Macbeth

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King Duncan Character Analysis

The King of Scotland, and the father of Malcolm and Donalbain. Macbeth murders him to get the crown. Duncan is the model of a good, virtuous king who puts the welfare of the country above his own and seeks, like a gardener, to nurture and grow the kingdom that is his responsibility. Duncan is the living embodiment of the political and social order that Macbeth destroys.
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King Duncan Character Timeline in Macbeth

The timeline below shows where the character King Duncan appears in Macbeth. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Act 1, scene 2
Violence Theme Icon
At a military camp, King Duncan of Scotland, his sons Malcolm and Donalbain, and the Thane of Lennox wait for... (full context)
Ambition Theme Icon
The Thane of Ross arrives, and describes how Macbeth defeated Sweno, the Norwegian King, who now begs for a truce. Duncan proclaims that the traitorous Thane of Cawdor shall... (full context)
Act 1, scene 3
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...enter. They tell Macbeth that the old Thane of Cawdor was a traitor and that Duncan has made Macbeth the new Thane of Cawdor. (full context)
Act 1, scene 4
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At a camp near the battlefield, Malcolm tells Duncan that the old Thane of Cawdor confessed and repented before being executed. Duncan notes that... (full context)
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Duncan is pleased. He says: "I have begun to plant thee, and will labour to make... (full context)
Act 1, scene 5
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A servant enters with news that Duncan will spend the night, then exits. Lady Macbeth says Duncan's visit will be fatal, and... (full context)
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Macbeth enters, and says Duncan will spend the night and leave the next day. Lady Macbeth says Duncan will never... (full context)
Act 1, scene 6
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Duncan, Malcolm, Donalbain, Banquo, Lennox, Macduff, Ross, and Angus arrive at Inverness. Duncan comments on the... (full context)
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Lady Macbeth warmly greets the King and the thanes, though Macbeth is nowhere to be seen. (full context)
Act 1, scene 7
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Macbeth, alone, agonizes about whether to kill Duncan. He'd be willing to murder Duncan if he thought that would be the end of... (full context)
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Lady Macbeth enters, asking where he's been. Macbeth tells her they won't murder Duncan. She questions his manhood. Macbeth replies: "I dare do all that may become a man;... (full context)
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...assures him they won't fail if they have courage. She outlines the plan: she'll give Duncan's bedroom attendants enough wine to ensure they black out from drunkenness. Then she and Macbeth... (full context)
Act 2, scene 1
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Offstage, Lady Macbeth rings the bell to signal that Duncan's attendants are asleep. Macbeth goes to murder Duncan. (full context)
Act 2, scene 2
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...waits in agitation for Macbeth to do the deed. She comments that had the sleeping Duncan not looked like her father she'd have killed him herself. (full context)
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Macbeth enters. He's killed Duncan and Duncan's attendants. His hands are bloodstained and he's upset that when one of the... (full context)
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...to wash his hands, but notices he's still carrying the daggers he used to kill Duncan. Macbeth refuses to return to the scene of the crime. Lady Macbeth, furious, runs off... (full context)
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Macbeth wishes that the knocking could wake Duncan. (full context)
Act 2, scene 3
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Macbeth enters, pretending to have just woken up. Macduff asks if the King has woken yet: Duncan had asked to see Macduff early that morning. Macbeth points out... (full context)
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...out in horror and runs onstage. Macbeth and Lennox ask what happened, then run to Duncan's chamber. Banquo, Malcolm, and Donalbain wake. Lady Macbeth enters, pretending not to know what happened,... (full context)
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...did kill the attendants, Macbeth says he was so furious that they had murdered the Duncan that he couldn't control himself. Lady Macbeth faints. (full context)
Act 2, scene 4
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Macduff enters. He says it seems Duncan's attendants did commit the murder, and that because Malcolm and Donalbain fled they likely were... (full context)
Act 3, scene 1
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...the witches prophecy is true, then Banquo's descendants will be king, and he'll have murdered Duncan for nothing. (full context)
Act 3, scene 2
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...not killed it" (3.2.15). He fears someone might try to kill him as he killed Duncan, and seems envious of Duncan's "sleep" (3.2.25). (full context)
Act 3, scene 6
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...another lord talk sarcastically about Macbeth and the too great similarities between the murders of Duncan and Banquo, with Donalbain and Malcolm accused of the first and Fleance blamed for the... (full context)
Act 5, scene 1
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Nature and the Unnatural Theme Icon
...spot" (5.1.30). Then Lady Macbeth seems to relive her attempt to convince Macbeth to kill Duncan, concluding with the words: "Yet who would have thought the old man to have had... (full context)