What makes Duncan a good king and a good leader in Macbeth?

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First, King Duncan values honor and bravery and seeks to reward those who display those qualities. In act 1, scene 2, when a captain returns from battle to tell Duncan of the various ways some men have proven their loyalty to him, Duncan replies,

So well thy words become thee...

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First, King Duncan values honor and bravery and seeks to reward those who display those qualities. In act 1, scene 2, when a captain returns from battle to tell Duncan of the various ways some men have proven their loyalty to him, Duncan replies,

So well thy words become thee as thy wounds;
They smack of honor both. Go get him surgeons. (I.ii.45-46)

Duncan cares for his subjects and values the captain's honor. Unfortunately in this scene, the captain has also told him of Macbeth's valiant efforts, and supporting Macbeth will not prove fruitful for Duncan.

Duncan is also a humble leader. When Macbeth tells him of the death of the Thane of Cawdor, Duncan replies,

There’s no art
To find the mind’s construction in the face.
He was a gentleman on whom I built
An absolute trust. (I.iv.13-16)

In these lines, King Duncan admits that he is as human as any other man and cannot interpret the intentions of all those around him (another line which shows verbal irony).

Most notably, Macbeth himself doesn't really want to go through with the murder because he recognizes that Duncan is a good leader for several reasons:

Besides, this Duncan
Hath borne his faculties so meek, hath been
So clear in his great office, that his virtues
Will plead like angels, trumpet-tongued, against
The deep damnation of his taking-off; (I.vii.16-20)

Macbeth acknowledges that Duncan is humble, honorable, honest, and never tangled in deceptive matters. He says that angels would cry out against murdering such an honorable man. Of course, Lady Macbeth finds a way to convince Macbeth to put his own selfish quest (and, more importantly, her own) above the honorable leadership of Duncan.

It is worth noting here that these very qualities also lead to Duncan's ultimate downfall. He is so trusting, honorable, and humble that he cannot see the deception staring him right in the face and promotes the very man who will end his life in an effort to steal his crown.

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On the night of the intended murder, Macbeth thinks about all the reasons he has not to kill Duncan.  In part, he says,

Besides, this Duncan
Hath borne his faculties so meek, hath been
So clear in his great office, that his virtues
Will plead like angels, trumpet-tongued, against
The deep damnation of his taking-off.  (1.7.16-20)

In other words, Macbeth calls Duncan a very humble and uncorrupt leader, and he feels that Duncan's virtues will continue to live on after he's dead and gone, like trumpeting angels that play to protest Duncan's unjust murder.  This is one way in which we know Duncan to be a good king: he is humble and virtuous, unselfish and free from corruption.

Further, Duncan doesn't hoard all of Scotland's riches.  When he is pleased with Macbeth's services to the crown, he gives Macbeth a new title (the title that formerly belonged to a traitor) rather than keeping that noble's wealth and lands for his own (as was his right).  Macbeth, on the other hand, does not do this once he becomes king.  Malcolm, at the end of the play, sharply contrasts with Macbeth as well because he behaves very much like his father, Duncan; in his first speech as king, he says,

We shall not spend a large expense of time
Before we reckon with your several loves
And make us even with you.  My thanes and
kinsmen,
Henceforth be earls, the first that ever Scotland
In such an honor named.  (5.8.72-77)

It seems likely that Malcolm learned his kingly qualities from his father, as he was present when his father bestowed honors on his thanes for their loyalty.  Now, Malcolm does the same thing.  He claims that it will not take long for him to show his gratitude to those who remained loyal to him (as his father used to do), and he immediately elevates them by promoting them to new titles.

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Many productions, such as the one staring Judy Densch as Lady Macbeth, depict Duncan as very old and venerable, carried on stage in Act 1, in part to make it a more egregious crime when the Macbeths kill him. We do see his kindness in 2.2 when he visits the Macbeth castle in Inverness, for Banquo tells Macbeth that “the king’s abed” (suggesting, perhaps, he is worn out from his journey) and that he has given Lady Macbeth “this diamond…by the name of most kind hostess” (13-15). Lady Macbeth says, to explain why she didn’t kill him, “Had he not resembled / My father as he slept, I had done’t” again giving reason to consider him a kind, generous old man (12-13).

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Duncan is not seen much in the play, due to his being murdered early in the action.  However, we do get a chance to see a strong-willed leader, able to put down a rebellion and to punish a traitorous thane, as well as a king concerned with his men and willing to share the fruits of the victory.  As you'll see in the link below, his one character flaw appears to be his lack of good judgment concerning the true character of Macbeth.

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