At the end of the play, Macbeth comes to his just reward. Just as he killed the traitor Macdonwald and stuck his head on a pike as the play opened, so Macduff beheads Macbeth for his treacherous act of killing Duncan and seizing the throne.
Killing the king set Macbeth on a murderous path that included having his friend Banquo murdered, along with Macduff's wife and children. More importantly, becoming king was not the nirvana Macbeth expected. Seizing the throne led Macbeth to be constantly suspicious of everyone around him. It destroyed his relationship with his wife. Even before he died, he was dead inside, his life a misery.
At the end of the play, with his wife dead by suicide and nothing else to lean on, Macbeth grasps at straws for hope, believing in the witches' treacherous prophecies.
The play leaves audiences with a sense of closure and satisfaction. Crime is punished and order restored to Scotland when the rightful heir, Malcolm, takes the throne. Calling him the kingdom's "pearl," Macduff cries of Malcolm, Macbeth's head in his hand:
Hail, King of Scotland!
Just as Duncan rewarded those who fought for him against traitors who threatened Scotland, so Malcolm does the same, naming his supporters "earls."
While a satisfying conclusion, in which good triumphs over evil, the end of the play is so close to the beginning that it also leaves us with the uneasy feeling that yet another traitor might be lurking in the wings.
The conclusion of Macbeth involves Macduff attaining revenge by decapitating Macbeth during the final battle and Malcolm being restored to his rightful throne as King of Scotland. By the final scene of the play, Macbeth has completely transformed into a bloodthirsty tyrant, who recognizes that he has doomed his soul and will not experience a peaceful future. Despite his bleak destiny, Macbeth continues to trust the witches' prophecies and remains confident that he cannot be harmed by any man. After killing Young Siward, Macbeth encounters Macduff in the final scene of the play. Before the two enemies duel, Macbeth warns Macduff not to fight him because he lives a "charmèd life, which must not yield / To one of woman born." Macduff responds by telling Macbeth that he was "untimely ripped" from his mother's womb, which is the exception to the witches' prophecy.
At this point in the play, Macbeth acknowledges that he has been misled by the evil witches and deceived by their double meanings. Despite his tragic realization, Macbeth demonstrates courage and integrity by fighting Macduff to the death and dies at the hands of his foremost enemy. By killing Macbeth, Macduff experiences fulfillment by finally avenging his deceased family members. The play concludes with Malcolm's army winning the battle and Macduff carrying Macbeth's severed head onto the stage. Malcolm also names his thanes and kinsmen earls of Scotland and instructs his followers to witness his crowing at Scone. Malcolm will restore Scotland to its former glory, and his exiled supporters will return to their homeland.
In the conclusion to Macbeth, the title character ends up brutally slain by Macduff in a duel, in revenge for the savage murder of his family. For good measure, Macduff cuts off the tyrant's head and brandishes it in triumph. There's a real sense of poetic justice here. Since murdering his way to the throne, Macbeth has become ever more ruthless, quickly turning himself into a murderous, blood-thirsty tyrant. Not surprisingly, this has made him more than a few enemies, many of whom have fled south to join up with an English invasion force intent on dethroning him. And as we approach the end of the play, it's time for these renegade Scottish nobles to get some serious payback.
Macbeth has always had the reputation of a brave, fearless warrior. But once he's faced with Macduff on the battlefield, he says he's not prepared to fight:
And be these juggling fiends no more believed, That palter with us in a double sense, That keep the word of promise to our ear, And break it to our hope. I’ll not fight with thee. (Act V, Scene viii)
That's not because Macbeth is a coward; it's simply that the Weird Sisters' spell appears to have worn off and he now realizes that he's no longer under their protection. (Inasmuch as he ever was). In any case, Macduff's not interested; there's revenge to be carried out and Macbeth must answer for his crimes with his life. After Macduff kills Macbeth, Malcolm, eldest son of the late murdered Duncan, is proclaimed as the new, rightful king of Scotland.
As in most of Shakespeare's plays, he does a great job of wrapping up all the elements of plot in the fifth act. At the conclusion of Macbeth, the tyrant has been executed, the kingdom has been restored, and Macduff's family has been avenged. There is much more to the conclusion than just the events, though. In Act 5, we also see the conclusion of several images and themes developed throughout the play. The theme of appearance vs reality, and the motif of equivocation, is brought to a close as Macbeth realizes the truth of the witches' prophecies. The repeated images connecting blood and guilt are brought to a close through both the death of Macbeth and the suicide of Lady Macbeth. Through each of these conclusions, Shakespeare is able to demonstrate the disconnect what people perceive to be true and what is actually true, as well as show the very real consequences for rebelling against the natural order of life.
Malcolm, Duncan's eldest son, has fled to England. He is joined there by Macduff. Together they persuade the English king to give them an army of 10,000 men. They invade Scotland. Macbeth is easy to defeat because he has alienated so many of the thanes through his tyrannous rule that he is virtually defenseless. Macbeth himself meets Macduff on the field of battle and is killed in a death duel. Too late, Macbeth realizes that he has been deceived by the prophecies of the three witches, who told him that he could not be defeated until Birnam Wood moved to Dunsinane and that no man of woman born could ever overcome him. Macduff informs Macbeth:
Despair thy charm,
And let the angel whom thou still hast served
Tell thee Macduff was from his mother's womb
Malcolm will become the new king of Scotland. Please refer to the summary and analysis of the final act of the play by clicking on the eNotes reference link below.