Macbeth: Act 5, Scene 3 Full Summary {Step by Step Guide}

Macbeth: Act 5, Scene 3 Full Summary {Step by Step Guide}

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Macbeth: Act 5, Scene 3 Full Summary | Macbeth: Act 5, Scene 3 Summary

Macbeth, the doctor, and others enter a room in the castle at Dunsinane. Macbeth is saying that he wants no more reports. He says his thanes, his noblemen, have left him, but he will not be afraid until Birnam Wood moves to Dunsinane.

Macbeth, continuing to remember the witches’ prophecies, asks, “What’s the boy, Malcolm? Was he not born of a woman?”

Macbeth says that the spirits who know the future told him, “Fear not, Macbeth; no man that’s born of woman/ Shall e’er [ever] have power upon thee” (you).

Macbeth says the thanes (his noblemen) can fly away (because he doesn’t need them since the witches are on his side). Macbeth says his noblemen can join the English who are “epicures” (people who care about pleasures, not morals).

Macbeth says his mind and heart will not lose to doubt and fear. A servant enters, and Macbeth shows that he is not calm.

Thinking that the servant is bringing bad news, Macbeth calls the servant a white-faced fool, and Macbeth says he hopes the devil will turn the servant black. Macbeth asks why the servant looks like a goose (why he looks frightened).

The servant begins to say something about ten thousand…, but Macbeth stops him and asks if he is talking about geese. The servant says, “Soldiers, sir.”

Macbeth tells the boy to pinch his cheeks to give his face some color to cover up his fear. Macbeth says the boy is “lily-livered” (cowardly).

Macbeth asks the boy what soldiers he is talking about. Macbeth says the boy’s soul should die. Macbeth says the boy’s white cheeks are
making others afraid. Macbeth calls the boy “whey-faced” (milk face) and asks again, “What soldiers?”

The boy says the English soldiers are near. Macbeth tells the boy to take his face away. The boy leaves.

Macbeth calls out for a trusted man to come to him, “Seyton!” While he waits for Seyton, Macbeth says he is “sick at heart.” Macbeth, in a
famous speech, tells himself that he has lost so much that he should not be afraid of the future:

“This push/ will cheer me ever, or disseat me now. have lived long enough: my way of life Is fallen into the sear, the yellow leaf And that which should accompany old age, As honor, love, obedience, troops of friends, I must not look to have; but, in their stead, Curses, not loud but deep, mouth-honor, breath, Which the poor heart would fain deny, and dare not.”

Note: Macbeth is saying that he will either win the battle and be forever happy, or he will lose his seat (his throne). He says he has lived long enough.

He is old and like a yellow leaf in autumn. He does not have the honor, love, obedience, or friends that usually come with old age.

Instead, he has people who curse him to others softly, but who honor him in public. Macbeth says he has breath which his heart would like to end, but it is afraid to stop.

Macbeth calls out again for Seyton, and Seyton enters. He asks what Macbeth wants, and Macbeth asks if there is more news. Seyton says the news that had been reported is true.

Macbeth tells Seyton that he will fight until his flesh is cut off his bones. He tells Seyton to get his armor. Seyton says Macbeth does not need his armor yet.

Macbeth says he is going to put on his armor. He tells Seyton they will need to send out more soldiers on horses and look throughout the country for people who talk of fear. They should be hanged. Macbeth again tells Seyton to get his armor.

While Seyton gets the armor, Macbeth talks to the doctor. Macbeth asks how the doctor’s patient (Lady Macbeth) is doing. The doctor says Lady Macbeth is not truly sick, but she has thoughts which trouble her and keep her from sleeping.

Macbeth tells the doctor to cure Lady Macbeth’s mind. He asks if the doctor cannot help a diseased mind. He asks if the doctor is unable to pull a remembered sorrow (sadness) out of Lady Macbeth’s mind.

Can’t the doctor erase troubles from her brain and use medicine to help her forget what troubles her and to help take away the problems that weigh on her heart? The doctor says patients like Lady Macbeth have to heal themselves.

Macbeth is angry. He says medicine should be thrown at the dogs. He will have nothing to do with medicine again.

Macbeth tells Seytorn to help him put on his armor, give him his staff, and send the soldiers out to fight. Macbeth tells the doctor that the thanes (the noblemen) are running away from him. Macbeth tells Seyton to hurry.

Macbeth tells the doctor that if he could test the water of Scotland (like he tests the urine of patients), find the country’s disease, take the disease away, and make Scotland healthy again, then Macbeth would applaud the doctor so loudly that the sound made by Macbeth’s clapping hands would echo and the doctor would hear the sound again.

Macbeth thinks Seyton is taking too long to dress him in his armor. Macbeth tells him to take the piece of armor off. Macbeth asks the
doctor what plant or drug would be a purgative that would clean the English out of Scotland.

(A purgative is a medicine that causes patients to clean the inside of their body by either vomiting or having diarrhea.) Macbeth asks the doctor if he has heard of any purgative drug.

The doctor says that yes, he has heard something. He says Macbeth’s preparations for war make him and others hear a purgative. (The doctor is complimenting Macbeth – saying Macbeth will make the English leave Scotland and then Scotland will be like a patient made well.)

Macbeth tells Seyton to come with him and to bring the rest of the armor. Macbeth says he will not fear “death and bane” (death and destruction) until Birnam Forest comes to his castle at Dunsinane.

The doctor says to himself that if he could get away from Dunsinane, no one could pay him enough to come back. Everyone leaves.

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