Macbeth Characters

Macbeth Macbeth is a Scottish general and the thane of Glamis who is led to believe the witches’ prophecies, especially after the Thane of Cawdor prophecy comes true. He commits his first crime by killing Duncan and is crowned King of Scotland. Later, he kills Banquo and eventually Lady Macduff and her children. All of the murders become easier to him as he gains confidence from the prophecies of the apparitions. His hubris gets the better of him, however, and eventually is killed by Macduff.
Lady Macbeth Macbeth’s wife, a deeply ambitious woman who lusts for power and position. Early in the play she seems to be the stronger and more ruthless of the two, as she urges her husband to kill Duncan and seize the crown. After the bloodshed begins, however, Lady Macbeth falls victim to guilt and madness to an even greater degree than her husband, as seen with her sleepwalking and her eventual suicide.
Banquo The brave, noble general whose children, according to the witches’ prophecy, will inherit the Scottish throne. Like Macbeth, Banquo thinks ambitious thoughts, but he does not translate those thoughts into action. In a sense, Banquo’s character represents the path Macbeth chose not to take. Appropriately, it is Banquo’s ghost that haunts Macbeth.
Macduff A Scottish nobleman hostile to Macbeth’s kingship from the start. He eventually becomes a leader of the crusade to unseat Macbeth. The crusade’s mission is to place the rightful king, Malcolm, on the throne, but Macduff also desires vengeance for Macbeth’s murder of Macduff’s wife and young son, and does, as he is the one who beheads Macbeth. He is able to kill Macbeth because he was a caesarean section, thus making him not “of woman born”.
Lady Macduff Macduff’s wife, who serves as a contrast to Lady Macbeth and the hellish world of Inverness. Her and her children are killed because of Macbeth, and her husband eventually seeks revenge because of this.
Malcolm The son of Duncan, whose restoration to the throne signals Scotland’s return to order following Macbeth’s reign of terror. Malcolm becomes a serious challenge to Macbeth, considering he has Macduff’s aid and the support of England. Prior to this, he appears weak and uncertain of his own power, seen when he and Donalbain flee Scotland after their father’s murder.
Donalbain Duncan’s son and Malcolm’s younger brother, who flees to Ireland after his father’s death.
Duncan The good King of Scotland whom Macbeth, in his ambition for the crown, murders. Duncan is benevolent and beloved, and after his death, the order in Scotland can only be restored when Duncan’s line, which ends up being Malcolm, occupies the throne.
Fleance Banquo’s son who survives Macbeth’s attempt to murder him. At the end of the play, Fleance’s whereabouts are unknown. He was prophesied to eventually gain the thrown of Scotland.
Hecate The goddess of witchcraft who helps the three witches work their mischief on Macbeth, but becomes angered when the witches perform trickery without her.
Three Witches Also known as the weird sisters, these three “black and midnight hags” plot mischief against Macbeth using charms, spells, and prophecies. Their predictions prompt him to murder Duncan, to order the deaths of Banquo and his son, and to blindly believe in his own immortality. The play leaves the witches’ true identity unclear, and aside from the fact that they are servants of Hecate, we know little about them.
Siward He is the Earl of Northumberland, meaning the leader of the English army, and his army eventually defeats Macbeth at the end of the play.
Young Siward Son of Siward who died while battling Macbeth. Because Young Siward was of woman born, this helped give Macbeth more confidence.
Ross Ross is Macduff’s cousin, and a Scottish nobleman. He acts as a messenger in the play, bringing good news of Macbeth’s military victory and bad news about Macduff’s family.
Lennox Another nobleman who turns against Macbeth and joins Macduff and Malcolm in restoring order in Scotland.
Porter The drunken doorman of Macbeth’s castle who serves as a means of comic relief after the tragic death of Duncan.
Seyton A servant of Macbeth’s who gets yelled at to gather Macbeth’s armor before the scene of his death, and gets ordered throughout the book to perform small tasks of Macbeth’s.
Gentlewoman The woman who hears Lady Macbeth confess to all of her sins while sleepwalking.