List of Characters
Three Witches—Evil prophets that guide Macbeth’s destiny with incomplete information regarding his future
Macbeth—Thane of Glamis, later King of Scotland
Lady Macbeth—Macbeth’s wife and supporter of her husband’s quest for power
Duncan—King of Scotland
Malcolm—Duncan’s older son
Donalbain—Duncan’s younger son
Banquo—General in the Scottish Army and Macbeth’s friend
Fleance—Banquo’s son who is seen as a threat by Macbeth
Macduff—Nobleman of Scotland and rival of Macbeth
Lady Macduff—Macduff’s wife
Lennox and Ross—Noblemen of Scotland that support Malcolm’s fight against Macbeth
Angus—Nobleman of Scotland and supporter against Macbeth
Menteith and Caithness—Noblemen of Scotland in Malcolm’s English Army
Porter—servant at Macbeth’s castle
Murderers—Macbeth’s hired killers
Hecate—Goddess of the Witches
Apparitions—Visions conjured up by the Witches to inform Macbeth of what he should fear for the future
Doctor and Gentlewoman—Servants that witness Lady Macbeth’s sleepwalking
Seyton—An Officer in Macbeth’s Army
Siward—General in the English army fighting with Malcolm
Young Siward—Siward’s son in the English army with Malcolm
Captain—Soldier in Duncan’s military that reports on Macbeth’s success in the battle against Macdonwald
Characters Discussed (Cyclopedia of Literary Characters, Revised Third Edition)
Macbeth (mak-BEHTH), thane of Glamis, later thane of Cawdor and king of Scotland. A brave and successful military leader, and potentially a good and great man, he wins general admiration as well as the particular gratitude of King Duncan, his kinsman. Meeting the Three Weird Sisters, he succumbs to their tempting prophecies, but he also needs the urging of his wife to become a traitor, a murderer, and a usurper. He is gifted, or cursed, with a powerful and vivid imagination and with fiery, poetic language. Gaining power, he grows more ruthless, until finally he loses even the vestiges of humanity. He dies desperately, cheated by the ambiguous prophecies, in full realization of the worthlessness of the fruits of his ambition.
Lady Macbeth, the strong-willed, persuasive, and charming wife of Macbeth. Ambitious for her husband’s glory, she finds herself unable to kill King Duncan in his sleep because he resembles her father. As Macbeth becomes more inhuman, she becomes remorseful and breaks under the strain. In her sleepwalking, she relives the events of the night of the king’s murder and tries to wash her hands clean of imaginary bloodstains.
Banquo (BAN-kwoh), Macbeth’s fellow commander. A man of noble character, seemingly unmoved by the prophecy of the Three Weird Sisters that he will beget kings, he is not completely innocent. He does not disclose his suspicions of Macbeth, and he accepts a place in Macbeth’s court. After being murdered by Macbeth’s assassins, Banquo appears at a ceremonial banquet. His blood-spattered ghost, visible only to Macbeth, unnerves the king completely. In the final vision shown to Macbeth by the Three Weird Sisters, Banquo and his line of kings appear.
The Three Weird Sisters
The Three Weird Sisters, three witches, sinister hags who seem more closely allied to the Norns or Fates than to conventional witches. They make prophetic statements to Macbeth that are true but deceptive. Their prophecy of his becoming thane of Cawdor is fulfilled immediately, tempting him to take direct action to carry out the second prophecy, that he shall be king. They lull him into false security by telling him that he has nothing to fear until Birnam Wood comes to Dunsinane and that he cannot be killed by any man born of woman.
Macduff (mak-DUHF), thane of...
(The entire section is 1036 words.)