In Macbeth, why does Macduff hate Macbeth?

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munarriz eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Shakespeare’s Macbeth, there are a number of reasons for Macduff’s hatred of Macbeth. First, Macduff is suspicious that Macbeth has had something to do with Duncan’s murder. Even though others are not immediately suspicious of Macbeth, it is Macduff who comes to call on Duncan in Macbeth’s home only to find him savagely murdered. Macduff’s love and loyalty for Duncan is seen in the lines he utters after finding the murdered Duncan:

“Confusion now hath made his masterpiece!

Most sacrilegious murder hath broke ope

The Lord's anointed temple, and stole thence

The life o' the building!” Act 2

As the men gather to make plans to investigate the murder, it is Macduff who is most upset that the guards have also been murdered. Macduff may not know enough to accuse Macbeth, but his underlying suspicious are evident. Macduff’s growing suspicions about Macbeth become more clear when he does not attend Macbeth’s coronation. Macbeth notes his absence, and he begins to keep an eye on Macduff.

As Macbeth’s paranoia grows, Macduff is given the biggest reason to despise Macbeth. Afraid of the prophecies that tell him to beware of Macduff, Macbeth sends assassins to Macduff's home. Because Macduff is away in England, conspiring to bring help to Scotland to recover the throne for Duncan’s son, his family is left unguarded. Macbeth’s assassins slaughter Macduff’s wife and children. Macduff is devastated by the loss of his family, and he feels guilty he was not there to protect them. When Malcolm tells Macduff to get his revenge on Macbeth as a man, Macduff responds:

“I shall do so;

But I must also feel it as a man:

I cannot but remember such things were,

That were most precious to me. Did heaven look on,

And would not take their part? Sinful Macduff,

They were all struck for thee! naught that I am,

Not for their own demerits, but for mine,

Fell slaughter on their souls. Heaven rest them now!” Act 4

The loss of his king, the loss of peace in his country, and the loss of his family cause Macduff to despise Macbeth, to conspire against him, and, at the end of the play, to kill him.

gmuss25 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

There are several reasons why Macduff expresses hate toward Macbeth. Initially, Macduff does not support Macbeth's ascension to the throne and even refuses to attend his coronation. Macduff may be suspicious of Macbeth and believe that he took part in King Duncan's murder. In Act Four, Scene 3, Macduff laments to Malcolm about the terrible state of Scotland and expresses his loyalty to Malcolm. This indicates that he believes Macbeth is ruining the country, and that he favors Malcolm's kingship over Macbeth's reign. Later on in the scene, Macduff receives word that Macbeth's assassins slaughtered his entire family, which infuriates Macduff and motivates him to kill Macbeth. Macduff refers to Macbeth as the "fiend of Scotland" and expresses his desire to meet the tyrant face to face. Overall, Macduff's hatred towards Macbeth stems from his support of Malcolm and the fact that Macbeth murdered his entire family.

teachertaylor eNotes educator| Certified Educator

From early on, Macduff is suspicious of Macbeth even though Macbeth has not necessarily given anyone any clear reasons to doubt his honor.  Macduff thinks that things are suddenly going wrong in Scotland and Macbeth is the prime beneficiary, so he makes it a point to keep an eye on Macbeth's actions.  Macduff expresses his contempt for Macbeth when he refuses to attend the coronation ceremony, and from this point, Macbeth just continues to do things that add to Macduff's hatred (killing his family and court).  These are some of the reasons why Macduff hates Macbeth.