In order to test Macduff’s loyalty to Scotland, Malcolm pretends that he would make an even worse king than Macbeth.
He tells Macduff of his reproachable qualities—among them a thirst for personal power and a violent temperament, both of which seem to characterize Macbeth perfectly.
He kills Duncan against his better judgment and afterward stews in guilt and paranoia.
Toward the end of the play he descends into a kind of frantic, boastful madness.
Lady Macbeth’s behavior certainly shows that women can be as ambitious and cruel as men.
Whether because of the constraints of her society or because she is not fearless enough to kill, Lady Macbeth relies on deception and manipulation rather than violence to achieve her ends.It also suggests that, with Malcolm’s coronation, order will be restored to the Kingdom of Scotland.In the play, Duncan is always referred to as a “king,” while Macbeth soon becomes known as the “tyrant.” The difference between the two types of rulers seems to be expressed in a conversation that occurs in Act 4, scene 3, when Macduff meets Malcolm in England.At the same time, however, the audience cannot help noticing that women are also sources of violence and evil.The witches’ prophecies spark Macbeth’s ambitions and then encourage his violent behavior; Lady Macbeth provides the brains and the will behind her husband’s plotting; and the only divine being to appear is Hecate, the goddess of witchcraft.Macbeth, by contrast, brings only chaos to Scotland—symbolized in the bad weather and bizarre supernatural events—and offers no real justice, only a habit of capriciously murdering those he sees as a threat.As the embodiment of tyranny, he must be overcome by Malcolm so that Scotland can have a true king once more.Macduff shows the young heir apparent that he has a mistaken understanding of masculinity.To Malcolm’s suggestion, “Dispute it like a man,” Macduff replies, “I shall do so. At the end of the play, Siward receives news of his son’s death rather complacently.Under him, subjects are rewarded according to their merits, as when Duncan makes Macbeth thane of Cawdor after Macbeth’s victory over the invaders.Most important, the king must be loyal to Scotland above his own interests.