What Are Character Traits in "Macbeth"?

The traits of characters in Macbeth range from trusting, virtuous and generous, as with Duncan, to cruel and conspiring, as with Lady Macbeth. The characters in Macbeth have complex personalities and embody many different traits. Along with Duncan, Fleance and Banquo lean more towards the side of kindness and compassion, while other characters, particularly Macbeth, gravitate towards sinister thoughts and actions.

The characters in Macbeth exhibit a wide spectrum of traits, and while some show extremes in temperament and behavior, others strike a balance between good and evil. Lennox and Ross, for instance, act as messengers and narrators throughout the play. Initially they appear to be simple characters who do not have the ability to form their own beliefs and opinions. Lennox and Ross represent the public in the eyes of William Shakespeare; they stand by watching and observing, but do not play a primary role in action.

The Witches, also called the Weird Sisters, embody the mood of darkness and despair that dominates the play. The Witches frighten characters with an innate sense of good, such as Banquo, but tempt the characters of Macbeth and Lady Macbeth, who relate to their evil natures. Just as the Witches haunt the morally responsible characters, Fleance, an emblem of purity and compassion, haunts Macbeth and Lady Macbeth, who are ideal symbols of evil.