Macbeth and Macduff

“Any harm you do to a man should be done in such a way that you need not fear his revenge.”—Machiavelli

When Macbeth decides that Macduff “shalt not live” after he is told to “beware the Thane of Fife” by the apparitions, he finds out that he is fled to England. He then resolves that “from this moment, the very firstlings of his heart shall be the firstlings of his hand” or in other words, he is going to act henceforth based on initial instinct. He is absolves himself from the faculty of forethought; a dangerous acquittance. This immediately gets him into trouble as his next venture is to “seize upon Fife…his wife, his babes, and all unfortunate souls that trace him in his line.” This action not only fails to get rid of the threat of Macduff, but makes it worse. Macbeth has now made it personal. When actions as momentous as murder are not weighed in the balance, its hard to expect a promising outcome, but who can think clearly with “scorpions in their mind.” He has once again “commended the ingredients of his posioned chalice to his own lips.” Macduff is now committed to killing Macbeth, not only for his country’s welfare, but for his own personal revenge. Macbeth spoke ironically when he said that he would make “assurance double sure,” as he made his own demise such, when he murdered Macduff’s family with Macduff remaining alive. As Robert Greene says, “A viper crushed beneath your foot but left alive, will rear up and bite you with a double dose of venom.”


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