Act 5, Scene 5: Lady Macbeth dies

Act 5, Scene 5 is not the final scene of Macbeth by Shakespeare, but you may say that it is the beginning of the end. The setting is one of dark chaos: outside the castle, the army led by Malcolm is about to attack, and inside the castle, Macbeth receives the news that Lady Macbeth is dead.

Macbeth launches into a sorrowful soliloquy on how life is really without meaning. He then receives more bad news: Birnam Wood is moving towards Dunsinane Castle - just like the witches’ second prophecy said.

Generally, Act 5 of Macbeth is full of action and very fast-paced, and this scene is no exception. The function of Scene 5 is to make us realise that this is really the end - it will all end in tragedy. Macbeth loses his loyal wife, and yet another part of the witches’ prophecy seems to be coming true. You could argue that this kick-starts our sense of catharsis; we suffer along with Macbeth and pity him, although we know that he brought this on himself.

Macbeth goes through a psychological change in this scene. He starts out eager to fight the disloyal thanes who abandoned him for Malcolm: “Hang out our banners on the ou...

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