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Acts IV & V : Denouement & Resolution. A Act Iv, Scene i. The events of ACT IV make up the denouement, which is somewhat similar to falling action: This act is concerned with the events that result from the climax and lead toward resolution of the main conflict.

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a act iv scene i
A Act Iv, Scene i

The events of ACT IV make up

  • the denouement, which is somewhat similar to falling action:

This act is concerned with the events that result from the climax and lead toward resolution of the main conflict.

a act iv scene i1
A Act Iv, Scene i

“Double, double, toil, and trouble….. trouble…..” (perhaps most famous quote from Macbeth)

  • Macbeth is on his way to meet w/ the weird sisters (3 witches) as promised at the end of Act III.
  • Note the imagery of darkness and creepiness here as seen in Act I, scene 1.
  • Language in this scene is rather apocalyptic- dark, prophesying destruction…..
a act iv scene i2
A Act Iv, Scene i

“Double, double, toil, and trouble….. trouble…..”

Witches are brewing a potion to make apparitions (ghostly visions) appear to Macbeth who wants answers as to what his future holds. (He’s an insane mess).

act iv scene i
Act Iv, Scene i

Macbeth to witches: “Show me something….!”

Witches show 1st apparition of “Armed Head”- as stage directions indicate- symbol of Maduff (Note he is in England with Malcolm & King Edward preparing for war).

1st message/prediction: “Beware Macduff! Beware the Thane of Fife!” (lines 71,72)

act iv scene i1
Act Iv, Scene i

Macbeth to witches: “Show me something….!”

Witches show 2nd apparition of bloody child- as stage directions indicate- symbolic of Macduff at birth

2nd message/prediction: …For none of woman born/ Shall harm Macbeth” (lines 80,1)

act iv scene i2
Act Iv, Scene i

Arrogant Macbeth now thinks that no human being can hurt him- why?- we are all “born of woman”….

To make entirely sure no one can hurt him and get a guarantee of fate, he decides he will have to kill Macduff….. (Recall the first prediction- Beware Macduff…).

“But yet I’ll make assurance double sure,/ And take a bond of fate. Thou shall not live.” (lines 83,4)

act iv scene i3
Act Iv, Scene i

3rd apparition: Crowned child w/ tree in hand- symbolic of Malcolm

3rd message/prediction: “Macbeth shall never be vanquished until Great Birnam Wood to high Dunsinane Hill/ Shall come against him.” (lines 92,3)

What does this mean in everyday language?.....

[Macbeth can only be beaten by an army if the woods

surrounding his castle actually move toward him, which

seems to make no sense since a forest cannot move.]

act iv scene i4
Act Iv, Scene i

At this point, Macbeth feels confident he will always be king, but the prophecy

of Banquo’s descendants becoming kings is still on his mind.

He demands the witches answer:“Shall Banquo’s issue

ever/ reign in this kingdom? (lines 102,3)- Is B still a threat?

Witches show Macbeth an apparition of Banquo and

his descendants holding “scepters” (a wand or staff that a

king would hold, see pic in upper corner).

act iv scene i5
Act Iv, Scene i

Macbeth- horrified, enraged that Banquo’s descendants will be kings….

“Horrible sight! Now I see ‘tis true;” (line 122)

Witches show Macbeth more than 8 kings, some hold 2 “scepters.”

(More than 1 country will be ruled by all

Banquo’s kids, or “issue”,- England, Ireland, & Scotland

will unite in the future).

act iv scene i6
Act Iv, Scene i

Witches vanish into thin air….

Lennox (random nobleman from previous acts) enters….

- tells Macbeth Macduff “fled to England.” (line 142)

Macbeth’s reaction: “The castle of Macduff I will

surprise;/ Seize upon Fife’ give to th’ edge o’ th’ sword/ His

wife, his babes,…” lines 150-3(He’s gone off deep end-

decides to murder Macduff’s entire family in cold blood).

act iv scene ii
Act Iv, Scene ii

New character introduced- Lady Macduff, wife of Macduff

She is upset that her husband has fled- she has no idea why he has left and gone to England.

“His flight was madness.” (line 4)

Ross and Lady Macduff’s son try to calm her down.

act iv scene ii1
Act Iv, Scene ii

“What had he done to make him fly the land? (line the land?” (line 1)

Imagery of birds is used throughout the first part of scene to describe how she feels trapped and abandoned like a teeny little bird in a nest. (This is also an extended metaphor; she also compares her ‘fatherless’ son to a hungry bird).

