In Macbeth Act IV, scene iii, what does this quotation mean:  “Such welcome and unwelcome things at once ’Tis hard to reconcile.”

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teachertaylor | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

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This quotation is stated by Macduff in Act 4 Scene 3.  In this scene, Macduff has left Scotland to go see Malcolm in England to persuade him to reclaim his birthright and take over the throne.  Malcolm, however, does not feel that he is fit to be king, and this angers Macduff.  Macduff reminds Malcolm of his parents and their lives and says that they would be disappointed to know that Malcolm disregards his duty.  With this, Malcolm is thus persuaded to return to his homeland to vanquish Macbeth.  Malcolm will take the English army with him, and at this point Macduff says, "Such welcome and unwelcome things at once 'tis hard to reconcile."  Macduff is glad that Malcolm will return to claim the throne, yet he is troubled about the inevitable battle that will begin when they return.  Macduff is well aware that in order for there to be some good in the end, there must be war, but he still has a difficult time reconciling more bloodshed in Scotland.

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