Lady Macbeth

Lady Macbeth

by

Susan King

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Duncan mac Crinan Character Analysis

Son of Crinan, grandson of King Malcolm, husband of Lady Sybilla, and father to Malcolm mac Duncan and Donald Bán. Duncan becomes king after the death of his grandfather. He is an unpopular ruler, obsessed with gaining land for Scotland through costly, deadly wars. Eventually Macbeth, who has served as his general, turns against him, and kills him in hand-to-hand combat, thus claiming the crown.

Duncan mac Crinan Quotes in Lady Macbeth

The Lady Macbeth quotes below are all either spoken by Duncan mac Crinan or refer to Duncan mac Crinan. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
History, Memory, and Storytelling  Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Three Rivers Press edition of Lady Macbeth published in 2008.
Chapter 9  Quotes

At one point, King Malcolm himself carried his great-grandson and held him out to King Cnut. The prince, at two years old a sturdy handful, set up a lusty caterwauling, so that both men looked annoyed. Still, the message was clear: young Malcolm mac Duncan of Scotland had made a symbolic homage to the ruler of England.

And it was clear to those watching that in making his great-grandson pledge to England, old Malcolm was declaring that his line, grandson to son, would be kings hereafter. […]

The child’s mother, Lady Sybilla, stepped forward to take her boy from her father-by-law. I was among the retinue of women who walked with her, and she turned to give the squalling child to me. He struggled to get down, and I set him on his feet, taking his hand. He pulled me along rather like a ram dragging its shepherd. Others were amused, but I felt a strange sense, like a weight on my shoulders, on my soul.

And then, with a shudder, I knew it for an omen of the future—myself, and all of us gathered that day were linked to this moment as if by the tug of a heavy chain.

Page Number: 79
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 18  Quotes

“There must be some kind of justice and recompense for these deaths!”
“Justice will be brought,” Macbeth said low.

“When?” I asked, splaying my hands, slim fingered and beringed, on the table. Such feminine hands for such hard masculine thoughts. The urge sprang in me like a dark wolf within. I did not like it, but fed it nonetheless. It is the way of things, Bodhe would have said. “When will you avenge my kinsmen? Tomorrow? A year from now?” […]

“If one of Bodhe’s bloodline held the throne someday,” my husband then said, “it would be far more lasting revenge than bloodshed now.”

Page Number: 172
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 21  Quotes

“Your husband Macbeth will be remembered among the greatest of his ilk, the kings of Scotland,” she said. “One of your sons will be a warrior. Not the others.”

“Others,” I repeated, pleased. “Monks, then, or abbots? Bards, perhaps.”

“They will not be,” she murmured slowly, eyes very dark, “warriors.”

A shiver slipped down my spine. […]

“Carry this warning to your husband. I have told him the same, but tell him again from me. Beware the son of the warrior whose spilled blood will make him a king.”

I stared. Her cloak, when she turned, was a swirl of utter blackness, so that I stepped back for fear the portal to the other side, open that night, might overtake me.

I did not repeat her message to Macbeth.

Page Number: 203
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 25  Quotes

“My ambition was always for Scotland as much as myself. We must be careful to preserve the heart of what is called Gaelic, the honor, the power in it, when the outer world—the Church, our enemies, the trade, all the rest—stands to change us. Duncan is hastening the end of the Gaels, if he even knows it.”

“You can honor that heritage and vindicate your kin and mine,” I reminded him.

Page Number: 256
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 26  Quotes

“I made a sword vow years ago to protect my own, and I will keep it. I have a home and a son to protect, and I have a husband to support as best I can. All my life I have lived a female among Celtic warriors. My sword arm is trained, my bow and arrow are swift, and I have already bloodied the blade. Know this—my determination is in place. I will go with you.”

Macbeth took my horse’s bridle. “Each one who rides with me contributes to the whole. Your skill I will not argue, but your fortitude is little tested. You would require guards to protect you, and that detracts from the whole.”

“Have you not made it your purpose to uphold the old ways, the ancient ways, of the Gaels and the Celts?” The horse shifted under me, and I pulled the reins. Macbeth still held the bridle. “Celtic women have always fought beside their men.”

Page Number: 260
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 31 Quotes

Watching the prow of the boat surge through lapping waves, I knew that I had protected Malcolm from retaliation. By honoring my promise to his mother and following my own heart as a mother, I had prevented his murder as a boy. And he had returned, just as the mormaers had warned. I had brought this tragedy about.

