Explanatory Notes for Act 5, Scene 7
From Macbeth. Ed. Thomas Marc Parrott. New York: American Book Co.
(Line numbers have been altered.)
In spite of the fact that one of the witches' prophecies has betrayed hitn, Macbeth still holds faith in the other. He is encouraged to greater confidence in this scene by his easy victory over young Siward, and this renders the shock of his disillusion in
the following scene all the more terrible.
Alarums. This stage direction of the old text represents the
noise of the battle.
1, 2. They have tied ... course. The metaphor is taken from
the popular Elizabethan pastime of bear-baiting. In this sport a
bear was tied to a stake and worried by dogs. Macbeth, who finds it impossible to escape from the overwhelming force of his enemies,
compares himself to such a baited bear. "Course" in line 2 is the
technical word for a "round" in this sport.
2. What's he, what sort of a man is he?
7. Note the omission of the subject-pronoun "which" before "is."
18. Either, pronounced as a monosyllable.
18. staves, spears.
20. shouldst, must.
21. note, importance, rank.
21. one of greatest note, a man of the highest rank. Macduff
recognizes Macbeth's whereabouts in the battle by the clash of
arms about him. Elsewhere the fight is a mere pretense, see
22.bruited, announced by the noise.
24. gently rendered, tamely surrendered.
27. The day ... yours, victory is about to declare itself yours.
29. strike beside us, do not strike directly at us, but intentionally
How to cite the explanatory notes:
Shakespeare, William. Macbeth. Ed. Thomas Marc Parrott. New York: American Book Co., 1904. Shakespeare Online. 10 Aug. 2010. (date when you accessed the information) < http://www.shakespeare-online.com/plays/macbeth_5_7.html >.