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This scene (Act V, scene v) encapsulates many of the essential elements in Macbeth. It is an impending battle scene, from the standpoint of Dunsinane, Macbeth’s castle. Macbeth begins the scene by expressing his overweening pride and false bravado, telling his soldiers “Our castle’s strength/Will laugh a siege to scorn.” A women’s cry within interrupts him , which to him is the “taste of fear” but “I have supp’d full with horrors." Seyton informs him that ”The queen, my lord, is dead.” Macbeth’s famous soliloquoy follows “ “Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow…” in which he ironically dismisses death itself. The real drama begins when a messenger runs in to report a very improbable sight – “Anon, methought/ the woods began to move!” We know from the previous scene that Malcolm’s men have all picked a bough, to “shadow the numbers of our host” and are advancing, thus giving the illusion of the woods moving reported. The is a strong example of equivocation, giving the witches’ prophecy a new meaning (cf. Macduff’s birth – “I was from my mother’s womb untimely ripped”). The messenger is then treated to the injustice (punishing the messenger) of being punished for bringing the news. In the final monologue of the scene, Macbeth defines equivocation – “lies like truth” – which is also one of the Elizabethan definitions of drama itself. In the last line – “At least we’ll die with harness on our back.” – he regains some of the military strength that made him a leader in the first place.
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