Lady Macbeth

Lady Macbeth

by

Susan King

Teachers and parents! Struggling with distance learning? Our Teacher Edition on Lady Macbeth can help.

King Malcolm Character Analysis

The long-reigning Scottish king in power at the beginning of the novel. His son is Crinan and his grandson is Duncan, who is next in line to the throne. Although Scottish succession typically follows the Celtic tradition, which has the next king come from a different family line, Malcolm favors the Saxon tradition of linear succession, which ensures his children and grandchildren hold on to the throne.

King Malcolm Quotes in Lady Macbeth

The Lady Macbeth quotes below are all either spoken by King Malcolm or refer to King Malcolm. 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 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 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 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:
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 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:
Get the entire Lady Macbeth LitChart as a printable PDF.
Lady Macbeth PDF

King Malcolm Character Timeline in Lady Macbeth

The timeline below shows where the character King Malcolm appears in Lady Macbeth. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1
Fate, Family, and Ambition  Theme Icon
Violence, Justice, and Revenge  Theme Icon
The attacking men belonged to Crinan, mormaer of Atholl. In King Malcolm’s judgment court, Bodhe accuses Crinan of killing Farquhar and kidnapping Gruadh to marry his own... (full context)
Chapter 5 
Violence, Justice, and Revenge  Theme Icon
...saw Macbeth. She was just four years old in 1020, and Macbeth was fourteen. King Malcolm was holding a royal judicial hearing, and Macbeth had come to accuse his cousins, Gilcomgan... (full context)
Fate, Family, and Ambition  Theme Icon
Gilcomgan and Malcolm mac Malbríd join Macbeth in front of King Malcolm. They do not deny murdering Finlach... (full context)
Gender Roles  Theme Icon
Violence, Justice, and Revenge  Theme Icon
King Malcolm allows Malcolm mac Malbríd to keep his new title as mormaer of Moray, but he... (full context)
Chapter 7 
Fate, Family, and Ambition  Theme Icon
Violence, Justice, and Revenge  Theme Icon
...to Gilcomgan will make him even more powerful, will give Bodhe better access to King Malcolm, and will ensure his powerful lineage. She wonders why her father has never claimed the... (full context)
Chapter 9 
Gender Roles  Theme Icon
Fate, Family, and Ambition  Theme Icon
...to witness a meeting of kings on the border between Lothian and Saxon Northumbria. King Malcolm of Scotland has planned to meet the Saxon King Cnut and wants other Scottish lords... (full context)
Fate, Family, and Ambition  Theme Icon
Violence, Justice, and Revenge  Theme Icon
...travel, Gruadh and her party reach their destination—a meadow where the kings will meet. King Malcolm and King Cnut each ride onto the field with a retinue of lords representing various... (full context)
Gender Roles  Theme Icon
Fate, Family, and Ambition  Theme Icon
...Gruadh talks to Lady Sybilla, wife of Duncan mac Crinan, who has two young sons, Malcolm mac Duncan and Donald Bán. Gruadh likes her, and the two women embrace as friends.... (full context)
History, Memory, and Storytelling  Theme Icon
Fate, Family, and Ambition  Theme Icon
The next morning, King Malcolm and King Cnut meet a final time to conclude the ceremony. At one point, Gruadh... (full context)
Magic, Tradition, and Religion  Theme Icon
Fate, Family, and Ambition  Theme Icon
Lady Sybilla takes her child from King Malcolm and gives young Malcolm mac Duncan to Gruadh to care for. Gruadh feels heavy as... (full context)
Chapter 13 
Gender Roles  Theme Icon
Violence, Justice, and Revenge  Theme Icon
King Malcolm and his men arrive at Elgin, and Macbeth greets them. Gruadh hopes that the King... (full context)
Gender Roles  Theme Icon
Violence, Justice, and Revenge  Theme Icon
Macbeth suggests that Gruadh leave the room while he discusses politics with King Malcolm and the others, but Gruadh refuses, insisting she is interested in their conversation. Malcolm is... (full context)
Fate, Family, and Ambition  Theme Icon
King Malcolm insists that his descendants must continue to rule Scotland for the nation’s own good. Macbeth... (full context)
Chapter 14 
Magic, Tradition, and Religion  Theme Icon
Violence, Justice, and Revenge  Theme Icon
...that he would sabotage the birth. Gruadh clarifies that she is more worried about King Malcolm. As they leave, Macbeth offers Gruadh his hand, but she does not take it. (full context)
Chapter 17 
Violence, Justice, and Revenge  Theme Icon
...he and his men would evacuate. When Gruadh asks, Macbeth admits that he and King Malcolm planned it together. Macbeth does feel guilty, though, and explains “kin is the strongest bond... (full context)
