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Malcolm in Macbeth: Traits, Character Analysis & Quotes

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  • 0:02 Macbeth Overview
  • 0:37 Summary and Character Analysis
  • 2:17 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Shamekia Thomas

Shamekia has taught English at the secondary level and has her doctoral degree in clinical psychology.

'Macbeth' is a classical tale written by William Shakespeare. Malcolm is a minor character who plays a major role in 'Macbeth.' Learn more about the character Malcolm and test your knowledge with a quiz.

Macbeth Overview

Macbeth is a tragedy written by the popular author William Shakespeare. The play tells the story of the murder of King Duncan at the hands of the general Macbeth, who then becomes king. Instead of avenging their father's death, Malcolm and his brother Donalbain flee Scotland out of fear for their own lives.

Summary and Character Analysis

After two generals, Macbeth and Banquo, defeat two armies who were trying to invade Scotland, King Duncan wants to honor them. Shortly after their victory, three witches told Macbeth and Banquo they would gain positions of power in the future; in fact, they were told Macbeth would become king. When Macbeth tells his wife about what the witches told him, she convinces Macbeth to kill the king in order to overtake the throne.

Malcolm is King Duncan's oldest son and the heir to the throne of Scotland. After his father dies, Malcolm is afraid for his life and confused about his role. Instead of stepping in to become king, he leaves Scotland and goes to England. Malcolm states, 'this murderous shaft that's shot, hath not yet lighted, and our safest way is to avoid the aim' (Act 2, Scene 3).

In England, Malcolm matures significantly. He gathers an army to battle Macbeth's army and regain his throne with the help of one of his soldiers, Macduff. Before trusting Macduff, Malcolm tests his loyalty. Malcolm displays a cunning nature when he makes Macduff believe he (Malcolm) is a bad person with bad intentions for Scotland.

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