Lady Macbeth

Lady Macbeth

by

Susan King

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Gilcomgan Character Analysis

Gruadh’s first husband, the father of her son, Lulach, and mormaer of Moray. Gilcomgan gains his position through murder—he killed his uncle, Finlach, father of Macbeth and former mormaer of Moray. Although Gruadh does not want to marry him initially, as she finds him old, rough, and boorish, she comes to like and even love him. Although he has a violent side—the same impulses that led him to murder a member of his family—he is good storyteller and welcome company during the year that he and his young wife spend together. Gilcomgan is eventually murdered by Macbeth, who traps him and his men in a tower and burns it down.

Gilcomgan Quotes in Lady Macbeth

The Lady Macbeth quotes below are all either spoken by Gilcomgan or refer to Gilcomgan . 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 1 Quotes

Because I am descended in a direct line from Celtic kings, the purest royal blood courses through me and blushes my skin. I could prick a finger and it would be gold to some.

I am Gruadh inghean Bodhe mac Cineadh mhic Dubh […] My lineage combines the ancient royal branches of Scotland […] Because a man could claim the throne of Scotland by marrying me, I was not safe. Nor were my kinsmen, come to that: if they were killed, one after another, our line would be eliminated at its heart, making room for others’ ambitions. Such is the way of things when one’s heritage is ancient, pure, and royal.

Little good did the blood of ancients do me. I was like a lark spiraling upward, unaware of the hawks above judging time and distance to the prize.

Related Characters: Gruadh / Rue / Lady Macbeth (speaker), Macbeth, Bodhe , Gilcomgan
Page Number: 9
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 7  Quotes

“The truth is in what Moray offers,” [Bodhe] said. “Every mormaer of that region has an ancient right tot be called Rí a Moreb, king of Moray. His wife can be called ban-rí, queen. Just now, Gilcomgan and King Malcolm support one another. But if the Rí a Moreb ever summoned men to revolt, the strength of that army would be such that the mormaer of Moray could himself be king over all Scotland.”

“And marriage to me could ensure that for Gilcomgan. Or for our son,” I added. […] He looked hard at me. “Even carrying the blood of Celtic kings, you cannot rule alone. You need a strong and ambitious husband.
“Our blood needs one,” I corrected bitterly.

Related Characters: Gruadh / Rue / Lady Macbeth (speaker), Bodhe (speaker), Gilcomgan , Thorfin Sigurdsson, King Malcolm
Page Number: 58
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 8  Quotes

“Often the meaning of the omens we see it not clear until later. If we knew too much about the future, we might be afraid to step from our houses. Do not fret—the signs you saw speak of Scotland’s future even more than your own.”
“Scotland?” I blinked. “Because of the warriors and symbols of warfare?”
“Perhaps they will be Rue’s husbands in future,” Bethoc said. “Well, not all of them,” she amended when I gaped at her.

Mairi took my hands in hers and closed her eyes. “Two husbands,” she said. “Three, if you so choose. Like most women you will have a share of happiness and measures of sorrow. Unlike most, you will have… power.” She let go of my fingers. “You can draw strength from within yourself, like water from a well. Your mother gave you the sign of the good Brigid on your shoulder,” she went on, touching my upper sleeve, which covered the symbol. “Call upon that protection whenever you need it.”

Related Characters: Gruadh / Rue / Lady Macbeth (speaker), Bethoc (speaker), Mairi (speaker), Macbeth, Bodhe , Gilcomgan , Ailsa , The Goddess Brigid
Related Symbols: The Triskele
Page Number: 64
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 9  Quotes

In the afternoon I looked up toward the ridge of a hill and saw a stand of tall pikes thrusting up like slender trees. The point of each carried a decapitated head, black and gruesome, pitch-soaked to preserve them a long while, until they decayed to skulls […] Aella gasped, near to retching, and hid her eyes with her hand. Bethoc looked away. But I stared, horrified and transfixed, even when Ruari and Conn drew their horses alongside to urge us onward. I remembered that my guard and my only brother had been beheaded but […] never piked.

I would not shrink form the grim display Someday I might have to show toughness for such things, even if I quailed within. As wife to Scotland’s most powerful mormaer, it was in my interest to understand the ways of men and warfare. My own life might turn on that knowledge one day.

Page Number: 71
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 13  Quotes

Together they had conspired to kill Gilcomgan and wrest Moray from him. Macbeth had overtaken my future, and my child’s, out of his own ambition and desire for revenge. My fingers let go the clutched yarn, red strands unraveling like blood to pool on the floor. I turned to leave, to suppress my anger, as Bodhe might have done. But I was not my father.

Swords sparked bright against the wall, where a few of them leaned, unused. One of them was my own. I snatched it up and turned back to face the men. “Upon this sword, which Bodhe gave to me,” I said, “I swear to protect my child from all your cold scheming. Listen to me,” I said through my teeth when Macbeth stepped forward. “No more of Bodhe’s blood shall suffer for your ambitions!”

