Macbeth - Macbeth is a Scottish general and the thane of Glamis who is led to wicked thoughts by the prophecies of
the three witches, especially after their prophecy that he will be made thane of Cawdor comes true. Macbeth is a
brave soldier and a powerful man, but he is not a virtuous one. He is easily tempted into murder to fulfill his ambitions
to the throne, and once he commits his first crime and is crowned King of Scotland, he embarks on further atrocities
with increasing ease. Ultimately, Macbeth proves himself better suited to the battlefield than to political intrigue,
because he lacks the skills necessary to rule without being a tyrant. His response to every problem is violence and
murder. Unlike Shakespeare’s great villains, such as Iago in Othello and Richard III in Richard III, Macbeth is never
comfortable in his role as a criminal. He is unable to bear the psychological consequences of his atrocities.
Lady Macbeth - Macbeth’s wife, a deeply ambitious woman who lusts for power and position. Early in the play she
seems to be the stronger and more ruthless of the two, as she urges her husband to kill Duncan and seize the crown.
After the bloodshed begins, however, Lady Macbeth falls victim to guilt and madness to an even greater degree than
her husband. Her conscience affects her to such an extent that she eventually commits suicide. Interestingly, she and
Macbeth are presented as being deeply in love, and many of Lady Macbeth’s speeches imply that her influence over
her husband is primarily sexual. Their joint alienation from the world, occasioned by their partnership in crime, seems
to strengthen the attachment that they feel to each another.
The Three Witches - Three “black and midnight hags” who plot mischief against Macbeth using charms, spells, and
prophecies. Their predictions prompt him to murder Duncan, to order the deaths of Banquo and his son, and to
blindly believe in his own immortality. The play leaves the witches’ true identity unclear—aside from the fact that they
are servants of Hecate, we know little about their place in the cosmos. In some ways they resemble the mythological
Fates, who impersonally weave the threads of human destiny. They clearly take a perverse delight in using their
knowledge of the future to toy with and destroy human beings.
Banquo - The brave, noble general whose children, according to the witches’ prophecy, will inherit the Sco