Summary

The battle scenes continue. Here, in another part of the battlefield, we see Macbeth himself in combat. He meets Young Siward, they fight, and Young Siward is killed. Macbeth observes that Young Siward was born of a woman, and so could not hurt Macbeth. At another place on the field, Macduff seeks to find and fight Macbeth, and only Macbeth. The rest of the battle begins to wind down, with the English easily defeating the Scottish soldiers, who do not put up much of a fight.

Enter

To come on stage.

Another part of the field.

Battle scenes were difficult to stage, so it might be that this scene should be combined with the previous scene. Action could be going on in several places at once, and the focus could shift from one part of the stage to another. The audience would understand that different things would take place in different areas.

Alarums.

Sounds of battle, trumpet calls, yells — all the noise of fighting.

They have tied me to a stake; I cannot fly, / But, bear-like, I must fight the course.

Bear-baiting was a popular form of entertainment in Elizabethan England. A wild bear was chained to a stake in the ground, and dogs were allowed to attack it. Bets would be placed on how long the bear would survive, how many dogs it would kill, etc.

Macbeth compares himself to the bear, unable to leave the fight (I cannot fly), unable to stop fighting (I must fight the course), and possibly unable to win.

What’s he / That was not born of woman? Such a one / Am I to fear, or none.

But despite Macbeth’s knowledge that Birnam wood has come to Dunsinane, he still hopes that the other prophecy will be true — at least as far as he understands it. He scoffs at the possibility that he might have to fight someone who was not born of a woman. Only that person will he fear.

Thou’lt be afraid to hear it.

Hearing my name will fill you with fear.

No; though thou call’st thyself a hotter name / Than any is in hell.

I won’t be afraid, even if you call yourself a name that’s more damnable than any name in hell.

The devil himself could not pronounce a title / More hateful to mine ear.

Not even the devil could say any name I hate more.

No, nor more fearful.

Or any name that would scare you more.

Thou liest, abhorred tyrant; with my sword / I’ll prove the lie thou speak’st.

You lie, you despised (abhorred) tyrant. I’ll prove that you lie by defeating you with my sword.

Combat was often thought of as right vs. wrong. The winner was right, because God gave him the victory.

Thou wast born of woman / But swords I smile at, weapons laugh to scorn, / Brandish’d by man that’s of a woman born.

You were born of a woman; I laugh at weapons used by any man who was born of a woman.

That way the noise is.

The fighting is heavier over there.

Tyrant, show thy face! / If thou be’st slain and with no stroke of mine . . .

Macduff wants Macbeth to face him in battle. If Macbeth were to be killed by anyone other than Macduff (with no stroke of mine), he would feel that he had not avenged his murdered family, and would still be haunted by their ghosts.

I cannot strike at wretched kerns, whose arms / Are hired to bear their staves . . .

I can’t fight hired soldiers (kerns), who are paid to use their weapons (staves). Either I fight you, Macbeth, or I put my still-sharp sword (with an unbatter’d edge) back in its sheath without using it (undeeded).

There thou shouldst be; / By this great clatter, one of greatest note / Seems bruited.

That’s where you should be, judging by the great noise (clatter), someone of great importance (of greatest note) is announced (bruited) to be fighting over there.

Let me find him, fortune! / And more I beg not.

Macduff asks Fortune to grant him a meeting with Macbeth, so he can fight him and kill him. He asks nothing more of Fate.

the castle’s gently render’d

The castle has been surrendered (render’d) with little fighting (gently).

The tyrant’s people on both sides do fight

Macbeth’s soldiers fight on both sides, for him and against him.

The day almost itself professes yours, / And little is to do.

The day almost gives itself to you; little remains to be done.

We have met with foes / That strike beside us.

Two possible interpretations: (1) We have met enemies who switch sides, stand beside us, and strike Macbeth’s other soldiers; or (2) We have met enemies who only pretended to fight, and struck the air beside us rather than striking us.

Aside

In an aside, the character speaks privately to himself for a moment, or directly to the audience, or privately to some (but not all) of the other characters present.

As a matter of convention, an aside is always a true statement of what the character thinks. A character speaking in an aside may be mistaken, but may not be dishonest.

An aside (again as a matter of convention) cannot be heard by those not spoken to.

Exeunt, marching.

Latin, literally “they leave.” The soldiers leave the stage, marching to the battle.

Pronounced EX-ee-uhnt.

Exeunt all but Macbeth and Lady Macbeth.

Latin, literally “they leave.” Most of the players leave the stage, leaving Macbeth alone with Lady Macbeth.

Pronounced EX-ee-uhnt.

Exeunt

Latin, literally “they leave.” Everyone leaves the stage.

Pronounced EX-ee-uhnt.