Characters are people presented in a literary piece to explain an overarching theme or idea of the writer. They sometime become mouthpieces of authors, while at other times, take their own personalities on account of specific features. Famous characters of Macbeth have become memorable and living characters such as Lady Macbeth and Banquo. Some of the memorable characters are discussed below.
Characters in Macbeth
Macbeth, Thane of Glamis
A general in the Scottish army and the Thane of Glamis in Scotland, Macbeth is the most memorable character in Macbeth. A valiant and powerful soldier, Macbeth is in the inner circle of King Duncan and a very loyal relative. Besides a general, friend and thane, he is also a loving husband. However, he falls prey to two wicked things; the prophecies of the witches and the urgings of his wife. Once he starts thinking of the prophecies of becoming the king and taking hold of the state, he becomes obsessed with this thought. Lady Macbeth adds fuel to the fire by instigating him further. Imaginatively, he is a powerful person who can imagine of killing and then executing it. However, his weakness lies in the fact that he is a weak-minded person who could be easily swayed by predictions of the witches and urgings of his wife. He faces his death at the hands of the invading army led by Malcolm by the end. It is because of his crimes of assassinations, treachery and betrayals.
King Duncan is a generous king of Scotland. He is also a relative to Macbeth, as his resemblance to Lady Macbeth’s father show it. He is not only kind but also very trusting fellow but is also ready to punish his opponents. In the play, his role is very limited. He has announced rewards for Macbeth and Banquo and nominated Malcolm as his heir. Macbeth stabs him during sleep when he visits him and tries to occupy the throne himself.
Lady Macbeth is among one of the memorable characters among the Shakespearean characters. She has the ruthlessness of a criminal as well as the heart of a child. It is she who has pushed Macbeth to kill the king. Whenever Macbeth has some misgivings, she chides him. She urges him to awaken his manliness. However, by the end she becomes mentally so weak that she suffers from sleepwalk and depression. She commits suicide by the end showing she could not bear the enormity of the crime. She has used memorable words and phrases such as “inform of purpose” when referring to weakness of Macbeth and “Unsex me here” referring to her own firm resolve.
Malcolm and Donalbain
Malcolm and Donalbain are sons of King Duncan. When King Duncan visits Macbeth, he is assassinated. Macduff, a noble from Scotland, discovers his body and sounds the alarm where Malcolm and Donalbain first appear. When they try to talk to each other, they sense dangers and immediately decide to flee. Donalbain, the wise one, advises Malcolm to escape. Malcolm tells Donalbain to flee to England, while he himself would be heading to Ireland. He tells his brother that “There’s daggers in men’s smiles” and leave the scene. Both of them appear by the end when Macbeth is facing a huge army led by Malcolm.
Banquo, Thane of Lochaber
Banquo is another general in the Scottish Army. He is a Thane of Lochaber. He is a close friend of Macbeth and an ally of King Duncan. He is with Macbeth when they first meet three witches but they predict that Banquo’s descendants will be the king and not Banquo himself. Macbeth later gets him killed through his assassins while his son, Fleance, succeeds in escaping from the scene. Banquo’s ghost causes Macbeth to raise an alarm during a festivity. His character is significant in that he realizes Macbeth the enormity of his crime.
Macduff, Thane of Fife
Although a minor character, role of Macduff is critical in Macbeth. He proves his antagonist. He doubts Macbeth’s role in the assassination of the king very early. He becomes a threat to Macbeth so much so that the three witches warn Macbeth of this threat with the name of Macduff as “Beware Macduff.” It is also interesting to note that Macbeth confronts him in the last scene when he invades his castle. He kills Macbeth and presents his head to Malcolm, the son of King Duncan and next heir to the throne.
Siward, Earl of Northumerland
He is a great soldier in the army of the King of England. He appears in the final scene with Malcolm, leading the army to attack the castle to kill Macbeth. He is also a blood relative of the King Duncan and uncle of Malcolm. He is a brave fellow who receives the news of his son’s death in the final battle with reticence.
Three Witches, the Weird Sisters
Three witches, or as they are called weird sisters, are three supernatural characters in Macbeth. They play an important role in the killings and violence. They open the play with their incantation of “hurly burly” and their prediction of Macbeth killed by a man not born of woman ends the play. They are important in that the part of the play, where killing takes place, depends on them.
Ross, Macbeth’s Cousin
Ross is a noble man of Scotland. Although his character is not significant for the main events of the play, he is important in exposing Macbeth’s treachery and betrayal. He appears in the first scene to announce the victory of Macbeth and then conveys the King’s pleasure to Macbeth. He says with Macbeth but when comes to know the murder of the King, he turns against him and joins Malcolm and English forces.
Lady Macduff, Macduff’s Wife
Although a minor character, Lady Macduff is the wife of Macduff, the Thane of Fife. She appears for a very short time with her son but is immediately murdered. This innocent murder of Lady Macduff causes pity in the audience and hatred for Macbeth. She is the unfortunate mother who tries to cry out to save her son but is murdered in this effort.