Duncan, King of Scotland – A venerable and well-liked king that is brutally murdered by Macbeth so that he can realize the witches’ prophecy and become king. He is killed while staying at Macbeth’s own castle.
Macbeth – Title character; a nobleman of Scotland, Thane of Glamis; becomes Thane of Cawdor after original namesake is killed for treason. The weird sisters prophesize that he will become king but that his friend Banquo’s posterity shall later have the crown. He kills Duncan to become king, murders Banquo and all of Macduff’s family. The play follows his degeneration as he unsuccessfully tries to keep the throne. He is brutally killed in the end by a vengeful Macduff.
Lady Macbeth – Macbeth’s wife; she urges him to kill King Duncan so that he will have the crown. She later loses her resolve and courage and begins to sleepwalk because of the stress of the crime; commits suicide.
Banquo – Friend of Macbeth and nobleman of Scotland. The witches predict that his sons will be the future kings of Scotland; Macbeth murders him because of this divination. His ghost haunts Macbeth at his coronation banquet; the ghost’s entrance marks the beginning of Macbeth’s end.
Macduff – Scottish nobleman; enemy of Macbeth. He suspects Macbeth of Duncan’s murder and enlists Malcolm, Siward and the King of England’s help in overthrowing Macbeth from the throne. He wants revenge because Macbeth killed his whole family. Macduff finally kills Macbeth because he was not “born of a woman” (Act 4, Scene 1, Line 80) -he was removed from his mother via a cesarean section.
Malcolm – First son of Duncan and heir to the throne; escapes to England after his father’s murder for fear of his life. He is convinced to return to Scotland and claim the throne by Macduff and leads the revolt against Macbeth.
Donalbain – Second son of Duncan; escapes to Ireland after his father’s murder for fear of his life; does not join Malcolm in revolt against Macbeth.
Lennox – Nobleman of Scotland; urges Macduff to bring Malcolm back from England as the rightful heir to the throne.
Ross, Menteith, Angus, Caithness – Scottish noblemen who eventually help Malcolm with his coup d’etat.
Fleance – Son to Banquo; Macbeth tries to kill him but he escapes.
Siward – Earl of Northumberland and general of the English forces; helps Malcolm regain the throne.
Young Siward – Siward’s son; killed by Macbeth in a duel.
Seyton – An officer attending Macbeth.
Son – to Macduff; brutally murdered under Macbeth’s orders.
Lady Macduff – Macduff’s wife; brutally murdered under Macbeth’s orders.
Porter – Opens the gate for Malcolm and Lennox directly after King Duncan’s death.
An Old Man – Talks to Ross about the strange events that occurred on the night of Duncan’s murder.
Murderers – Enlisted by Macbeth to kill Banquo and Fleance; they kill Banquo but Fleance escapes from them.
Gentlewoman – Attendant to Lady Macbeth; observes her strange somnambulatory behavior and enlists the aid of a doctor.
Hecate – Protector of witches/enchanters and the weird sisters’ mistress; concocts a potion that will lead Macbeth to his ruin.
Witches – The weird sisters; prophesize that Macbeth will become Thane of Cawdor and King of Scotland; also predict that Banquo’s sons will be heirs to the throne although Banquo himself will never be king. Because of their predictions, Macbeth murders many people. They also help Hecate concoct a potion that will lead Macbeth to his ruin.
Apparitions – Summoned by the weird sisters, they come in three forms: a helmeted head, a bloody child and a crowned child holding a tree. They respectively tell Macbeth to beware the Thane of Fife (Macduff); fear any man who was born of a woman and remain courageous until Great Birnam Wood travels to Dunsinane Hill. A fourth apparition shows Macbeth Banquo’s sons as future kings.
Doctor – Tells the gentlewoman that Lady Macbeth sleepwalks because of some mental/internal suffering and agony.
Lords, Officers, Soldiers, Attendants, Messengers