Act V – Scene.iv
Back at Birnam Wood Malcolm orders his troops to cut
branches and carry them in front so as to camouflage the army, so that Macbeth will not be able to see how many soldiers they have.
It is hoped that with victory, Macbeth’s reign of
terror will cease, and that it will be safe to sleep, a clear reference to King Duncan’s murder.
The theme of sleeplessness runs through the entire length of the play,
stemming from King Duncan’s murder in his bedroom.
Since the murder, Lady Macbeth has been unable to obtain rest or to sleep.
Malcolm’s trick to hide his army using branches of trees from Birnam Wood
brings to life the second prophecy seen by Macbeth. How else could a wood march upon a castle? This now answers a question clearly being asked by the audience.
It is not going to be by valor on the battlefield that Malcolm will win, it will be through the unhinging of Macbeth’s mind. The first significant part of this destruction is the use of branches from Birnam Wood as camouflage.
Macbeth is described by Malcolm as a rotten fruit, ripe for the shaking, an
indication to the audience that goodness will prevail over evil.