I’m keying into Macduff’s dilemma in the play – is it desirable to remain honest in a world gone bad? What would you be willing to lose to protect your integrity?
I don’t think that Macduff is meant by Shakespeare to feel heroic; we are not meant to feel any sense of triumph or satisfaction when Macduff finally kills Macbeth. I think we’re meant to feel troubled by the choices he’s made, to have as complicated a view of him as we have of Macbeth.
After all, why does he not stand up to Macbeth in the scene where Duncan’s murder is discovered? He knows damn well what’s happened here – in the very next scene he’s making ironic jokes and deciding to go to Fife rather than see Macbeth crowned at Scone. And what’s the logic in that decision? Doesn’t know that it will make Macbeth suspicious, and ultimately put him in danger?
When he finally comes to his senses, instead of confronting Macbeth, he abandons his family and goes to England. Great move, Einstein. Leave your family exposed in a world he knows to be false and malicious.
Why can’t we always act like the men we believe ourselves to be? Is what separates the good men from the bad the fact that we even ask this question?
“Did Heaven look on,
And would not take their part? Sinful Macduff,
They were all struck for thee!
Not for their own demerits, but for mine,
Fell slaughter on their souls.”
Oooofff. There’s no coming back from that, right? There’s no heroism left. Just hollow hollow “vengeance.” Not even true vengeance, because Macbeth “has no children.” Not that a man like Macduff would do anything to hurt his child even if he did. At what price being true to oneself if you are the only one?