[4.3.201-240] How does Macduff react to the news of his family's death? Did he really love his family?  [see 4.2.6-14] Why was Malcolm encouraged by Macduff's reaction?

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Susan Hurn | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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Macduff loved his family very much and is absolutely devastated by the news of their deaths. At first, he cannot comprehend that his entire family has been slaughtered:

All my pretty ones?

Did you say all? O hell-kite! All?

What, all my pretty chickens and their dam

At one fell swoop?

Macduff blames himself for their deaths; he was not there to protect them, and they were murdered only because he had aligned himself with the forces working to bring down Macbeth. He also agonizes thinking about the terror-filled final moments of their lives: "Did heaven look on, / And would not take their part?" Macduff implores that "[h]eaven rest them now!" Filled with grief, he then turns his attention to Macbeth, the cause of his family's destruction:

. . . front to front

Bring thou this fiend of Scotland and myself;

Within my sword's length set him. If he 'scape,

Heaven forgive him too!

Macduff intends to make sure that Macbeth will not escape retribution for his abominable acts.

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