Explain how Macduff and Malcolm do or do not exhibit the qualities of good leaders in act 4, scene 3 of Macbeth. What actions should each take or have taken if they were good leaders?

In act 4, scene 3 of Macbeth, Macduff doesn't exhibit the qualities of a good leader. He holds up his hands in despair and loudly laments Scotland's fate when he thinks that Malcolm won't fight against Macbeth. One could argue that Macduff should've been stronger and more resolute.

Malcolm, conversely, does exhibit the qualities of a good leader. He does this by remaining calm throughout this talk with Macduff, as well as testing Macduff's loyalty and stiffening his resolve.

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Macduff is in a fit of despair during his meeting with Malcolm. Under the circumstances, that's perfectly understandable. He is, after all, worried sick about the fate of his family, whom he left behind at the mercy of the blood-thirsty tyrant Macbeth . As it happens, Macduff's family have...

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Macduff is in a fit of despair during his meeting with Malcolm. Under the circumstances, that's perfectly understandable. He is, after all, worried sick about the fate of his family, whom he left behind at the mercy of the blood-thirsty tyrant Macbeth. As it happens, Macduff's family have already been murdered, but Macduff won't hear the terrible news until later on in the scene. But for now, he's loudly lamenting the fate of his homeland, especially after hearing Malcolm claim that he won't fight Macbeth and that he isn't up to the job.

As it happens, Malcolm doesn't mean any of this at all; he's simply testing Macduff's loyalty. Even so, Macduff's despairing reaction to Malcolm's claims doesn't strike one as appropriate to a leader. Perhaps he could've displayed a little more stoicism. At the same time, Macduff's passionate outburst of despair does show his loyalty, even if it doesn't say much for his leadership skills.

As for Malcolm, he shows that he's a good leader by testing Macduff's loyalty. He needs to know that everyone who joins him in the forthcoming struggle against Macbeth can be relied upon one hundred percent. He needs to be absolutely certain that those ready to fight alongside with him will be completely loyal. After Macbeth's betrayal of Duncan, this is a particularly important consideration for anyone who wants to occupy the throne of Scotland.

Later on in the scene, after Macduff hears the tragic news of his family's murder, Malcolm once again shows leadership skills by urging the grief-stricken Macduff to channel his sorrow and rage into taking revenge on Macbeth:

Be comforted.
Let’s make us med'cines of our great revenge,
To cure this deadly grief. (4.3.219–221.)
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