Not to get all political (because no one would in any way suggest Macbeth is a political play, and I say that with the full knowledge of the internet’s astounding inability to recognize even the most blatant sarcasm), but it’s difficult for me to hear the infamous Malcolm/Macduff scene (IV iii) in this production, or at least during this month, without hearing the current election cycle climate writ Olde.
The metaphor isn’t a precise one – I’m not quite sure whether Macduff is the undecided voter in this scenario willfully filling in some weird blanks for himself or if he’s the quite decided voter making excuses for the inexcusable evils his candidate represents and merrily dances with. Or possibly he’s practicing to be a campaign surrogate but understandably snaps after too many rounds of Cognitive Dissonance Twister. Also, it’s Malcolm who’s really doing the vetting, putting Macduff through a ruthless purity test resembling the sort that filled this primary season in particular (with exceptions). Also, candidate Malcolm’s bald-faced lies are a) apologized for, b) against himself.
(And for all the years of talk about the unusual tenor of this scene considering the relentless action & forward momentum the rest of the play affords, the oddest bit is still to me Malcolm’s admission that he is “yet/ Unknown to woman”. I get why it’s there, but it’s hard for me to imagine any other conversation with a passing political acquaintance in which that comes up. “PS, I’m a virgin.” Lady M. name-checked the sound of crickets some time ago, but here’s where they truly belong.)
I realize now it’s no use to quote bits of it – the whole scene up to the Doctor’s (weird, sucking up to English royalty) entrance plays out this way. Here it is in full. Read along and think charitably of poor Kellyanne Conway, who just hasn’t quite reached her “O Scotland, Scotland” moment, and less so of her boss, Malcolm’s photo negative in terms of integrity. You tell me who has The Best Words.