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Act III, Scene 6
This short scene takes place at the palace at Forres, but its purpose is to give the audience information on the state of affairs outside the palace walls. The noble Lennox is conversing with an unnamed lord (a representation of all of the unnamed Scottish citizens) and states that as of late "things have been strangely borne." It is still generally believed that Malcolm and Donaldbain murdered Duncan, their father. In a like manner it is believed that Fleance killed Banquo since he also has fled.
Lennox, who speaks in a sarcastic tone, is not certain that Malcolm, Donaldbain, and Fleance are murderers. Their relative crimes are pinned on them because they have fled the country, but why wouldn't they flee to save their own lives in the face of imminent danger. Lennox also questions Macbeth's motives in killing Duncan's accused chamberlains, "for 'twould have angered any heart alive to hear the men (Duncan's servants) deny it (the murder)." Furthermore, Lennox doubts that drunken men could truly have committed the brutal execution. Lennox is also fearful for Malcolm, Donaldbain, and Fleance, for he believes that if Macbeth has the chance, he will kill them.
Lennox then changes the subject to Macduff, who he has heard lives in Macbeth's disgrace for missing the royal banquet. He asks the other lord if he knows the whereabouts of Macduff. The lord explains that he has gone to England to petition the "holy king" and to visit with Malcolm, the rightful heir to the Scottish throne. Malcolm, since his flight, has been living in the English court and is treated with grace by King Edward. Macduff is there to convince Edward to help in an insurrection against Macbeth, who has become a tyrant king that the citizens greatly fear. Macduff particularly wants the aid of the warlike Siward and his strong men of Northumberland. The lord then reports that Macbeth has heard about Macduff's petition to the English King and is preparing for war. He also tells how Macbeth sent for Macduff, but the nobleman curtly replied to the king, "Sir, not I." Lennox closes the scene by asking "Some holy angel (to) fly to the court of England....that a swift blessing may soon return to this our suffering country under a hand accursed!" Macbeth, obviously, is not a popular king! He has reigned for a short period of time, but his evil has already inflicted the land.
This scene shows into what disfavor Macbeth has quickly fallen with his nobles. It is significant to note that both Lennox and the lord no longer refer to Macbeth as king, but as "tyrant". They also describe the state of affairs as "suffering under a hand accursed." The Scottish citizens long for a less chaotic time where they can safely entertain guests, sleep peacefully, honor a true king, and live without the fear of bloody knives. Macduff, who has already been identified in the banquet scene as the new thorn in Macbeth's side, has gone to seek the help of the English King in order to reestablish order in Scotland. Macbeth has heard of Macduff's actions and called the noble to him. But Macduff has brazenly refused the king. The audience can easily imagine what the news of Macduff is doing to Macbeth's paranoia. He is obviously pushed to the limit, for the unnamed lord reveals that "the tyrant" is preparing for war.
It is significant to note that as Macbeth is falling rapidly into individual chaos, he is inflicting that same chaos in the country. To show the parallels between the two, Shakespeare develops several scenes, such as this one, to inform the audience of the growing public revulsion to Macbeth. It is also important to note the speed at which this is all happening. Things are falling apart at an unbelievable pace. Fortunately, Lennox is aware of the time factor and prays for a "swift blessing" for Scotland. It will take divine intervention to return this evil chaos to normalcy!