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

Expert Answers info

Harrison Murray, M.A. eNotes educator | Certified Educator

briefcaseTeacher (K-12)

bookM.A. from Clemson University


calendarEducator since 2019

write1,171 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, Social Sciences, and History

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...

(The entire section contains 4 answers and 852 words.)

Unlock This Answer Now






check Approved by eNotes Editorial

Jennings Williamson eNotes educator | Certified Educator

briefcaseTeacher (K-12)


calendarEducator since 2016

write6,524 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Arts










check Approved by eNotes Editorial

sagetrieb eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2007

write852 answers

starTop subject is Literature

Further Reading:

check Approved by eNotes Editorial

malibrarian eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2007

write722 answers

starTop subjects are Literature and History

Further Reading:

check Approved by eNotes Editorial