How Does Malcolm Test Macduff's Loyalty

In Act IV , scene iii what does Malcolm do to test Macduff to ensure Macduff's loyalty for him?

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mrerick eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Malcolm gives a litany of reasons why he wouldn't be a good king.  Malcolm says he's lustful, greedy and has no desire to even become the king.  When Macduff suggests that Malcolm's better qualities would out-weight those vices, Malcolm replies by saying, "But I have none."  Malcolm makes it very clear that he would be a very bad king.  After listing his bad qualities, he gives Macduff an opportunity to make a plea for the kingship.  Macduff, however, does not wish to be king and repeats his statement of support for Malcolm, all the time weeping for Scotland.  This assures Malcolm that Macduff is loyal and will help his cause against Macbeth.

renelane eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Malcolm begins by questioning Macduff's motives for leaving his wife and son unprotected. He then goes on to state (falsely) all of his faults and vices that would make him an even worse choice for king that Macbeth.

Malcolm is doing this to test where Macduff's loyalties lie. Malcolm has good reason to be suspicious of everyone , as the murders have spiraled out of control and there is no way to know who is on what side.

When Macduff answers that the crown is rightfully Malcolm's no matter what, and that Macbeth should be stopped at all cost, Malcolm is assured of his honesty and tells him he was not serious about his statements.

sampu88 | Student

Malcolm 'tests the waters' in order to ensure Macduff's unrestrained commitment and loyalty to saving the country from the clutches of a tyrant. For this, he makes no effort to hide his suspicions about him. He tells him, firs and foremost, that he cannot trust him at the onset as he had had several experiences with people who tried to lure him into Macbeth's traps by appearing to be loyal. He also asks him where his commitment to his family and loved ones was, as he was aware of the fact that Macduff had left his family and come to meet him in England. He then portrays himself as a man, who was so much in need of being sexually aroused that he could never be satisfied even with all the maids, wives, daughtes and old men that Scotland had to offer. He also tells him about his hunger for greed and power. He nforms him that he would create false problems bwteen his good and honest nobles, so as to take jewels from one and houses form another. All the trememdous riches of the country would not be able to satisfy him. He then talks about how he lacks all the qualities and virtues that are a prerequisite for a good king ie nobility, honesty, generosity, kindness, humbleness, tolerance, boldness and wisdom.

He does this in order to evaluate Macudff on the basis of his answer. Macduff, immediately withdraws and yells 'Scotland!' and feels pity for its ill-fate, as it was being ruled by a merciless tyrant and its rightful heir was a man who did not deserve to live.

rayniashaw | Student

When Macduff asks about the welfare of his family, Ross replies that “they were all at peace” when he last saw them. How is this partially true?

rayniashaw | Student

How does Malcolm lie to Macduff at first? Why does he do this?