In Scene 6, Malcolm orders his men to throw down their branches and reveal to Macbeth just how large
is the opposing army.
Scene 7 finds Macbeth trapped inside his castle and yet he still believes he is invincible because all men
are born of woman. In the meantime, Macduff is scouring the fortress in search of him.
MACBETH'S FINAL EQUIVOCATION
Act 5 has many short scenes as the audience watches the final quick collapse of Macbeth's kingdom.
First comes Lady Macbeth's mental illness and the infamous sleepwalking scene. Then we witness the
English forces assembling at Dunsinane.
After this, we note Macbeth's ever-weakening attempt to defend himself, his soldiers deserting him, his
wife being mentally ill, and he himself clearly distracted.
Malcolm's forces gather at Birnam Wood, and chop down branches of trees to hide their numbers.
Lady Macbeth commits suicide and Macbeth is distressed to find that one more prophecy turns out to be
equivocal: the great forest at Birnam is indeed coming to Dunsinane.
Malcolm's forces throw down their branches to reveal just how large a force confronts Macbeth
The forces attack and Macbeth confidently defends himself, believing still that no-one born of woman can
defeat him. Macduff goes about in search of him.
The two leading Scottish protagonists finally meet face to face. Macbeth at last learns the fatal truth: the
witches have once again deceived him. Macduff was not born of woman but was cut from his mother's
The shock news dismays Macbeth and he is killed. His head is mounted on a pole for all to see. Malcolm
is proclaimed king of Scotland.
These final short episodes are mostly action scenes to bring the tragic events to a conclusion.
Macbeth has been deceived throughout by the witches' equivocal statements and, in the end, dies --
bravely but nevertheless ignominiously.
Have you looked at the questions
in the right column?