Act 4, Scene 3 falls at a unique time in the play. After the action-packed, tragic scene that includes the murder of Macduff's family, Shakespeare juxtaposes the action with a long conversation between Malcolm and Macduff. In this conversation, Macduff has traveled to England, where the discussion takes places, to convince Malcolm to return to England and take his place as king. Beginning in line 91, Malcolm lists the qualities that a king should embody, which are: justice, verity, temperance, stableness, bounty, perseverance, lowliness, devotion, patience, courage, and fortitude.
Although he knows the ideal qualities, Malcolm is unsure, especially at the beginning of the conversation, if he has the strength to personify those qualities. In fact, in lines 60–63 and lines 76–84, Malcolm admits that he has strong lusts as well as greed. Thus, he admits to falling short of being temperate, stable, and lowly. However, towards the end of the scene, Malcolm swears to "man up" and return to Scotland in pursuit of the throne. He states in lines 123–137 that he will be a new person and dedicate his life to serving the people rather than his own desires. This revelation gives the audience faith that Malcolm will indeed grow into all of the qualities that he knows he should possess.