Character Analysis

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  • King Duncan: "O valiant cousin! Worthy gentleman!" (1.2.26)

  • Portrayed as a brave, loyal, noble, and strong warrior. Everyone has placed their trust in him as he fights and wins battles

  • Macbeth: "I have no spur/ To prick the sides of my intent, but only/ Vaulting ambition, which overleaps itself/ And falls on the other." (1.7.25-28)

  • Shown to be consumed with ambition which is his hamartia. This driven ambition causes him to perform immoral actions of treason.

  • Macbeth: "I am in blood/ Stepped in so far that, should I wade no more,/ Returning were as tedious as go o'er." (3.4.162-164)

  • Portrayed as an evil king who will not stop at anything to get what he wants. He is ruthless, evil, blinded by anger and ambition, paranoid, impulsive.

  • Malcolm: "Of this dead butcher and his fiend-like Queen" (5.8.81)

  • Shows how much people have changed their opinion on Macbeth as a result of his actions. This is how they feel about Macbeth at the end of the play.

  • These character traits are important to the play because they show how Macbeth’s character progresses throughout the play. It shows how he goes from a noble and loyal soldier to an evil and manipulating traitor.

Lady Macbeth

  • Lady Macbeth: "Look like the innocent flower,/ But be the serpent under it."(1.5.72-73)
  • Develops a change in character over time. Goes from being passionate, strong-willed, determined, devious and controlling to weak, guilty, concerned and suicidal
  • Lady Macbeth: "When you durst do it, then you were a man,/ And, to be more than what you were, you would/ Be so much more the man."(1.7.54-56)
  • Manipulative traits performed by Lady Macbeth could be to blame for Macbeth's downfall
  • Her hamartia is associated with power, wealth and ambition, as she will do anything in order to become queen
  • Lady Macbeth: "A little water clears us of this deed."(2.2.80)
  • Is consumed by guilt due to overwhelming emotions


  • Macduff: "Great tyranny, lay thou thy basis sure,/ For goodness dare not check thee"(4.3.37-38)
  • Loyal to his country
  • Is said to be a determined, independent character
  • Lady Macduff: "When our actions do not,/ Our fears do make us traitors"(4.2.4-5)
  • Possible immature characteristics, as he acts before he thinks
  • Macduff: "I cannot remember such things were/ That were most precious to me."(4.3.255-256)
  • Disconnected yet loving family life
  • His ability to know when to ask for help shows his self-knowledge and proves that he is not arrogant


“...but still keep/My bosom franchised and allegiance clear/I shall be counselled”(2.1.34-36)

  • Very loyal

“What, can the devil speak true?”(1.3.114)

  • This was Banquo’s initial reaction to one of the witches’ prophecies coming true (Macbeth becoming Thane of Cawdor)
  • Does not trust the witches
“And oftentimes, to win us to our harm/the instruments of darkness tell us truths/Win us with honest trifles, to betray us”(1.3.133-136)
  • Banquo thinks the witches will use evil with honesty, meaning that the prophecies may come true, but it will be against them (causing harm).

"...and I fear/ Thou play'dst most foully for it."(3.1.2-3)

  • Suspicious with Macbeth after Duncan’s murder.
  • Cautious
**No negative traits for Banquo, viewed as a courageous and flawless character.


-Duncan does not have much character development (static character)


Duncan, through his actions and words, has demonstrated his characteristic of being too trustful. “There’s no art to find a mind’s construction in the face. He was a gentleman on whom I built an absolute trust.”(1.4.14-16)

Duncan admits that he has a really hard time figuring out people’s thoughts from their face, to which he is extremely vulnerable of being deceived of (his biggest weakness). His trust on people who are supposed to be his close allies, such as the Thane of Cawdor and Macbeth, are those who also betray him.

Optimistic: There are no scenes in which the King was viewed as being depressed (sad). He seems cheerful in every scene, most likely to make his murder more horrendous (by Macbeth).

He is almost always full of joy and wonder, always viewing only the good in things, and only the good in people, while blind to the evil.

“See, see, our honour'd hostess!—The love that follows us sometime is our trouble,

Which still we thank as love. […] Fair and noble hostess, We are your guest to-night.”(1.6.13-15;30-31)


"Let's not consort with them. [...]I'll to England."(2.3.151;154)

  • Shows Malcolm's initial traits
  • Depicted as being scared, and nervous, but also smart and quick-minded.

"Be this the whetstone of your sword. Let grief/Convert to anger."(4.3.261-262)

  • Shows Malcolm becoming stronger and more merciless.
  • Determination is increasing.

"You may deserve of him through me, and wisdom/To offer up a weak, poor, innocent lamb/To appease and angry god."(4.3.17-19)

  • Malcolm does not trust Macduff, showing that he is cautious like Banquo.
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The Witches

  • Witches: "Double, double, toil and trouble,/ Fire burn and cauldron bubble." (4.1.10-11)

  • Shown as evil, cunning, and mischievous creatures. They manipulate Macbeth and play tricks on him, which is why these dominant traits are important to the play.

  • Macbeth: "Infected be the air whereon they ride,/ And damned all those that trust them!" (4.1.157-158)
  • Not trustworthy and are tricksters; deceived Macbeth into his downfall.
  • They are dark and possess magic which they use to present illusions to Macbeth, causing him to be blinded by ambition.



-He is usually the first to notice fine details of the scenes, events, and characters - many things that other characters do not. (1.2.51-52) “What a haste looks through his eyes! So should he look that seems to speak things strange.”

(2.3.108-112) “...their hands and faces were all badged with blood. So were their daggers, which unwiped we found upon their pillows. they stared, and were distracted. No man’s life was to be trusted with them.”

Conscientious(Thorough, careful, vigilant)

-He is the first to describe events that recently happened in detail, along with his own thoughts in a reflective manner. (2.3.108-112) “...their hands and faces were all badged with blood. So were their daggers, which unwiped we found upon their pillows. they stared, and were distracted. No man’s life was to be trusted with them.”

-Lennox interprets the scene of the crime of Duncan’s killing and concludes that from the guards’ stained bodies and pillows, and the unwiped dagger left behind, someone had attempted to frame the guards but failed. This is before Macbeth ‘confesses’ killing them, to cover up with a reason to make him seem innocent.


Lennox’s curious quality complements his perceptiveness and attention to detail. This quality is shown when he notices fine details, and from that point begins to doubt the reasons for Macbeth’s crowning, something which the other characters fail to consider.

(3.6.12-15) “How it did grieve Macbeth! Did he not not straight, in pious rage, the two delinquents tear that were the slaves of drink and thralls of sleep? Was that not nobly done? Ay, and wisely too, for ‘twould have angered any heart alive to hear the men deny it.”
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