Macbeth Act 4 Scene 3
• This scene is longer than most others and marks a pivotal turning point in the course of events. Macduff meets with Malcolm in England seeks his help against Macbeth. But, cleverly, Macbeth has already sent others to Malcolm, pretending loyalty, seeming to enlist his help in order to betray him.
– However, young Malcolm shows himself to be less trusting than his father was. He tests Macduffs’ sincerity by attributing to himself every possible vice. Further, he claims to have no virtues at all…none of “the king-becoming graces, / As justice, verity, temperance, stableness, / Bounty, perseverance, mercy, lowliness, / Devotion, patience, courage, fortitude, / I have no relish of them, but abound / In the division of each several crime, / Acting it many ways” – After prudently testing Macduff’s loyalty and being satisfied, Malcolm agrees, revealing that he already has 10, 000 men promised by king Edward. 03/01/2022
• Malcolm speaks of king Edward, a man deeply prayerful, holy and pious. Heaven, it seems, has blessed him with gifts of prophecy and healing. This is in stark contrast to Macbeth who seeks prophecy from satanic powers, is unable to pray at all and can only bring suffering and death. 03/01/2022
• This scene, then, functions on a number of levels – It brings to the fore those characters whose places in the narrative have been in the background. We’ve seen relatively little of Malcolm or Macduff up to this point. The significance of their roles will increase now, as the plot progresses to its inevitable end. 03/01/2022
Scene of Contrasts – There is also an enormous contrast between both countries and their kings q. England is at peace under Edward q. Edward is associated with heaven q. Edward brings healing q. Scotland is in chaos. q. Edward has a heavenly gift of prophecy q. Macbeth brings suffering and death q. Edward is deeply prayerful q. Macbeth’s prophecies come from witches q. Macbeth is associated with hell q. Macbeth has been unable to pray since the murder of Duncan 03/01/2022
• We note also, a sense of the inevitable regarding the outcome of events. Things are so bad that Scotland is ready to shake off Macbeth’s rule. As Macduff reports “each new morn / New widows howl, new orphans cry, new sorrows / Strike heaven on the face, that it resounds / As if it felt with Scotland yell'd out / Like syllable of dolour. ” 03/01/2022