Birnam Wood

Definition

Theater

  • The wood that moves to Dunsinane Hill in Shakespeare's Macbeth,thus heralding the central character's downfall as prophesied by the three witches.

    The prophecy, which is fulfilled when Macduff's men carry branches from the wood to conceal their numbers, has a close historical parallel in the fate of the evil Lord Soulis (d. 1320) of Hermitage Castle, in the Scottish Borders.He was warned by a spirit to "beware of the coming tree" and, sure enough, was captured by his enemies who had camouflaged themselves with branches. He was subsequently boiled to death in lead.

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