Act 5 Scene 1 Macbeth Essay Titles

The Dramatic Effect of Act 5 Scene 1 on the Play Macbeth

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The Dramatic Effect of Act 5 Scene 1 on the Play Macbeth

In this scene the doctor and the gentlewoman wait for Lady Macbeth as
it was reported to the doctor that she had been sleepwalking on
previous occasions - "since her majesty returned from the field, I
have seen her rise from her bed". It is reported by the gentlewoman
that every time Lady Macbeth sleepwalks she writes something on paper
and she had also seen Lady Macbeth continuously perform an action of
washing her hands vigorously. Lady Macbeth enters holding a candle.
She stands there washing her hands and speaks of the murders then
returns to bed.

At the start of the scene the atmosphere seems tense as the
Gentlewoman talks to the Doctor about Lady Macbeth's sleepwalking. The
scene becomes tenser when Lady Macbeth enters sleepwalking. It then
calms and goes to being quiet when Lady Macbeth goes back to bed.

The tense atmosphere is first created when the Gentlewoman and Doctor
are speaking. This tense atmosphere is given by the fact that they are
whispering. This is because it is in the night and they are waiting
for any signals that Lady Macbeth is sleepwalking. When Lady Macbeth
enters, the mood changes, and her words are short and disjointed. She
holds a candle whilst in her night-gown which adds a strange and
intimate affect that makes her seem ghostly but also weak as she is
vulnerable in her sleep. The scene reaches a peak as she speaks of the
murders committed and the words she speak are quite jumpy then the
atmosphere becomes tense again as she goes to bed after the doctor
says "this is beyond my practice"

To add to the atmosphere and mood of the scene Lady Macbeth could wear
a long white night-gown; as white is often linked to innocent things,
so would show an imagery-based contradiction in terms. As Lady Macbeth
is very much not an innocent character.


Lady Macbeth's words do not flow, the frequent use of punctuation adds
to this.

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The lack of flow in her words shows that she is feeling eaten
away by guilt, and also she has less control over herself. As she is
in a dream there would be sudden changes, so this is another reason
for her words to be mixed and a lack of clarity as she isn't talking
to anyone. She wonders if her hands will be clean of the blood, this
can be seen as her guilt and she is unable to wash it away. Her use of
repetition seems to be calming, yet manic, and gives reassurance, this
shows her innocence as on lines 56-58 where she seems to be reassuring
Macbeth after the murder of King Duncan. Also she repeats "To bed" and
it gives the affect that her voice is fading away as she goes back to
bed. It also seems to seal Macbeth's fate as Macbeth shall sleep no
more, which seems to suggest the only sleep he's going to have is
eternal sleep, so when she says "to bed", it could be conceived as a
final say on his destiny, as Macbeth will "sleep no more", so if he's
in bed, then that could be a link to his murder further on in the
play.

Lady Macbeth's character has changed a lot from the start of the play.
In the beginning she comes across as a strong-willed heroine who is
the driving force behind the murder of King Duncan, though as the play
goes on the real, or maybe purposefully unreal Lady Macbeth starts to
show. She has always been caring towards Macbeth as she reassures him
constantly through the play and her caring side becomes evident in the
sleepwalking scene. Lady Macbeth appears to lose power over Macbeth
near the ending of the play as he begins to think he has become more
independent and has more people murdered, not too unlike Hitler and
Stalin ruling by fear making themselves feel stronger, but, as the
saying goes "behind each man is a strong woman", which is very true in
this case, Shakespeare has produced a wonderful character that can,
and does, use the side of a woman that is caring, and nice, and -
maybe sub-consciously - made her seem like a very clever woman that
knows what she wants, and knows she is going to get it. For instance,
the whole sleepwalking scene could be pretence to make Lady Macbeth
look innocent and pure, but to the people who think outside the box,
it could be seen as Lady Macbeth being possibly one of the most genius
characters ever created. This therefore adds to the tension of the
scene as no-one knows what is really going on.

Sleep is a strong theme throughout 'Macbeth'. Lady Macbeth sleepwalks
because of her guilt, or maybe another reason as previously explained.
Macbeth first of all has bad dreams then stops sleeping and King
Duncan is murdered in his sleep. The sleepwalking scene shows that
sleep represents innocence, and most certainly it reveals true
intentions, as Lady Macbeth appeared innocent as was King Duncan when
he was murdered in his sleep, yet Shakespeare could have opened up a
whole new can of worms by producing a sub-conscious (literal) theory
about people being able to act in their sleep, as it is normally
thought of that you are yourself when you are sleeping. But as usual,
Shakespeare knew how to make people think, and this is no different
with the sleepwalking scene.



Summary: Act 5, scene 1

Out, damned spot; out, I say. . . . Yet who would have thought the old man to have had so much blood in him?

(See Important Quotations Explained)

At night, in the king’s palace at Dunsinane, a doctor and a gentlewoman discuss Lady Macbeth’s strange habit of sleepwalking. Suddenly, Lady Macbeth enters in a trance with a candle in her hand. Bemoaning the murders of Lady Macduff and Banquo, she seems to see blood on her hands and claims that nothing will ever wash it off. She leaves, and the doctor and gentlewoman marvel at her descent into madness.

Read a translation of Act 5, scene 1 →

Summary: Act 5, scene 2

Outside the castle, a group of Scottish lords discusses the military situation: the English army approaches, led by Malcolm, and the Scottish army will meet them near Birnam Wood, apparently to join forces with them. The “tyrant,” as Lennox and the other lords call Macbeth, has fortified Dunsinane Castle and is making his military preparations in a mad rage.

Read a translation of Act 5, scene 2 →

Summary: Act 5, scene 3

Macbeth strides into the hall of Dunsinane with the doctor and his attendants, boasting proudly that he has nothing to fear from the English army or from Malcolm, since “none of woman born” can harm him (4.1.96) and since he will rule securely “[t]ill Birnam Wood remove to Dunsinane” (5.3.2). He calls his servant Seyton, who confirms that an army of ten thousand Englishmen approaches the castle. Macbeth insists upon wearing his armor, though the battle is still some time off. The doctor tells the king that Lady Macbeth is kept from rest by “thick-coming fancies,” and Macbeth orders him to cure her of her delusions (5.3.40).

Read a translation of Act 5, scene 3 →

Summary: Act 5, scene 4

In the country near Birnam Wood, Malcolm talks with the English lord Siward and his officers about Macbeth’s plan to defend the fortified castle. They decide that each soldier should cut down a bough of the forest and carry it in front of him as they march to the castle, thereby disguising their numbers.

Read a translation of Act 5, scene 4 →

Summary: Act 5, scene 5

Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.

(See Important Quotations Explained)

Within the castle, Macbeth blusteringly orders that banners be hung and boasts that his castle will repel the enemy. A woman’s cry is heard, and Seyton appears to tell Macbeth that the queen is dead. Shocked, Macbeth speaks numbly about the passage of time and declares famously that life is “a tale / Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, / Signifying nothing” (5.5.25–27). A messenger enters with astonishing news: the trees of Birnam Wood are advancing toward Dunsinane. Enraged and terrified, Macbeth recalls the prophecy that said he could not die till Birnam Wood moved to Dunsinane. Resignedly, he declares that he is tired of the sun and that at least he will die fighting.

Read a translation of Act 5, scene 5 →

Summary: Act 5, scene 6

Outside the castle, the battle commences. Malcolm orders the English soldiers to throw down their boughs and draw their swords.

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