In the play Macbeth, what are Malcolm's character traits?

The character of Malcolm is virtuous and the legitimate claimant to the throne. At the same time, however, Malcolm has learned from his father's betrayal, and is careful about where to place his trust. Many of his character traits cause him to stand out as a literary foil to Macbeth.

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Malcolm possesses many of the same positive character traits as his father and is depicted as a noble, benevolent ruler who is primarily concerned about his homeland's well-being and determined to vanquish Macbeth.

Shortly after his father's assassination, Malcolm refuses to remain in Scotland and discreetly flees the country. He recognizes that Scotland is dangerous and is clever enough to know he cannot trust the thanes. Unlike his father, Malcolm takes certain precautions to protect himself, which include separating from his brother Donalbain to ensure their safety.

Malcolm's true character is on display during his conversation with Macduff. Once again, Malcolm proves he is shrewd and calculating by testing Macduff's loyalty. He will not make the same mistake as his father and pretends he is a debased, corrupt individual to examine Macduff's intentions. After Malcolm concludes that Macduff is honest and loyal, he comments on his own positive qualities. The audience learns that Malcolm is a righteous, humble leader with integrity and honor.

Malcolm's decision to recruit soldiers and lead an army to defeat Macbeth also displays his resolute, fearless personality. Despite Macbeth's terrifying reputation, Malcolm boldly accepts the challenge to reclaim his homeland. He also demonstrates his military prowess by instructing his army to disguise themselves using branches from Birnam Wood to deceive Macbeth's scouts.

Alongside Macduff and Siward, Malcolm successfully invades Scotland and vanquishes the tyrant Macbeth. His final act is to make all the loyal thanes earls and restore Scotland to its former glory, which displays his benevolent, righteous nature.

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In many respects, Malcolm is a foil to Macbeth. Where Macbeth is the usurper who has murdered his previous king, Malcolm is the legitimate claimant to the throne. Where Macbeth is bloodthirsty and duplicitous (using murder as a political tool of choice), Malcolm is presented as noble and virtuous in character, possessing the traits that would make for an ideal ruler.

At the same time, however, Malcolm also possesses a pragmatic side to his personality, one that allows him to serve as a foil to his own father, Duncan, as well. While Duncan was, by all respects, a good king, he made the mistake of trusting in the wrong person, a mistake that proved fatal (and disastrous for Scotland). While you could argue that he had every reason to trust in Macbeth, the key fact remains: Malcolm learns from his father's error and is much more cautious in where he places his trust.

After his father's death, Malcolm flees Scotland to go into hiding before raising an army to retake his rightful throne. It is here that Macduff travels to join him, but Malcolm will not blindly place his faith in him; instead, he aims to test Macduff's character through deception, claiming to be unsuited to rule and a potential tyrant in the making while listing various vices that would make him unfit to rule.

By slandering himself in this manner, he can discern the truth of Macduff's own purpose by observing his reaction. When Macduff rejects Malcolm, despairing at his supposed personality, Malcolm knows he can be trusted. Later, Malcolm will also show his cunning in a strictly military context as he orders the trees of Birnam Wood to be used for the purposes of concealment in preparation for their confrontation with Macbeth.

In this respect, his combination of pragmatism and cunning with a fundamentally virtuous disposition makes him an ideal claimant to overthrow Macbeth and restore legitimate monarchy to Scotland.

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As was mentioned in the previous post, Malcolm is portrayed as a discerning, loyal, morally upright individual throughout the play. After Malcolm's father is murdered, he wisely flees the country because he realizes the danger surrounding him in Scotland. Malcolm also enlists the aid of Macduff to help him regain his position as Scotland's rightful king. However, Malcolm cleverly disguises his true intentions by telling Macduff that he would make a terrible king in order to determine whether Macduff is a trustworthy ally. Malcolm demonstrates his discerning personality and portrays his affinity for loyalty by testing Macduff. Malcolm then illustrates his morally upright personality by describing his positive character traits. Malcolm is also a determined, courageous individual who takes the necessary steps to regain his thrown. He valiantly leads his army against Macbeth's troops and successfully earns his rightful position as king.

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Duncan's son, Malcolm, is rarely seen in the beginning of Macbeth (as is Malcolm's brother, Donalbain), but eventually proves himself to be smart, honest, and royal.  After Duncan is murdered, Malcolm and Donalbain both agree to leave Scotland quite quickly which, one must admit, looks a bit suspicious.  However, a bit later in Macbeth, Macduff himself goes to England to find Malcolm and ask him for help in restoring just rule to Scotland.  Malcolm is worried about Macduff's motives, wonders if Macduff has conspired with Macbeth, and is a bit disgusted that Macduff would leave his family to flee to England for this interview.  Therefore, Malcolm tests Macduff with an obvious lie.  Malcolm swears that he adores women, land, gems, and hatred:  all things a true king should despise.  Macduff exclaims in hopelessness; therefore, Malcolm knows Macduff's thoughts to be honorable.  Ironically, it is Malcolm's very first lie that proves him to be so honest!  Malcolm also later suggests Macduff confront Macbeth because of Macduff's murdered family.  Of course, at the end of Macbeth, Malcolm proves to be the perfect King of Scotland in that he wishes for absent members of the military to be present, urges those close to him to mourn their families, births a new era where great military leadership will be rewarded, and (most importantly) agrees to rule Scotland only through God's grace. 

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