Banquo. Act 1 Scene 3 Line 120
"That, trusted home,
Might yet enkindle you unto the crown
Besides thane of Cawdor."
If we were to say Macbeth was a coward in today's meaning of the word, which is an old one at that and use it in a Shakespearean play, which was written in 1606, we could be seriously misinterpreting the word. The word coward comes from the Latin derivation meaning simply "tail", but we can also see this word as meaning not just "one without courage" (Chambers Dictionary) but also meaning one without pity, objectivity or compassion, which Macbeth shows very few signs of.
By killing the king while he was sleeping, Macbeth was displaying some very dire signs of being a coward.
Macbeth. Act 2 Scene 1 Line 62
"I go and it is done; the bell invites me
Hear it now Duncan, for it is a knell
That summons thee to heaven, or to hell."
Macbeth is blaming others- the Bell- for his cowardly act.
But, by using the old meaning of the word, Macbeth would be the tail, but he cannot be, because he is a Thane, which is someone who is wealthy and has lots of land.
If we were to say Macbeth was a hero, we could also be misinterpreted. Chambers Dictionary says that "Hero" coming from the Greek words "Heroes" means that the Hero is "the principal male figure, who career is the thread of the...