Did Macduff fail as a family man?Did he fail as a family man?

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litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Macduff did leave his family to join Malcolm in planning to take back the throne.  Macbeth was not on a bloodthirsty rampage at the time.  Even though he killed Duncan, there was no reason to suspect he would kill Macduff’s family.  It was a completely unexpected move.  Yes, Macduff should probably have taken precautions when he realized things had gone so far.  No, I don’t think he is to blame.  After all, he did avenge their deaths by killing Macbeth in the final battle, and he needed to be part of Malcolm’s army to do that.

sullymonster eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Oh, good question.  Personally, I think he did.  Macduff knew his family was at risk.  He, of all the noblemen, understands what Macbeth's character is like.  Should he not at least have sent his family away before leaving himself?  I find it suprising that he is so suprised to learn of their death.  Perhaps he underestimated Macbeth, but it does not remove his failure.

renelane eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I agree that Macduff let his family down. What is worse, is that his wife knew that he let them down. It was important that they assemble help to bring Macbeth down, but surely he could have taken his wife and son to safety on his way. I find his reaction to their death surprising, as well, but surely he is also wailing for his failure as a husband and father.

sampu88 | Student

Not completely. Macduff was a great man, noble, honest and judicious. We cannot say that he failed as a family man only because he left his wife and children to tend for themselves 'unreasonably', because as Ross meantiones, his noble, just nature would have never let him do that. He probably thought that by leaving his family he was decreasing their chances of risk as Macbeth would come after him and not them. It being his ill-fate, he did not forsee Macbeth;s cruel, ruthless intentions of murdering all of descendants. That, and the fact that getting Malcolm's support seemed the most important in securing Scotland's 'health'.

He did love his family and cared for them immensely, but what is also true, is that he does not share the same kind of rapport or understanding that the Macbeth's shared with each other. He did not share everything with his wife, which we understand from the tone of Lady Macduff's voice after having discovered her husband's disappearance.

Also, on hearing of the death of his family, he does blame himself and he also says that he would have 'weeped' like a woman for the loss, which highlights his dedication to his family.

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