Macbeth Questions and Answers
by William Shakespeare

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Why is Macduff an effective foil for Macbeth in Macbeth?

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Scott David eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Macduff and Macbeth serve as powerful contrasts with one another, not only in terms of personality but also in terms of their role within the play. From this perspective, they certainly emerge as foils.

For one thing, consider how both these characters exist as agents of prophecy, with the their fates ultimately intertwined with one another. We see this in act 4, scene 1, when Macbeth receives a second series of prophecies relating to his eventual downfall (prophecies he misinterprets to relate to his own invincibility). One of those prophecies states: "none of woman born / Shall harm Macbeth." As we learn at the end of the play, this particular prophecy relates to Macbeth's eventual defeat at the hands of Macduff, who was born by cesarean section. Just like Macbeth, Macduff's life is dictated by destiny. He appears fated to defeat Macbeth and to help restore law and order to Scotland.

However, this is not the only way these two characters are thematically linked (and contrasted) with one...

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