[Act IV, Scene III, lines 201-240] How does Macduff react to the news of his family's death? Did he really love his family?
[Act IV, Scene III, lines 6-14]
Why was Malcolm encouraged by Macduff's reaction?
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.
In Act IV, Scene III, when Macduff learns of his family's slaughter, he reacts with sorrow and grief. He talks about the grief that "does not speak," and states that his heart is breaking. He also feels guilty; he thinks his family was killed because of his actions, not their own:
They were all struck. . . Not for their actions, but for mine.
That Macduff loved his family is without doubt: he refers to them as his "pretty ones," for instance, and his "pretty chickens." His love also accounts for the strength of his reaction to the news that they have been slaughtered.
Also in this scene, Macduff makes a speech in which he urges Malcolm and his allies to rise up against Macbeth with action ("Strike heaven on the face"). Malcolm is very encouraged by these sentiments because he realizes that Macduff is his true ally and that Macduff is ready to fight against Macbeth.