Macbeth

by: William Shakespeare

Antagonist

If Macbeth is the protagonist of the play, nearly every other character serves as his antagonist. Banquo, who is ambitious but knows how to check his ambition, threatens Macbeth with his nobility and belief that time will bring his children to the throne. Duncan opposes Macbeth by holding the throne Macbeth desperately wants. Malcolm, Siward, Macduff and the other nobles actively work against Macbeth, opposing his desire to be and stay king. At the same time, Macbeth can be seen as his own antagonist. At the beginning of the play, Macbeth doesn’t lack anything. He has a wife, a title, and is in the good graces of his king. In allowing his ambition to override his own morality, he not only loses everything he has, he also sets his entire country in disarray. In deciding to commit to murder to ensure the Witches’ prophecies come true, Macbeth acts against his own best interests. His ascendancy to the throne is tainted, and in order to maintain his power he must kill again. Every decision Macbeth makes takes him further from his goal of ruling securely over the kingdom of Scotland.