In Act 5 of Macbeth, where does it show that Macbeth still possesses some virtue?

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lsumner | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Senior Educator

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In Act V, Scene III of Macbeth, there is a moment when Macbeth mentions qualties that are honorable and virtuous. He misses having these qualities and realizes that he is getting older and is without honor and love. He insists that all that he has are curses:

My way of life
Is fallen into the dry, withered yellow leaf,
And the things which should accompany old age,
Honor, love, obedience, troops of friends,
I think I’ll have, but, instead of them, I’ll have
Curses, not loud, only deep, mouth-honor, breath,

In Act V, Scene III of Macbeth, there is moment when Macbeth seems to possess some virtue. Macbeth tenderly thinks of his wife in her sickness. Macbeth asks the doctor to cure her by cleansing her of her illness:

Cure her of that.
Can’t you minister to a diseased mind?
Pluck a rooted sorrow from the memory?
Wipe out the written troubles of the brain,
And cleanse the burdened heart of that dangerous stuff
Which weighs upon the heart with some sweet antidote
Which will make her oblivious to all those things?

Here, Macbeth admits that his wife needs cleansing. He realizes that she has done wrong. Why would Macbeth use the word "cleanse"? He realizes that she is burdened by unclean, dangerous actions. 

At least Macbeth does not try to cover Lady Macbeth's sickness with more lies. He admits that she needs cleansing. Also, Macbeth seems to be truly concerned about his wife. At a moment when he could be about to die, he is thinking of Lady Macbeth. He is unselfish at the moment. 

Perhaps, this is a small amount of virtue, but at least Macbeth is concerned about someone other than himself.

Macbeth continues to employ the doctor's help. He asks him to purge the land and make it healthy again. Macbeth realizes his land is unhealthy. Although he does not directly state that he is at fault, he does recognize that the land is unhealthy:

Doctor, the Barons desert me.
Come, sir, get going. If you could, doctor, analyze
The urine of my land, find her disease,
And purge it to a sound and former health,
I would praise you to the very echo,
That should praise again.

Clearly, Macbeth is troubled by what he senses, realizing his land needs a doctor. 

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