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

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Noelle Thompson | High School Teacher | eNotes Employee

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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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