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Home :: Archive :: 2002 :: January ::
Re: Macduff
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 13.0289  Thursday, 31 January 2002

[1]     From:   John Ramsay <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 30 Jan 2002 11:43:35 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 13.0243 Re: Macduff

[2]     From:   Geralyn Horton <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 30 Jan 2002 12:23:36 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 13.0257 Re: Macduff

[3]     From:   William Liston <
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        Date:   Thursday, 31 Jan 2002 09:20:13 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 13.0222 Macduff


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           John Ramsay <
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Date:           Wednesday, 30 Jan 2002 11:43:35 -0500
Subject: 13.0243 Re: Macduff
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.0243 Re: Macduff

> >"Considering Macbeth's [[Macduff's]]
> >character why does he act in this completely crazy way ?" Does anyone
> >have an answer to this question?
>
> I think it relates to the whole "what is a man" question in the play.
> Macduff's approach seems to be, "Tah tah, dear, off to the wars! Take
> care of the kids."

Macduff stands for loyalty in a play where disloyalty rules.

Lady Macduff is an obvious contrast to Lady Macbeth.

Both are naive. Macduff openly defies Macbeth. Lady Macduff can't
understand the situation.

Yet both are avenged. When Lady Macbeth cracks up, it's: 'The Thane of
Fife had a wife, Where is she now?' and Macbeth is faced with the fact
that Macduff was 'not of woman born' and plain loses his head.

John Ramsay

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Geralyn Horton <
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Date:           Wednesday, 30 Jan 2002 12:23:36 -0500
Subject: 13.0257 Re: Macduff
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.0257 Re: Macduff

> From:           W. L. Godshalk <
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> I think it calls Macduff's sterling character into questions. Why does
> he leave his family behind? He must know that, if Macbeth behaves
> rationally, he will hold the family as hostages for Macduff's good
> behavior.

Or is his character so good that he can't even imagine a king murdering
innocent children?

If they are hostages -- isn't everyone in under an unscrupulous ruler?
-- then an appeal to outside authority might ransom everyone.

If the king's spy system is inefficient, mere absence may not be taken
as a threat. If efficient, moving against him while in Scotland will
doom them all anyway.

Rationally, what does Mac gain by killing the family?  Mere terror.

Geralyn Horton
http://www.stagepage.org

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[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           William Liston <
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Date:           Thursday, 31 Jan 2002 09:20:13 -0500
Subject: 13.0222 Macduff
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.0222 Macduff

I don't think Auden is right in asserting that something was omitted
from MACBETH 4.2.

As someone else pointed out a few days ago, the play repeatedly focuses
on the definitions of 'man' and 'woman.'  It also focuses on 'natural'
and 'kind,' and their negatives.

The key to the scene, I think, is Macduff's Wife's conclusion to the
scene:

                Whither should I fly?
I have done no harm.  But I remember now
I am in this earthly world--where to do harm
Is often laudable, to do good sometime
Accounted dangerous folly.  Why then, alas,
Do I put up that womanly defense,
To say I have done no harm.

The Lady's defense is not womanly but manly, in stereotypes.  Men are
logical and women are emotional, in stereotypes.  What we have here is
her arriving at a logical conclusion, but Macbeth has made the world
illogical, counter to everything it should be.

Related to this scene, of course, are the following scene, Malcolm's
testing of Macbeth, but also (ironically) 1.6, Banquo's commentary on
Macbeth's seat, Inverness.  The imagery of 1.6 and 4.2 are much the
same: bird imagery, and the safe place for the procreant cradle.  And
the imagery continues in 4.3: "What, all my pretty chickens, and their
dam?" (218).

Sincerely,
Bill Liston

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