In many of Shakespeare’s dramas, the main character has either a heroic side or a villainous side. When the main character is a king, he will most likely have heroic qualities. A king should be classified as someone who is royal, powerful, full of integrity, courageous, trustworthy, intelligent, fair, virtuous, and knowledgeable of his kingdom. In Macbeth, each of the male characters possess a variety of these attributes that would make them worthy to be a king. These male characters include: Duncan, Malcolm, Donalbain, Macduff, Lennox, Ross, Menteith, Angus, Caithness, Fleance, Banquo, and Macbeth.
As the king of Scotland, Duncan is known for his virtuous and benevolent manner. He knows how to take charge, yet he is kind-hearted at the same time. He says, “What he has lost, noble Macbeth hath won.” Here, Duncan seems almost naï¿½ve, and he trusts Macbeth by calling him noble, just to be stabbed in the back later. He also says, “He was a gentleman on whom I built absolute trust.” Duncan takes Macbeth in under his wings and holds him to his heart. Duncan realizes that he is blessed with many joys in his life, “My plenteous joys …” When Duncan dines at Macbeth’s castle, he shows his utmost respect to Macbeth and Lady Macbeth, even though he is the king, and has more power. Duncan also seems to be omnipotent, and he knows exactly what to do to watch out for the safety of his kingdom. Unfortunately, Duncan’s organized and responsible ruling was discarded after his death.
It was not until Malcolm, Duncan’s son, came to the throne, after Macbeth, that the order was restored in Scotland. Malcolm is wise because he figured out that it was Macbeth who killed his father. “I am young; but something You may deserve of him through me; and wisdom To offer up a weak, poor, innocent lamb To appease an angry god.” When Macduff answers, “I am not treacherous,” Malcolm replies, “But Macbeth is.” Malcolm is not afraid to let people know what he has discovered about Macbeth, and he will do anything to get revenge. Malcolm’s brother, Donalbain, however, really only comes into play when he and Malcolm decide to flea Scotland. Donalbain suggests going to different places, and each will be safer if they are separated.
Macduff, the most vengeance-seeking nobleman of Scotland, has the kingly characteristic of having the passion to fight. He is prepared to do anything in his power to take Macbeth off the thrown and secure Malcolm’s kingship, since he is the rightful king. Macduff shows a strong love for his family, and he would show the same love for his country. When he hears of their death, he exclaims, “Merciful heaven! What, man! Ne’er pull your hat upon your brows; Give sorrow words: the grief that does not speak Whispers the o’erfraught heart, and bids it break.”
Lennox, another Scottish nobleman, has a mysterious air, while he comes into play at various times. He is polite and respectful, continuing to say, “… my good lord …” and “… your highness …” Half way through the drama, the reader gets an insight as to Lennox’s views of the murders. “… And the right-valiant Banquo walk’d too late; Whom, you may say, if’t please you, Fleance kill’d, … how monstrous It was for Malcolm and Donalbain To kill their gracious father?” As a king, he would be good at getting the facts together to determine a logical outcome.
Yet another nobleman, Ross, has sensitive qualities that would be beneficial as a king. He consoles Lady Macduff when she discovers her husband has left her. Then, after Lady Macduff and her son’s death, Macduff asks about them, and instead of initially shocking Macduff, he calmly tries to prepare Macduff for the news. He says Macduff’s wife and children are well, and then he breaks the news to him by saying, “Your castle is surpris’d …”
Menteith, Angus, and Caithness are the remaining three noblemen of Scotland. These men join the forces that are lead by Malcolm against Macbeth. The purpose is to overthrow the “tyrant” at Birnam wood. Each of them is ready to fight and go for the kill. They show enthusiasm and courage when it comes to this march.
As Banquo’s son, Fleance was prophesized about when the witches said, “Thou shalt get kings, though thou be none: ” This meant that one of his heirs, such as Fleance, would become king. Because of the fact the Fleance fled the country, it was believed, especially by Lennox, that Fleance escaped because he killed his own father. Although Fleance was just ensuring his safety, he was not seen again the rest of the play.
Banquo, a brave and noble general, had ambitious thoughts; however, he never changed his thoughts into actions. Banquo was clever and began to figure out that it was Macbeth that killed Duncan. As a result, Banquo was murdered. Banquo’s strength continued to affect and scare Macbeth, even after his death, in the form of Banquo’s ghost.
Macbeth, Duncan’s other general, was brave and powerful, but not virtuous by any means. Macbeth’s ambitious thoughts, contrary to Banquo’s, are carried through into dangerous actions, resulting in several murders. Even though Macbeth was a coward by taking these people’s lives, he was courageous because he learned to become independent, as opposed to counting on Lady Macbeth. When he was asked to tell what he was doing during the time of his plan to kill Banquo, he replied, “I will tomorrow.” He became hungry for power, and he became strong within. In the end, he was called a tyrant, and he was suited for the position of king because of his thirst for violence.
As a king during Shakespeare’s time, one would be expected to be loyal, trustworthy, honest, responsible, courageous, and virtuous. In Macbeth, most of the male characters are seen to have at least one of these attributes that would make them worthy to be a king. Even though they all have their flaws, kings are not perfect, and once they become king, with the exception of Macbeth, they will fulfill these qualities.