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Shakespeare: Macbeth

18. Act 5, Scenes 5-8

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About this Lecture


In this module, we provide a commentary on Act 5, Scenes 5-8, focusing in particular on the death of Lady Macbeth and Macbeth’s soliloquy that follows it (“She should have died hereafter”) and the concept of untimeliness – first in terms of Lady Macbeth’s death, and later in terms of Macduff’s birth (“Macduff was from his mother’s womb | Untimely ripped”).


In this nineteen-part course, Professor John McRae (University of Nottingham) explores Shakespeare’s Macbeth. We begin with a broad introduction to historical, political, and intellectual context of early 17th-century England. After that, we go through the play scene by scene, providing close reading and detailed analysis, with commentary on character, plot, themes and motifs, language, symbolism – and more.

Note: We use the Arden edition of the play. Students using a different version of the play may encounter slight differences in both the text and line numbers.


John McRae is Special Professor of Language in Literature Studies and Teaching Associate in the School of English at Nottingham University, and holds Visiting Professorships in China, Malaysia, Spain and the USA. He is co-author of The Routledge History of Literature in English with Ron Carter, and also wrote The Language of Poetry, Literature with a Small 'l' and the first critical edition of Teleny by Oscar Wilde and others.

Cite this Lecture

APA style

McRae, J. (2018, August 28). Shakespeare: Macbeth - Act 5, Scenes 5-8 [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

McRae, John. "Shakespeare: Macbeth – Act 5, Scenes 5-8." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 28 Aug 2018,