Character and characterisation

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Character & characterisation

Character Brief description: How do they change? What are their main contributions? Characteristation
Macbeth [What kind of person is he?] [How does he change?] [His main contributions] [Comment on how he is developed]
Lady Macbeth






As with all of Shakespeare's great characters, Macbeth's image in our minds is built up by others before he first walks on stage. Read the Sergeant's descriptions of Macbeth's actions on the battlefield.

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What do the passages below tell you about Macbeth?

Description: Develops Macbeth's character:
Sergeant: For brave Macbeth--well he deserves that name--

Disdaining fortune, with his brandish'd steel,
Which smoked with bloody execution,
Like valour's minion carved out his passage
Till he faced the slave;
Which ne'er shook hands, nor bade farewell to him,
Till he unseam'd him from the nave to the chaps,
And fix'd his head upon our battlements.

Sergeant: the Norweyan lord surveying vantage,

With furbish'd arms and new supplies of men
Began a fresh assault.
DUNCAN: Dismay'd not this
Our captains, Macbeth and Banquo?
Sergeant: Yes;
As sparrows eagles, or the hare the lion.


Other aspects of his character

Find evidence for the follow:

  • Macbeth offer great insights into the nature of the world:
  • He has a very powerful imagination. It sometime runs away from him.

Lady Macbeth

One could argue that at the beginning of the play, Lady Macbeth drives the couple's ambition, but by the end of the play Macbeth is in charge. What evidence can you find for this statement?


Macbeth's size and power is developed, in part, through the way other characters are contrasted with him. The men most close to him are relatively dull, boring and without a clear sense of individuality.

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  • Compare Duncan, Malcolm, Banquo and Macduff to Macbeth.