English analyzing Macbeth Act 4 scene 3
Shakespeare’s play, Macbeth, is a play about deceit, the lust for power and the evil that proceeds from the hearts of men. It is also about a fatalistic approach to life.
Macbeth’s propensity toward evil quickly rears its ugly head in Act I of the play when Macbeth listens to his wife, Lady Macbeth, and agrees to kill King Duncan. This happens following the victory of Scotland over its war with Norway, and the appearance to Macbeth of three witches which prophecy that Macbeth will be named Thame of Cawdor and some day king.
Soon after this prophecy, Thane of Ross appears before the king to tell him of Scotland’s victory at the hands of General Macbeth. At the same time he tells the king of the defeat of the Thane of Cawdor. Wanting to recognize Macbeth for the valor he displayed in the war, the king has the earl of Cawdor killed and gives his title to Macbeth.
Macbeth takes this a sign that the first part of the witches’ prophecy has been fulfilled. He then sends word to Lady Macbeth that the king is coming to spend the night with them. At the same time he tells her about the prophecies and how one of them has already been fulfilled. Desirous to have her husband on the throne, Lady Macbeth proceeds to give fate a nudge, and plots the murder of the king.
At first Macbeth is reluctant to go along with his wife’s plans but he soon capitulates and murders the king. After the deed is done, Macbeth’s nerves give out and Lady Macbeth has to deal with the mess. To keep suspicion from her husband she wipes the king’s blood onto the clothing of the servants. Fearing that his murderous deeds will be revealed, Macbeth kills all of them. Soon after these acts, Macduff appears. He becomes suspicious of Macbeth as soon as he learns of the king’s murder. However, he decides it is safer to keep quiet.
Fearing that they might be blamed for their father’s murder, the king’s sons, Malcolm and Donalbain, flee the country, Malcolm going to England and Donalbain to Ireland.
Macbeth continues to decline into madness as his paranoia causes him to become more and more suspicious of those around him, including Macduff. He soon plots the death of Macduff and his entire family:
The castle of Macduff I will surprise,
Seize upon Fife, give to the edge o’ the sword
His wife, his babes, and all unfortunate souls
That trace him in his line. No boasting like a fool;
This deed I’ll do before this purpose cool
But no more sights!
But Macduff has gone to Ireland to seek aid from Malcolm.
In the opening of Scene III, the Macduff and Malcolm are standing before the King’s Palace. They have learned of the slaughter of Macduff’s family and are grieving because of it. However, Malcolm is suspicious of Macduff and wonders if he might be a spy for Macbeth. In and attempt to find out the truth, Malcolm begins to test Macduff. Pretending to comfort him, Malcolm says: “Let us seek out some desolate shade.”
“There,” he tells Macduff we will weep for those slain.
Macduff will have none of this and declares to Malcolm that it is vengeance he wants not rest:
Let us rather
Hold fast the mortal sword, and like good men
Bestride our downfall’n birthdom. Each new morn
New widows howl, new orphans cry, new sorrows
Strike heaven on the face that it resounds
In spite of Macduff’s display of grief, Malcolm is still uncertain about his motives. He begins to question him as to why he left his family in Scotland; “…only to be killed by the hands of Macbeth.” Malcolm, thinking Macduff might have aspirations to the throne, also accuses him of secretly working for Macbeth.
“I am not treacherous,” says Macduff.
He proceeds to denounce any interest in the throne urging Malcolm to become king himself: “But fear not yet to take upon you what is yours.”
Malcolm is still not sure of Macduff’s loyalty and decides that the best way to find out about this is to behave as if he (Malcolm) were as evil as Macbeth:
But I have none. 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. Nay, had I power, I should
Pour the sweet milk of concord into hell,
Uproar the universal peace, confound
All unity on earth.
Macduff, believing the words that have been spoken and afraid for his country, cries out: “O Scotland! O Scotland!”
The loyalty Macduff’s displays in these words, leads Malcolm to believe that Macduff is, indeed, trustworthy, while at the same time Macduff decides that Malcolm is not fit for the throne.
As the play precedes Macbeth’s acts of deceit, violence and madness continues to increase. Through the words of this play, Shakespeare demonstrates that it is man and not man’s fate that seals his final place in the world. He also teaches us that even as the lust for power and evil exists, there is also a scale of justice at work which eventually claims those who defy it.
Publication Information: Book Title: William Shakespeare’s Macbeth. Publisher:?; Place of Publication:? Publication Year: ? Page Numbers: ?.