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Home :: Archive :: 1994 :: March ::
Re: Macduff; Macbeth's Death
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 5, No. 0284.  Wednesday, 30 March 1994.
(1)     From:   Karla Walters <KWALTERS@UNMB.BITNET>
        Date:   Tuesday, 29 Mar 1994 08:31 MST
        Subj:   Macduff
(2)     From:   Pat Lawlor <PJL02@ALBNYDH2>
        Date:   Monday, 28 Mar 94  11:55:27 EST
        Subj:   Macbeth's death
From:           Karla Walters <KWALTERS@UNMB.BITNET>
Date:           Tuesday, 29 Mar 1994 08:31 MST
Subject:        Macduff
In the discussion of Macbeth's death, Bill Godshalk wrote that "Macduff never
satisfactorily explains why he has left his family behind him in Scotland.
Malcolm and Rosse give him the chance, but he doesn't excuse himself."  I
infered from this that Macduff goes to England for reasons of personal
ambition, because Professor Godshalk concludes that "Macduff replaces Macbeth
at play's end."  Would not this view make Macduff the traitor that his own son
protests he is not?  How does one interpret that scene between Lady Macduff and
her son?  My students are always confused by it.
I usually tell them that traditionally a nobleman could trust his lands to be
held under his wife if he left the country, and that it was up to the monarch
to honor the nobleman's claim until he could return.  Macbeth's murder of the
wife and children is not only genocide/infanticide, but a defiance of the
traditions of law governing land holding.  Macduff's leaving Scotland is both a
test of Macbeth's ability to abide by and govern by law, and an attempt to
"rescue" Scotland from tyranny.  Where is the evidence that he is governed
primarily by personal ambition? There is plenty of evidence that this motivates
Macbeth, but I can't see much evidence of personal ambition in Macduff.
Karla Walters
Univ. of New Mexico    
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From:           Pat Lawlor <PJL02@ALBNYDH2>
Date:           Monday, 28 Mar 94  11:55:27 EST
Subject:        Macbeth's death
The whole majesty of the play for me is in the dignity that Macbeth shows at
the end of the play:  He knows now that he let himself be deceived by the
witches, but he accepts his fate and confronts death as a warrior.
To turn him into a coward at the end would rob me of every thing that makes the
play so powerful.
Patrick J Lawlor
pjl02 @ albnydh2.bitnet

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