“I shall do so,
But I must also feel it as a man.
I cannot but remember such things were
That were most precious to me. Did heaven look on,
And would not take their part? Sinful Macduff,
They were all struck for thee! Naught that I am,
Not for their own demerits, but for mine,
Fell slaughter on their souls. Heaven rest them now.’”
MacDuff To Malcolm (Act IV)
This passage is important because it highlights MacDuff’s strength in the face of grief and tragedy while contrasting Macbeth’s ruthlessness and cowardice at the same time. Macduff doesn’t allow the slaughter of his family to completely immobilize him, nor does he choose to forget the pain. Instead, he channels his pain and rage into one task: killing Macbeth. He takes full responsibility for what happened to his family although their deaths were the result of one of Macbeth’s whims. The imagery about the heavens looking down and not offering help is an interesting one. In this play, no outside or spiritual forces are responsible for any actions; man drives the plot of this play. The witches predicted that Macbeth would become king, however it was Macbeth who had to kill Duncan in order for this to happen. Similarly, the heavens could not spare Macduff’s family from Macbeth’s wrath or partake in vengeance, it is he who must right the wrongs committed.