What happened to Macbeth after his wife dies?

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cybil eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Macbeth is depressed by the loss of Lady Macbeth, but he finds it difficult to mourn in view of the army advancing against him. He also feels alone, recognizing that at this stage in his life he should have many friends and enjoy the prestige and honor that come with being king. He, however, did not become king honestly.

In the final three scenes of Act 5, Macbeth must face the invading army led by Malcolm and the rebels. The king chooses to leave Dunsinane to face his attackers because he believes the witches' prophecies: no man born of woman can harm him. When Macbeth is confronted finally by Macduff, who is eager to avenge the murder of his family, Macbeth refuses to fight, saying he already has enough blood of that family on his hands. Besides, he adds, he "bears a charmed life"--no man born of woman can harm him. To the king's amazement, Macduff announces he was "untimely ripped" from his mother's womb, therefore not born in the usual way. He is the only man who can kill Macbeth. Now the king is afraid to fight, but when Macduff threatens to humiliate him as a prisoner of war, Macbeth does engage in battle. The fight moves off stage. Eventually Macduff returns, bearing Macbeth's head, a clear sign that the king is dead. Malcolm can now assume his position as the rightful king.