Macbeth Questions and Answers
by William Shakespeare

Macbeth book cover
Start Your Free Trial

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

Expert Answers info

Gretchen Mussey eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2015

write10,300 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Law and Politics

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.

Further Reading:

check Approved by eNotes Editorial

Noelle Thompson eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2008

write2,689 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Social Sciences

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. 

check Approved by eNotes Editorial