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Minor Characters


Fleance

Fleance is Banquo’s son. After Macbeth sends murderers after Banquo and Fleance, Banquo fights off the murderers while Fleance flees. In Shakespeare’s source material, the legendary semi-historical accounts of the Holinshed Chronicles, Fleance eventually goes on to sire a son who returns to Scotland and begins the Stuart line of monarchs. King James I of England, Shakespeare’s patron, was a Stuart, and many scholars have speculated that the the play’s gracious portrayal of Banquo was meant to flatter the king.

Ross

Ross is a Scottish thane who serves as a messenger throughout the play. Ross first appears in act I, scene II, when he reports to Duncan about Macbeth and Banquo’s victory over the Norwegian forces. He later defects to Malcolm’s cause after it becomes increasingly clear that Macbeth is a tyrant. Ross’s role as a messenger is often used to introduce information about events that happen offstage, such as when he reports about the deaths of Macduff’s family and Young Siward.

Donalbain

Donalbain is Duncan’s younger son and Malcolm’s brother. After his father’s murder, he flees to Ireland, hoping that separating from his brother will safeguard him. Macbeth spreads the rumor that Malcolm and Donalbain were responsible for their father’s death, using their hasty escape as evidence of their guilt.

Hecate

In ancient Greek mythology, Hecate is the goddess of witchcraft. She is presented as the queen of the witches, and she chastises the three “weird sisters” for speaking to Macbeth without her. The three weird sisters seem to fear Hecate, remarking nervously about her “angerly” expression and hastening to do what she asks. Hecate devises the plan to lull Macbeth into a false sense of security by issuing misleading prophecies in act IV, scene I, claiming that “security is mortals’ chiefest enemy.” 

There is controversy surrounding whether Hecate was included in the original manuscript of the play or whether she was added in a later edition. Some Shakespearean scholars believe that a different poet is responsible for the scenes featuring Hecate, citing their incongruous tone and verse structure as evidence.

Siward

Siward is the English Earl of Northumberland and Malcolm’s uncle. He leads the army that Malcolm uses to reclaim Scotland from Macbeth. Siward is a stoic man who values honor and courage. When he hears that his son died in battle, his primary concern is whether his son died an honorable death. When he hears that his son’s wounds were on his front rather than on his back, he says that he could not “wish [Young Siward] to a fairer death” and refuses to mourn him further.

The Doctor

The Doctor is called in to assess Lady Macbeth’s sleepwalking. Upon hearing her talk in her sleep, he becomes convinced that her malady is not physical, but spiritual. He suggests that the only cure for what ails Lady Macbeth, and Macbeth himself, is to confess to a priest.

Lady Macduff

Lady Macduff is Macduff’s wife. She loves her children and is not afraid to challenge her husband’s decisions, which is evident when she criticizes...

(The entire section is 778 words.)