William Shakespeare | Short Summary of Macbeth: Act V

Lady Macbeth, while sleepwalking, reveals her knowledge of the deaths of Duncan, Lady Macduff, and Banquo. Her continual washing of her hands cannot ease her dread or make her feel cleansed. The doctor and attendant realize they cannot help her. (i.) Macbeth is too involved with battle preparations against Malcolm and English and Scottish troops to spend much time considering his wife’s dreams. (iii.) When he hears of Lady Macbeth’s death, he contemplates that life is “full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.” He reassures himself with the predictions only to see the woods advance when Malcolm’s soldiers camouflage themselves with boughs from Birnam Wood. (v.) Macbeth sees the ambiguity of the predictions but goes bravely into battle. He kills young Siward who dies fearlessly (vii.) and then faces Macduff who tells him that he was not “of woman born” but was “untimely ripped” from his mother’s womb. Finally realizing the true implications of the predictions, Macbeth refuses to yield to Macduff and face capture and ridicule. He confronts Macduff and bravely fights to the death. Macduff displays the “usurper’s cursed head” and acclaims Malcolm the new King of Scotland. (viii.)

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