This GCSE English Literature quiz tests your knowledge of the characters in William Shakespeare’s play, Macbeth. Although this play has a reasonably large number of roles, many of the scenes are dominated by Macbeth or his wife, leaving important figures such as Malcolm, Donalbain, and even Macduff apparently on the sidelines at times. The dramatis personae include the King, his sons, the Witches, Banquo and Fleance, in addition to a group of Macbeth’s fellow thanes, Lennox, Ross, Menteith, and Caithness, the hired murderers and household servants and those who oppose Macbeth’s tyrrany, especially Siward, Earl of Northumbria, and his son.
Because the play includes many minor characters as well as important figures who feature in only a few scenes, it is worth creating diagrams noting when and where these various characters appear in the play, as well as what role each plays.
Pay close attention to the thanes who are expected to be loyal to the King, however he has gained his position. Are they implicated in Macbeth’s murders, too? What happens to anyone who opposes him?
Characterisation in drama is created through speech, actions and interaction with other characters. Gesture and costume are not described in the script, but in performance the audience of a play can understand characters better through observation of these additional details. If you can, try to watch productions of any play you study; this is an excellent way to see how its characters have been interpreted by different people. When reading Macbeth, pay close attention to asides and to any private dialogues, such as those between Macbeth and his wife, where you can learn what characters are thinking and planning. How do the two plotters in this play influence one another and overcome moments of indecision or even reluctance to carry out their plans? Who feels guilt and when?
Answer the questions below to see how well you understand the characters in Macbeth.