In The Tragedy of Macbeth, what is Macbeth's situation at the end of the play? How are our feelings affected?

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Susan Hurn eNotes educator| Certified Educator

By the conclusion of the play, Macbeth has committed a number of horrible murders, including the slaughter of Macduff's entire household, including his children. Macbeth is now despised in Scotland. He is isolated in his castle as the forces against him align themselves. Lady Macbeth has suffered an emotional breakdown and wanders the castle at night, her way lit by a candle, as she unconsciously relives the horror of what they have done, particularly the murder of the king. Macbeth tells his wife's attendants to watch her and to take away from her anything with which she might harm herself. His efforts are to no avail because he learns thereafter that Lady Macbeth has killed herself. So Macbeth stands alone to face his certain death when his castle is besieged.

At the very conclusion of the play, Shakespeare give us one final glimpse of the brave and honorable man Macbeth used to be. He puts on his armor and chooses to fight, even though the odds are insurmountable. He will not allow himsef to be captured and humiliated. His final battle occurs with Macduff. Macbeth does not want to fight with Macduff; Macbeth feels he has harmed Macduff enough. Macduff, however, is determined to slay Macbeth and does so by beheading him. Even though we see Macbeth treat his wife with concern and mourn her loss and are reminded of Macbeth's former greatness when he chooses to fight, feeling sympathy for him is difficult, considering his terrible crimes against innocent people.