When Macduff finds him, at first Macbeth is going to do what before he decides to fight to the end.

1 Answer

mstultz72's profile pic

mstultz72 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

Macbeth wants to avoid Macduff.  Macbeth has already killed his wife, child, and servants and burned his castle to the ground.  Could it be that Macbeth feels *guilty* about spilling any more Macduff family blood?  It seems Macbeth's superego has returned to him in Act V, after his wife's death, and before his own.

Not to mention that Macbeth fears Macduff based on the witches' prophecy: "Beward Macduff."  Macbeth thought the other two subsequent prophecies ("None of woman born shall harm Macbeth" and "till Birnham wood come to Dunsinene") cancelled out the first one.  Now, he knows all three have come true, and he's shaken.

Macbeth says to Macduff:

Of all men else I have avoided thee:
But get thee back; my soul is too much charged
With blood of thine already.

After Macduff calls him a "coward" and a "tyrant," Macbeth resolves to fight till the end.  Macbeth was first introduced in the play, by the Bleeding Captain, as a man of valor with steel: he gutted Macdonwald, unseamed him from the "nave to the chaps."  Now it comes full circle: he will die by the sword.  He tells Macduff:

Yet I will try the last. Before my body
I throw my warlike shield. Lay on, Macduff,
And damn'd be him that first cries, 'Hold, enough!'

Macbeth is beheaded, his head mounted on a spike, and the third of the traitors (Macdonwald, the first Thane of Cawdor, and now Macbeth) is executed.