Messenger come in- tries to warn her that she needs to run…. (We do not know how he knows Lady Macduff is in danger from Macbeth)…..

act iv scene ii2
Act Iv, Scene ii

Irony of Macduff’s son speech: he is is a little boy trying to show an

adult some common sense….

She is disgusted w/ Macduff; this

little boy is a voice of wisdom as he

tries to convince her that his father

is not dead AND is not a cowardly


act iv scene ii3
Act Iv, Scene ii

Food for thought: how is Lady Macduff different from Lady Macbeth?....

Lady Macduff- quick to assume Macduff is a traitor who abandoned his family….

act iv scene ii4
Act Iv, Scene ii

Murderers kill her son on stage- audience assumes they go on to kill entire family- bloodbath…..

[Exit LADY MACDUFF crying “Murder!” followed by MURDERERS.]

Consider the murder of Macduff’s son- How is it a reversal of a previous plot point?

act iv scene iii
Act Iv, Scene iiI

Action shifts from Scotland to England.

Malcolm to Macduff: “This tyrant [Macbeth] ….you have loved him well;/He hath not touched you yet…”

(lines 12,3)- shows his suspicion toward Macduff.

(Malcom’s thoughts: You were once very close...Maybe you will hand me over to Macbeth….)

act iv scene iii1
Act Iv, Scene iiI

“Angels are bright still, though the brightest fell:/ line 22- note the hidden allusion to Lucifer

Malcolm is using a metaphor here: Macduff could be a backstabber who appears to be an honest “angel”- just like Lucifer (God’s angel who turned into Satan himself)

Malcolm’s thoughts: If Lucifer could betray God, why should I trust you?

Personification- “I think our country sinks beneath the yoke;/ It weep, it bleeds…” lines 39, 40

act iv scene iii2
Act Iv, Scene iiI

This is a very tricky scene…

When Malcolm learns Macduff left his family behind unprotected (“in rawness”) in Scotland, he figures Macduff must be loyal to Macbeth.

….After all, how could he leave his family behind? If Macduff was disloyal to Macbeth, Macbeth would hunt down Macduff’s family as punishment….(lines 25-30)

act iv scene iii3
Act Iv, Scene iiI

Malcolm goes on to test Macduff to

see if he is still loyal to Macbeth…

Malcolm’s words in lines 50-54 paraphrased:

When I come to power, I will be even more evil than Macbeth….He will seem like a “lamb.” (I am capable of every sin there is- great greed for power, lust, etc…)

Macduffsays Duncan (Malcolm’s father) “was a most sainted king”…. (line 109), talks kindly of the queen too

act iv scene iii4
Act Iv, Scene iiI

Malcolm comes to trust Macduff, most likely b/c of his kind words about his late parents (esp his mom  ).

Malcolm goes on to say he was only trying to mislead Macduffto test him with his “false speaking.” (line 130)

act iv scene iii5
Act Iv, Scene iii

Macduff learns of the complete slaughter of his entire family from Ross; he blames himself. (see quote below)

“And I must be from thence.” line 213

Malcolm to Macduff: Be a man! Now Macbeth’s time has come! Instead of focusing on grief at your family’s murder, be strong! Use your grief as a motivator to take Macbeth down….. Off to Scotland we go!

act v scene i
Act v, Scene i

Lady Macbeth has officially gone off the deep end, suffering a mental breakdown.

Her sleepwalking shows her tormented conscience over Duncan’s murders and all the evil that came from it. Her ruthlessness is coming undone….

While sleepwalking, she states, “Out, damned spot!”

(She is referring to Duncan’s blood on her hands).

act v scene i1
Act v, Scene i

Lady Macbeth’s maid [Gentlewoman]: “She has spoke what she should not, I am sure of that…”

She figures that Lady Macbeth must have something to confess….

Doctor: “Infected minds/ To their deaf pillows will discharge their secrets.” (73,4) He knows Lady Macbeth is tormented over “an unnatural deed.” (72,3) Notice that he even calls upon God….

He figures she may have ‘skeletons in the closet.’…..

act v scene ii
Act v, Scene ii

New characters introduced:

  • Menteith & Caithness (noblemen)

Siward- head general of English army

English army AND Macbeth’s Scottish nobleman (Malcolm, Lennox, etc) are heading twrdDunsinane, the site of Macbeth’s castle….

Macbeth- trying to secure Birnam Wood (remember the witches’ prophecies…)

act v scene ii1
Act v, Scene ii

Macbeth’s subjects are no longer very loyal to him; he senses this.

