The Virgin Birth: Macduff Not of Woman Born
Hopping now to the final scene, Shakespeare has already alluded to the ‘line of kings’ (Fisher Kings?) through Banquo. And the role seems to be fulfilled by four characters: Duncan, the rightful king first murdered; Banquo himself, the martyr, who is also murdered; Malcolm, the rightful heir to the crown; and, interestingly, Macduff, the spiritual warrior. Just as Jesus as the Christ personified many different human qualities, so are some of these personified by this line of ‘kings’.
Shakespeare pays no heed to biblical chronology; he’s using the component parts of scripture as building blocks for his drama. It’s only in the final showdown between Macduff and Macbeth that the Old Testament duck of the virgin birth glints through the clay rabbit.
Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son,
and she will call His name Immanuel.
The witches have given Macbeth a false sense of security by warning him to fear Macduff and simultaneously prophesying that ‘none of woman born’ could vanquish Macbeth. So, what’s to fear about Macduff? He was surely from woman born. Or was he?
Be bloody, bold, and resolute. Laugh to scorn
The power of man, for none of woman born
Shall harm Macbeth.
Macbeth, Act IV Scene I
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