Act 5 Scene 1 Macbeth Essay Witches

Macbeth

  • Please see the bottom of this page for helpful Macbeth resources.
  • Please see the bottom of each scene for detailed explanatory notes and analysis.

  • Dramatis Personae.
  • Act 1
    • Macbeth, Act 1, Scene 1. A desert place.
    • Macbeth, Act 1, Scene 2. A camp near Forres.
    • Macbeth, Act 1, Scene 3. A heath near Forres.
    • Macbeth, Act 1, Scene 4. Forres. The palace.
    • Macbeth, Act 1, Scene 5. Inverness. Macbeth's castle.
    • Macbeth, Act 1, Scene 6. Before Macbeth's castle.
    • Macbeth, Act 1, Scene 7. Macbeth's castle.
  • Act 2
  • Act 3
    • Macbeth, Act 3, Scene 1. Forres. The palace.
    • Macbeth, Act 3, Scene 2. The palace.
    • Macbeth, Act 3, Scene 3. A park near the palace.
    • Macbeth, Act 3, Scene 4. The same. Hall in the palace.
    • Macbeth, Act 3, Scene 5. A Heath.
    • Macbeth, Act 3, Scene 6. Forres. The palace.
  • Act 4
  • Act 5
    • Macbeth, Act 5, Scene 1. Dunsinane. Ante-room in the castle.
    • Macbeth, Act 5, Scene 2. The country near Dunsinane.
    • Macbeth, Act 5, Scene 3. Dunsinane. A room in the castle.
    • Macbeth, Act 5, Scene 4. Country near Birnam wood.
    • Macbeth, Act 5, Scene 5. Dunsinane. Within the castle.
    • Macbeth, Act 5, Scene 6. Dunsinane. Before the castle.
    • Macbeth, Act 5, Scene 7. Another part of the field.
    • Macbeth, Act 5, Scene 8. Another part of the field.




Related Resources
_____

 Macbeth: Study Guide
 The Theme of Macbeth
 Macbeth Plot Summary (Acts 1 and 2)
 Macbeth Plot Summary (Acts 3, 4 and 5)

 Macbeth Q & A
 Aesthetic Examination Questions on Macbeth
 Macbeth Character Analysis
 Metaphors in Macbeth (Biblical)

 Figures of Speech in Macbeth
 Exploring Dramatic Irony
 The Metre of Macbeth

 Macbeth, Duncan and Shakespeare's Changes
 King James I and Shakespeare's Sources for Macbeth
 Contemporary References to King James I in Macbeth
 The Royal Patent that Changed Shakespeare's Life

 The Effect of Lady Macbeth's Death on Macbeth
 Was Macbeth the Third Murderer?
 Differences Between Macbeth and Lady Macbeth
 A Comparison of Macbeth and Hamlet

 Soliloquy Analysis: If it were done when 'tis done (1.7.1-29)
 Soliloquy Analysis: Is this a dagger (2.1.33-61)
 Soliloquy Analysis: To be thus is nothing (3.1.47-71)
 Soliloquy Analysis: She should have died hereafter (5.5.17-28)

 Stages of Plot Development in Macbeth
 Time Analysis of the Action in Macbeth
 Explanatory Notes for Lady Macbeth's Soliloquy (1.5)
 Psychoanalysis of Lady Macbeth (Sleepwalking Scene)

 Lady Macbeth's Suicide
 Is Lady Macbeth's Swoon Real?
 Explanatory Notes for the Witches' Chants (4.1)
 How to Stage a Production of Macbeth (Scene Suggestions)

 The Curse of Macbeth
 Elizabethan Use of Mummified Flesh
 Three Apparitions in Macbeth
 Supernatural Solicitings in Shakespeare
 Shakespeare on Omens

 Essay Topics on Macbeth
 What is Tragic Irony?
 Macbeth Study Quiz
 Quotations from Macbeth (Full)
 Top 10 Quotations from Macbeth

