|Act 5 Scene Summaries||Characters||Themes||Motifs|
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Lady Macbeth sleepwalks, acting out washing her hands
|Lady Macbeth: This is the moment we see all of the fears and conscience finally catch up to Lady Macbeth. The moment that she finds out about the murder of Macduff’s wife and children, and that of Banquo, she collapses. Macbeth and Lady Macbeth shared a beautiful and passionate relationship, one with a respect that was quite rare for the time. There was honestly and love, he referred to her as his “dearest partner or greatness.” That’s a beautiful title and demonstrates a trusting relationship. Lady Macbeth was crushed by not knowing the evil her husband was doing. She feels guilt for all of the murder that happened, even though there is no actual blood on her hands she keeps scrubbing, but she can’t wash away guilt. She cries in horror “Out damned spot! Out, I say! – Hell is murky!” Then she continues to go on in hellish horror “ The thane of Fife had a wife. Where is she now?- What, will these hands ne’er be clean?” P 180 After this scene she comes to her demise at her own hands as the guilt, and confusion destroys her.
|Nature representing how the moral order turned upside down:
The doctor speaks of unnatural troubles and paranormal acts. This because sleep walking was seen as a cursed and paranormal act back in the times this play was written.
|Blood: Blood is used to show the guilt Lady Macbeth is living with. “Out damned spot! Out, I say!” is what she says thinking that there is blood on her hands, and maybe not physical blood, but she is filled with guilt for the murders she committed. She reflects on her evil thinking about Duncan, and states “Who would have thought the old ma to have so much blood in him.” Blood plagues her mind.
Light & Dark:
It is stated that Lady Macbeth demands to sleep with a candle at all times. She refuses to be in the dark, that’s when the thoughts and images can come back to haunt her.
Scottish Lords discuss the military situation
|Macbeth: This man is poisonous, he isn’t even loved by own soldiers, they only fight because it’s in their job description. It’s pitifully easy for the English army to infiltrate the castle, as they don’t really want to fight for the tyrant Macbeth.
|Blood: Angus refers to Macbeth saying that Macbeth will feel the wrath of their revenge, for he feels “his secret murders sticking on his hands”.
It is said he is unfit for the title of king and he achieved that name through unjust methods. Angus questions “does he feel his title hand loose bout him, like a giant’s robe upon a dwarfish fish.” Saying he shouldn’t be wearing the King’s crown.
Macbeth boasts that he has nothing to fear until the wood moves. He finds out that the army are approaching and puts on his armour. The doctor tells him of Lady Macbeth’s illness and he tells the doctor to cure her.
|Macbeth: He has reached such an indigence that he fears nothing. He lives with the belief that the cannot be hurt. He will run into the war convinced he is untouchable by all of the men on the field. He is in a delusional, mad, absolutely insane state of mind. When he finds out about his wife, he wants her to get better, he wants to have her cured. Sadly there’s no simple cure for a broken mind. He asks “Can’t you treat a diseased mind? Use some drug to ease the troubling thought from her brain and ease her heart?” p 195
Macbeth id determined to die honourable and states “I’ll fight until they hack off my bones. Give me my armor.
Scotland: All of Scotland is against Macbeth. They want a good, noble leader, not this tyrant.
|Nature representing how the moral order turned upside down: Macbeth says he’s safe until Birnam wood gets up and moves to Dunsinane. He is sure this will not happen, so he gets cocky. He keeps using this as an excuse to keep his confidence up.
The army decide to take branches off the trees to use as camouflage
|Malcolm: He is continuing to develop intelligence as he uses the branches of Birnam wood as camouflage. He demonstrating all of the qualities needed as a king.
Macduff: He is a strong, valiant man. He doesn’t want to go ahead and rest on his laurels for he says, “We shouldn’t make any judgements until we achieve our goal. Let’s go fight like hardworking soldiers.” This proves the type of man he is.
|Nature representing how the moral order turned upside down: Now we see that the impossible happens. Birnam wood appears to be moving. This is due to the camouflage plan of the English army. The apparitions causing an over-abundance of ambition will be his ruin.
|Borrowed robes: – ?
Light & dark: There is shade caused by the branches. They are hidden within the shadows. Ready to strike.
Macbeth finds out that Lady Macbeth is dead. He then finds out that the wood is starting to move and becomes terrified.
|Macbeth: It is tragic. He is cold and unable to show his emotions. He has already accepted the fact that it’s over now, and here is where he dies. He responds to the tragic news saying, “She should have dies hereafter.” Saying how it was inevitable anyway. Then he breaks down, saying life has no meaning anymore in the tragic famous speech, “She should have died hereafter. There would have been a time for such a word. Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow, Creeps in this petty pace from day to day To the last syllable of recorded time, And all our yesterdays have lighted fools The way to dusty death. 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.”
There are many ways to interpret this soliloquy, all as tragic as the rest.
1 – She should have died after the war, so there would be the right time to mourn.
2 – She should have waited for me, my death is near too.
3 – It would have happened eventually, either now or later
4 – She should have died at battle, but now I know I will not win.
It shows he is giving up on the beliefs now she’s dead. It’s a total desolation.
|Light & dark: The dark takes over his mind. Nothing else is keeping a spark of hope in Macbeth. Nothing but the delirious thought that, ‘no one born to a woman can harm him.”|
The battle commences outside the castle
Macbeth strikes everyone he can see, afraid of nothing.
|Macbeth: In his feeling on invincibility he fights and kills the young Siward, for no reason. Showing his absolute delusion.
Macduff: He walks up to the tyrant without fear in mind. Strong and powerful he demands to kill Macbeth. He states, “Tyrant, show thy face! If thou beest slain, and with no stroke of mine, my wife and children’s ghosts will haunt me still.” P 210
Macbeth and Macduff meet: Macbeth finds out that Macduff was born by caesarean but vows not to give in. Macduff emerges with Macbeth’s head, having killed him.
|Macbeth: Even in these last moments of a life, Macbeth wishes to hold on to honour. The scene stars with him saying, “why should play the Roman fool and die on mine own sword?” p-212. He still sickly believes he’s invincible, screaming to Macduff, “thou loest labor. As easy mayst thou the intrenchant air, with thy keen sword impress as make me bleed.” But his end came when Macduff announced he was a cesarean. Alas he was not formally ‘born’. Despite it all, even as he dies he wishes to retain honour, stating, “I will not yield.”
Macduff: He is a fighter who will do anything for his country. He knew Macbeth was a dangerous man and boldly (maybe foolishly) went into battle with the man. Even as Macbeth expressed his feeling of invincibility, Macduff did not yield. This is why he risked everything he had to put his country back into order. He is also a man very much fuelled on revenge, and rage. He makes it so he must be the one to put an end to the man who killed his family.
Malcolm: He is kind a good, very much like his father and, the kind that Scotland deserves. He says, “I wish all of our friends could have survived this battle.” A man living with so much peace is the only type of man who can bring nobility, back upon a wounded country.
|Tyranny: The evil Macbeth is dead, and the era or Tyranny that follows his retched name is now over. Let’s not speak of this man except for in horror novels, of what ambition can do to a man.|
Cite this article as: William Anderson (Schoolworkhelper Editorial Team), "Macbeth act 5: Characters, Themes, Motifs," in SchoolWorkHelper, 2019, https://schoolworkhelper.net/macbeth-act-5-characters-themes-motifs/.