They stood still, king, husband, and housecarls. An oath made on a blade was a fierce thing and never taken lightly. I wanted them to understand that I was not helpless, no pawn to stand by while their plans destroyed by father’s proud line. Wild Celtic blood ran strong in me, a legacy of warriors, warrior queens, and sword oaths. It was not the wisest thing I have done; it was something foolish, something brave.

Related Characters: Gruadh / Rue / Lady Macbeth (speaker), Macbeth (speaker), King Malcolm (speaker), Bodhe , Gilcomgan , Finlach , Farquhar mac Bodhe
Page Number: 104
Explanation and Analysis:

Peace and acceptance were not pretty threads in my wool basket that winter. I realized that I was alone in my resentment and anger. Others readily accepted Macbeth as the new mormaer, soon calling him Moray when they addressed him. […]

One day Maeve pulled me aside. “Find some peace for yourself,” she said. “This grief and torment will poison your babe.”

That night I sought out Elgin’s little wooden chapel, intending to pray for serenity and forgiveness. When I pushed open the door, I saw that Macbeth was already there, on his knees before the alter. He wore only a simple long shirt and trews, and for a moment I did not know him. His head was bowed, glinting dark gold in the light of candles. I saw him cover his face, and then he prostrated himself on the worn planks of the floor like a suffering pilgrim.
Faith is a private thing to my thinking, and here I witnessed an intimate side of the man. He appeared contrite, even tormented. I guessed at his sin, the murder of his first cousin Gilcomgan. By the teaching of the Church, it could blacken his soul and affect him for all eternity come judgment Day, if not expunged.

Backing away, I closed the door. I felt a stir of sympathy for a man who felt such clear anguish within himself. When I wanted to hate him most, I could not. By inches and breaths, my resentments faded, much as I strived to stoke them.

Related Characters: Gruadh / Rue / Lady Macbeth (speaker), Maeve (speaker), Macbeth, Gilcomgan
Page Number: 106
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:
Get the entire Lady Macbeth LitChart as a printable PDF.
Lady Macbeth PDF

