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Free Study Guide-Macbeth by William Shakespeare-Booknotes Summary
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Act V, Scene 7

Summary

This fast-paced scene is filled with military action and the sounds of war. Macbeth enters the battlefield and wonders aloud what kind of man would not be born of woman. Young Siward enters and asks his name. When the king replies, the young soldier says, "The devil himself could not pronounce a title more hateful to mine ear." Siward then challenges Macbeth to a duel and is killed in the fighting. Macbeth has a small victory. Macduff then enters and is looking for the king, for he wants personal revenge for his family. He calls out to Macbeth and says, "If thou be'est slain and with no stroke of mine, my wife and children's ghosts will haunt me still." As Macduff continues his search, Malcolm and Siward enter. Siward gives an update on the battle. The castle has surrendered without a struggle, and many of Macbeth's men have deserted him. It appears the battle is almost over.

As they depart towards the castle, Macbeth returns to the scene. He admits he has contemplated falling on his own sword to end his chaos, but has decided to continue the fight. Macduff spies his enemy and calls to him. Macbeth answers by saying, "Get thee back, my soul is too much charged with blood of thine already." The king is still troubled by the old murders. Macduff ignores Macbeth's words, advances, and challenges the king to fight. Still confident that he is protected by the witches' prophecy, Macbeth tells Macduff that he is invulnerable. He explains, "I bear a charmed life, which must not yield to one of woman born." Macduff breaks the charm by telling him, "Macduff was from his mother's womb untimely ripped." Hearing these words, Macbeth realizes that this is the man who will murder him, and he curses the trickery of the witches: "Be these juggling fiends no more believed that palter with us in a double sense." At first Macbeth says that he does not want to fight Macduff; but the alternative is worse to him. He will not surrender "to kiss the ground before young Malcolm's feet." There is still an ounce of pride in the king. Macbeth raises his shield, and they go off fighting.


Malcolm, Siward, and Ross enter the scene while conversing. Malcolm is concerned about their friends who are missing in action. Siward, the veteran soldier, reminds him that there will be deaths in any battle, but fortunately for them, their losses seem small. Then Malcolm specifically mentions that Macduff and young Siward are missing. Ross, again acting as a messenger, delivers the bad news that Siward's son "has paid a soldier's debt...and like a man he died." His father can release him peacefully to God knowing that he died fighting like a true soldier. Macduff then enters the scene carrying Macbeth's head on a pole. Knowing that the tyrant king is dead, Macduff salutes Malcolm and says, "Hail, King! for so thou art." The noble thanes join in the greeting as the trumpets sound in the background. Malcolm addresses the crowd and immediately takes steps to return sanity to his country and destroy the fear and chaos. He tells the thanes that they will become earls and that they should call home their exiled friends. They should also seek out the last supporters of "the dead butcher (Macbeth) and his fiend-like queen." The chaos of Macbeth has passed, and the promise is for peace in Scotland once again.

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Free Study Guide-Macbeth by William Shakespeare-Booknotes Summary
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