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Flashcards in Macduff Deck (14)
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“Most sacrilegious murder hath broke ope the Lord's anointed temple” 2.3

• The adjective “sacrilegious” links to how Macbeth murdering Duncan was against the divine right of kings and emphasises the unnatural nature of Duncan’s death – he didn’t die from natural causes (as he was murdered) and the act that Macbeth committed went against the natural order.

• Through the violent verb “broke open” Shakespeare highlights the turmoil and disarray that has been caused as a result of Macbeth going against the Divine right of kings. The image of an object breaking open evokes a sense of chaos and destruction. The fact that it is the “Lord anointed temple” depicts how Macbeth has directly transgressed against God which heightens how detestable the action was and further highlights the devastation that will happen on Earth as even the heavens have been affected by this act of treason


“The repetition, in a woman's ear, would murder as it fell”. 2,3

• This line refers to the idea that women were weaker than men, and so Macduff protects her from hearing such horrible things. However, this is dramatically ironic, for in previous scenes, Lady Macbeth says ‘unsex me here, and fill me crown to toe to-full of direst cruelty’, which indicates how she wants to be rid of her femininity, and wishes to be purely evil, to allow her to convince her husband to kill Duncan.

• Shows how Macduff abides by the natural order


“wherefore did you so?” 2.3

This question is a direct challenge to Macbeth foreshadowing their conflict at the end of the play. This is the first time in the play that suspicion falls on Macbeth which suggests Macduff’s immediate suspicion of Macbeth as well as his dislike towards him.


“New widows howl, new orphans cry, new sorrows strike heaven on the face” 4.3

• Seeing that Macduff is mourning over the terrible acts happening in Scotland immediately establishes as patriotic and hints to his loyalty to his country

• The horror happening in Scotland is evident through the use of the personification of heaven being slapped in the face

• The asyndetic list of horrors makes the suffering appear endless and the parallelism of the clauses gives a sense of its inevitability which is heightened through the use of the anaphora “new”


"Let us rather hold fast the mortal sword, and, like good men, bestride our down-fall'n birthdom." 4.3

• Here, Shakespeare presents Macduff as, similarly to Macbeth, impulsive and as a character of action, using action orientated verbs such as "bestride" and verbal phrases such as "hold fast the mortal sword" to connote battle and valour, emphasising his impulsive nature, while also, in contrast to Macbeth, having such impulses being driven by patriotic motives, wishing to save his "down-fall'n birthdom", suggesting that, while Macbeth's impulsive, violent acts are driven by selfish motives of paranoia and ambition, Macduff's are built on patriotism and, therefore, nobility.


Malcolm : “left your wife and child, these precious motives, those strong knots of love, without leave-taking?” 4.3

• Whiles Macbeth’s ambition has made him paranoid and resulted in an emotional drift between him and Lady Macbeth, Macduff’s chauvinistic nature as resulted in him leaving his wife and child defenseless and vulnerable.

• The metaphor “strong knots of love” emphasizes the love that Macduff has for his family which makes him leaving his family even more unusual linking to the disruption of natual order as a result of Macbeth’s actions

• Dramatic irony is employed here as this scene takes place after the killing of Macduff’s wife and child. The mentioning of the powerful love he has for his family fills the audience with sympathy for Macduff and further puts Macbeth in a negative light


Bleed, bleed, poor country! Great tyranny! 4.3

• The personification of Scotland being wounded emphasizes the pain that Macduff feels for Scotland thus convey the strong emotional bond he has for his country and displays his devotion towards the nation

• The country is suffering as a result of poor leadership thus displaying the importance of the divine right of kings and following the natural order


Not in the legions of horrid hell can come a devil more damn'd in evils to top Macbeth. 4.3

• The semantic field of hell is used to show Macduff’s incredulity. He doesn’t believe anyone could be as bad as Macbeth which is shown by aligning him with the devil . this also shows the severity of bitterness Macduff has towards Macbeth as being compared to the devil in religious times was a strong insult.


“my children too? …. My wife killed too?” 4.3

• The constant questioning and short sentences adds to the shock that Macduff feels as he’s not even able to vocalize his true emotions and shows inability to accept the murders generating sympathy of Macduff and creates more hatred from the audience towards Macbeth


“ Oh hell kite… All my pretty chickens and their dam at one fell swoop?” 4.3

• Macduff’s family is portrayed as defenseless emphasizing the ruthless nature of Macduff

• Enjambment is also used here to portray Macduff’s overflowing emotions, which, in context, subverts the gender norms of the time (men have to be strong, and not revealing emotions). Finally, the adjective ‘fell’ connotes evil and damndness, and it is a reference to the ‘hell-kite’, which is a bird of prey, which swoops down to catch and kill its prey.

• Kites (birds of prey) had a terrible reputation in Shakespeare’s day being associated with scavenging, death, graveyards etc. So, comparing Macbeth to such a bird emphasises Macbeth’s depravity.
• Also, the repetition of ‘all’ also connotes Macduff’s sudden denial / realisation that his family has been murdered – it is incomprehensible.


“Sinful Macduff, they were all struck for thee” 4.3

By trying to disassociate himself through 3rd person from his family, Shakespeare exemplifies the extent and magnitude of guilt Macduff feels which therefore shows the love he had for his family. His self -depreciation harshly contrasts the attitude that Macbeth had when his wife died which further shows the righteous nature of Macduff


“I must feel it like a man” – response to Malcolm dispute it like a man (4.3)

• Malcolm shows no shame or reluctance to display sorrow and grief which challeneges the widespread belief in the Jacobean era that masculinity is soley about agression and murder. By showcasing Macduff’s misery, Shakespeare suggests that allowing one self to be sensitive as well as feel and express emotional pain contributes to masculinity also.


‘front to front bring thou this fiend of Scotland and myself’ (4.3)

• Macduff’s vow that he will be the one to kill Macbeth – role of avenger
• ‘front to front’ shows dignity – he wants to kill him in a fair ‘face-to-face’ fight. Ties to the idea of Macduff being morally virtuous. See quote 11 below. This is in stark contrast to Macbeth who murdered Duncan in his sleep and then had other people murder Banquo and Macduff’s family for him.

• ‘fiend’ means devil so another link between Macbeth and Hell.


“Turn hell hound turn!” 5.8

• The fact that Macduff tells Macbeth to turn demonstrates his bravery, dignity and honour as he is willing to fight Macbeth face to face rather than kill him when he is not prepared unlike Macbeth who has killed multiple people cowardly.