Characters in order of appearance:
Outside King Edward’s palace, Malcolm is with Macduff, telling him that he doesn’t trust him since he has left his family in Scotland and may be secretly working for Macbeth. To see if Macduff is trustworthy, Malcolm rambles on about his own vices. He admits that he wonders whether he is fit to be king, since he claims to be lustful, greedy, and violent. At first, Macduff politely disagrees with his future king, but eventually Macduff cannot keep himself from crying out, “O Scotland, Scotland!” Macduff’s loyalty to Scotland leads him to agree that Malcolm is not fit to govern Scotland and perhaps not even to live. In giving voice to his disparagement, Macduff has passed Malcolm’s ‘test of loyalty’. Malcolm then retracts the lies he has put forth about his supposed shortcomings and embraces Macduff as an ally. Ross enters and says he just came from Scotland, and tells Macduff that his wife and children are okay he says Malcolm should come back, listing the bad things that have happened ever since Macbeth has been king. Malcolm says that he will return with ten thousand soldiers lent him by the English king. Then, breaking down, Ross confesses to Macduff that Macbeth has murdered his wife and children. Macduff is crushed and Malcolm tells him to turn his grief to anger, and Macduff assures him that he will inflict revenge upon Macbeth.