What was the purpose of act IV scence II in the play Macbeth?

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troutmiller eNotes educator| Certified Educator

This scene is important for three reasons.  First of all, it shows a family life that is not shown in the household of Macbeth and Lady Macbeth.  It is to show the contrast between the two couples and their two lifestyles.

The second reason is for us to see how Lady Macduff is upset with her husband for leaving her.  Both she and Lady Macbeth are similar in this fact.  Their husbands have left them alone.  Lady Macbeth has been left out of the loop from Macbeth and his plans since he killed King Duncan.  Lady Macduff is stuck there alone to fend for herself and her children.

The most obvious reason is for us to see how far Macbeth will actually go to keep his crown and his power.  It is one thing to have Banquo killed (he's a soldier and a man), not that it's right, but it makes sense.  But to have an entire family--a wife and her babies all killed is completely out of line.  This shows how insane Macbeth truly is.