In Act III, scene vi, what does Lennox say, in everyday English, and what does he hint at when he speaks about Macbeth's actions?

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Karen P.L. Hardison eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Lennox is an interesting character who has a small role but one that represents the noble's side of the situation at Macbeth's castle as witness Macbeth's actions and reactions. Earlier, in Act II.iii, Lennox has the role of describing the strange atmosphere during the night of Macbeth's foul murder plot. Lennox speaks of the night as being "unruly" with "dire combustion and confused events." This positions Lennox as the observer and reasonable commentator on unclear and unexplained events. He also helps Macbeth tell the horrible news of Duncan's murder to Malcolm

    O, by whom?

    Those of his chamber, as it seem'd, had done 't:
    Their hands and faces were an badged with blood;
    So were their daggers, which unwiped we found
    Upon their pillows: (II.iii)

In III.iv, at the banquet, Lennox assists and has compassion for Macbeth's disconcerted state, showing him seat, saying it is "reserved" for him and asking what troubles Macbeth: "What is't that moves your highness?" This establishes Lennox in the role of unbiased, objective questioner: he is puzzled by what he sees (especially since what he does not see is Banquo's ghost) and objectively notes Macbeth's strange behavior and reasonably inquires about what is troubling Macbeth (Lady Macbeth does the same thing but not quite so reasonably).

I, we encounter Lennox part way through a conversation with another Lord. Lennox doesn't say anything accusatory or intentionally hint at anything accusatory about Macbeth. What Lennox does do is rehearse events out loud, with the other Lord, in the fashion in which he is turning the thoughts round in his own mind. After hearing what Malcolm and Macduff are doing in the court of King Edward of England (raising an army to go up against Macbeth), he sees things in a clearer light and switches to the analysis of events that condemn Macbeth's behavior as he prays that some angel might be sent to aid Malcolm and Macduff and that order might be restored to the land:

    ... Some holy angel
    Fly to the court of England and unfold
    His message ere he come, that a swift blessing
    May soon return to this our suffering country
    Under a hand accursed!


  • Our thoughts agree. Macbeth has borne with events is a strange manner [III.iv]. Macbeth was grieved about Duncan's death and Banquo's death was seemingly his own fault for being out walking too late ... Macbeth was so outraged .... Didn't this show Macbeth to be noble and wise too? Anyone feels the same outrage that he acted upon.
  • Thus it is that I say Macbeth has taken all these things well and behaved in an expected manner. ... But now! I hear Macduff is out of favor with Macbeth because he spoke out against Macbeth and decline to feast with Macbeth. Can you tell me where Macduff is? ...
  • Well, ... Macduff might well be cautious and keep his distance. If an army truly is needed ... may a swift angel make it all clear to England and may a swift blessing of retaliation against Macbeth be brought to our land to restore peace.