Essay on the Character Malcolm from Macbeth
In Shakespeare’s production Macbeth several kings, or kings to be, are introduced: Duncan, Macbeth, Sir Edward the Confessor, and Malcolm. Malcolm although only seventeen, is far superior to the rest. His well-rounded character, words of wisdom and ability to make patient, well thought out decisions proves him the best again and again. With the help of his own personal skills and reputation Malcolm is able to take back the throne that should have been his all along.
The first thing that proves Malcolm to be a good king is simply the things he says and how people listen and respond. Words of confidence, compassion, authority, and strength are passed on to fellow soldiers, friends and family. A prime example of this is when Malcolm leads his army with Macduff to Macbeth’s castle and says to Siward: “You, worthy uncle, shall, with my cousin, your right noble son, lead our first battle: worthy Macduff and we shall take upons what else remains to do, According to our order.” This shows Malcolm’s respect and authority, he really shows he cares about the person individually and that everyone is important. This also demonstrates he is not afraid to take control of the situation and hold himself responsible under any circumstances. Another powerful quote of Malcolm’s is when he says: “Our lack is nothing but our leave.” This quote Shows Malcolm’s ambition and confidence, anything must be possible to a king in order to initiate change, to help solve problems in there kingdom. Malcolm shows and expresses his loyalty to Scotland:
I think our country sinks beneath the yoke.
It weeps…my poor country.
A good ruler must have a passion for their kingdom, which Malcolm definitely shows by saying this. Furthermore after fully testing to see if Macduff can be trusted Malcolm explains how he is unknown to woman, has never been caught in a lie, barley needs the things he has and has never broken his faith, all exceptional king qualities.
Moreover Malcolm reputation allows him benefits a person with no reputation could not have. For example when Malcolm goes to England, Edward the confessor is so trusting of Malcolm he gives him hundreds of his men to be lead into battle and possibly killed. What's more Malcolm’s reputation with King Duncan saves him from almost certain death when the rebel Macdonwald kidnaps him and Duncan has him rescued. Also, even after Malcolm tells Macduff he lusts for woman and greed’s for wealth and land, he still considers him worthy to be a king and follows him into battle eventually slaying Macbeth himself. Malcolm’s reputation even effects Macbeths people to the point they would rather submit to Malcolm then listen to there own king and fight.
Secondly, Malcolm compared with the other kings of Macbeth is the perfect balance of character unlike Macbeth, Malcolm is able to control his ambition and not be coaxed into bad decisions, for example Malcolm says: “Modest wisdom plucks me from over-credulous haste.” Malcolm allows himself to think carefully before making decisions, which a king can’t go without doing. Furthermore Macbeth is crushed by his own thirst for power where as Malcolm slowly takes back the throne gaining trust and allies along the way instead of making enemies and killing the innocent because of fear. Also when comparing Malcolm with Edward the Confessor and his father Duncan it seems he is the golden mean. Where his father’s weakness is, Malcolm is strong, for example Malcolm is able to deceiver Macduff and others as good or bad people, Duncan could not read Macbeth personality, which eventually lead to his death. And although Malcolm has no holy powers like Edward, he still has the ability to be compassionate and at the same time command his army and participate in war.
Lastly Malcolm’s actions speak louder than words when proving him to be a good king. When leading his army against Macbeth Malcolm has his soldiers cut down trees to disguise there numbers and position, showing he knows how to make a plan and think out side of the box. In addition at the end of the play when Malcolm is finally hailed as king, he talks to the thanes and rewards them all with the title earl, which to him holds more honor, thus once again showing compassion to his comrades. Also he calls back all exiled Scotts and others who ran away during Macbeths rein of power, giving all of Scotland a new and fresh start.
In conclusion although Malcolm is young and still growing into the man that he is meant to be, his regal instincts help him gain allies, take command and finally take the throne from Macbeth. Malcolm’s temperance, compassion, authority and love for Scotland allows him to be the supreme king that he is.
Shakespeare, William. Macbeth. Canada: Canadian School Book Exchange, first published 1965.