Lady Macbeth

Lady Macbeth

by

Susan King

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

Malcolm mac Duncan Character Analysis

The son of Duncan, grandson of Crinan, and great-grandson of King Malcolm. After Macbeth kills Duncan he banishes young Malcolm and his brother, Donald Bán. Although Macbeth’s allies want him to kill the children, Gruadh convinces her husband to spare their lives. Unfortunately, this means Malcolm grows up with a grudge against Macbeth, and when he becomes an adult he begins to wage a war on the man who orphaned him and took the throne that he feels rightly belongs to him. He eventually kills Macbeth, and claims the Scottish crown.

Malcolm mac Duncan Quotes in Lady Macbeth

The Lady Macbeth quotes below are all either spoken by Malcolm mac Duncan or refer to Malcolm mac Duncan. 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.
Prologue Quotes

Drostan, who has long known me, has a fine hand with a pen and hopes to write a chronicle about me. This would be an encomium, a book of praise, for his queen. I told him it was a silly notion. […] From what my advisors say, Malcolm Canmore—ceann mór in Gaelic, or big head, two words that suit him—will order his clerics to record Macbeth’s life. Within those pages, they will seek to ruin his deeds and his name. My husband cannot fight for his reputation now. But I am here, and I know what is true.

Page Number: 2
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 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 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:

Here is what the annals will say of Macbeth’s kingship: very little.

Seventeen years of plenty and peace for Scotland, give or take some strife. We suffered few battles and fewer enemies compared to other reigns. Scotland was brimful: fat cattle on the hillsides, fish in the streams, sheep thick with wool, the bellies of trading ships heavy with goods. Grain crops were golden and larders and byres filled; treasures accumulated, and all prospered, from shepherd to mormaer. Contentment is a thing not often recorded in the annals.
For much of Macbeth’s reign, the strength of his reputation and presence and the loyal nature of his alliances protected Scotland as never before. We had respite from decades of wars and conflict. Given more time, he would have attained what he sought of Scotland: more fair-minded laws, and the blending of honored Celtic traditions with the ways of the Church and even the Saxons.

Related Characters: Gruadh / Rue / Lady Macbeth (speaker), Macbeth, Malcolm mac Duncan
Page Number: 314
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire Lady Macbeth LitChart as a printable PDF.
Lady Macbeth PDF

Malcolm mac Duncan Character Timeline in Lady Macbeth

The timeline below shows where the character Malcolm mac Duncan appears in Lady Macbeth. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Prologue
Magic, Tradition, and Religion  Theme Icon
Fate, Family, and Ambition  Theme Icon
...middle of winter, 1058. The recently-widowed Gruadh has been rejecting the repeated marriage proposals of Malcolm mac Duncan , the man who murdered her husband Macbeth, and now claims the Scottish crown. Although... (full context)
Gender Roles  Theme Icon
Fate, Family, and Ambition  Theme Icon
If Gruadh will not marry Malcolm mac Duncan he would like her to go to a convent, but she sends a letter refusing... (full context)
History, Memory, and Storytelling  Theme Icon
...Gruadh believes that her late husband, Macbeth, is more deserving of a chronicle. She knows Malcolm mac Duncan will write Macbeth’s history, and “ruin his deeds and his name,” although as long as... (full context)
Chapter 9 
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. Bodhe then... (full context)
History, Memory, and Storytelling  Theme Icon
Fate, Family, and Ambition  Theme Icon
...to conclude 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... (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 the young child drags her arm... (full context)
Chapter 22 
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)
Chapter 24
Fate, Family, and Ambition  Theme Icon
...hear Lady 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)
Chapter 28 
Gender Roles  Theme Icon
Magic, Tradition, and Religion  Theme Icon
Fate, Family, and Ambition  Theme Icon
Violence, Justice, and Revenge  Theme Icon
...in Lulach. She points out that he is so young, the same age as young Malcolm mac Duncan and Donald Bán, and that they are children and no threat to Scotland. She urges... (full context)
Gender Roles  Theme Icon
Magic, Tradition, and Religion  Theme Icon
Fate, Family, and Ambition  Theme Icon
Violence, Justice, and Revenge  Theme Icon
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 
Magic, Tradition, and Religion  Theme Icon
Fate, Family, and Ambition  Theme Icon
Violence, Justice, and Revenge  Theme Icon
...past battles—Macbeth 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)
Magic, Tradition, and Religion  Theme Icon
Fate, Family, and Ambition  Theme Icon
Violence, Justice, and Revenge  Theme Icon
...since made 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)
Gender Roles  Theme Icon
Fate, Family, and Ambition  Theme Icon
Violence, Justice, and Revenge  Theme Icon
...to attack 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)
Fate, Family, and Ambition  Theme Icon
Violence, Justice, and Revenge  Theme Icon
Malcolm mac Duncan ’s ships chase Macbeth’s, but just when they are about to overtake him, Thorfin’s Viking... (full context)
Chapter 30 
History, Memory, and Storytelling  Theme Icon
Violence, Justice, and Revenge  Theme Icon
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)
History, Memory, and Storytelling  Theme Icon
...past eight 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... (full context)
Magic, Tradition, and Religion  Theme Icon
Fate, Family, and Ambition  Theme Icon
Violence, Justice, and Revenge  Theme Icon
Malcolm mac Duncan declared he was King of Scots, although the priests did not agree, and Gruadh, the... (full context)
Chapter 31
Fate, Family, and Ambition  Theme Icon
Violence, Justice, and Revenge  Theme Icon
Gruadh remembers how one evening Malcolm mac Duncan ’s men attacked the fortress at Kincardine where she and Macbeth were staying. Gruadh helped... (full context)
Fate, Family, and Ambition  Theme Icon
Violence, Justice, and Revenge  Theme Icon
...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 stabbed in between the... (full context)
Magic, Tradition, and Religion  Theme Icon
Fate, Family, and Ambition  Theme Icon
...king, Gruadh 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)
Magic, Tradition, and Religion  Theme Icon
Fate, Family, and Ambition  Theme Icon
...ravens sitting 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)
Gender Roles  Theme Icon
Magic, Tradition, and Religion  Theme Icon
Fate, Family, and Ambition  Theme Icon
Violence, Justice, and Revenge  Theme Icon
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)
Magic, Tradition, and Religion  Theme Icon
Fate, Family, and Ambition  Theme Icon
...a realm.” 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)
Epilogue
Fate, Family, and Ambition  Theme Icon
...he jokingly asks her “how his province fares.” Lulach asks Gruadh about any messages from Malcolm mac Duncan . Lulach plans to gather forces, using memories of and loyalty to Macbeth to rally... (full context)
History, Memory, and Storytelling  Theme Icon
Magic, Tradition, and Religion  Theme Icon
Lulach plans to launch an attack on Malcolm mac Duncan ’s forces, and wants to move Gruadh to a safer fortress. She refuses, instead she... (full context)