In Act 4 Scene 3 of Macbeth, Malcolm praises King Edward of England by telling Macduff about the King's healing powers. He says that the King cures his people who are sick and suffering and that he also has the gift of prophecy. This praise of the King is foreshadowed in the previous scene by the list of virtues that are becoming of all good kings.
King Edward is a sharp contrast to King Macbeth who has been labeled in this scene as a tyrant and murderer. Just after Malcolm praises the King of England, Rosse arrives and informs Macduff about the murder of his entire family and court. Whereas Edward performs miracles to save his people, Macbeth uses every opportunity to execute his. Thus a sharp contrast separates the two kings.
Macduff, after hearing about Macbeth's ruthless murder of his wife and children, calls him "this fiend of Scotland". In an earlier conversation, Malcolm had referred to Macbeth in the harshest of terms, saying that:
"This tyrant, whose sole name blisters our tongues, was once thought honest:"
When he refers to Scotland under Macbeth's rule, he says:
"... our country sinks beneath the yoke;
It weeps, it bleeds; and each new day a gash
Is added to her wounds:"
This obviously suggests that Macbeth's rule is oppressive and that Scotland's people are burdened by his irrational, merciless control. Scotland is in pain under Macbeth's authority and each day of his reign brings even more hurt and sorrow. Malcolm also calls Macbeth 'black' suggesting that he is enveloped by evil.
Macduff feels that Macbeth is so evil that:
"Not in the legions
Of horrid hell can come a devil more damn'd
In evils to top Macbeth."
Malcolm further declares about Macbeth:
"I grant him bloody,
Luxurious, avaricious, false, deceitful,
Sudden, malicious, smacking of every sin
That has a name:"
It is clear that Macbeth is deemed the epitome of evil, there remains not one redeeming quality. He is utterly possessed by evil and his atrocities know no bounds.
In contrast, Malcolm says the following about King Edward:
"A most miraculous work in this good king;
Which often, since my here-remain in England,
I have seen him do. How he solicits heaven,
Himself best knows: but strangely-visited people,
All swoln and ulcerous, pitiful to the eye,
The mere despair of surgery, he cures,
Hanging a golden stamp about their necks,
Put on with holy prayers: and 'tis spoken,
To the succeeding royalty he leaves
The healing benediction. With this strange virtue,
He hath a heavenly gift of prophecy,
And sundry blessings hang about his throne,
That speak him full of grace."
Edward, therefore, in opposition to Macbeth, is nurturing and caring, a king blessed with the power to heal. He is religious and seeks help from the heavens (God), unlike Macbeth, who solicits assistance from the witches, who are servants of evil. Edward provides healing blessings, where Macbeth only brings damnation, death and destruction. Edward is able to predict the future, a heavenly gift, whereas Macbeth seeks prophecy from the witches and indulges them in their evil.
Furthermore, Edward has an inherent goodness about him and he is richly blessed, he is humble and thankful. Macbeth, on the other hand, is avaricious, ungrateful and arrogant. Finally, Edward's subjects approach him for assistance and love him for his kindness, whilst Macbeth's subjects fear him and desperately wish to escape his evil tyranny.
England has had 8 King Edwards! Which one do you mean?