Function of Macduff ‘the dissenter’
Overview • ‘Foil’ (contrasting model of behaviour) • Principled dissenter • Symbol of hope • Function within the plot • Example of manhood • Pivotal in counter-action • Embodiment of theme of revenge • Restorer of stasis
Foil • Opposes Macbeth, his ‘foil’ and nemesis • Never appears at the same time as Banquo (similar function) • His arrival after murder fits convention of Revenge tragedy. • Dunsinane is a hell: Macduff is a Christic figure. Materialises almost magically! • First person to articulate outrage at Duncan’s Murder. Uses liturgical language to describe Duncan • Registers enormity of Macbeth’s crime on behalf of the audience.
Effective dissenter • Always in control: interrogates grooms • Patriotic and loyal • Shrewd and suspicious. Prefers to act than to speak. Disguises journey to England (to Ross). • Political and forthright: will not equivocate • ‘He is noble, wise, judicious and best knows the fits of the seasons’ • Constantly in Macbeth’s thoughts, even after Banquet scene. • Spied upon by Macbeth • Macbeth ‘thou has harped my fear aright…’ when told to beware the Thane of Fife. • ‘Spokesperson’ for Scotland ‘new sorrows strike heaven on the face’.
Symbol • Act iV: symbol of hope for other thanes
Plot ‘London’ scene Tested by Malcolm wary Addressed as ‘angel’ by Malcolm Passes test by breaking down and condemning Malcolm.
Manhood • Expresses guilt at death of family • Manly because he ‘disputes and feels’ in contrast to Macbeth. • Aware that he neglected his wife (for the greater good): ‘Sinful Macduff’. • Lady Macduff admires him, knows he is right. • Not violent, but vengeful: his wife ‘haunts him’. • Conflict of national and domestic duty: ‘ he wants the natural touch’. • Allies himself with legitimate heir (therefore is good)
Pivotal in reversal of M’s fortune • Determined to the right thing: finish Macbeth. • Returns to march on the ‘devil’: a good thing and a symbol of good. • Pacifist: will not fight the innocent • ‘either Macbeth, or else my sword with an unbatter’d edge I sheathe again undeeded’ • Will not discuss with ‘hell-hound’ • Reveals crucial identity ‘untimely ripped’ • Macbeth is ‘unmanned’ by this revelation. • Reveals the falsity of the witches’ equivocation.
Restorer • Restores Scotland to rightful heir • Proclaims Malcolm king • Is without ambition (like Banquo) and has integrity: more than Banquo!!!