Upon hearing Macduff’s plans, Macbeth sends his men to kill Macduff’s family with the intent of destroying any motivation Macduff has left. Ross delivers the news to Macduff that Lady Macduff and their young son has been murdered by Macbeth. Malcolm advises Macduff to turn this grief into anger towards Macbeth.
Your castle is surprised; your wife and babes savagely slaughter’d.
Let grief convert to anger!
Heaven rest them now!
Lady Macbeth is sickened with a disease of the mind, as she is racked with the guilt from the crimes she and her husband did. Macbeth receives news that his wife has killed herself, which causes Macbeth to sink into a deep and pessimistic despair. He feels that his life is meaningless, and his pitiful soliloquy entails catharsis.
Out, out, brief candle! Life’s but a walking shadow.
“Fear not, till Birnam Wood do come to Dunsinane,” and now a wood comes toward Dunsinane. Arm, arm, and out!
Malcolm commands the English army to cut down the trees of the Birnam Woods and carry them as a way to camouflage. When Macbeth is informed of the forest moving, he is struck with fear and has a moment of anagnorisis because he realizes that the witches’ last prophecy about his demise will come true.
Macbeth gets ready to battle the English army, as he is certain that his invincibility is guaranteed because the witches prophesied that no man born from woman can harm Macbeth. After slaying Young Siward in combat, Macbeth displays hubris, for he boasts that he has no reason to fear anybody. Although Macbeth learns that Macduff is not “of woman born,” Macbeth’s hubris drives him to continue fighting with all his might.
But swords I smile at, weapons laugh to scorn,Brandish’d by man that’s of a woman born.
Ultimately, Macbeth’s downfall is caused by his ambition, greed, and recklessness. Macbeth is beheaded by Macduff, which fulfills the last and remaining prophecy of the witches. Malcolm is then crowned the rightful king of Scotland. As order is restored to the country, catharsis is achieved for the audience feels at peace with the results.
Hail, King, for so thou art. Behold where stands the usurper’s cursed head. The time is free.