Macbeth vs. Macduff

I know I’ve made quite a few arguments against Macbeth in class and I hope to use another character to further drive home my point as to why I see Macbeth as such a villain.

We know that he has some issues regarding his sanity, but we see this even from the beginning. In 1.3 towards the end of the Act we begin to see Macbeth has a tendency to drift off into his own head. Banquo comments, “Look, how our partner’s rapt” (1.3.142). And Macbeth continues on throughout the play to slip in and out of fits of insanity. I would argue that this is simply Macbeth’s true character, and not a misfortune of war.

I solidify this opinion by bringing in the contrasting character of Macduff. His family is brutally murdered by Macbeth’s command and when he finds out he has to take a few moments. He is affected, even in unfamiliar company. The previous son’s king commands him, “Dispute it like a man.” (4.3.219) To which Macduff says, “I shall do so; But I must also feel it as a man” (4.3.220-221).

Granted, Macbeth has begun to delve further into his delusions (ones I believe he has always had, just presented in different ways), but that is no excuse for how he responds to his wife’s death. He says, “She should have died hereafter; There would have been a time for such a word” (5.517-18). The fact that he shows no emotion is one thing, but saying his wife should have died anyway shows, to me, that Macbeth’s true villainous character has come out. I don’t believe any character is fully evil, they all have some sort of heart at one point in their lives. I believe that after the murder of the King, Macbeth came in to the fullness of his instability. I believe the contrast of Macduff and Macbeth proves that Macbeth became a true villain by the end of the play.

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One Response to Macbeth vs. Macduff

  1. Everything you point to in the text functions in precisely the way you suggest: Macduff is clearly an alternative who points up Macbeth’s failures. But Macbeth’s despair at the end of the play is deeply human. Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow….

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