Macbeth Characters guide studies each character's
role and motivation in this play.
The Three Witches: Introduced to us in the opening
scene, the Three Witches set Macbeth upon his murderous
path. They tell Macbeth that he will be Thane (Lord)
of Cawdor and later the King. Later by use of the Three
Apparitions, they foretell his doom. Symbolic of both
the underworld and the mysticism of the 1500s, they
are synonymous with the theme of evil in this play.
Macbeth: The tragic focus of this play. Originally
a loyal and honest man, his descent into murder and
betrayal is the tale of how ambition can tarnish even
the purest of souls. Driven by loyalty to King Duncan,
his own "Vaulting ambition," leads to him
killing King Duncan to secure his own destiny. The man
at the end of play is one we would barely recognize
from the loyal Macbeth we meet at the beginning.
Lady Macbeth: Macbeth's wife. Her ambition for
Macbeth's future rivals and arguably exceeds that of
Macbeth's. She goads Macbeth to kill King Duncan when
Macbeth hesitates. Later despite the appearance of calm,
she becomes increasingly obsessed with the blood on
her hands which no one else can see. A study of the
apparent falsehood of denying ones conscience and feelings.
Banquo: Loyal friend of Macbeth. He bares witness
to the initial prophecies made by the Three Witches.
Though eager to learn his own destiny, Banquo serves
as a counterpoint to how one deals with fate. Macbeth
kills to reach his. Banquo is content to let destiny
carve it's own path. Later killed to preserve Macbeth's
status, he reappears as a ghost.
Fleance: Son of Banquo and the first in a line
of kings prophesied by the Three Witches. Escaping when
his father was killed, Fleance represents a future Macbeth
cannot bear; a line of kings following Banquo and not
his own sons.
Duncan, King of Scotland: The loyal but naïve,
trusting King. At the beginning of the play when Duncan
is betrayed by the original Thane of Cawdor, he grants
this title upon the loyal Macbeth who secured the King
victory in battle against this Thane of Cawdor. Ironically,
King Duncan later dies at the sword of the trusted Macbeth,
the new Thane of Cawdor. His death sets up the theme
of the natural order being disturbed, later alluded
to by the Old Man.
Malcolm & Donalbain: The two sons of King
Duncan. Upon their father's death, they flee to avoid
a similar fate. Donalbain heads to Ireland, whilst Malcolm
heads to England where he hopes to build an army to
take back the kingdom from the evil Macbeth.
Hecate: A shadowy character of the underworld,
she commands and demands the loyalty and respect of
the Three Witches. We first meet her when she belittles
the Three Witches for helping an ungrateful Macbeth.
She later commands them to tell Macbeth his future according
to her will, when next the Three Witches and Macbeth
Macduff: Born unnaturally by caesarian section,
this nobleman of Scotland restores Malcolm to his rightful
place as king. Alluded to by The Second Apparition as
an agent of Macbeth's downfall, he loses his wife and
children to Macbeth who had them murdered.
Siward: Leader of the English army, some ten
thousand strong which defeats Macbeth at the end of
the play. He loses his son, Young Siward to Macbeth.
Young Siward: The son of Siward, he dies fighting
Macbeth. Being of natural birth, his death at Macbeth's
hands strengthens Macbeth's belief of invincibility.
Lennox, Ross, Menteith, Angus and Caithness:
Noblemen of Scotland fighting Macbeth.
An Old Man: Though a peripheral character, he
is an important one for the play's theme of order. He
tells us about the storms in Scotland during Macbeth's
reign. This represents nature being disrupted by King
Duncan's untimely death underscoring the notion that
nature is in order when a land is ruled by its rightful
King. An important character to the theme that Macbeth
is an example of royalist propaganda.
Seyton: A lieutenant of Macbeth's.
Boy, Son of Macduff, An English Doctor, A Scotch doctor,
Lords ,Gentlemen, Officers, Soldiers, Murderers,
Attendants, Messengers , The Ghost of Banquo and other