Editor's Choice

What derogatory terms are used to refer to Macbeth in Act 4, Scene 3?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Macduff and Ross both refer to Macbeth as a "tyrant," and when Macduff hears the news that Macbeth has had his entire family, including his children, slaughtered, he calls him a "fiend."

Earlier, Macduff refers to Macbeth as a "devil more damn'd / In evils" than "legions" (vast hordes) of demons from hell.

Malcolm calls Macbeth "bloody, luxurious, avaricious, false, deceitful, / Sudden, malicious, smacking of every sin that has a name."

The point of this scene is to contrast Macbeth, a tyrant, to a good and virtuous would-be king like Malcolm. For almost all of the play, we have been up close and personal with Macbeth and Lady Macbeth, viewing events through their eyes. As we would expect, they tend to justify their actions as necessary and to see themselves as the heroes of their own drama. Suddenly, the camera pulls backs and shows us Macbeth as people view him from afar. We realize how hated and unpopular he is. We realize that people perceive him as greedy, violent, self-indulgent, untrustworthy, and spiteful. The Scottish people need and deserve a more virtuous king on the throne, or so this scene argues.

Approved by eNotes Editorial
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

In this scene, Malcolm and Macduff have lots to say against Macbeth.  They blame the nearly irreparable state of affairs in Scotland on Macbeth's bloodthirsty killing spree.  Here are some of the terms they use to describe him:

  • "this tyrant, whose sole name blisters our tongues" (Malcolm)
  • Macduff says, "I am not treacherous."  Malcolm answers, "But Macbeth is."
  • "black Macbeth" (Malcolm)
  • "Not in the legions/Of horrid hell can come a devil more damn'd/In evils to top Macbeth" (Macduff)
  • "I grant him bloody/Luxurious, avaricious, false, deceitful/Sudden, malicious, smacking of every sin/That has a name. . ." (Malcolm)

And this list is only from reading through the scene up to line 60.  The scene is a rather long one, 240 lines, and holds many more derogatory terms that you can glean from a careful reading.  I hope that these get you started.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Approved by eNotes Editorial