What are Macbeth's thoughts and feelings in Act 2, Scene 3 and Act 5, Scene 5?

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noahvox2 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In William Shakespeare's Macbeth, the title character kills King Duncan in Act 2, Scene 2. Now, in Act 2, Scene 3, he attempts to place blame elsewhere as the announcement from Macduff comes that Duncan is dead. Duncan's guards were also slain, an act which Macbeth claims he did out of anger because, so he says, he thought the guards had killed Duncan. So, in this scene, Macbeth's aim trying to divert suspicion from himself and he has a false attitude of concern regarding the king's death.


By Act 5, Scene 5, however, Macbeth moves between a kind of detached numbness and complete disbelief. In that scene, he learns that Lady Macbeth is dead, to which Macbeth laconically responds:

She should have died hereafter;
There would have been a time for such a word.

Soon after this, when the Messenger reports to Macbeth that he thought he saw Birnam wood move, Macbeth is incredulous, angrily declaring that he will kill the man if he is lying:

If thou speak'st false,
Upon the next tree shalt thou hang alive,
Till famine cling thee:

Thus, in these two scenes, we encounter a wide range of feelings and emotions from Macbeth.