 On the Knocking at the Gate in Macbeth
 Characteristics of Elizabethan Tragedy
 Shakespeare's Workmanship: Crafting a Sympathetic Macbeth
 Temptation, Sin, Retribution: Lecture Notes on Macbeth
 Untie the winds: Exploring the Witches' Control Over Nature

 Why Shakespeare is so Important
 Shakespeare's Language
 Shakespeare's Influence on Other Writers

Quote in Context

Upon my head they plac'd a fruitless crown,
And put a barren sceptre in my gripe,
Thence to be wrench'd with an unlineal hand,
No son of mine succeeding. If 't be so,
For Banquo's issue have I fil'd my mind.
                                                     Macbeth (3.1), Macbeth

Macbeth has killed Duncan and has become king of the Scots, yet he believes his crown is in jeopardy. The menace is Banquo. Like Macbeth, Banquo knows that there were two key parts to the unearthly revelation: first, that Macbeth will become king, and second, that Banquo will beget future kings. Macbeth fears Banquo is planning a coup to hasten the day of triumph for his heirs. Read on...

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Points to Ponder

"Macbeth (as I have said and as others have said before me) curiously resembles Greek tragedy in a dozen ways, of which I will mention but one more. Though it is full of blood and images of blood, the important blood-shedding is hidden, removed from the spectator's sight. There is, to be sure, a set scene for Banquo's murder: but it can be omitted without detriment to the play, and, in fact, always is omitted. Duncan is murdered off the stage; Lady Macbeth dies off the stage; Macbeth makes his final exit fighting, to be killed off the stage. There is nothing here like the "blood-bolter'd" culmination of Hamlet" [Arthur Thomas Quiller-Couch, Shakespeare's Workmanship]. Read on...

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Macbeth Facts

In 1849, two competing productions of Macbeth were held on the same night in New York. The result was the worst disaster in theatre history.
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The action of the play takes place over nine days. The historical events chronicled in the play actually took place over the period of about eighteen years.
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Unlike many of Shakespeare's plays, Macbeth did not appear in quarto or any other format before the First Folio of 1623.
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We have a rare first hand account of Macbeth performed at the Globe in 1610.
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According to scholar Tucker Brooke, the first recorded performance of Macbeth in America was in 1765 at the John Street Theatre in New York.
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On Macbeth's Indifference

"One commentator sees in Macbeth's language at the announcement,
"The queen, my lord, is dead,"
the perfect indifference of a heartless criminal to the fate of the wife who had been so faithful to him. Another thinks Lady Macbeth's death touches him in the only remaining vulnerable point, and calls forth some "deeply serious, solemn, elegiac strains." To us there is spoken a different story still. In these words is embodied a degree of combined bitterness and contempt which could only be wrung from a strong heart driven to the last extreme of desperation" [N. B. Bowman]. Read on...

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Macbeth

Please see the bottom of the page for full explanatory notes and helpful resources.

ACT V SCENE I Dunsinane. Ante-room in the castle. 
[Enter a Doctor of Physic and a Waiting-Gentlewoman]
DoctorI have two nights watched with you, but can perceive
no truth in your report. When was it she last walked?
GentlewomanSince his majesty went into the field, I have seen
her rise from her bed, throw her night-gown upon
her, unlock her closet, take forth paper, fold it,
write upon't, read it, afterwards seal it, and again
return to bed; yet all this while in a most fast sleep.
DoctorA great perturbation in nature, to receive at once10
the benefit of sleep, and do the effects of
watching! In this slumbery agitation, besides her
walking and other actual performances, what, at any
time, have you heard her say?
GentlewomanThat, sir, which I will not report after her.
DoctorYou may to me: and 'tis most meet you should.
GentlewomanNeither to you nor any one; having no witness to20
confirm my speech.
[Enter LADY MACBETH, with a taper]
Lo you, here she comes! This is her very guise;
and, upon my life, fast asleep. Observe her; stand close.