Angus:“Those he [Macbeth] commands move only in command,/Nothing in love…”(lines 19,20)

Macbeth realizes his power is fast declining. His authority and character are severely threatened.

act v scene iii
Act v, Scene iiI

Macbeth as forces approach his castle- arrogant (thinks he cannot be beaten since Malcolm was “born of woman”) but still nervous.

Macbeth:“The heart I bear/ Shall never sag with doubt nor shake with fear.” (lines 9,10)

act v scene iii1
Act v, Scene iiI

Lines 22-28: Macbeth states to Seyton (his officer) that he sees his life has come to ruins, he can have no peace, and he must make peace with dying….The consequences of his actions seem clear to him.

“My way of life/ Is fall’n into the sear, the yellow leaf,/ And that which should accompany old age,/ As honor, obedience, troops of friends, I must not look to have; but, in their stead,/ Curses….

act v scene iv
Act v, Scene iV

Malcolm: “Let every soldier hew [cut] [cut] him down a bough[branch]/ And bear ‘t before him. Thereby shall we shadow/ The numbers of our host.”

The plan is for soldiers to disguise/camouflage themselves as they approach Macbeth’s castle at Dunsinane. They will put branches on their bodies to look like trees. In this way, Birnam Woods ‘moves.’

Macbeth has been misled by his interpretation of 2nd prophecy/apparition!

act v scene v
Act v, Scene V

Macbeth on the approaching soldiers: Let them come! They will fall to disease or fighting among themselves! (They are their own worst enemy).

(Macbeth seems to forget what it is like to feel fear- tragic hero/tragic flaw).

His reaction to Lady Macb’s death in his monologue: “Life’s but a walking shadow…” (lines 17-28)- metaphor.

Meaning: We are only here but for a little while. Life is like an sad actor and a completely meaningless, sad story. His view of life is now very bleak….

act v scene v vi
Act v, Scene V, VI

Macbeth- hears the woods have

begun “to move.” He vows to fight.

Scene VI- establishes idea that there is glory and honor to be had in fighting to the death, to the very end. Notice that Macbeth- the king himself- will actually be fighting on the battlefield.

Also, the scene builds suspense…..

act v scene vii viii
Act v, Scene Vii, VIII

Macbeth has killed Young Siward, son of son of Siward, head of the English forces.

Macbeth wants to avoid fighting Macduff b/c of the witches’ prophecy. Also, he has shed too much Macduff blood already (his family). (lines 5,6)

Was Macduff really “born of woman”?

(see lines 15,16)- Nope!

He was born by Caesarean section. A male surgeon delivered him. His mother died in the process.

act v scene vii
Act v, Scene VIi

Macduff slays Macbeth…. [stage directions]

Siward’s reaction to his son’s death:

He died an honorable, ‘manly’ death (fighting for the king). He takes comfort in

this. To die for a good cause was one of the highest honors a man could reach.

Malcolm vows to repay his followers for their loyalty to his father’s cause. He gives them new title: earl.

act v scene viii
Act v, Scene VIiI

Malcolm: emerges as hero, new king

Lady Macbeth- “fiendlike queen”

Macbeth- “dead butcher” kennings

Audience is told Lady Macbeth committed suicide- presumably.

  • Beginning of new era of peaceful rule
macbeth plot review
Macbeth Plot Review

Act I: Exposition

Inciting Incident/Exciting Force

Act 2: Rising Action/Complication

Act 3: Climax

Act 4: Denouement/Falling Action

Act 5: Resolution

the real macbeth
The ‘Real’ Macbeth….
  • Macbeth was a real Scottish king.
  • He was not a tyrant, ruled peacefully for 14 years.
  • He did kill King Duncan in battle (with Siward’s help).
  • …and he also killed King Duncan’s dad! Yikes!
  • Malcolm eventually killed Macbeth….
  • There is debate about whether or not Banquo actually existed: historians who say he did exist claim that his descendants are the Stuarts of England.
interesting facts
Interesting facts….

Shakespeare wrote Macbeth as a response to the Gunpowder Plot of 1605- a warning to anyone who would rise up against a king…..

English Catholics who felt they were being persecuted by the Protestant monarchy (James I) plotted to blow him up. They were discovered and then tortured. …

ideas to consider
Ideas to Consider….
  • Why might Shakespeare have portrayed Macbeth as a tyrant?
  • Why might Shakespeare have portrayed Banquo as noble, or loyal to the king?