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Just after Macduff hears his family has been murdered in Macbeth he says, "And I must...

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youngjot | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 2) eNoter

Posted September 10, 2010 at 9:32 AM via web

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Just after Macduff hears his family has been murdered in Macbeth he says, "And I must be from thence!" (IV.iii.212)


Explain Macduff's priorities, i.e. which is more important to him, country or family?

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cetaylorplfd | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

Posted September 10, 2010 at 10:03 AM (Answer #1)

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After Rosse brings word that Macduff's entire family has been killed, Macduff is upset because he was away when they all went through such a tragedy.  He says, "And I must be from thence!" as a way to express his regret at having been away from home when the murderers arrived.  Malcolm tells Macduff that he should be a man and enact revenge upon Macbeth; Macduff agrees.  However, Macduff already had his suspicions about Macbeth, hence the reason why he sought out Malcolm to persuade him to return to Scotland.  Macduff is certainly patriotic; however, his family is certainly important to him.  The news that his family has been murdered simply adds "fuel to the fire" and pushes Macduff to want to rise against Macbeth.  So, the scene does not suggest that one is more important than the other because Macduff already had it in is mind to try to overthrow Macbeth--the death of his family simply fuels this desire.

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kc4u | College Teacher | (Level 3) Valedictorian

Posted September 10, 2010 at 7:41 PM (Answer #2)

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Macduff's initial reaction to the brutal killing of his family members is human, personal and emotional and full of pathos, as opposed to a vengeful and heroic reaction. When Malcolm tells him to 'dispute' it like a man, he strongly answers back--"I shall do so;/But I must also feel it as a man".

While articulating the grief of bereavements, Macduff also raises the issue of divine justice. He wonders how Macbeth was allowed to do such a sinful act despite God.

After a while, he does respond to the call of Malcolm and arranges himself, preparing for a battle of revenge against the evil Macbeth. In this pronouncement, the private and the public, the familial and the national agenda get mingled. Macduff ends with a heroic articulation--"...if he 'scape,/ Heaven forgive him too!"

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