Macbeth Characters

The Three Witches Introduced 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 intentions. At first driven by loyalty to King Duncan, his own “vaulting ambition,” leads to him killing King Duncan to secure his own power. The man at the end of play is barely recognizable from the loyal Macbeth 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 one’s conscience and feelings.
Banquo Loyal friend of Macbeth. He bears witness to the initial prophecies made by the Three Witches. Though eager to learn his own destiny, Banquo serves as a foil to Macbeth in terms of how one deals with prophesied fate. Macbeth kills to reach his. Banquo is content to let destiny carve its 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 is killed, Fleance represents a future Macbeth cannot bear: a line of kings following Banquo and not his own sons.
Duncan, King of Scotland The noble 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 (Great Chain of Being) disturbed, later alluded to by the Old Man.
Malcolm and Donalbain The two sons of King Duncan. Upon their father’s death, they flee to avoid a similar fate. Donalbain heads to Ireland, while Malcolm heads to England where he hopes to build an army to take back the kingdom from Macbeth.
Hecate A goddess 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 meet.
Macduff Born 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 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 in his invincibility.
Lennox, Ross, Menteith, Angus, Caithness Noblemen of Scotland fighting Macbeth.
An Old Man Though a peripheral character, he is important the play’s theme of order. He tells about the storms in Scotland during Macbeth’s reign. These events represent 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. He is an important character to the theme that in Macbeth Shakespeare is endorsing the conservation of royalism.
Seyton A lieutenant of Macbeth’s.