In Act 5 of Macbeth, there are sufficient lines to support the view that rather than being insane, Macbeth is quite rationally aware of all that faces him.  How can you prove this?Please give...

In Act 5 of Macbeth, there are sufficient lines to support the view that rather than being insane, Macbeth is quite rationally aware of all that faces him.  How can you prove this?

Please give examples and what scene and lines you find them in.

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litteacher8's profile pic

litteacher8 | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

Macbeth’s reaction to reports of soldiers does not necessarily mean he has lost his mind.  He is just stubborn and arrogant.  He is paranoid, but he probably should be.  There ARE armies coming for him, after all.  He knows this because he has spies stationed throughout the kingdom.

 Bring me no more reports; let them fly all!

Till Birnam Wood remove to Dunsinane

I cannot taint with fear. (Act 5, Scene 3)

Macbeth clearly believes the witches’ prophecy, but is this so irrational?  After all, the witches told him the woods would come to his castle.  That does not seem likely.  It makes sense that Macbeth wouldn’t think this is a threat.  His hubris prevents him from deducing that soldiers are pretending to be trees.

Macbeth’s reaction to his wife’s death can be interpreted as lunacy, but it could also mean he has become philosophical.  He is thinking about life and death, because his wife has died and he faces impending death in battle.

She should have died hereafter;

There would have been a time for such a word.(Act 5, Scene 5, p. 84)

To me, this can be interpreted either way.  It could be a sad lament for chances missed, and time they could have had together.

There definitely is fantasy and magic in this play, so it is not madness for Macbeth to believe the witches’ prophecies.  After all, some of them came true.  He was promoted, and he did become king—at his own hand.

 

Sources:
ebettencourt's profile pic

ebettencourt | High School Teacher | (Level 1) eNoter

Posted on

Many readers point to Macbeth's treatment of his servant in Act Five scene three to investigate Macbeth's state of mind. Although at this point in the act, Macbeth is still relying on the witches' predictions and is demonstrating much bravado, he attacks his servant with insults for no reason. Many point to this as evidence that Macbeth's bravado is in fact an act at this point, and that he is merely covering up his growing realization and panic about what is to come.

In scene five, Macbeth learns of his wife's death and delivers his famous "Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow" soliloquy in which he quite calmly accepts his new vision of life, that it is brief, and full of chaos, but that it all means nothing. He is no longer drawn to visions of himself as king, as all-powerful. Instead, he is resigning himself to a more dismal fate.


Also, look at the battle between Macbeth and Macduff towards the end of the act. At this point, Macbeth has fully accepted the fact that the witches' predictions were tricks meant to fool him. Although he still decides to fight Macduff, it is not because he feels that he will still persevere as a powerful king, but merely because he does not want to bow to Macduff.

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