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MacDuff in Macbeth Essay


MacDuff is not nurtured by Shakespeare in detail, but is an admirable character and the key in ending Macbeths terrible rain. He was pieced together in small details and later assembled into a respectable character that is worthy, loyal, conscience and selfless which exceeds the character of Macbeth. Shakespeare used mainly dialogue and action to build up respect and approval towards him from the audience.

Macduffs first appearance was in Act 2 Scene 3 where he paid a visit to Macbeths castle and discovered the death of King Duncan. Even though little of Macduff was revealed in this scene, there is still a good sense of establishment of his character from small details. Macduff was engaged in a brief conversation with the Porter. Despite the Porters social status as well as his eccentric personality, Macduff still talked to him as if he was an equal. The apparent ease shown by Macduff when conversing with a commoner like the porter shows that he is a worthy nobleman and that allows the audience to relate to him and approve of his character.

He was also shown in this scene as a very loyal subject to the king. An example can be shown through the lines He did command me to call timely on him; I have almost slipped the hour. The fact that Macduff pays such close attention to a small request of the king gives a strong impression of his loyalty. Shakespeare reinforced this aspect of Macduffs character when he discovered the kings death with absolute shock as presented in line 60 to line 62 where he made a comparison of the kings life to the life in Gods temple. It is evident even from the small details that Shakespeare was attempting to elevate Macduffs status to that of Macbeth and make him a likable character.

Act 4 Scene 3 is where Macduffs character was portrayed in much more depth. A sense of selflessness was immediately present when Macduff insisted Malcolm not to weep for misfortune but to defend their suffering country; Hold fast the mortal sword and like good men/Bestride our downfall birthdom. Because of the corruption of Macbeths heroic values, Shakespeare made Macduff seem like a ray of hope to win over Macbeth. An important part in this scene was when Malcolm became suspicious of Macduffs loyalty so he decided to test him. At first, Macduff declared, in an absolute manner, that he is loyal I would not be the villain that thou thinkst for the whole space thats in the tyrants grasp. However, when Malcolm later interrogated Macduff by revealing his vices (include lust and greed) Macduffs response revealed that his conscience is starting to take over, for example Boundless intemperance in nature is a tyranny; it hath been thuntimely emptying of the happy throne and fall of many kings.

When Malcolm claims that he possesses no good quality and would cause chaos to Scotland, Macduffs conscience took over and declared that Malcolm was unfit to govern the country; Fit to govern? No, not to live. O nation miserable! This shows that Macduff has a strong conscience and integrity which are both very respectable aspects within a person. This has impressed Malcolm and also allows the audience to give their approval and respect. When the news of the murder of his family was revealed, Macduff showed admirable courage e.g. But I must also feel it as a man. All these elements within Macduffs character allow him to exceed Macbeth.

The final battle, Act 5 Scene 8, reveals that Macduff was the one referred by the witches as the only one who may harm Macbeth but was not born of woman. This revelation places more respect and approval upon Macduff because he is only one who can triumph over evil. Again, the corruption of Macbeths character is important for this to work. Therefore the image given from Macduff battling Macbeth is simply good versus evil.

Overall, Macduffs character was pieced together from minute details. He was shown as a loyal, conscience and selfless character. Shakespeare shaped it using dialogue and actions so that his character receives respect and approval from the audience and exceeds those of Macbeth.

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