In William Shakespeare’s Macbeth the main theme of loyalty is explored throughout the play by main characters. Loyalty can be defined as faithfulness or unwavering devotion to a person or cause. Duncan, Banquo, Macduff and Macbeth are all essential characters who are given opportunities to express their loyalty, however it is the different ways in which these characters choose to be loyal or disloyal that shape the play as a whole. It is the character’s loyalty and/or disloyalty that construct the course of the play. The theme of loyalty interrelates the over arching themes of guilt and masculinity throughout the play.
Throughout Duncan’s reign he remains a loyal king especially to those who he believes are devoted to him. King Duncan’s first act of loyalty is revealed upon news of Macbeth’s valor and bravery. As soon as Duncan hears of Macbeth’s devotion to his country he responds promptly by rewarding Macbeth with the title of Thane of Cawdor. Duncan expresses his gratitude: “ Only I have left to say, more is thy due than more than all can pay. I have begun to plant thee, and will labor to make thee full of growing” (act I scene 4: lines 23-24). Duncan’s diction accentuates his appreciation, which does not cease after Macbeth’s promotion. Through a metaphor where Macbeth is compared to a plant that will be nurtured by Duncan the process of the king’s thankfulness is exemplified. As a result of Macbeth’s loyalty to both Duncan and his country Duncan hopes to work until Macbeth is “full of growing.” Like a plant Macbeth will hopefully live up to Duncan’s expectations and grow into something great, however not all plants grow as in Macbeth’s case. Duncan as a loyal king is willing to put much stock into Macbeth due to Macbeth’s faithfulness. As Duncan promised, his devotion to Macbeth is continued but this time in response to the Macbeth’s hospitality. Duncan reaches even further and extends his qualities of a great king to Lady