What five words could be used to describe each of the main characters?

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gmuss25 eNotes educator| Certified Educator


  1. Conflicted: Macbeth struggles with his conscience throughout the play.
  2. Guilty: After committing regicide, Macbeth is overwhelmed by guilt.
  3. Naive: Macbeth believes and trusts in the prophecies.
  4. Violent: Macbeth is a skilled warrior, who also murders King Duncan.
  5. Tyrannical: Macbeth rules as a bloodthirsty tyrant once he becomes king.

Lady Macbeth

  1. Wicked: She prays for a callous soul and the opportunity to kill King Duncan.
  2. Ambitious: She convinces her husband to murder King Duncan in order for her to become queen.
  3. Manipulative: She ridicules her husband and persuades him into killing the king.
  4. Afflicted: Following Duncan's murder, Lady Macbeth's mental health begins to decline.
  5. Overwhelmed: Lady Macbeth's guilt overwhelms her as she begins to hallucinate and sleepwalk.


  1. Brave: Along with Macbeth, Banquo enjoys the honor of his military exploits.
  2. Discerning: He does not fully trust the prophecies of the Three Witches and questions their true intentions.
  3. Loyal: He remains loyal to King Duncan and offers his support to Macbeth with the understanding that Macbeth played no part in Duncan's murder.
  4. Concerned: He questions how the prophecies will affect his future.
  5. Curious: He is initially curious to learn about his prophecy.

King Duncan

  1. Generous
  2. Moral
  3. Just
  4. Naive
  5. Sympathetic


  1. Intelligent
  2. Cautious
  3. Honorable
  4. Vengeful
  5. Diplomatic


  1. Fierce
  2. Loyal
  3. Passionate
  4. Courageous
  5. Aggressive
Julie Feng eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Five words is not a lot to describe the extremely complex characters of Shakespeare's Macbeth, but here is a longer list of adjectives for each of the main characters. I think that a lot of these descriptor words are up to interpretation, so they depend on the individual reader's opinions. For instance, a character like Banquo, although he shows up often, does not have a strong personality. Some variations of descriptive words for characters might be: 

Macbeth- contemplative, selfish, cruel, weak, hesitant, haunted, zealous, tyrant, desirous

Lady Macbeth- manipulative, persuasive, ambitious, strong, ruthless, sensual, grotesque, liar, dominant, action-oriented, mad, powerful, willful, aggressive, purposeful, passionate

Duncan- fair, respected, naive, trusting, happy, jolly, jovial, optimistic, meek, moral, terrible judge of character 

Banquo- brave, loyal, diplomatic, virtuous, friendly, insightful, astute, shrewd

Macduff- emotional, courageous, strong-willed, righteous, justice-oriented, focused, deliberate, heroic, responsive, intuitive

Malcolm- naive (at first), dignified, honest, suspicious, clever, brave, flexible, open-minded

The three witches/weird sisters (as well as Hecate and all the other apparitions that show up)- evil, creepy, spooky, eerie, loud, troublemaking, prophetic

litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I would describe Macbeth and Lady Macbeth as ambitious.  I would describe Macbeth as ruthless, and Lady Macbeth as sensitive.  I would describe Malcolm as intelligent and honorable.  I would describe the witches as manipulative and cruel.  Finally, Banquo is timid.

kiyani | Student

King duncan kind, lovable, nice, good ruler.Macbeth brave, ambitious, violent,power hungery, rude in the later.Lady macbeth ambitious, good in manipulating and pursuing her husband , sort of intelligent and clever in the act of mudering the king when they were making plannings.banquo timid,coward.Witches evil sisters