How is revenge portrayed in Shakespeare's Macbeth? What characters exhibit it besides Macduff?

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favoritethings | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Senior Educator

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Revenge is portrayed as something that is noble when it is just.  Macduff seeks revenge on Macbeth for slaying Macduff's wife, children, and servants, and when he first learns of and begins to react emotionally to the news, Malcolm tells him, "Be comforted. / Let’s make us med'cines of our great revenge, / To cure this deadly grief" (4.3.219-221).  In other words, Malcolm wants Macduff to take this anger and pain he feels at such horrible news and use it to propel him forward, to give him courage to seek a "great revenge" on Macbeth.  Malcolm believes that using Macduff's terrible grief to get this revenge will help him to feel better, to "cure" him of his pain.  Notice, too, that Malcolm does call it "our great revenge," implying that he does want to exact revenge on Macbeth as well.  He tells Macduff to "Dispute it like a man," and such a statement connects Macduff's revenge on Macbeth to a sense of honor, making it something just and noble because it is so clearly deserved (4.3.226). 

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dule05 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Assistant Educator

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Revenge is one of many themes developed in Macbeth. It is best exemplified by the actions of Macduff, who, when learning of his family's death, decides to exact revenge on Macbeth.

The other most prominent example of revenge is when the ghost of Banquo is employed. Its role is to remind Macbeth of the murder he has committed. Macbeth is horrified by the appearance of the ghost of Banquo and is certain that Banquo has come back from the dead to haunt him:

It will have blood; they say, blood will have blood:
Stones have been known to move and trees to speak;
Augurs and understood relations have
By magot-pies and choughs and rooks brought forth
The secret'st man of blood.

Another instance of revenge is when Malcolm comforts Macduff upon hearing the news of the murder of his family and proclaims that they should all get their revenge on Macbeth:

Be comforted:
Let's make us medicines of our great revenge,
To cure this deadly grief.

Malcolm inspires Macduff to fight Macbeth, which eventually happens, and Macbeth is defeated, so the revenge is complete. Although Malcolm is not the one who fights Macbeth, he desires revenge because Macbeth killed his father, Duncan, and blamed the murder on him and his brother, Donalbain.

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amy-lepore's profile pic

amy-lepore | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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Banquo gets his revenge when his ghost shows up at the banquet and causes Macbeth to rant and rave in front of his guests.

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malibrarian | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator

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Of course Macduff is the character one thinks of when considering revenge in Macbeth.  But I thought of Malcolm, too - only as the antithesis of revenge.  Malcolm, whose father, King Duncan, was murdered by Macbeth, seems like he should be seeking revenge for his father's death, but he is not portrayed like that.  Instead, Malcolm is portrayed as the savior of Scotland - the one whose primary goal in life is to save his country from desolation and evil under the reign of Macbeth.

Check the link below for his character analysis from eNotes.  Good luck!

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annieee | Student, Grade 11 | eNotes Newbie

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Revenge is also portrayed in Macbeth by the witches getting back at the sailor's wife for not sharing her chestnuts.

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