John Boe, The Tragedy of Macbeth: Character List
Duncan— Historic king of Scotland (1001-103), whom Shakespeare makes into an elderly king. He is clearly virtuous, but perhaps too trusting as he is misled first by the Thane of Cawdor and then by Macbeth.
Malcolm— The eldest son of King Duncan, he flees to England after the King’s mysterious murder in Macbeth’s castle. In England he shows his cleverness and fitness for rule by testing Macduff to make sure he is not a Macbeth spy and by suggesting the soldiers disguise their attack by all holding branches cut from Birnam Wood in front of them. He becomes King at the end of the play.
Donalbain— The youngest son of King Duncan, he flees Macbeth castle after his father’s assassination, going to Ireland.
Macbeth— Thane of Cawdor, then Thane of Glamis, then King of Scotland. A war hero and a loving husband who succumbs to temptation and becomes a murderous tyrant in order to be King. He shares his sensitive and introverted thoughts through soliloquy even as he represses his sensitivity so as to become a cold-blooded murderer.
Banquo—A general of the King’s army, Banquo is Macbeth’s partner in battle and shares the experience of the witches. prophecy with him. Banquo, who unlike Macbeth, maintains his morality and loyalty to the King, ends up murdered by Macbeth, returning as a ghost.
Macduff— The Thane of Fife, a Scottish nobleman, he flees Scotland to join Malcolm in England. Macbeth then kills Macduff’s wife and children at their castle in Fife, causing Macduff to promise revenge, which he gets by vanquishing Macbeth.
Lennox—A Scottish nobleman, he becomes more and more sarcastic about Macbeth’s virtue and more and more fearful for Scotland’s fate.
Ross— A Scottish nobleman and cousin of Macduff’s who primarily acts as a messenger in the play.
Menteith— A Scottish nobleman who joins Malcolm and Macduff in fighting against Macbeth.
Angus— A Scottish nobleman, he follows King Duncan at the beginning of the play and fights with Malcolm and Macduff at the end of the play.
Cathness— A Scottish nobleman, he joins Malcolm and Macduff to fight Macbeth. He doesn’t speak.
Fleance—Banquo’s son, he escapes the murderers who kill his father and although his whereabouts are unknown at the end of the play, his survival suggests that his descendants will eventually be Kings.
Siward—Earl of Northumberland and leader of the 10,000 man English forces that fight with Malcolm, he loses his son in the battle.
Young Siward—Siward’s son, he is killed in battle by Macbeth.
Seyton—An attendant to Macbeth, he brings Macbeth his armor and informs him of the death of his wife.
Boy—Macduff’s son, he shows precocious wit and charm in conversation with his mother, then is killed by Macbeth’s hired murderers.
An English Doctor—The doctor brags about how King Edward the Confessor of England can miraculously cure diseases.
A Scottish Doctor—He attends Lady Macbeth and reports on her sleepwalking.
A Soldier (A Captain)—He describes to King Duncan Macbeth’s battle heroism despite bleeding from his own wounds.
A Porter—The doorkeeper at Macbeth’s castle, he has a long perhaps drunken and perhaps funny soliloquy before opening the gates to Macduff and Lenox on the morning of King Duncan’s murder.
An Old Man—With Rosse, he discusses the evil omens associated with the murder of King Duncan.
Lady Macbeth—Macbeth’s wife. She encourages Macbeth to be active in fulfilling the witches’ prophecy by killing Duncan. After the deed, she gradually descends into hallucinatory madness, constantly washing her hands.
Lady Macduff—Wife of Lord Macduff, killed by Macbeth’s hired murderers.
Gentlewoman—Attendants on Lady Macbeth.
Hecate—Classical Goddess of the underworld, she appears as the three witches’ superior.
Three Witches—Either supernatural or in touch with the supernatural, they lead Macbeth to his destruction by showing him the future. They are female, bearded, and evil.
Apparitions—Supernatural visions brought to Macbeth by the witches: an armed head, a bloody child, a child crowned with a tree in hand.
Lords—Members of Macbeth’s court.
Soldiers—They represent Macbeth’s and Malcolm’s armies.
Murderers— Two murderers are hired at Macbeth’s castle, but a third joins them for the murder of Banquo.
Attendants— The retinue following Kings Duncan and Macbeth.
Messengers— Macbeth’s servants.