Macbeth: Act 5, Scene 1 Full Summary {Step by Step Guide} » ✔️

Macbeth: Act 5, Scene 1 Full Summary {Step by Step Guide}

Macbeth: Act 5, Scene 1 Full Summary {Step by Step Guide}

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Macbeth: Act 5, Scene 1 Full Summary | Macbeth: Act 5, Scene 1 Summary

In a room at King Macbeth’s castle in Dunsinane, a doctor and a gentlewoman (a woman from the upper class who helps Lady Macbeth) are talking.

The doctor says that he has stayed awake for two nights with the gentlewoman, but he has not seen what she had reported seeing. He asks, “When was it she last walked?”

The gentlewoman says that since Macbeth went away to war, she has seen Lady Macbeth get up from her bed, put on her nightgown, unlock her closet, take out the paper, fold it, write on it, read it, seal it, and go back to bed.

The gentlewoman says Lady Macbeth does all of this in her sleep. The doctor says that Lady Macbeth’s behavior is not natural.

She cannot get good rest from sleeping and at the same time be able to act as if she is awake. He asks the gentlewoman what she has heard Lady Macbeth says while she is active in her sleep.

The gentlewoman says Lady Macbeth speaks words that the gentlewoman will not say. The doctor says the gentlewoman can and should tell him what Lady Macbeth says.

The gentlewoman says she will tell no one what Lady Macbeth says because no other person has heard Lady Macbeth, so no one can prove the truth of the gentlewoman’s report.

Lady Macbeth enters. The gentlewoman tells the doctor that Lady Macbeth is acting the same way as the gentlewoman had reported.

She says that Lady Macbeth looks like she is awake, but she is asleep. The gentlewoman tells the doctor to stand by her and not let Lady Macbeth see him. The doctor asks the gentlewoman how Lady Macbeth got the candle.

The gentlewoman says that the candle was next to Lady Macbeth. She always has light by her. Lady Macbeth Commands it. The doctor says that Lady Macbeth’s eyes are open.

Also Read:

  1. Macbeth: Act 4, Scene 1 Full Summary {Step by Step Guide}
  2. Macbeth: Act 3, Scene 6 Full Summary {Step by Step Guide}

The gentlewoman says yes, but Lady Macbeth’s eyes are not making sense of her surroundings. (Lady Macbeth is not truly seeing what is around her.) The doctor asks what Lady Macbeth is doing now. The doctor says, “Look, how she rubs her hands.

The gentlewoman says that Lady Macbeth does the action often, acting like she is washing her hands. The gentlewoman says Lady Macbeth often continues rubbing her hands for as long as fifteen minutes.

Lady Macbeth is complaining about a spot on her hands. (There is no spot there. She is imagining it.) The doctor hears Lady Macbeth speaking, and he tells the gentlewoman that he is going to write down what Lady Macbeth says. He wants to remember her words.

Lady Macbeth says, “Out damn spot! out, I say!-One: two: why, then, ’tis time to do’t.-Hell is murky!-Fie, my 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?”

Note: Lady Macbeth is guiltily remembering King Duncan’s murder, and she is trying to wash his blood off of her hands. She remembers ringing a bell to tell her husband it was time for the murder.

She is afraid of going to a dark hell and remembers being surprised that her soldier husband had been afraid to kill Duncan.

She remembers thinking that no one could”call [them] to account” (take away their power) once Macbeth became king. She remembers a large amount of blood that came out of the dying Duncan.

The doctor asks the gentlewoman if she heard what Lady Macbeth said. Before the gentlewoman can answer the doctor’s question, Lady Macbeth speaks again:

The 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

Note: When Lady Macbeth says, “The 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.” she is showing her guilt, her feeling of being responsible for Lady Macduff’s death.

She is also remembering herself telling her husband to not be startled (surprised) by Banquo’s ghost coming to the royal banquet (since there had been no ghost).

Now, it is Lady Macbeth who feels bad about the murders while her husband does not. He plans to continue to do everything he can to keep his power.

The doctor understands that he and the gentlewoman have heard Lady Macbeth say words that suggest that King Macbeth had had Lady Macduff (the wife of the Thane of Fife) murdered.

The doctor probably does not understand that Lady Macbeth is also remembering her husband’s surprise when he had thought he had seen Banquo’s ghost at the royal banquet. The doctor says the gentlewoman knows things she should not know.

The gentlewoman says that she is certain that Lady Macbeth has said things she should not have said. The gentlewoman says heaven knows the things Lady Macbeth knows.

Lady Macbeth says she still has the smell of blood on her hand. She says that all of the perfumes made in Arabia could not make her “little hand” smell better. She says, “O, 0, O”

The doctor says that Lady Macbeth’s “O, 0, O” shows that her heart is hurting from a heavy load. The gentlewoman says she would not want a heart like Lady Macbeth’s even if the gentlewoman could be made a queen.

The doctor says, “Well, well, well.” The gentlewoman makes a small joke. Instead of taking the doctor’s words as words that show he is thinking, she pretends he is saying everything is going well. She says she prays to God that everything will be well.

The doctor says he does not have the medical knowledge to help Lady Macbeth. He says he has known some sleepwalkers who have died in their sleep but were still holy. (He is hoping that Lady Macbeth’s words have just been about bad dreams, not real events.)

Lady Macbeth speaks again. In her thoughts, she is back in time, just after her husband had killed King Duncan. She tells Macbeth to go wash his hands and put on his nightgown.

Then her thoughts go to the royal banquet just after the murder of Banquo. She tells Macbeth to not look pale. She says Banquo is buried and cannot come out of his grave

The doctor says, “Even so?” (is it true?) He thinks Lady Macbeth’s words truly mean that she and her husband have killed in order to get and keep the throne of Scotland.

Lady Macbeth’s thoughts are at the time just after King Duncan’s murder. She imagines that she hears knocking. She knows she and her husband must go to bed, so everyone will think they were asleep when Duncan was murdered.

She imagines leading her husband to bed. She tells him to take her hand, then says, “What is done cannot be undone.- To bed, to bed, to bed!”

After Lady Macbeth goes to her room, the doctor asks the gentlewoman if Lady Macbeth now will go to her bed. The gentlewoman says Lady Macbeth will go directly to her bed.

The doctor says that people are whispering about evil things having been done. He says that when people do unnatural things, unnatural
trouble follows.

He says people with “infected minds” talk in their sleep, telling their “deaf pillows” about the bad things they have done.

(Note: Although Lady Macbeth’s pillow cannot hear Lady Macbeth’s secrets, the gentlewoman and the doctor have heard them.)

The doctor tells the gentlewoman that Lady Macbeth needs a priest more than she needs a doctor. (She needs help for her troubled soul.) The doctor tells the gentlewoman to look after Lady Macbeth and to keep dangerous things away from her.

He says good night, adding that what he has seen has amazed him. He says he has thoughts about what he has seen, but he will not speak those thoughts. The gentlewoman says good night, and they exit.

Also Read:

  1. Macbeth Act 1, Scene 1 Full Summary {Step by Step Guide}
  2. Lord of the flies Chapter 3 Summary
  3. Macbeth: Act 4, Scene 3 Full Summary {Step by Step Guide}

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