Act V - Scene VIII

[Another part of the field.]

Enter Macbeth.

Why should I play the Roman fool and die
On mine own sword? Whiles I see lives, the gashes
Do better upon them.

Enter Macduff.

Turn, hell hound, turn!
Of all men else I have avoided thee.(5)
But get thee back; my soul is too much charged
With blood of thine already.
I have no words:
My voice is in my sword, thou bloodier villain
Than terms can give thee out!(10)

Fight: Alarum.

Thou losest labor.
As easy mayst thou the intrenchant air
With thy keen sword impress as make me bleed:
Let fall thy blade on vulnerable crests;
I bear a charmed life, which must not yield(15)
To one of woman born.
Despair thy charm,
And let the angel whom thou still hast served
Tell thee, Macduff was from his mother's womb
Untimely ripp'd.(20)
Accursed be that tongue that tells me so,
For it hath cow'd my better part of man!
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,(25)
And break it to our hope. I'll not fight with thee.
Then yield thee, coward,
And live to be the show and gaze o’ the time.
We'll have thee, as our rarer monsters are,
Painted upon a pole, and underwrit,(30)
“Here may you see the tyrant.”
I will not yield,
To kiss the ground before young Malcolm's feet,
And to be baited with the rabble's curse.
Though Birnam Wood be come to Dunsinane,(35)
And thou opposed, being of no woman born,
Yet I will try the last. Before my body
I throw my warlike shield! Lay on, Macduff,
And damn'd be him that first cries, “Hold, enough!”

Exeunt fighting. Alarums.

Enter fighting, and Macbeth slain. Retreat. Flourish. Enter, with drum and colors, Malcolm, Siward, Ross, [the other] Thanes, and Soldiers.

I would the friends we miss were safe arrived.(40)
Some must go off: and yet, by these I see,
So great a day as this is cheaply bought.
Macduff is missing, and your noble son.
Your son, my lord, has paid a soldier's debt:
He only lived but till he was a man;(45)
The which no sooner had his prowess confirm'd
In the unshrinking station where he fought,
But like a man he died.
Then he is dead?
Ay, and brought off the field. Your cause of sorrow(50)
Must not be measured by his worth, for then
It hath no end.
Had he his hurts before?
Ay, on the front.
Why then, God's soldier be he!
Had I as many sons as I have hairs,(55)
I would not wish them to a fairer death.
And so his knell is knoll'd.
He's worth more sorrow,
And that I'll spend for him.
He's worth no more:(60)
They say he parted well and paid his score:
And so God be with him! Here comes newer comfort.

[Re]-enter Macduff, with Macbeth's head.

Hail, King! for so thou art. Behold where stands
The usurper's cursed head. The time is free.
I see thee compass'd with thy kingdom's pearl(65)
That speak my salutation in their minds,
Whose voices I desire aloud with mine:
Hail, King of Scotland!
Hail, King of Scotland!


We shall not spend a large expense of time(70)
Before we reckon with your several loves,
And make us even with you. My thanes and kinsmen,
Henceforth be Earls, the first that ever Scotland
In such an honor named. What's more to do,
Which would be planted newly with the time,(75)
As calling home our exiled friends abroad
That fled the snares of watchful tyranny,
Producing forth the cruel ministers
Of this dead butcher and his fiend-like queen,
Who, as ’tis thought, by self and violent hands(80)
Took off her life; this, and what needful else
That calls upon us, by the grace of Grace
We will perform in measure, time, and place,
So thanks to all at once and to each one,
Whom we invite to see us crown'd at Scone.(85)

Flourish. Exeunt.


  1. Macbeth despairs to learn that Macduff was born of a cesarean section—surgically removed from his mother's womb instead of being born "naturally." This news completes the equivocal prophesies that the apparitions gave to Macbeth and he realizes that he has no more protection.

    — Wesley, Owl Eyes Editor
  2. Since Macduff furiously attacks Macbeth, this continuation of dialogue represents a lull or brief pause in the combat. Macbeth, still confident in his supposed protection, rebuffs the attack and takes this moment to perhaps try to save Macduff's life by speaking these words.

    — Wesley, Owl Eyes Editor
  3. Shakespeare adds a small but noticeable touch here to help the audience recover some sympathy for Macbeth. Knowing what he did to Macduff's family, Macbeth has avoided him in the fight and doesn't want to harm him—because he believes he has already harmed Macduff enough.

    — Wesley, Owl Eyes Editor
  4. Evidently Macbeth is referring to Brutus who chose to commit suicide by having a soldier hold his sword pointed at him and running onto it rather than surrender at the battle of Philippi. Macbeth would know about it from reading Plutarch. Shakespeare drew from Plutarch to dramatize the incident in Julius Caesar.

    — William Delaney
  5. Macbeth is a powerful and valiant warrior. Normally he would have beaten Macduff in a duel, but Macbeth is morally weakened by his own feelings of guilt as well as by the way he has been misled by the witches to believe he is invulnerable.

    — William Delaney
  6. In these lines, Macbeth refuses to commit suicide (unlike his wife). He wants justice for his actions and he wants that sentence to come from a fellow human being, not a ghost. However, even though he refuses to take his own life, his relentless pursuit of combat suggests that he has no value for his own life anymore.

    — Jamie Wheeler