Act 5, Scene 1
Characters: Doctor of Physic, Waiting Gentlewoman, Lady Macbeth.
Location: Dunsinane. An anteroom in the castle.
Time: Macbeth has left in preparation for war.
Events: Lady Macbeth has been walking in her sleep, revealing guilty secrets that have been overheard by her gentlewoman. The gentlewoman calls a doctor to observe her strange nightly habits. One night Lady Macbeth gets out of bed holding a candle and starts rubbing “a spot” on her hand, frustrated because it’s not coming off. The doctor records her speech and realises what Lady Macbeth is trying to remove from her and is a stain of blood. This is a symbolic metaphor for Lady Macbeth’s guilt: the stain representing a crime that she can’t undo. Horrified, the doctor draws the conclusion that Lady Macbeth’s condition is beyond his practice. As Lady Macbeth returns to bed, she tells herself that Banquo can not come back to haunt her as he is dead, adding more evidence to the doctor’s theory of what has caused Lady Macbeth’s sleepwalks. The doctor now knows more than he intended to and instructs the gentlewoman to watch Lady Macbeth very closely.
Quotes: “What’s done cannot be undone.” (Lady Macbeth) Lady Macbeth can not retract her evil acts and thoughts, whether she likes it or not.
“I think, but I dare not speak.” (Doctor) The doctor can’t bear to speak about his theory built upon Lady Macbeth’s secrets, leaked through her sleepwalk, aloud.
Act 5, Scene 2
Characters: Menteth, Cathness, Angus, Lennox, Soldiers.
Location: The country near Dunsinane.
Events: The Scottish noblemen and their soldiers go meet Malcolm and Macduff and their English army at Birnam Wood to vanquish Macbeth in the war. They also discuss Macbeth’s tyranny and the desperate need for it to stop.
Quote: “Now does he feel his secret murders sticking on his hands; now minutely revolts upbraid his faith-breach; those commands move only in command, nothing in love.” (Angus) Similar to the scenario of Lady Macbeth trying to remove the stained blood from her hand, resembling her effort of trying to undo the crimes she has committed the first line in this quote represents Macbeth’s killings being a sin that he cannot undo. Angus then states that the soldiers fighting for Macbeth are only fighting because they are ordered to so as no one could fight for Macbeth out of love under his tyrannical oppression.
Act 5, Scene 3:
Characters: Macbeth, English Doctor, Attendants, Servant, Seyton.
Location: A room in the castle.
Time: The battle is close.
Events: Macbeth prepares to fight as he learns that his wife is mentally unstable, war is on the horizon and his noble thanes have turned against him. This scene represents how Macbeth has changed from the beginning of the play. The doubt he had in himself in act one has diminished and been replaced with an unrealistic confidence.
Quote: “‘Fear not, Macbeth, no man that’s born of a woman shall e’er have power upon thee.’ Then fly, false thanes, and mingle with the English epicures! The mind I sway by, and the heart I bear, shall never sag with doubt, nor shake with fear.” (Macbeth) Macbeth isn’t afraid of anything as he fully trusts the witches prophecies.
Act 5, Scene 4:
Characters: Malcolm, Siward, Macduff, Siward’s Son, Menteth, Cathness, Angus, Lennox, Rosse, Soldiers.
Location: Country near Birnam wood.
Time: The battle is close.
Events: The English approach Birnam wood, and looms upon Macbeth, disguised in branches to conceal the large amount of soldiers so Macbeth’s spies will give him false reports. They make the final call to move ahead and fight Macbeth; for justice.
Quote: “For, where there is advantage to be given, both more and less have given him the revolt, and none serve with him but constrainèd things whose hearts are absent too.” (Malcolm).
Act 5, Scene 5
Characters: Macbeth, Seyton, Soldiers, Macbeth’s messenger.
Location: Dunsinane. Within the castle.
Time: The battle is close.
