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Scene 4.3

Scene 4.3 - England, before King Edward's palace
Macduff tries to convince Malcolm to return to Scotland to free their people from Macbeth's tyranny, but Malcolm pretends to feel hopeless and indifferent to his people's oppression to see whether Macduff is being truthful. Malcolm says he would rather cry in a corner somewhere than return to Scotland with Macduff, because he fears that Macduff is acting on Macbeth's behalf. Malcolm insinuates that because Macduff left his wife and child alone and unprotected, that means he has nothing to fear from Macbeth, and therefore they must be working together. Macduff is outraged at all these accusations of treachery, and he shouts that Macbeth can run Scotland any way he pleases when the rightful heir is afraid to fight him for the crown. Macduff prepares to leave.
Malcolm stops Macduff, and he admits that he knows his people suffer under Macbeth's tyranny, but he pretends that if he were to rule, he would be more evil than Macbeth. Malcolm claims that he is susceptible to every vice known to man and that power will corrupt him completely. He says that no woman will be safe from his lust. Macduff claims that they will find whores to vent his wanton ways. Malcolm then claims that his greed will overpower him so that he will steal from the nobles and begin wars just to add wealth to his royal coffers. Macduff says that Scotland is rich enough on its own to satisfy Malcolm. Macduff assures him that Scotland will put up with these vices because Malcolm is otherwise a virtuous man. Malcolm does not think so; he claims that given the opportunity, he would use his power to destroy the world. Macduff, fully exasperated by this point, is ready to give up Scotland without a fight. He accuses Malcolm of dishonoring his noble family, and he prepares to kill himself.
Malcolm rushes to stop Macduff, and he drops all pretenses. He explains to Macduff that Macbeth has sent many messengers to lure him into his grip, and he was afraid that Macduff was another. He assures Macduff that everything he said up to this point were lies - he is actually a virgin and he's never been greedy for someone else's possessions - and, in fact, these lies against himself were the first he has ever spoken. Moreover, he has already persuaded the English general Siward to prepare ten thousand men for their invasion to reclaim Scotland. Macduff is utterly baffled but relieved.
A doctor enters to update Malcolm on the outbreak of scrofula in England. Malcolm explains to Macduff that it is a vile disease that disfigures people, and only the "royal touch" of King Edward the Confessor can cure it because he is full of divine grace. Then Ross enters to update Macduff on the current state of affairs in Scotland, and he hopes to keep the information of the slaughter of Macduff's family to himself as long as possible. Ross says that people are dying so often that people aren't even shocked at its occurrence anymore. Macduff then asks how his family fares. Ross dodges his questions for a while and then addresses Malcolm, begging him to return to Scotland because Macbeth is putting together an army. After Malcolm tells Ross that he will face Macbeth with ten thousand English, he regrets that he does not have matching good news for Macduff. Ross tells him that his family was murdered. Macduff cries at the loss and curses heaven for not intervening on his family's behalf. He eventually gathers his bearings and shouts a challenge to Macbeth.

Browse all book notes

Historical Context
Main Characters
Points to Ponder
Did You Know
Plot Summary
Scenes 1.1 and 1.2
Scene 1.3 - An open place
Scenes 1.4 and 1.5
Scenes 1.6 and 1.7
Scenes 2.1 and 2.2
Scene 2.3 and 2.4
Scene 3.1
Scenes 3.2 and 3.3
Scene 3.4
Scenes 3.5 and 3.6
Scene 4.1
Scene 4.2
Scene 4.3
Scenes 5.1 and 5.2
Scenes 5.3 and 5.4
Scenes 5.5, 5.6, 5.7, and 5.8
Scenes 5.9, 5.10, and 5.11



 






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