Briefly describe the character of Donalbain from Macbeth.

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kmj23's profile pic

kmj23 | (Level 1) Educator

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In Macbeth, Donalbain is a son of King Duncan. His older brother is Malcolm, the heir to the throne of Scotland. Though he is present throughout the early scenes of the play, Donalbain does not speak, which makes it difficult to glean any details about his character. When his father is murdered in Act II, Scene 3, Donalbain realizes this act has a political motive, and he expresses some fear to his brother, Malcolm:

Hid in an auger-hole, may rush and seize us?

Let’s away.

In other words, Donalbain realizes his father's murder has a direct impact on his own life. While concerned for his own life (and his brother's), he still mourns the loss of his father, which suggests that he has strong family ties. This is shown in the next line:

Our tears are not yet brewed.

Donalbain does not flee with his brother. Instead, he goes to Ireland because he knows that being separated from Malcolm will ensure a better chance of survival. In this respect, Donalbain is politically very astute. Moreover, that Donalbain intends on raising on army suggests that he is keen to fight back and that he does not shy away from danger and physical violence. As such, he will protect his family's dynasty, whatever the cost. 

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sharrons's profile pic

sharrons | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Adjunct Educator

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In Macbeth, Donalbain is King Duncan’s son and Malcolm’s  younger brother.    He is “present  but silent in the early scenes of the play.” When he finds out that his father, King Duncan, has been murdered, he suggests that he and Malcolm leave.  Malcolm goes to England and Duncan goes to Ireland.

Donalbain  suggests that  he and his brother leave the country because he knows that whoever is responsible for killing Duncan will come after him and his brother next because they are next in line to the throne.

After their departure, Donalbain and Macbeth come under suspicion for murdering their father.  (It is thought that they killed him because they wanted to be kind.)

Donalbain has a very small part in Macbeth especially compared to his brother Malcolm who has “one of the three main speaking parts in the play” (next to Macbeth and Lady Macbeth)

 

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