Macduff Timeline and Summary
- 1.6: Macduff first enters the play when the King and
noblemen arrive at Inverness to stay with Macbeth. He has no lines in the scene,
which is noteworthy only because the scene is filled with the fawning of his
fellows. While they go on and on about how wonderful Macbeth's castle is,
Macduff is silent.
- 2.3: Macduff arrives with Lennox to wake the King, and is the one
to discover that Duncan has been murdered. He calls it for the horror that it
is, no flip-flopping or abstraction like Banquo, Macbeth and Lady Macbeth are
prone to. He notes that the King is the Lord's anointed temple, indicating he
believes that Kings receive their power directly from God. When Lady Macbeth
enters with questions, he gently defers telling her the truth, suggesting that
her woman's nature is too gentle to bear it. Irony at its best. Macduff cries
out to Banquo about what has happened and is clearly stricken with honest
grief. As Macbeth makes his speeches about Duncan, Macduff is the one to note
his casual line about murdering the guards. He asks why Macbeth would do so;
Macbeth prattles on. Macduff is the first to notice that Lady Macbeth is faint at
Macbeth's news, and asks someone to tend to her.
- 2.4: Macduff speaks with Ross and conveys the news that the
murderers are dead, slain by Macbeth, and notes that Malcolm and Donalbain have
put suspicion on themselves by fleeing. He also informs Ross that Macbeth is
thus named the new King. Interestingly, he will go home to Fife and his family
instead of going to see the coronation.
- 4.3: Macduff is in England with Malcolm. We learned earlier that
Macbeth had sent for Macduff's aid when he learned that Malcolm meant to gather
rebellious forces. Macduff sent a clear
"no" back to Macbeth, making his allegiance to Malcolm and his
suspicion of Macbeth certain. Malcolm suggests they weep over the state of
Scotland, and Macduff comforts him like a father. Macduff says it would be more
fitting to take up arms to protect their homeland than to weep over her. Then
comes Malcolm's speech where he tests Macduff's honesty to the cause of
Scotland. After Malcolm paints a terrible picture of the letch he is, Macduff
doesn't pretend to be OK with it. He says Malcolm is not only unfit to govern,
but unfit to live if what he says is true.
Malcolm admits he was lying, and Macduff replies simply that "such
welcome and unwelcome things at once" are hard to reconcile.
- Ross meets Macduff and Malcolm, and Macduff immediately asks after his family. When Ross admits he has bad news (about ten minutes after saying they are well), Macduff demands to hear it fast. Ross says Macduff's wifeand children are murdered, and Macduff, shocked, asks him to repeat the
terrible news. He blames himself for their deaths, as it seems they took the
ill consequence of his leaving. Malcolm encourages him to use these feelings to
storm up revenge. Macduff then gives no pretty speeches, but pledges to fight
- 5.4: Macduff enters Birnam Wood with other noblemen and the army.
The others plan and discuss what's going on at Macbeth's house, but Macduff is
mostly silent. He only cautions that they should focus on the battle and await
its true outcome before thinking they have won.
- 5.7: Macduff runs around the battle seeking Macbeth. He says his
family's ghosts will haunt him if Macbeth is killed by any other. He will not
fight any of Macbeth's footmen or their flag bearers, but wishes to kill
Macbeth only. He exits with "Let me find him, Fortune! And more I beg not."
- 5.8: Macbeth and Macduff meet on the battlefield. Macbeth asks
Macduff to turn back, as he is already charged with too much of Macduff's
blood. Macduff counters that he has no words, that his sword should be his
voice. He then laughs at Macbeth's protective prophecy, as he seems fated to
kill Macbeth, since he was not of woman-born, but rather torn from his mother's
womb. He does brighten up when detailing
to Macbeth how they'll impale his head on a pole for being such an un-fun
tyrant. Macduff says no more, and slays Macbeth.
- 5.9: Macduff arrives with Macbeth's head and pronounces Malcolm the
rightful king. He imagines that the good
crowd surrounding Malcolm shares his good thoughts. Macduff sums up his
feelings with a short and sweet, "Hail, King of Scotland!" to
Malcolm. You can imagine this is more than the paltry fawning of lesser men, as
Macduff cries it out while brandishing the gory head of the former King of
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