Duncan is the King of Scotland.

The play begins with Duncan, his sons and his thanes engaged in a battle with rebel lords and the invading King of Norway. He trusts Macbeth and all of his loyal men, and makes Macbeth Thane of Cawdor in gratitude for his service in the battle. He is presented as a good king, not least by Macbeth, who initially seems reluctant to kill him.

With his death Scotland descends into chaos and tyranny under Macbeth.


his virtues
Will plead like angels

— Act I, scene 7

Need to know

• Father of Malcolm

• Trusts Macbeth but is killed by him

• Accepts the hospitality of Lady Macbeth but is betrayed

Key quote

There’s no art To find the mind’s construction in the face

— Act I, scene 4

Also called

Great King
— Act I, scene 2

Your Highness
— Act I, scene 4

The royal father
— Act IV, scene 3

a most sainted King
— Act IV, scene 3


King of Scotland
— Act I, scene 2