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Bradley, A. C. Shakespearean Tragedy: Lectures on Hamlet, Othello, King Lear, Macbeth.
2nd ed. London: Macmillan, 1905.
PAGE 491

the natural course of the thought, as developed in the lines which follow, than that Macduff, being told to think of revenge, not grief, should answer, 'No one who was himself a father would ask that of me in the very first moment of loss'? But the thought supposed by interpretation (c) has not this natural connection.

     It has been objected to interpretation (a) that, according to it, Macduff would naturally say 'You have no children,' not 'He has no children.' But what Macduff does is precisely what Constance does in the line quoted from King John. And it should be noted that, all through the passage down to this point, and indeed in the fifteen lines which precede our quotation, Macduff listens only to Ross. His questions 'My children too?' 'My wife killed too?' show that he cannot fully realize what he is told. When Malcolm interrupts, therefore, he puts aside his suggestion with four words spoken to himself, or (less probably) to Ross (his relative, who knew his wife and children), and continues his agonized questions and exclamations. Surely it is not likely that at that moment the idea of (c), an idea which there is nothing to suggest, would occur to him.

     In favour of (c) as against (a) I see no argument except that the words of Macduff almost repeat those of Margaret; and this fact does not seem to me to have much weight. It shows only that Shakespeare might easily use the words in the sense of (c) if that sense were suitable to the occasion. It is not unlikely, again, I think, that the words came to him here because he had used them many years before;1 but it does

   1As this point occurs here, I may observe that Shakespeare's later tragedies contain many such reminiscences of the tragic plays of his young days. For instance, cf. Titus Andronicus, I. i. 150 f:

In peace and honour rest you here, my sons,
  *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     
Secure from worldly chances and mishaps!
Here lurks no treason, here no envy swells,
Here grow no damned drugs: here are no storms,
No noise, but silence and eternal sleep.

with Macbeth, III. ii. 22 f :

                            Duncan is in his grave;
After life's fitful fever he sleeps well;
Treason has done his worst: nor steel, nor poison,
Malice domestic, foreign levy, nothing,
Can touch him further.

In writing IV. i. Shakespeare can hardly have failed to remember the conjuring of the Spirit, and the ambiguous oracles, in 2 Henry VI. I. iv. The 'Hyrcan tiger' of Macbeth III. iv. 101, which is also alluded to in Hamlet, appears first in 3 Henry VI. I. iv. 155. Cf. Richard III. II. i. 92, 'Nearer in bloody thoughts, but not in blood,' with Macbeth II. iii. 146, 'the near in blood, the nearer bloody'; Richard III. IV. ii. 64, 'But I am in So far in blood that sin will pluck on sin.' with Macbeth III. iv. 136, 'I am in blood stepp'd in so far,' etc. These are but a few instances. (It makes no difference whether Shakespeare was author or reviser of Titus and Henry VI.).

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