What are the quotes from ACT I which show: 1. Bravery/Courage 2. Trust 3. Ambition 4. Loyalty The quotes may concern any character in the play.

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litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator


Macbeth is considered brave.  When we first hear about him, he is being praised for his efforts in defeating the Thane of Cawdor.  As the bloody sergeant says:

For brave Macbeth—well he deserves that name—

Disdaining fortune, with his brandish'd steel,

Which smoked with bloody execution,

Like valor's minion carved out his passage

Till he faced the slave (enotes etext pdf p. 9)

Macbeth was either brave, or out for revenge.  His actions were definitely interpreted as bravery.


Duncan tells Malcolm in Act 1, Scene 4, that he totally trusts Macbeth.

There's no art

To find the mind's construction in the face:

He was a gentleman on whom I built

An absolute trust. (p. 17)

It is also clear in Act I that Duncan trusts Macbeth.  He even seems to feel bad about not promoting him sooner.  In Act I, Scene 3:

Would thou hadst less deserved,

That the proportion both of thanks and payment

Might have been mine! Only I have left to say,

More is thy due than more than all can pay. (p. 17)

Duncan completely trusts Macbeth.  It is his downfall.  He was not at all suspicious about visiting Macbeth’s castle.

I think that trust of the witches also plays a part here.  Macbeth clearly believed what they say.  When part of the prophecy comes true and he is named Thane of Cawdor, he expects the other part, being king, to come true as well.

If chance will have me king, why, chance

may crown me

Without my stir. (p. 16)

Macbeth thinks he will be king without having to do anything.  When he finds out he is not named Duncan’s successor, he gets murderous intentions.


Macbeth seems to be a loyal subject at first.  However, the witches twist his thoughts.  His loyalty becomes a lie.

The service and the loyalty I owe,

In doing it, pays itself. Your highness’ part

Is to receive our duties, and our duties
Are to your throne and state, children and servants,
Which do but what they should, by doing every thing
Safe toward your love and honor. (p. 17)


Macbeth seems unambitious in the beginning, but note that he lies to Duncan when he names Malcolm his successor.  To himself, he shows his rage:

The Prince of Cumberland! That is a step

On which I must fall down, or else o'erleap,

For in my way it lies. Stars, hide your fires;

Let not light see my black and deep desires (p. 18)

When his wife hears the news, things get even worse as she goads him to murder Duncan.

In Act 1, Scene 5:

That I may pour my spirits in thine ear,

And chastise with the valor of my tongue

All that impedes thee from the golden round,

Which fate and metaphysical aid doth seem

To have thee crown'd withal. (p. 18)

Ambition is definitely something Lady Macbeth possesses in spades. 

reidalot eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Many quotes in the first act of the play address the traits you mention.

First of all for bravery/courage, Duncan asks for a report of Macbeth's and Banquo's courage when a fresh assault had begun by the "Norweyan lord." The Sergeant tells Duncan they were not bothered by this new attack comparing their bravery to an eagle being bothered by a sparrow or a lion being bothered by a rabbit. In fact, the more danger they encountered, the harder they fought as cannons overcharged:

As sparrows eagles, or the hare the lion. If I say sooth, I must report they were
As cannons overcharged with double cracks, so they
Doubly redoubled strokes upon the foe (Act I, scene II)

Next, for trust, Duncan decides to reward Macbeth for his fearlessness in battle and their victory by bestowing the title upon him of Thane of Cawdor which is a great honor. Giving Macbeth this title illustrates his trust:

No more that thane of Cawdor shall deceive
Our bosom interest: go pronounce his present death,
And with his former title greet Macbeth Act I, scene II)

Banquo is a loyal man to Duncan's throne, and he remains loyal throughout the play even though he, like Macbeth, has heard the witches' prophecies. Duncan assures Banquo he will be rewarded for his bravery even though the reward may occur later: "I have begun to plant thee, and will labour To make thee full of growing" (Act I, scene IV). Duncan uses this metaphor to compare Banquo to a plant that he will grow. Banquo shows his loyalty in response to Duncan: "There if I grow,The harvest is your own" (Act I, scene IV). Banquo assures Duncan he is loyal and will serve him faithfully as the harvest, his service, belongs to the king.

Ambition becomes Macbeth's character flaw. Once he is rewarded with the title, Thane of Cawdor and hears the prophecies, he thinks of becoming king. However, that means removing Duncan from the throne. His wife, Lady Macbeth, is also ambitious and will stop at nothing to ascend to the throne she says:

The raven himself is hoarse
That croaks the fatal entrance of Duncan
Under my battlements. Come, you spirits
That tend on mortal thoughts, unsex me here,
And fill me from the crown to the toe top-full
Of direst cruelty! (Act I, scene V)

Lady Macbeth states that Duncan will die, and wants to be strong and cruel to do the bloody deed. She and Macbeth will stop at nothing to attain power; their ambition is unchecked.