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Literature Study GuidesMacbethAct 5 Scene 4 Summary

Macbeth | Study Guide

William Shakespeare

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Act 5, Scene 4

Professor Regina Buccola of Roosevelt University provides an in-depth summary and analysis of Act 5, Scene 4 of William Shakespeare's play Macbeth.

Macbeth | Act 5, Scene 4 | Summary



The Scottish army and the English army, with all the lords and thanes attending, meet at Birnam Wood. Malcolm instructs each of the soldiers to cut a tree limb and carry it as camouflage on the march to Dunsinane, which will allow them to conceal their numbers from Macbeth.


Here, the full ambiguity of the witches' words becomes evident. Birnam Wood can indeed move across the countryside to Dunsinane Hill, or at least the wood can appear to move. This is a military strategy, and Macbeth—as a seasoned warrior—might have thought of such a possibility had he allowed himself to question the prophecy at any point. Because Macbeth did not think of this contingency, the plan also illustrates Malcolm as a superior strategist.

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