Philip Weller caricature
Philip and Weller hugging

Welcome to my web site, now under development for more than twenty years.   
-- Philip Weller, November 13, 1941 - February 1, 2021
Dr. Weller, an Eastern Washington University professor of English and Shakespearean scholar for more than 50 years.

Detailed Summary of Macbeth, Act 5, Scene 7:

Page Index:
Enter Macbeth:
The last time we saw Macbeth, his soldiers were with him. Now he is alone. He says, "They have tied me to a stake; I cannot fly, / But, bear-like, I must fight the course" (5.7.1-2). "They" refers to Malcolm's forces, and "bear-like" refers to an extremely cruel sport that was popular at the time. In the neighborhood of Shakespeare's Globe Theater was a similar building, called The Bear Garden. There a bear would be chained to a stake driven into the ground, and a pack of dogs would be let loose upon the bear for a fight to the death. The spectators made bets on such things as how many dogs the bear would kill before he died in this spectacle of blood and death. Macbeth compares himself to the bear, and he's right. Later in the scene we find that his soldiers have put up no resistance at all, so he is absolutely alone, surrounded by a force of more than ten thousand, all of whom want to kill him.

Enter Young Siward.
Macbeth's only hope is the prophecy of the second apparition, so he says to himself, "What's he / That was not born of woman? Such a one / Am I to fear, or none" (5.7.2-4). At this point Young Siward enters, and asks Macbeth his name. (Young Siward is probably looking to fight someone of name, not just a common soldier.) Macbeth tells the boy that he doesn't really want to hear his name, because it will make him afraid. This show of arrogance, however, doesn't cow Young Siward, and they fight. Macbeth kills the boy, and exults in his own invulnerability: "Thou wast born of woman / But swords I smile at, weapons laugh to scorn, / Brandish'd by man that's of a woman born" (5.7.11-13). Macbeth then exits, probably taking the body of Young Siward with him, as a kind of grisly trophy.

Exit Macbeth.
As Macbeth is leaving, we hear trumpets and then see Macduff, who rushes in, looking for him. Apparently Macduff realizes that he has just missed Macbeth, and he shouts out a challenge to his unseen enemy: "Tyrant, show thy face! / If thou be'st slain and with no stroke of mine, / My wife and children's ghosts will haunt me still" (5.7.14-16). Macduff goes on to say that he has no wish to fight Macbeth's unwilling soldiers, then hears a noise which he thinks will lead him to Macbeth, and he rushes out again.

Enter Malcolm and Siward.
Again we hear trumpets, and then Malcolm and Siward enter, knowing that they have already won the battle. Siward comments that "the castle's gently render'd: / The tyrant's people on both sides do fight" (5.7.24-25). He means that the castle was surrendered without any real resistance, because Macbeth's soldiers fought only until they saw a chance to switch sides. Malcolm, too, has seen how easy the victory has been, because "We have met with foes / That strike beside us" (5.7.28-29). "Strike beside us" means either that Macbeth's soldiers deliberately missed when they swung their swords, or that they came over to Malcolm's side. In any case, the royal castle of Dunsinane now belongs to the next king, Malcolm.

The only piece of unfinished business is the killing of Macbeth.