DoctorHow came she by that light?
GentlewomanWhy, it stood by her: she has light by her
continually; 'tis her command.
DoctorYou see, her eyes are open.
GentlewomanAy, but their sense is shut.
DoctorWhat is it she does now? Look, how she rubs her hands.30
GentlewomanIt is an accustomed action with her, to seem thus
washing her hands: I have known her continue in
this a quarter of an hour.
LADY MACBETHYet here's a spot.
DoctorHark! she speaks: I will set down what comes from
her, to satisfy my remembrance the more strongly.
LADY MACBETHOut, damned spot! out, I say!--One: two: why,
then, 'tis time to do't.--Hell is murky!--Fie, my40
lord, fie! a soldier, and afeard? What need we
fear who knows it, when none can call our power to
account?--Yet who would have thought the old man
to have had so much blood in him.
DoctorDo you mark that?
LADY MACBETHThe 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.50
DoctorGo to, go to; you have known what you should not.
GentlewomanShe has spoke what she should not, I am sure of
that: heaven knows what she has known.
LADY MACBETHHere's the smell of the blood still: all the
perfumes of Arabia will not sweeten this little
hand. Oh, oh, oh!
DoctorWhat a sigh is there! The heart is sorely charged.60
GentlewomanI would not have such a heart in my bosom for the
dignity of the whole body.
DoctorWell, well, well,--
GentlewomanPray God it be, sir.
DoctorThis disease is beyond my practise: yet I have known
those which have walked in their sleep who have died
holily in their beds.
LADY MACBETHWash your hands, put on your nightgown; look not so
pale.--I tell you yet again, Banquo's buried; he70
cannot come out on's grave.
DoctorEven so?
LADY MACBETHTo bed, to bed! there's knocking at the gate:
come, come, come, come, give me your hand. What's
done cannot be undone.--To bed, to bed, to bed!
[Exit]
DoctorWill she go now to bed?
GentlewomanDirectly.
DoctorFoul whisperings are abroad: unnatural deeds
Do breed unnatural troubles: infected minds80
To their deaf pillows will discharge their secrets:
More needs she the divine than the physician.
God, God forgive us all! Look after her;
Remove from her the means of all annoyance,
And still keep eyes upon her. So, good night:
My mind she has mated, and amazed my sight.
I think, but dare not speak.
GentlewomanGood night, good doctor.
[Exeunt]

Next: Macbeth, Act 5, Scene 2
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Explanatory Notes for Act 5, Scene 1
From Macbeth. Ed. Thomas Marc Parrott. New York: American Book Co.
(Line numbers have been altered.)
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The last act brings about the catastrophe of the play. This does not consist merely in the death of Macbeth upon the field of battle. Shakespeare is always more interested in the tragedy of the soul than in external events, and he here employs all his powers to paint for us the state of loneliness and hopeless misery to which a long succession of crimes has reduced Macbeth. Still clinging desperately to the deceitful promises of the witches the tyrant sees his subjects fly from him; he loses the support and companionship of his wife, and looks forward to a solitary old age, accompanied only by "curses, not loud, but deep." It is not until the very close of the act, when he realizes how he has been trapped by the juggling fiends, that Macbeth recovers his old heroic self; but he dies, sword in hand, as befits the daring soldier that he was before he yielded to temptation.

It is worth noting how in this act Shakespeare contrives to reengage our sympathies for Macbeth. The hero of the play no longer appears as a traitor and a murderer, but as a man oppressed by every kind of trouble, yet fighting desperately against an irresistible fate. His bitter remorse for the past and his reckless defiance of the future alike move us with overwhelming power, and we view his tragic end, not with self-righteous approval, but with deep and human pity.

The number of scenes in this act and the frequent changes of place have necessitated many alterations for modern stage performances. But when the construction is regarded with an eye to the simple Elizabethan stage for which Shakespeare composed his work, it will be found a masterpiece of dramatic art. It opens with a prologue which shows us the mental ruin of Lady Macbeth and at the same time recalls to our minds the sins for which she and her husband are now to receive their just reward.

