Donalbain, younger son of Duncan, King of Scotland

[This is an annotated list of all appearances and all mentions of Donalbain.]

Paul Shelley as Donalbain.


Donalbain is present, but says nothing in the second scene of the play. His older brother, Malcolm, introduces the sergeant who tells the story of Macbeth's victory over the rebels: "This is the sergeant / Who like a good and hardy soldier fought / 'Gainst my captivity" (1.2.3-5).      [Detailed Scene Summary]

Donalbain is present, but says nothing in Act 1, Scene 4. This is the scene which begins with Duncan asking "Is execution done on Cawdor?" (1.4.1) Donalbain hears his father praise Macbeth and then name Malcolm heir to the throne.      [Detailed Scene Summary]

"Hoboys and torches. Enter King Duncan, Malcolm, Donalbain, Banquo, Lennox, Macduff, Ross, Angus, and Attendants " (1.6.1, s.d. ). Donalbain is in King Duncan's entourage when the King arrives at Macbeth's castle and is greeted by Lady Macbeth.      [Detailed Scene Summary]

After he has killed the King, Macbeth is very nervous, and he thinks he heard some strange noise. He asks his wife, "Who lies i' the second chamber?" She answers, Donalbain" (2.2.17). Donalbain is not mentioned again in the scene.      [Detailed Scene Summary]

After discovering King Duncan's body, Macduff cries out, "Ring the alarum-bell. Murder and treason! / Banquo and Donalbain! Malcolm! awake!" (2.3.75). Malcolm and Donalbain appear, and find that their father has been murdered, and that Macbeth has killed the grooms that supposedly did the murder. Then they see Lady Macbeth faint with apparent grief, and decide that something is fishy. Afraid that they'll be murdered next, they go right to their horses and slip away.      [Detailed Scene Summary]

Just before Macbeth is crowned King of Scotland, Macduff and Ross are discussing the question of who is guilty of King Duncan's murder. Macduff repeats the official version: King Duncan was murdered by his grooms. To Ross that doesn't make sense, because the grooms had nothing to gain by the murder. Macduff then gives the rest of the official story, which is that the grooms were bribed by Malcolm and Donalbain: "They were suborn'd: / Malcolm and Donalbain, the king's two sons, / Are stol'n away and fled; which puts upon them / Suspicion of the deed" (2.4.24-27). The way the two men discuss this subject makes it appear that both men doubt the official story, although they aren't willing to come right out and say so at the moment.      [Detailed Scene Summary]

In a seemingly casual way, Macbeth says to Banquo, We hear, our bloody cousins are bestow'd / In England and in Ireland, not confessing / Their cruel parricide, filling their hearers / With strange invention" (3.1.29-32). The "bloody cousins" are Malcolm and Donalbain. "Invention" is something invented or made up, so Macbeth is accusing Malcolm and Donalbain of telling unbelievable lies, probably to the effect that Macbeth killed their father. Moments later, Macbeth arranges for the murder of Banquo.      [Detailed Scene Summary]

After coming to understand that Macbeth is a murderous tyrant, Lennox sarcastically comments, "Who cannot want the thought how monstrous / It was for Malcolm and for Donalbain / To kill their gracious father? damned fact!" (3.6.8-10). He is mocking Macbeth's story that Malcolm and Donalbain must be responsible for their father's death.      [Detailed Scene Summary]

As the Scottish forces are on the march to join Malcolm, Macduff and the English army, Caithness asks, "Who knows if Donalbain be with his brother?" (5.2.7). Lennox answers that he is not. There is no further mention of Donalbain, and it is not clear why Shakespeare thought fit to insert this bit of information.      [Detailed Scene Summary]

In the last speech of the play, Malcolm, now King of Scotland, promises to call home "our exiled friends abroad / That fled the snares of watchful tyranny" (5.8.67-68). Presumably, those friends include his brother, Donalbain.      [Detailed Scene Summary]