How do enduring truths about human nature create powerfull drama in Shakespeare's Macbeth specifically in act five?

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Jessica Pope | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator

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The fifth act of Macbeth speaks to the enduring themes of guild, madness and remorse. Throughout the play, Macbeth has been descending into madness, all the while seemingly oblivious to his deteriorating condition. During the fifth act, Shakespeare reveals the Lady Macbeth is also suffering from the onset of madness. Her guilt over taking part in murder has overwhelmed her sensibilities, thus she sleepwalks, talks in gibberish, and becomes ill. Lady Macbeth’s behavior mirrors that of her husband’s.

The fifth act ends with the triumph of fate over all that the characters have tried to do to avoid it. The inescapable nature of fate is a theme in many of Shakespeare’s plays. By the end of the play, although most characters have tried to break free from the binds of the Sister’s early prophecies, each prophecy has come true. The characters are left powerless to change the fate the gods have ordained for them.

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