What are Macduff and Malcolm trying to accomplish in England?


Quick Answer

In Shakespeare’s "Macbeth," Malcolm goes to England for his own safety after his father's murder. Macduff follows him there to join with Malcolm and marshal forces to overthrow Macbeth.

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Full Answer

During the story, after the assassination of Duncan, his sons, Malcolm and Donalbain, fear for their lives. As Duncan’s heirs, they believe that whoever has killed Duncan may also try to kill them. Donalbain flees to Ireland while Malcolm goes to England; by separating, they think they will be safer.

Because they are closely related to Duncan, they believe that they are more likely to be victims of violence themselves. Also, the murder of Banquo causes Macduff to recognize Macbeth as a tyrant. As a result, he goes to England to join with Malcolm and raise an army to oppose Macbeth.

At this point, Duncan’s son (Malcolm) is now living in England as a guest of King Edward. Macduff has now also gone to England to seek support from King Edward, the county of Northumberland, and Siward, the Earl of Northumberland. With their help, Macduff plans to return to Scotland to defeat Macbeth and free the country from the “bloody knives” of Macbeth’s violent reign.

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