Summary and Analysis
Meeting with a rebel lord, Lennox reveals his doubts concerning Macbeth. His argument is that those who might be immediately suspected of murdering their kinsmen are less likely to have done so than Macbeth, who had killed the guards of Duncan's chamber so hastily. Although Lennox is prepared to accept Macbeth's actions, he cannot help feeling deeply suspicious of him. The other lord reveals to Lennox that Macduff has fled from Scotland to join forces with Malcolm in England. Moreover, they have requested help from England's King Edward the Confessor. Both Lennox and the other lord pray that God's vengeance may swiftly fall on the tyrannical Macbeth and that Scotland may return to peace once more.
Some of the language of this scene is difficult. Its lines are full of pauses, half-spoken thoughts, and fragments of reported speech. Its function is twofold: first to convince the audience of Lennox's real thoughts about Macbeth. Even though Lennox appears loyal to Macbeth at the end of Act IV, Scene 1, here he divulges his concerns in lines such as "Men must not walk too late" and, more directly, the phrase "the tyrant's feast."
The primary function of the other lord is to confirm the news of Macduff's flight to England and to introduce the names of other rebel leaders, Northumberland and Siward, who will combine against Macbeth in the final act. But his words "That . . . we may again / Give to our tables meat, sleep to our nights" (32-34) also recall, ironically, the words of Macbeth to his wife in Act III, Scene 2: "But let the frame of things disjoint . . . / Ere we will eat our meal in fear, and sleep / In the affliction of these terrible dreams."
marry (4) indeed
want the thought (8) help thinking
straight (11) straightaway
the two delinquents (12) that is, the guards of Duncan's chamber
an't (19) If
with Him above . . . work (33) with God's help
The cloudy messenger . . . clogs me with this answer The surly messenger refuses to report to Macbeth the news of Macduff's desertion for fear of punishment.