In Macbeth, how did Lady Macbeth and Macbeth himself die?  

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durbanville eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Macbeth and Lady Macbeth are consumed by their "vaulting ambition"(I.vii.27) in Macbeth and it seems that they will go to any lengths to ensure that the witches prophesies "All hail, Macbeth, that shalt be king"(I.iii.50) are fulfilled.

It is reasonable to assume that Macbeth, a respected, honorable soldier, having received one honor from his king when he was made Thane of Cawdor, could expect that others would follow. However, Macbeth and Lady Macbeth, his "partner of Greatness" (I.v.10) are prepared to do whatever it takes to remove anything that "impedes thee from the golden round."(25)  

The ultimate deaths of Macbeth and Lady Macbeth, although different both result from madness. Lady Macbeth tries to wash away her guilt "Out damned spot"(V.i.32) and is more affected by what she may have encouraged Macbeth to do. For all her lack of compassion for others, she always feels responsible for Macbeth who has now excluded her from his murderous deeds. She longs to tend to Macbeth - "put on your nightgown, look not so pale" (60) as she attempts in one of her ravings to make everything fine as "Banquo's buried; he cannot come out on's grave. " (61) Her efforts are in vain and Macbeth cannot be stopped. There is no - one to help her as "more needs she the divine than the physician"(72)

Macbeth is convinced that the doctor can cure her as he is delusional, believing that her "diseas'd" mind can be cured with some "oblivious antidote."(V.iii.42) Nothing can stop Macbeth until "Birnam Forest come to Dunswaine"(60) thus exposing Macbeth's own madness. He is affected by his wife's death as his life is rendered "a tale...signifying nothing"(V.v.26) but still he does not stop.

Ultimately Macbeth will be killed as he will not surrender to anyone he thinks is "one of woman born."(V.viii.12) He still thinks he is invincible as he has "a charmed life." Even his recognition that the witches are nothing more than "juggling fiends"(19) will not stop him. "Lay on, Macduff."(33)