, my lord, no more o' that. You mar all with this starting. (V I 30-48) In this speech, Lady Macbeth's language is choppy, jumping from idea to idea as her state of mind changes. Her sentences are short and unpolished, reflecting a mind too disturbed\u00a0to talk\u00a0eloquently. Although she spoke in iambic pentameter before, she now speaks in prose\u2014thus falling from the noble to the prosaic. Lady Macbeth's dissolution is swift. As Macbeth's power grows, indeed, Lady Macbeth's has decreased. She began the play as a remorseless, influential voice capable of sweet-talking Duncan and\u00a0of creating\u00a0Macbeth do her bidding.\u00a0within the\u00a0third act Macbeth leaves her out of his plans to kill Banquo, refusing to reveal his intentions to her. Now\u00a0within the\u00a0last act, she has dwindled to a mumbling sleepwalker, capable only of a mad and rambling speech. Whereas even the relatively unimportant Lady Macduff\u00a0features a\u00a0stirring death scene, Lady Macbeth dies offstage. When her death is reported to Macbeth, his response is shocking in its cold apathy. (Here again, Macbeth stands in relief to Macduff, whose emotional reaction to his wife's death almost "unmans" him.) As the play nears its bloody conclusion, Macbeth's\u00a0hamartia\u00a0involves\u00a0the forefront: like Duncan before him, his character\u00a0is just too\u00a0trusting. He takes the witches' prophesies at face value, never realizing that things are seldom what they seem\u2014an ironic flaw, given his treachery. He thus foolishly fortifies his castle with the few men who remain, banking on\u00a0the very fact\u00a0that the events that the apparitions foretold\u00a0couldn't\u00a0come true. But\u00a0the English\u00a0army does bring Birnam Wood to Dunsinane. And Macduff, who has indeed been "untimely ripped" from his mother's womb, advances to kill Macbeth. The witches have equivocated; they told him a double truth, concealing the complex reality within a framework that seems simple. (As a side note,\u00a0it's going to\u00a0even be\u00a0worthwhile\u00a0to think about\u00a0the dramatic \u201cweight\u201d of such a conclusion: does it appear strange that such a tragic play should be resolved through a more or less frivolous play on words?) The play should end\u00a0because it\u00a0began\u2014with a victorious battle\u00a0during which\u00a0a valiant hero kills a traitor and holds high the severed head.\u00a0the primary\u00a0we hear of Macbeth in Act 1\u00a0is that the\u00a0story of his bravery in battle, wherein he decapitated Macdonwald's and displayed it on the castle battlements. At\u00a0the top\u00a0of the tragedy, Macbeth\u2014himself a traitor to Duncan and his family\u2014is treated\u00a0in just\u00a0an equivalent\u00a0manner. After killing Macbeth, Macduff enters with Macbeth's severed head and exclaims "behold where stands \/ Th'usurper's cursed head" (V xi 20-21) The play thus ends with the completion of a parallel structure. One moral of the story is that the course of fate\u00a0can't be\u00a0changed. The events that the\u00a0Fates\u00a0predicted and set in motion at\u00a0the start\u00a0of the play happen exactly as predicted,\u00a0regardless of\u00a0what the characters do\u00a0to vary\u00a0them. Macbeth tries his hardest to force fate\u00a0to figure\u00a0to his bidding, but no avail. Banquo still becomes\u00a0the daddy\u00a0of kings and Macbeth still falls to\u00a0a person\u00a0not born of woman.\u00a0the person\u00a0who triumphs\u00a0within the\u00a0end\u00a0is that the\u00a0one who did nothing\u00a0to vary\u00a0the fate prescribed for him. The prophecy is self-fulfilling. The river\u00a0of your time\u00a0thus flows on, despite the struggles of man. Although Macbeth's reign of terror has made \u201cthe frame of things disjoint,\u201d by\u00a0the top\u00a0of the play the tide\u00a0of your time\u00a0has smoothed over Scotland (III ii 18). The unnatural uprising of Macbeth now\u00a0within the\u00a0past, Macduff comments that "the time is free" (V xi 21). And Macbeth's life proves to be indeed a "tale \/ Told by an idiot,\u00a0filled with\u00a0sound and fury, signifying nothing" (V v 27-29). Time washes over his meaningless, bloody history: Banquo's family will\u00a0produce\u00a0to\u00a0the road\u00a0of Stuart kings and Malcolm will regain the throne his father left him\u2014all exactly as if Macbeth had never dared to kill Duncan.