The second scene shows us the revolt of the Scotch nobles; the third, Macbeth's still unshaken reliance upon the witches' prediction; the fourth, the union of the Scottish nobles with the English forces. In the fifth we see Macbeth reduced to the lowest pitch of misery by his forced inaction and by the news of his wife's death. The report of the moving wood which is brought to him in this scene opens his eyes to the "equivocation of the fiend," and the manner in which he receives it prepares us for his final outburst of defiance. The sixth scene brings the avengers before the walls of Dunsinane.

The seventh, shows us Macbeth still clinging desperately to his last hope, that no man, born of woman, can harm him; but in the eighth even this hope is wrested from him, and he falls by the hand of the man he has most deeply wronged. The last scene, for there should be another, beginning at line 35 of the eighth scene, shows Malcolm in Macbeth's stronghold, "compassed by his kingdom's pearl," and points forward to a new era of peace and happiness in Scotland.

At the beginning of this act Lady Macbeth who has apparently dropped out of the story is brought back upon the stage that we may see how she too pays the penalty of her crimes. The strong will that enabled her to defy her woman's nature has broken down utterly; left alone in her castle while Macbeth is in the field she broods by day over past crimes and future punishment, and at night wanders in uneasy sleep through the halls, betraying to all who hear her the deadly secrets of the past.

In spite of the doctor's statement (lines 65-67), we feel that she is doomed, and we are prepared not only for the news of her death in scene v., but also for the report in the last scene that she died by her own hands. The most tragic part of her punishment is that she, who had sinned so deeply for her husband's sake, drifts away from him and dies in lonely isolation.

4. field. We must suppose that at this time Macbeth is in the field endeavouring to suppress the revolt of the Scotch nobles, alluded to in iv. 3. 182-185.

12, 13. do the effects of watching, perform the acts of waking hours.

13. slumbery agitation, activity of sleep.

16. report, repeat.

16. The gentlewoman is afraid lest she should get into trouble by repeating Lady Macbeth's words.

22, 23. her very guise, exactly her habit.

24. stand close, keep concealed.

27. 'tis her command. Note Lady Macbeth's terror of darkness. She who had invoked thick night to come and cover her deeds of blood dares not now be left alone in the dark.

29. sense, an old plural form.

32. accustomed. Note how Shakespeare impresses on us the fact that this scene is only one of a number.

37. satisfy, assure.

39. Out, damned spot. Lady Macbeth imagines, herself trying to wash the blood of Duncan from her hands.

40. to do't, to kill Duncan. She is living over again the night of Duncan's murder. She thinks she hears the bell strike two, and knows that this is the signal for her husband to enter the king's chamber.

40. Hell is murky. These words reveal Lady Macbeth's brooding fear of the hereafter. They have no connection with the sentence that follows, for Macbeth never showed the slightest dread of future punishment.

44, 45. old man ... 'him. She now fancies herself in Duncan's chamber, standing over the bed which streams with the blood of the murdered king.

47, 48. The thane of Fife ... now. Lady Macbeth had not been a party to the murder of Macduff's wife; but this crime of her husband's is another of the burdens on her conscience. The words in which she mentions Lady Macduff are thrown into the form of an old song. Perhaps she had heard the snatch of a lament sung for her husband's victims, and is now reproducing it in her sleep.

49, 50. No more o' that ... starting. She now imagines herself back at the feast where Banquo's ghost had appeared.

51. go to, an expression of proof.

57. Arabia, a land famous for its spices and perfumes.

58. little hand, one of the few allusions in the play to Lady Macbeth's personal appearance.

59, 60. sorely charged, heavy laden.

65. beyond my practice, outside of my experience.

68. Wash your hands. She now fancies herself speaking to her husband directly after the murder of Duncan. In the next line she recurs to the scene at the banquet.

70. on's, of his.

72. Even so?, an expression of surprise.

79. Note the change to blank verse. The vivid realism of Lady Macbeth's broken utterances would have been impossible in metre, and while she spoke in prose her hearers naturally used the same form.

79. Foul whisperings, terrible rumours. The doctor may have heard some such talk as that between Lennox and the Lord in iii. 6. If so his suspicions would be more than confirmed by what he has heard Lady Macbeth say.

