In Macbeth, what are 3 or 4 character traits of Macbeth? If possible include examples like quotes? I need this to further expand my knowledge how the traits are a wide explanation of Macbeth's...

In Macbeth, what are 3 or 4 character traits of Macbeth? If possible include examples like quotes?

I need this to further expand my knowledge how the traits are a wide explanation of Macbeth's character in the play

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William Delaney eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Shakespeare has given Macbeth several obvious character traits. In the first place, Macbeth is ambitious. This play is all about ambition. It can be considered Macbeth’s tragic flaw. He is married to a lady who is even more ambitious than he is. Secondly, Macbeth is exceptionally powerful and courageous. Duncan admires and rewards him because he feels that he might have been overthrown by the invaders without Macbeth’s leadership and bravery. And thirdly, Macbeth is guided and sometimes overwhelmed by his strong emotions. In this respect he is similar to Othello. Macbeth experiences love for his wife and for King Duncan. He is subject to hallucinations. He is torn by guilt, remorse, fear, greed, ambition, rage, suspicion, hatred, self-loathing, and finally depression and despair. He never appears onstage without being in the grip of some powerful emotion, or conflicting emotions.

A good quote to illustrate Macbeth’s ambition is to be found in Act 1, Scene 7, where he ends his long soliloquy with these words:

I have no spur
To prick the sides of my intent, but only
Vaulting ambition, which o'erleaps itself
And falls on the other

Lady Macbeth interrupts him before he can finish his soliloquy with the obvious word "side." A good example of Macbeth's slavish devotion to his wife as well as of their joint ambition is to be found in this same scene, where he tells her he has decided against killing Duncan.


Was the hope drunk
Wherein you dress'd yourself? hath it slept since?
And wakes it now, to look so green and pale
At what it did so freely? From this time
Such I account thy love. Art thou afeard
To be the same in thine own act and valour
As thou art in desire? Wouldst thou have that
Which thou esteem'st the ornament of life,
And live a coward in thine own esteem,
Letting 'I dare not' wait upon 'I would,'
Like the poor cat i' the adage?

Macbeth's warrior qualities are described early in the play, as in Act 1, Scene 2.


... but all's too weak:
For brave Macbeth--well he deserves that name--
Disdaining fortune, with his brandish'd steel,
Which smoked with bloody execution,
Like valour's minion carved out his passage
Till he faced the slave;
Which ne'er shook hands, nor bade farewell to him,
Till he unseam'd him from the nave to the chaps,
And fix'd his head upon our battlements.


O valiant cousin! worthy gentleman!

A good example of Macbeth's strong emotional nature can be found in the entire scene in which Banquo's ghost appears at the banquet table seated in the place of honor which would have been reserved for the newly crowned king.

Why, what care I? If thou canst nod, speak too.
If charnel-houses and our graves must send
Those that we bury back, our monuments
Shall be the maws of kites.        (3.4)

Macbeth makes some marvelous speeches in Act 5, Scene 3, when he is being attacked in his castle by the English army supplemented by his own Scottish thanes. One of these soliloquies begins with the words "Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow." Another begins when he asks Lady Macbeth's doctor, "Canst thou not minister to a mind diseased?" These and other speeches in the last scenes of Act 5 show his depression, desperation, disillusionment, and still unflagging courage.