Events: Macbeth is still confident that he will triumph in the battle, however when Macbeth learns that his wife has died and that Birnam Wood is moving towards the kingdom, his confidence takes a turn and he starts to doubt the witches predictions as and he becomes less hopeful for victory in the war. For the first time not feeling completely ensured, Macbeth is determined to fight in the battle, no matter the outcome.
Quote: “Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage, and then is heard no more.” (Macbeth) After being informed of the death of Lady Macbeth, his wife and supporter, he questions the meaning of life.
Act 5, Scene 6
Characters: Malcolm, Siward, Macduff.
Location: Dunsinane. Before the castle.
Time: The battle is due to start at any moment.
Events: Malcolm orders the army to drop their branches and reveal their true identity as they approach Dunsinane and the castle. Macduff declares the beginning of the battle.
Quote: “Make all our trumpets speak, give them all breath, those clamorous harbingers of blood and death.” (Macduff) As the soldiers drop their disguise, and prepare for war, Macduff orders for the battle to be announced.
Act 5, Scene 7
Characters: Macbeth, Young Siward, Macduff, Malcolm, Siward.
Location: A part of the field.
Time: The battle has begun.
Events: As the English army approaches, Macbeth comes to the realisation that he can’t flee, and he starts to question the witches prophecies. Young Siward enters and realises that he has encountered Macbeth. Their meeting results in a sword fight that causes Young Siward’s death: this builds on Macbeth’s confidence. Macbeth exits and Malcolm enters. Malcolm is determined to find Macbeth and kill him. He states that his dead family will haunt him forever unless he is the one to slay their murderer. Malcolm refuses to fight Macbeth’s soldiers as they are only in it for the money. He then exits on his way to find Macbeth. Siward and Malcolm discuss the battle optimistically and believe that triumph lies in the foreseeable future. They enter the castle.
Quote: “The devil himself could not pronounce a title more hateful to mine ear” (Young Siward) Young Siward’s reaction to Macbeth revealing his identity. This quote signifies Young Siward’s hate for his king and teaches the viewer that he fought the Macbeth with passion
Act 5, Scene 8
Characters: Macbeth, Macduff.
Location: Another part of the field.
Time: During the battle.
Events: In the midst of the battle, Macduff finds Macbeth, determined to kill his king and enemy. Macbeth encourages Macduff to stop wasting his time trying to kill him, as no man born of a woman can harm Macbeth. At this time Macduff reveals that he was in fact not born of a woman; he was ripped out of his mother’s stomach. This destroys Macbeth’s fraction of confidence he has left and he realises that all of the witches predictions that seemed to portrayed a hopeful future have found a loophole to do the opposite: Birnam Wood did in fact move to Dunsinane, and not everyone is born of a woman. Even though Macbeth’s confidence has diminished, he decides that it’s no reason for him to surrender. They pull out their swords to fight. Macbeth is killed leaving Macduff with the victory of the battle.
Quote: “Though Birnam wood be come to Dunsinane, and thou oppos’d, being of no woman born, yet I will try the last. Before my body I throw my warlike shield. Lay on Macduff, and damn’d be him that first cries, ‘Hold enough!’” (Macbeth)
Act 5, Scene 9
Characters: Malcolm, Siward, Rosse, Thanes, Soldiers, Macduff.
Location: Dunsinane. Within Macbeth’s castle.
Time: The battle has ended.
Events: Siward learns that his son has died while fighting Macbeth, but instead of grieving, he is proud that his son died fighting for justice and in bravery. The audience learns that Lady Macbeth took her own life, leaving us to wonder if she did it out of guilt? Macduff enters the stage carrying Macbeth’s head. Malcolm is announced king and Scotland is freed from Macbeth’s tyranny. All ends well.
Quote: “Hail king, for so thou art. Behold where stands Th’usurper’s cursed head: the time is free. I see thee compass’d with thy kingdom’s pearl, that speak my salutation in their minds; whose voice I desire aloud with mine: Hail, King of Scotland!” (Macduff) The storyline of the play takes a turn as this quote signifies victory, justice and movement towards a “happy” ending.