But if that chance came again, I could not order the deaths of children. A devil’s bargain, that, to choose sin or grief. Closing my eyes, I rested my face in my hands and struggled, overcame a weeping urge. What I had done had been most rightful, though it came with a hard price. It was the way of things.

Page Number: 324
Explanation and Analysis:
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Duncan mac Crinan Character Timeline in Lady Macbeth

The timeline below shows where the character Duncan mac Crinan appears in Lady Macbeth. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 9 
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That evening Gruadh talks to Lady Sybilla, wife of Duncan mac Crinan, who has two young sons, Malcolm mac Duncan and Donald Bán. Gruadh likes... (full context)
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...the ceremony. At one point, Gruadh observes King Malcolm carrying his great grandson Malcolm mac Duncan. Everyone present recognizes this as a declaration: Malcolm’s “line, grandson to son, would be kings... (full context)
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Lady Sybilla takes her child from King Malcolm and gives young Malcolm mac Duncan to Gruadh to care for. Gruadh feels heavy as the young child drags her arm... (full context)
Chapter 16 
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...bloodshed. He continues that an alliance between Moray and the Orkney will be necessary if Duncan comes to power, because the people do not trust Duncan to be a good, strong... (full context)
Chapter 18 
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...men. In the dream Macbeth is suddenly beside her and points to King Malcolm and Duncan, who are approaching, and says they must be stopped. Gruadh wakes up and realizes she... (full context)
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...could begin.” As she and the funeral party return to Abernethy after burying the bodies, Duncan, Crinan, and a group of men approach on horseback. They represent King Malcolm and have... (full context)
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Duncan promises that when he is king the feud between Bodhe and King Malcolm will be... (full context)
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...revenge. They wonder who sent the men who killed Bodhe, whether it was King Malcolm, Duncan, or even Crinan. Gruadh wonders when justice will be brought. She places her hands on... (full context)
Chapter 21 
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...wonders if it was King Malcolm who sent the men, but Macbeth points out Crinan, Duncan, and Malcolm are all working together. (full context)
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...weeks later riders arrive at Elgin. They announce King Malcolm has died in an ambush. Duncan is now king. Macbeth will go to bury his grandfather on Iona, where all kings... (full context)
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...Gruadh asks Macbeth if he was involved, but he insists he was not. Macbeth anticipates Duncan will likely be a bad king, for although he “bears the ambitions of three—himself, his... (full context)
Chapter 22 
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...body is brought to Scone, where candlelight vigils are held. At Scone, Gruadh also witnesses Duncan’s crowning. Macbeth stands on the hill with Duncan as the ceremony begins, and Gruadh observes... (full context)
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Crinan serves as Duncan’s crowner, which, because they are father and son, “smacked of conspiracy to some.” That day... (full context)
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...that if she dies, Gruadh will watch over her children, Donald Bán and Malcolm mac Duncan. Gruadh agrees. (full context)
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...for the men to be housed, armored, and fed. Gruadh wonders if this is on Duncan’s behalf or for Macbeth’s personal army. Finn explains Macbeth is both recruiting an army for... (full context)
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Macbeth anticipates that Duncan will dispute the southern Saxon border, although King Malcolm had hashed it out years earlier... (full context)
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One day Macbeth returns home with a letter from Duncan—compensation for Bodhe’s death. He gives Gruadh crowning rights, which would make her bloodline second only... (full context)
Chapter 23 
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...to warn Gruadh and Macbeth that Scottish warships have been sighted off the Moray coast. Duncan has asked Thorfin for tribute for his province of Caithness (which he owns outright and... (full context)
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...to our shores,” she “would stand strong” and protect her family. Thorfin sinks five of Duncan’s ship and Duncan retreats with the rest. Macbeth and Banchorrie gather troops in anticipation of... (full context)
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...The messenger removes his helmet and reveals he is Ketill Brusisson. He reports that Macbeth, Duncan, and Thorfin met to negotiate. Macbeth encouraged Duncan to back down, but he would not,... (full context)
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...move somewhere safer. He tells her Thorfin wants to join together with Moray to defeat Duncan. Macbeth considered but refused. Now, he still supports Duncan, and will fight Thorfin’s troops if... (full context)
Chapter 24
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...He has been spending weeks and months fighting Thorfin at the Moray border and managing Duncan. At dinner, Dermot recounts a battle between Macbeth and Thorfin, where Thorfin relied upon the... (full context)
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...Sybilla died in childbirth. She remembers her promise to watch over her children Malcolm mac Duncan and Donald Bán. Gruadh still has not told Macbeth about her oath, and wonders if... (full context)
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Duncan continues to fight Thorfin and lose. That summer, Macbeth comes home one evening and he... (full context)
