In Macbeth [5.8.35-53], how does Siward react to the death of his son?

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In Act 5, Scene 7 of Macbeth, near the end of the final battle, the eponymous protagonist confronts and kills Young Siward, son of the English general who has joined forces with the opponents of the regicide. In the following scene, Malcolm and Ross inform the elder Siward of his son's death. The father's response in this exchange evinces a not entirely surprising stoicism, given his profession:

SIWARD

Had he his hurts before?

ROSS

Ay, on the front.

SIWARD

Why then, God's soldier be he!

Had I as many sons as I have hairs,

I would not wish them to a fairer death:

And so, his knell is knoll'd

MALCOLM

He's worth more sorrow,

And that I'll spend for him.

SIWARD

He's worth no more

They say he parted well, and paid his score:

And so, God be with him!

Siward is grateful for the knowledge that his son had died with his wounds "on the front," facing his enemy rather than in flight. And he sounds Shakespeare's note of Christian combat with an ungodly figure in the line, "God's soldier be he." When Malcolm expresses his own grief for the young soldier, the elder Siward intones his consolatory faith in the righteous nature of his son's death.

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When Siward learns of his son's death in battle, he first asks about his wounds: "Had he his hurts before?" Ross assures him that Young Siward's wounds were located on the front of his body. This gives Siward great comfort for he knows his son died bravel fighting in battle, not running away in fear. Siward responds:

Why then, God's soldier be he!

Had I as many sons as I have hairs,

I would not wish them to a fairer death:

And so his knell is knolled.

Siward sees his son's death as a noble one, no doubt because he died in the service of his country. When Malcolm suggests that Young Siward's death is a cause of sorrow, Siward takes exception to that idea. He finds no sorrow in his son's death, since he had died as an honorable soldier:

They say he parted well and paid his score:

And so God be with him! 

Siward does not react to the news of his son's death with a public display of deep grief, but this should not be interpreted as suggesting a lack of love for his son. He believes that his son has gone to God ("God's soldier be he!), and he seeks God's blessing and comfort for his son's soul. Siward's spiritual faith is a comfort to him, but "newer comfort" comes to him when Macduff enters carrying Macbeth's severed head.

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