Characters

In Shakespeare’s Elizabethan play Macbeth, we meet numerous characters, but only a handful of them are truly important. You can find an overview of them below (Fig. 1). 

The main character and tragic hero of the play is Macbeth, a Scottish nobleman who decides to kill his king, Duncan, because three witches predict that Macbeth will become king. His wife, Lady Macbeth, fully supports his ambition, although her guilty conscience later appears to drive her mad.

After Duncan’s murder, Macbeth becomes king and then has his friend and fellow general Banquo murdered because the witches made a prophecy for him too: Banquo is to be the father of future kings, which Macbeth sees as a threat. However, Banquo’s ghost returns to haunt him. Macbeth goes to see the witches for the second time and receive another prophecy, but he fails to interpret it correctly.

The late King Duncan’s eldest son, Malcolm, returns to overthrow Macbeth, assisted by Macduff, a nobleman whose family has been killed by Macbeth’s men. Macduff kills Macbeth, as predicted by the witches, and Malcolm becomes king.

In the following pages, you can find a detailed characterisation of the characters mentioned above. And below we have made an overview of the central characters of the play. 

Fig. 1. Overview of the characters of Macbeth