Macbeth: Act 5, Scene 8 Full Summary {Step by Step Guide}


Macbeth: Act 5, Scene 8 Full Summary {Step by Step Guide}

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Macbeth: Act 5, Scene 8 Full Summary | Macbeth: Act 5, Scene 8 Summary

Macbeth, in a place on the field of battle away from Young Siward’s body, is speaking his thoughts aloud. He says, “Why should I play the Roman fool, and die On mine own sword? Whiles, I see lives, the gashes Do better upon them.”

Note: Macbeth is thinking about killing himself because he does not know how he can win.

In Roman times, soldiers who could not win or run away from their enemies killed themselves with their own swords, so they would not be killed in a more painful way than necessary.

He decides not to kill himself. He says bloody gashes (cuts) look better on his enemies than on himself.

Macduff enters. He says, “Turn, hellhound, turn!”

Note: Macduff has just called Macbeth a dog from hell.

Macbeth turns around. He says he has been staying away from Macduff. Macbeth tells Macduff to stay back.

Macbeth says his soul is too heavy with the blood of Macduff’s family. (Macbeth feels guilty and does not want to fight Macduff.)

Macduff says he has no words to say to Macbeth. Macduff says his sword is his voice. (He will not use words to say how he hates Macbeth. He will use his sword to kill Macbeth.) Macduff says there are no words strong enough to describe how evil Macbeth is.

Macduff and Macbeth fight. Macbeth tells Macduff that he is losing, that his labor (his attack) cannot be successful. Macbeth says Macduff cannot hurt the air or Macbeth with a sword.

Macbeth says Macduff should go fight someone who can be hurt because Macbeth has a charmed life (a life protected by spirits) and can only be hurt by someone not “of Woman born.”

Macduff tells Macbeth to give up his hope that the charm will protect him. Macduff says the evil spirit which protects Macbeth can tell Macbeth that Macduff was “from his mother’s womb/ Untimely ripped.” (Macduff was cut out of his mother’s uterus because he could not be born naturally.)

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Macbeth says Macduff’s tongue should be cursed (should be hurt) for telling Macbeth about Macduff’s birth. Macbeth says the “better part” of himself is now “cowed.” (Macbeth’s bravery has changed to fear.)

Macbeth says that he now does not believe in the words of the evil spirits who fooled him by saying things that had two meanings.

The words of the evil spirits sounded like promises (that Macbeth would be safe because trees could not walk out of Birnam Wood and men cannot be born except a woman) but their actual meaning (that Malcolm’s soldiers would attack carrying branches from the trees of Birnam Wood and that Macduff was torn from his mother’s body, not born naturally) have broken the spirits’ promises and have ended Macbeth’s hope for a good future.

Macbeth says he will not fight Macduff. Macduff says Macbeth can stop fighting. Then Macduff and his men will put Macbeth in a show, like a show that has monsters (deformed animals).

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Macduff says people can come to see Macbeth. There will even be a picture of Macbeth painted on a pole and underneath the picture will be the words “Here may you see the tyrant.”

Macbeth says he will not stop fighting, kiss the ground in front of Malcolm, or let common people curse him (say bad things to him). Macbeth says that it is true that Birnam Wood has come to Dunsinane and Macduff was not of woman born, but Macbeth will fight to the end.

Macbeth says, “Lay on, Macdufí, And damned be him that first cries, “Hold, enough!”

Note: Macbeth is telling Macduff to begin fighting again. Macbeth says the first man who says he wants to stop should be sent to hell.

Macduff and Macbeth fight. They continue fighting as they exit the stage.

Note: Sometimes the final act of Macbeth is divided into 11, not 8 scenes.

Scenes begin and end when the location of the actors changes. Here, Macbeth and Macduff leave the stage, as they did in Scene 7 before Siward talks to Malcolm about going into the castle.

Sometimes, the part of the play with Siward and Malcolm going to the castle becomes Scene 8 and every time actors leave the stage, a new scene begins.

Some books have 11 Scenes in Act 5, but many combine the scenes to make only 8 scenes as in these article summaries.

Trumpets play to let everyone know the battle is over. Old Siward, Malcolm, Ross, thanes, and soldiers discuss what has happened. Malcolm says he wishes that all of their friends could have lived through the fighting.

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Siward says that soldiers die in every battle. He says when he looks at all of the soldiers near them he thinks that the day is a great one (because Malcolm can be king) and that the price in life seems to be cheap. (Siward thinks there have not been many men who had to give their lives to help Malcolm become the new king.)

Malcolm says that Macduff and Young Siward are missing. (They are not present.) Ross tells Siward that his son “has paid a soldier’s debt” (has paid with his life the price to make Malcolm the new king).

Ross says Young Siward only lived long enough to fight to prove he was a man. Ross says Young Siward died like a man. Siward asks, “Then he is dead?”

Ross says that yes, Young Siward is dead and has been carried off the field. Ross says Siward should not make his sadness about his son’s death as big as the value of his son because if Old Siward made his sadness that big, it would never end.

Siward asks if his son’s “hurts” (injuries) were in the front of his body. Ross says yes. Siward, knowing that his son died with honor, says that his son is now God’s soldier.

He says if he had as many sons as he had hair on his head, he would not wish for them a better death. (Siward believes dying in battle is the most honorable way to die.) Siward says the funeral bell has rung. (His son is dead, and that fact must be accepted.)

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Malcolm says Young Siward should have more sorrow paid for him, and Malcolm will spend it. (Malcolm will honor Young Siward by feeling sad about his death.) Old Siward says his son is not worth more.

His son died well and paid what he owed. (His son acted as he should have.) Siward said God is with his son. Then Siward says that better news is here.

Macduff enters, carrying Macbeth’s head. He says, “Hail king!” to Malcolm. Macduff says Malcolm is now king. He says Malcolm can look at the head of the man who had taken his father’s throne.

Macduff says they are free (from Macbeth’s leadership). He says he sees Malcolm is with his country’s pearl (the army which had protected him).

Macduff says the men are thinking what Macduff is saying, and he wants them to speak aloud with him, “Hail, King of Scotland!” Everyone says, “Hail, King of Scotland!”

Malcolm says he will soon reward the noblemen who have helped him. He says the thanes will now be Scotland’s first earls (higher ranking than thanes).

Malcolm says they must call back all of their friends who left the country because of Macbeth the “butcher” (killer) and his “fiendlike queen” (evil queen).

Malcolm says people think the queen killed herself. Then he says he must do everything else that God wants to be done, at the right time and place.

Malcolm thanks everyone and invites them to Scone to see him crowned the new King of Scotland.

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