In Macbeth, Malcolm describes his restoration as king of Scotland as "new planting." Why does he use that image?
It is an appropriate choice of words in the context of Malcolm's speech which closes the play. Malcolm says that he will do all that needs to be done in Scotland:
What's more to do,
Which would be planted newly with the time
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
We will perform in measure, time, and place.
Macbeth, who had murdered the rightful king to gain the crown and inflicted all manner of suffering on Scotland and its people, has been defeated in battle and decapitated, his head displayed in contempt by Macduff. Malcolm, as Duncan's rightful heir, has regained the throne. It is a new day in Scotland, and Malcolm will plant the seeds that will produce peace and justice in the country; those who had been forced to leave Scotland to avoid Macbeth's tyranny will be called home, and those who supported Macbeth and his "fiendlike queen" will be punished.
It also echoes other plant imagery in Macbeth:
- In Act 4 Scene 3, Malcolm (when preparing to fight Macbeth) describes Macbeth as "ripe for shaking"
- In Act 5 Scene 3, Macbeth himself describes his course of life as "fall'n into the sere, the yellow leaf".
Therefore, Macbeth's life and reign have been likened to a tree which is nearing the end of its natural cycle. So it is fitting that the youthful Malcolm describes his replacement/uprooting of the 'old tree' as "new planting".