Notes on Characters from Macbeth

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Macbeth Major Characters

The Witches: The witches are the instigators of the play because their prophecies prompt Macbeth to action. They are three sisters who trick Macbeth into believing that he is invincible, which leads to his downfall.

Macbeth: Macbeth is a general of Duncan's army before he gets greedy and wants the crown for himself. He murders the king and Banquo, the other general, as well as having Macduff's entire family killed, all so that he can protect the crown. Despite his ruthlessness to keep his position, he is plagued by guilt for his crimes and as a result sees ghosts of his victims. Macbeth is killed by Macduff in battle.

Duncan: Duncan is the king of Scotland who is betrayed in the beginning of the play by the Thane of Cawdor. Duncan gives the traitor's title to Macbeth and foreshadows the general's betrayal. Macbeth murders Duncan and frames Duncan's guards for the murder.

Malcolm: Malcolm is Duncan's oldest son and heir to the Scottish throne. When his father is murdered, Malcolm and his brother flee Macbeth's castle. Malcolm goes to England to seek English help to regain the throne that is rightfully his. In the end, he is pronounced king, and order is restored.

Banquo: Banquo is a general of Duncan's army, and the witches prophesy that his descendants will rule Scotland after Macbeth is king. This prophecy makes Banquo an enemy to Macbeth, so Macbeth has Banquo murdered. Banquo's ghost haunts Macbeth at a banquet, and this vision makes the Scottish lords suspicious of their new king.

Lady Macbeth: Lady Macbeth is Macbeth's wife. She insists that he murder Duncan and take the throne for himself. She is the driving force behind Macbeth's plays for power, but in the end she drives herself mad because of her guilt over the murders. She kills herself.

Macduff: Macduff is a Scottish noble who suspects that Macbeth has murdered Duncan from the very beginning. When Macduff goes to England to support Malcolm, Macbeth has Macduff's entire family killed at their home. Macduff is the man who finally kills Macbeth in battle.

Minor Characters

Donalbain: Donalbain is the younger of Duncan's sons. He flees for Ireland after his father is murdered at Macbeth's castle in Inverness.

Lennox: Lennox is a Thane, a nobleman, of Scotland, seems to side with Macbeth for most of the play, but in the end he is with Malcolm and the English soldiers who are fighting against Macbeth.

Ross: Ross is a Thane, a nobleman, of Scotland.

Angus: Angus is a Thane, a nobleman, of Scotland.

Fleance: Fleance is Banquo's son and a threat to Macbeth because he is one of Banquo's descendants. Macbeth tries to have Fleance killed along with Banquo, but Fleance escapes.

Hecate: Hecate is the goddess of witchcraft who decides that Macbeth must be punished for his selfishness and greed. She is the one who makes the witches present Macbeth's fortune in a way that suggests success for him, but really outlines his downfall.

Lady Macduff: Lady Macduff is Macduff's wife. Macbeth had her and her children murdered in their castle at Fife because Macduff sided with Malcolm and went to England to help Malcolm garner support for a battle with Macbeth.

Siward: Siward is the Earl of Northumberland, general of the English forces, who helps Malcolm fight Macbeth.

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