Macbeth Act 5, Scene 6-7: Summary & Quotes

Instructor: Margaret Stone

Margaret has taught both college and high school English and has a master's degree in English.

The battle for the throne of Scotland begins. Macbeth clings to the belief that he is invincible, subscribing to the witches' claims that none of woman born can harm him. Macbeth encounters Young Siward and slays him in battle. At the end of the scene, the army opposing Macbeth enters his castle.

Previous Scenes

Macbeth has killed Duncan, king of Scotland, and usurped the throne of Scotland. Macbeth has placed his faith in witches and is confident in his ability to hold his position as king. Despite this belief, Macbeth has killed all who might challenge his right to the crown. The nobles have mustered an army to challenge Macbeth and restore the rightful heir to the throne.

Scene 6

The armies of Malcolm, Siward, and Macduff assemble on a plain near Macbeth's castle. Malcolm, one of Duncan's two sons (and thus the legitimate heir to the throne of Scotland), commands the soldiers to throw down the branches they have been carrying. Siward leads the army into battle, while Malcolm and Macduff attend to other matters of war.

Scene 7

As Scene 7 opens, Macbeth again thinks of his earlier conversation with the witches. He hears the approaching soldiers, and even though he knows they are aware of his location, Macbeth finds hope in the words of the witches. 'What's he/That was not born of woman? Such a one?/Am I to fear, or none.'

Macbeth then encounters Young Siward. Macbeth would like for the young soldier to quake at the mere mention of Macbeth's name, but the brave young man refuses. 'What is thy name?' Young Siward asks. 'Thou'll be afraid to hear it,' Macbeth boasts. 'No,' says Young Siward, 'Though thyself a hotter name/Than any in hell.' The two engage in battle, and Macbeth kills Young Siward.

Macbeth, savoring this victory, again places his hope in the witches' claims. Speaking of Young Siward, Macbeth says, 'Thou wast born of woman./But swords I smile at, weapons laugh to scorn,/Brandish'd by man that's of a woman born.'

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