Chapter 25 
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Over the next year Duncan continues to send ships to fight Thorfin and continues to lose. Macbeth is often away... (full context)
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Banchorrie acts as a messenger between Duncan and Macbeth. Duncan wants Macbeth to raise thousands of men to attack the Saxons. Macbeth... (full context)
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As Macbeth recovers he and Gruadh receive word of Duncan from Ruari. Duncan tried to capture some holy relics but failed, and many Scottish men... (full context)
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...warriors from across Scotland come to meet in secret. Banchorrie comes too and argues that Duncan must be stopped before he destroys Scotland. The other men agree they need an “elected... (full context)
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...his coconspirators want him to participate in an old Celtic tradition—they want him to kill Duncan himself and win the crown. Although he has killed many men before, even his cousin... (full context)
Chapter 26 
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After two weeks of planning, Macbeth receives word that Duncan is advancing Elgin with his troops. Gruadh gives Macbeth the blessed pin from Enya. Before... (full context)
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Eventually, Macbeth, Gruadh, and their army crest a hill and see Duncan and his forces on the other side. The Moray army prepares for battle, saying chants... (full context)
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Macbeth and Duncan battle. Although Duncan is a strong fighter, cutting Macbeth’s leg, Macbeth first breaks his opponent’s... (full context)
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In Celtic tradition, in between times are magical. That night—before Duncan’s wounds kill him and he is no longer king, and before Macbeth is crowned—is one... (full context)
Chapter 27 
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Thorfin sends a messenger to ask about the outcome of the battle. Hearing Duncan has died, Thorfin offers to carry the body to Scone on one of his boats.... (full context)
Chapter 28 
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Later that winter Macbeth debates whether or not to kill Duncan’s young children, who Crinan has recently smuggled out of Scotland. Some advisors insist these children... (full context)
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A visiting mormaer argues it is a mistake to let Malcolm mac Duncan come of age and tells Gruadh she has “sealed [her] husband’s fate.” That night in... (full context)
Chapter 29 
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...killed Crinan six years earlier, and bested the Earl of Siward, uncle of Malcolm mac Duncan and Donald Bán, although the second battle left him with a limp. Now, in 1050,... (full context)
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...lot of time with his private priest. He worries that because he murdered Gilcomgan and Duncan, his first cousins, he has cursed himself and prevented himself from ever having heirs. (full context)
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...has seen Thorfin use this kind of power, and suspects he used magic to sink Duncan’s warships many years ago. (full context)
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...a truce and warns her Saxon ships approach, intending to sink Macbeth’s ship. Malcolm mac Duncan knows if he “should sink the king’s ship […] in full sight of his people,... (full context)
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...and trap Macbeth. Gruadh orders her troops down to the beach, reasoning that Malcolm mac Duncan “must know that no matter what happens on the sea today, he will not set... (full context)
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Malcolm mac Duncan’s ships chase Macbeth’s, but just when they are about to overtake him, Thorfin’s Viking ships... (full context)
Chapter 30 
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Gruadh finds Drostan and a messenger from Malcolm mac Duncan in the great hall. Malcolm has sent gifts, and a final marriage proposal. He is... (full context)
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...years and recounts the death of her husband, Macbeth, and the ascension of Malcolm mac Duncan.  In July 1054, Malcolm crossed the border into Scotland. He and his troops fooled Macbeth’s... (full context)
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Malcolm mac Duncan declared he was King of Scots, although the priests did not agree, and Gruadh, the... (full context)
Chapter 31
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Gruadh remembers how one evening Malcolm mac Duncan’s men attacked the fortress at Kincardine where she and Macbeth were staying. Gruadh helped Ingebjorg... (full context)
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...and in the morning realized it was the seventeenth anniversary of the day Macbeth killed Duncan, which Malcolm mac Duncan had likely known and planned. Eventually, Macbeth arrived. He had been... (full context)
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...and all her heirs would be in danger. He also warned Gruadh that Malcolm mac Duncan might force her to marry him, so, instead of staying at Banchorrie to potentially recover,... (full context)
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...on a stone. She realizes now the site was Lanfinnan, where Macbeth and Malcolm mac Duncan battled and where Macbeth was fatally wounded. (full context)
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Gruadh also acknowledges that she almost singlehandedly saved the lives of Malcolm mac Duncan and Donald Bán, both because of her promise to Sybilla and her instincts as a... (full context)
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...He insisted on being buried on Iona, like a true king, even if Malcolm mac Duncan protested. Macbeth lived just long enough to see Gruadh crown Lulach, and then died upon... (full context)