What type of character is Duncan in Act 1, scene 4 of Macbeth?

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litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Duncan is a relatively flat character in Macbeth, largely because he gets murdered early on.  In Act I, we are introduced to Duncan as the noble king of Scotland.  Duncan begins by asking if the Thane of Cawdor has been executed yet, and reminiscing on the fact that it’s hard to know how to trust.

There's no art 

To find the mind's construction in the face: 

He was a gentleman on whom I built(15) 

An absolute trust.  (lines 13-16)

This foreshadows Duncan’s problems with the second Thane of Cawdor, Macbeth, a man who also betrays Duncan.  Duncan trusts Macbeth, and actually feels bad that he was not promoted sooner.

O worthiest cousin! 

The sin of my ingratitude even now 
Was heavy on me. Thou art so far before, 
That swiftest wing of recompense is slow(20) 
To overtake thee. (lines 17-21)

Therefore Duncan is a little overly-trusting.  He also comments on how he will further Macbeth and Banquo’s careers. 

Duncan seems very caring also.

Noble Banquo, 

That hast no less deserved, nor must be known 
No less to have done so; let me enfold thee(35) 
And hold thee to my heart.  (lines 33-36)


Clearly, Duncan is a nice guy who is full of affection and takes care of those whom he sees as friends and loyal servants, but he is a little too trusting.

shannonleejoseph | Student

duncan is a worthy king he has absolute love and respect for macbeth .he is very impressed  with macbeths bravery and therefore gives him a promotion ad announces macbeth thane of cowdor