Chapter 18 
Fate, Family, and Ambition  Theme Icon
Violence, Justice, and Revenge  Theme Icon
At the wedding Gruadh is excited to see Bodhe, Dolina, and Malcolm mac Farquhar, her nephew. She still feels some resentment towards her father, though, and the... (full context)
Violence, Justice, and Revenge  Theme Icon
...night Gilcomgan died. He sent his uncle Banchorrie to warn her, because he worried King Malcolm would try to kill her if she was left unprotected. (full context)
Magic, Tradition, and Religion  Theme Icon
Fate, Family, and Ambition  Theme Icon
...hordes of 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... (full context)
Magic, Tradition, and Religion  Theme Icon
Fate, Family, and Ambition  Theme Icon
Violence, Justice, and Revenge  Theme Icon
One day, as Gruadh stands outside, Ruari rides into Elgin and announces that Bodhe and Malcolm mac Farquhar have been killed. Although the attackers were anonymous, Ruari could see they belonged... (full context)
History, Memory, and Storytelling  Theme Icon
Gender Roles  Theme Icon
Violence, Justice, and Revenge  Theme Icon
Gruadh and Macbeth travel to Fife for the funeral. They bury Bodhe, young Malcolm mac Farquhar, and Fergus, who was killed with them. Gruadh only cries in private and... (full context)
Gender Roles  Theme Icon
Fate, Family, and Ambition  Theme Icon
Black Duff, a cousin of Gruadh’s who is now a close associate of King Malcolm, comes to pay his respects. Gruadh realizes this means she must be careful not to... (full context)
History, Memory, and Storytelling  Theme Icon
Fate, Family, and Ambition  Theme Icon
...ancestors to Bodhe to Lulach. She realizes Lulach will never be fully safe until King Malcolm, his children, his grandchildren, and his supporters are dead. (full context)
History, Memory, and Storytelling  Theme Icon
Violence, Justice, and Revenge  Theme Icon
...business, keeping a record for the scribes. Gruadh is happy that he will “record old Malcolm’s evil deed forever.” (full context)
Violence, Justice, and Revenge  Theme Icon
...the bodies, Duncan, Crinan, and a group of men approach on horseback. They represent King Malcolm and have ostensibly come to offer condolences. When pressed, they deny that the king was... (full context)
Gender Roles  Theme Icon
Fate, Family, and Ambition  Theme Icon
Violence, Justice, and Revenge  Theme Icon
Duncan promises that when he is king the feud between Bodhe and King Malcolm will be forgotten. Gruadh promises that once she is Lady of Fife, although she will... (full context)
History, Memory, and Storytelling  Theme Icon
Fate, Family, and Ambition  Theme Icon
Violence, Justice, and Revenge  Theme Icon
...discuss 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... (full context)
Fate, Family, and Ambition  Theme Icon
Violence, Justice, and Revenge  Theme Icon
Gruadh wants Macbeth to kill Malcolm, but he refuses. He argues installing someone from Bodhe’s bloodline in a position of power... (full context)
Chapter 19 
Gender Roles  Theme Icon
Fate, Family, and Ambition  Theme Icon
Violence, Justice, and Revenge  Theme Icon
A few weeks after their move, Gruadh and Macbeth receive a letter from King Malcolm, announcing he’s installed Black Duff as Fife’s mormaer. Malcolm acknowledges Graudh’s lineage and gives her... (full context)
Chapter 21 
Fate, Family, and Ambition  Theme Icon
...Crinan sent the attackers to cut off Bodhe’s line. Gruadh wonders if it was King Malcolm who sent the men, but Macbeth points out Crinan, Duncan, and Malcolm are all working... (full context)
Magic, Tradition, and Religion  Theme Icon
Fate, Family, and Ambition  Theme Icon
A few 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... (full context)
Fate, Family, and Ambition  Theme Icon
Violence, Justice, and Revenge  Theme Icon
Before arriving in Iona, Macbeth, Banchorrie, and Gruadh meet in Scone and discuss King Malcolm’s death. Banchorrie warns the couple that some people are accusing them of orchestrating the murder.... (full context)
Chapter 22 
Magic, Tradition, and Religion  Theme Icon
King Malcolm’s body is brought to Scone, where candlelight vigils are held. At Scone, Gruadh also witnesses... (full context)
Magic, Tradition, and Religion  Theme Icon
Fate, Family, and Ambition  Theme Icon
Malcolm is buried at Iona. Macbeth goes with the escort, but Gruadh remains at Dunsinnan. Gruadh... (full context)
Magic, Tradition, and Religion  Theme Icon
Fate, Family, and Ambition  Theme Icon
...to promise that if she dies, Gruadh will watch over her children, Donald Bán and Malcolm mac Duncan. Gruadh agrees. (full context)
Magic, Tradition, and Religion  Theme Icon
Fate, Family, and Ambition  Theme Icon
Macbeth anticipates that Duncan will dispute the southern Saxon border, although King Malcolm had hashed it out years earlier with King Cnut. Gruadh complains to Macbeth that she... (full context)