Macbeth

by: William Shakespeare

Macduff

O horror, horror, horror!
Tongue nor heart cannot conceive nor name thee!...
Confusion now hath made his masterpiece.
Most sacrilegious murder hath broke ope
The Lord’s anointed temple, and stole thence
The life o’ th’ building!

Part of Macduff’s work is to wake the king every morning. He discovers Duncan’s murder in Act 2, 3cene 3, and announces it to the rest of the people at Macbeth’s castle. The heartbroken way he announces it spells trouble for Macbeth: Duncan was a beloved king. Macduff’s lines of genuine horror and remorse at the death of king contrast with the suspicion and distrust Macbeth’s subjects will feel for him once he takes Duncan’s place.

Bleed, bleed, poor country!
Great tyranny, lay thou thy basis sure,
For goodness dare not check thee.

Macduff says these lines in Act 4 scene 3, after having abandoned his wife and children and fled for his life. Beyond the danger Macbeth poses to Macduff personally, Macduff worries about what effect Macbeth’s tyranny will have on Scotland. Here, Macduff is angry at himself and others who will not stand up to Macbeth. He will soon learn of Macbeth’s murder of his entire family, and resolves to help lead the revolt against him.

Tyrant, show thy face!
If thou beest slain, and with no stroke of mine,
My wife and children’s ghosts will haunt me still.
I cannot strike at wretched kerns, whose arms
Are hired to bear their staves. Either thou, Macbeth,
Or else my sword with an unbattered edge
I sheathe again undeeded. There thou shouldst be;
By this great clatter, one of the greatest note
Seems bruited. Let me find him, Fortune,
And more I beg not.

Macduff is determined to kill Macbeth and revenge the brutal murder of his family, as this short speech from Act 5, scene 7 makes clear. Macduff calls on Fortune to help him find Macbeth and kill him, echoing the role of fate and the supernatural in the play, as represented elsewhere by the Witches.

Despair thy charm,
And let the angel whom thou still hast served
Tell thee, Macduff was from his mother’s womb
Untimely ripped.

Macbeth has already learned that Birnam Wood did move, as the Witches predicted. Here, he learns from Macduff that the Witches’ last prediction has come true as well. As Macduff tells him in Act 5, Scene 8, Macduff was taken from his mother’s womb in a Caesarian section and thus was not “born.” Macbeth is doomed.