79, 80. unnatural deeds ... troubles, deeds against nature (cf. ii. 4. 10, 11) give rise to abnormal evils in the body.

80. infected minds, guilty souls.

84. the means of all annoyance, anything by which she could harm herself.

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How to cite the explanatory notes:
Shakespeare, William. Macbeth. Ed. Thomas Marc Parrott. New York: American Book Co., 1904. Shakespeare Online. 10 Aug. 2010. < http://www.shakespeare-online.com/plays/macbeth_5_1.html >.
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More Resources

 The Chronology of Shakespeare's Plays
 Establishing the Order of the Plays
 How Many Plays Did Shakespeare Write?
 Shakespeare Timeline

 Shakespeare's Reputation in Elizabethan England
 Words Shakespeare Invented
 Quotations About William Shakespeare

 Portraits of Shakespeare
 Shakespeare's Boss: The Master of Revels
 Top 10 Shakespeare Plays

 Shakespeare's Metaphors and Similes
 Shakespeare's Blank Verse
 Shakespeare Timeline

 Edward Alleyn (Actor)
 What is Tragic Irony?
 Characteristics of Elizabethan Tragedy

More to Explore

 Macbeth: The Complete Play with Commentary
 The Metre of Macbeth: Blank Verse and Rhymed Lines
 Macbeth Character Introduction
 Metaphors in Macbeth (Biblical)

 Differences Between Macbeth and Lady Macbeth
 Explanatory Notes for Lady Macbeth's Soliloquy (1.5)
 The Psychoanalysis of Lady Macbeth (Sleepwalking Scene)
 The Effect of Lady Macbeth's Death on Macbeth
 Is Lady Macbeth's Swoon Real?

 The Theme of Macbeth
 Macbeth, Duncan and Shakespeare's Changes
 King James I and Shakespeare's Sources for Macbeth
 Contemporary References to King James I in Macbeth
 The Royal Patent that Changed Shakespeare's Life

 Origin of the Weird Sisters
 Crafting a Sympathetic Macbeth
 The Moral Character of Macbeth

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Points to Ponder ... "In the words, "Out damned spot - Out I say," the mechanism is that of an unconscious and automatic outburst. It is very doubtful if Lady Macbeth would have used these words if she were in her normal, waking condition. Thus the difference between the personality of Lady Macbeth in her somnambulistic and in the normal mental state, is a proof of the wide gap existing between these two types of consciousness." Isador H. Coriat. Read on...

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 Soliloquy Analysis: If it were done when 'tis done (1.7.1-29)
 Soliloquy Analysis: Is this a dagger (2.1.33-61)
 Soliloquy Analysis: To be thus is nothing (3.1.47-71)
 Soliloquy Analysis: She should have died hereafter (5.5.17-28)

 Elizabethan Use of Mummified Flesh
 Three Apparitions in Macbeth
 Supernatural Soliciting in Shakespeare
 Explanatory Notes for the Witches' Chants (4.1)

 Macbeth Plot Summary (Acts 1 and 2)
 Macbeth Plot Summary (Acts 3, 4 and 5)
 How to Stage a Production of Macbeth (Scene Suggestions)

 A Comparison of Macbeth and Hamlet
 Knocking at the Gate in Macbeth
 Shakespeare's Sources for Macbeth
 The Curse of Macbeth

 Macbeth Q & A
 Essay Topics on Macbeth
 Aesthetic Examination Questions on Macbeth
 What is Tragic Irony?

 Stages of Plot Development in Macbeth
 Time Analysis of the Action in Macbeth
 Macbeth Study Quiz (with detailed answers)
 Quotations from Macbeth (Full)
 Top 10 Quotations from Macbeth

 Temptation, Sin, Retribution: Lecture Notes on Macbeth
 Untie the winds: Exploring the Witches' Control Over Nature
 Shakespeare on Omens

 Characteristics of Elizabethan Tragedy
 Why Shakespeare is so Important
 Shakespeare's Language
 Shakespeare's Influence on Other Writers





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