Gilcomgan Character Timeline in Lady Macbeth

The timeline below shows where the character Gilcomgan appears in Lady Macbeth. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 4 
Fate, Family, and Ambition  Theme Icon
Violence, Justice, and Revenge  Theme Icon
...design of the Orkney Vikings. The other is blue with silver stars, and belongs to Gilcomgan mac Malbríd, mormaer of Moray. Drostan explains that Gilcomgan became mormaer only after killing the... (full context)
Fate, Family, and Ambition  Theme Icon
Violence, Justice, and Revenge  Theme Icon
...Maeve. As she arrives in the great hall a fight has just broken out—Macbeth and Gilcomgan have drawn their swords. (full context)
Chapter 5 
Violence, Justice, and Revenge  Theme Icon
...Malcolm was holding a royal judicial hearing, and Macbeth had come to accuse his cousins, Gilcomgan and Malcolm mac Malbríd, of killing his father, Finlach, mormaer of Moray. (full context)
Fate, Family, and Ambition  Theme Icon
Gilcomgan and Malcolm mac Malbríd join Macbeth in front of King Malcolm. They do not deny... (full context)
Chapter 6
Gender Roles  Theme Icon
Violence, Justice, and Revenge  Theme Icon
Back in the great hall at Fife, Macbeth and Gilcomgan face off. Fergus urges Gruadh to watch the fight, especially Macbeth, to learn more about... (full context)
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Gruadh considers the argument between the two men. She realizes that even if Gilcomgan hadn’t killed Macbeth’s father, Finlach, there would still be “cause enough for a blood feud”... (full context)
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Gilcomgan slices Macbeth across the jaw, but the fight continues. Macbeth hits Gilcomgan’s arm, splitting the... (full context)
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The fight finally ends when Gilcomgan stumbles into Gruadh and Bodhe forces the men to stop. Dolina takes Gilcomgan to treat... (full context)
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Fate, Family, and Ambition  Theme Icon
Violence, Justice, and Revenge  Theme Icon
Gruadh tells Macbeth that not only will she not marry Gilcomgan, she would not marry him either. Macbeth warns her again against an alliance with Gilcomgan,... (full context)
Chapter 7 
Fate, Family, and Ambition  Theme Icon
Violence, Justice, and Revenge  Theme Icon
Gruadh understands that her marriage to Gilcomgan will make him even more powerful, will give Bodhe better access to King Malcolm, and... (full context)
Chapter 8 
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Gruadh then runs into Macbeth. He cautions her again against marrying Gilcomgan, warning that her future husband is “hated by many,” and that the match is unwise,... (full context)
Gender Roles  Theme Icon
...on military and political meetings and believes that since she will soon be married to Gilcomgan, “it is time” she see “more of the world.” Although Dolina disapproves of the armor... (full context)
Chapter 9 
Fate, Family, and Ambition  Theme Icon
Violence, Justice, and Revenge  Theme Icon
...Bodhe rides with King Malcolm, while Gruadh watches from the sidelines. Gruadh is confused when Gilcomgan does not ride, and is angry when Macbeth appears in his place, representing Moray. Ruari,... (full context)
Chapter 10 
Gender Roles  Theme Icon
Magic, Tradition, and Religion  Theme Icon
Fate, Family, and Ambition  Theme Icon
That May, Gruadh and Gilcomgan are married. Gruadh had wanted a Celtic wedding, but instead she has a Christian one.... (full context)
History, Memory, and Storytelling  Theme Icon
Fate, Family, and Ambition  Theme Icon
...become a monk. Gruadh is sad but understands his decision. The next day she and Gilcomgan leave her childhood home. (full context)
History, Memory, and Storytelling  Theme Icon
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Violence, Justice, and Revenge  Theme Icon
In the weeks and months after Gruadh and Gilcomgan arrive at his fortress in Moray, the couple begins to get along. She enjoys they... (full context)
Gender Roles  Theme Icon
...Aella to read. She does her domestic duties but is not allowed to handle swords. Gilcomgan tells her, “I want sons of you […] not wounds.” Gruadh does not feel fully... (full context)
Chapter 11 
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Violence, Justice, and Revenge  Theme Icon
Gilcomgan has gone on patrol with fifty men, leaving Elgin relatively undefended. Gruadh refuses to let... (full context)
Fate, Family, and Ambition  Theme Icon
Violence, Justice, and Revenge  Theme Icon
...her child when all he wants to do is a deliver a message from her husband—Gilcomgan is dead. He and his men burned to death in a tower. Macbeth claims that,... (full context)
Chapter 12 
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Gilcomgan’s body and the bodies of his men are returned to Elgin and buried. Gruadh feels... (full context)
Chapter 13 
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...himself as Banchorrie. He is Macbeth’s uncle, and sent a messenger to Gruadh the night Gilcomgan died. She appreciates this “unexpected ally.” In the great hall the men drink. Gruadh wishes... (full context)
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...loyalty, especially since he gave him Moray. Gruadh understands that the two conspired to kill Gilcomgan. (full context)
Chapter 14 
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Macbeth jokes that the baby looks just like Gruadh, and luckily looks nothing like Gilcomgan. Gruadh agrees that the baby is like a “small, perfect, fragile” mirror of herself. (full context)
Chapter 16 
Gender Roles  Theme Icon
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...to keep the shoreline protected. He adds the tribute he paid was once promised by Gilcomgan. Macbeth suggests that as a wife and a lady Gruadh should stay home, but she... (full context)
Chapter 17 
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...is more “courteous” than “passionate.” As Macbeth leaves he admits to her that he killed Gilcomgan. He hadn’t meant to burn him in the tower, instead anticipating that he and his... (full context)
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...and stops her. She accuses him of conspiring with her “personal enemy” Thorfin, of killing Gilcomgan, and of bringing his “mistress” and “whore” Catriona into their home under false pretenses. (full context)
Chapter 18 
Fate, Family, and Ambition  Theme Icon
Violence, Justice, and Revenge  Theme Icon
...didn’t protest her second marriage, and wonders if he knew of Macbeth’s scheme to kill Gilcomgan and marry her all along. Bodhe denies any foreknowledge of her husband’s murder but reveals... (full context)
Violence, Justice, and Revenge  Theme Icon
...rally behind him. Bodhe also tells Gruadh that Macbeth saved her life on the night Gilcomgan died. He sent his uncle Banchorrie to warn her, because he worried King Malcolm would... (full context)
Magic, Tradition, and Religion  Theme Icon
Fate, Family, and Ambition  Theme Icon
Back in Elgin, Gruadh has a vision of men fighting. Both Macbeth and Gilcomgan are there. To the north is a ship that is also like a monster, and... (full context)
Chapter 20 
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Violence, Justice, and Revenge  Theme Icon
...numbers of soldiers who can rally behind Macbeth if he needs them. She recognizes that Gilcomgan was resented by his people, and understands that Macbeth knew this, and saw that his... (full context)
Chapter 25 
Magic, Tradition, and Religion  Theme Icon
Fate, Family, and Ambition  Theme Icon
Violence, Justice, and Revenge  Theme Icon
...himself and win the crown. Although he has killed many men before, even his cousin Gilcomgan, Macbeth wonders if it is sinful to kill Duncan, thereby “forcing fate.” Gruadh counters that... (full context)
Chapter 29 
Magic, Tradition, and Religion  Theme Icon
Violence, Justice, and Revenge  Theme Icon
...spent a 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... (full context)