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Act V, Scene 4
This brief scene takes place in the country near Birnam Wood where the Scottish rebels have joined forces with Malcolm, Macduff, and the English soldiers. Malcolm enters and encourages those around him by saying, "I hope the days are near at hand that chambers will be safe" to sleep in again. He also tells them that many have deserted Macbeth, and only "constrained things whose hearts are absent" serve him. Finally he advises the soldiers to cut boughs off the trees to use as camouflage in their approach to Dunsinane. Then they are off to war.
The main purpose of this short scene is to show how the witches' prophecy will come to pass. "Macbeth will not be vanquished til Birnam Wood comes to Dunsinane." The audience now sees how that will happen as the soldiers wear branches from Birnam as camouflage. Symbolically, the image is a foreshadowing that a natural order (peace and goodness as personified in Malcolm) will return to Dunsinane. The scene is also a sharp contrast to the previous scene with the chaotic Macbeth, fearful and out of control. These soldiers, under the calm encouragement of Malcolm, are eager, orderly, and prepared. If these soldiers can conquer the evil Macbeth, as predicted, there is hope that goodness will prevail and a healed Scotland will result.