• BANQUO We can learn a lot about Macbeth by looking at Banquo.

Banquo was with Macbeth when he first heard the predictions about Macbeth becoming king.

Macbeth and Banquo are leading Duncan's army-they fight side by side.

"Though some resemblance may be traced between the charms in MACBETH, and the incantations in this play (The Witch of Middleton), which is supposed to have preceded it, this coincidence will not detract much from the originality of Shakespear. His Witches are distinguished from the Witches of Middleton by essential differences. These are creatures to whom man or woman plotting some dire mischief might resort for occasional consultation. Those originate deeds of blood, and begin bad impulses to men. From the moment that their eyes first meet with Macbeth's he is spell-bound. That meeting sways his destiny. He can never break the fascination. These Witches can hurt the body; those have power over the soul.—Hecate in Middleton has a son, a low buffoon: the hags of Shakespear have neither child of their own, nor seem to be descended from any parent. They are foul anomalies, of whom we know not whence they are sprung, nor whether they have beginning or ending. As they are without human passions, so they seem to be without human relations. They come with thunder and lightning, and vanish to airy music. This is all we know of them.—Except Hecate, they have no names, which heightens their mysteriousness. The names, and some of the properties which Middleton has given to his hags, excite smiles. The Weird Sisters are serious things. Their presence cannot co-exist with mirth. But, in a lesser degree, the Witches of Middleton are fine creations. Their power too is, in some measure, over the mind. They raise jars, jealousies, strifes, like a thick scurf o'er life"

Lady Macbeth is not as lifelike or realistic as her husband.

Banquo has an honest and trusting nature.

Alone at Macbeth's court, Banquo voices his suspicions that Macbeth has killed Duncan in order to fulfill the witches' prophesies. He muses that perhaps the witches' vision for his own future will also be realized, but pushes the thought from his mind. Macbeth and Lady Macbeth enter to the fanfare of trumpets, along with and . Macbeth announces that he will hold a banquet in the evening and that Banquo will be honored as chief guest. Banquo states that he must ride in the afternoon but will return for the banquet. Macbeth tells him that Malcolm and Donalbain will not confess to killing their father. After confirming that will accompany Banquo on his trip, Macbeth wishes Banquo a safe ride.

After the prediction that Macbeth will become Thane of Cawdor comes true, Banquo is more cautious.

Ib. sc. 5. Macbeth is described by Lady Macbeth so as at the same time to reveal her own character. Could he have every thing he wanted, he would rather have it mnocently;—ignorant, as alas! how many of us are, that he who wishes a temporal end for itself, does in truth will the means; and hence the danger of indulging fancies, Lady Macbeth, like all in Shakspeare, is a class individualized:—of high rank, left much alone, and feeding herself with day-dreams of ambition, she mistakes the courage of fantasy for the power of bearing the consequences of the realities of guilt. Hers is the mock fortitude of a mind deluded by ambition; she shames her husband with a superhuman audacity of fancy which she cannot support, but sinks in the season of remorse, and dies in suicidal agony. Her speech:

But Banquo refuses to compromise his honor and his integrity to get the things he wants.


Still again Banquo goes on wondering like any common spectator:

Although Lady Macbeth adds much positive flavour to the play, her character is revealed through her aggressive attitude with her husband, her inhumane disregard for life, and her guilty conscience.

Oppose this to Banquo's simple surprise:—

The Weird Sisters are as true a creation of Shakspeare's, as his Ariel and Caliban,—fates, furies, and materializing witches being the elements. They are wholly different from any representation of witches in the contemporary writers, and yet presented a sufficient external resemblance to the creatures of vulgar prejudice to act immediately on the audience. Their character consists in the imagina-tive disconnected from the good; they are the shadowy obscure and fearfully anomalous of physical nature, the lawless of human nature,—elemental avengers without sex or kin:

Act ii. sc. i. Banquo's speech:

Title character and historical figure, a Scottish nobleman who kills King Duncan of Scotland and rules the country until he is killed in combat by Lord Macduff.

The evil of Macbeth's deed, and its effects on him and on Scotland, are the central elements of the play. He is conscious of the evil his ambition gives rise to, but he cannot overcome temptation. This is combined with his ambition, the urging of the equally ambitious Lady Macbeth, and the encouragement given him by the Witches.

One of the play's manifestations of the power of evil is the collapse of Macbeth's personality. His behavior during and after each of the murders committed is different and is the heart of the drama.

Macbeth's basic strength is demonstrated in his capacity to face and withstand the ugly truth about himself. He sees the evil to which he has subjected himself and his world. He recognizes his own immortality, and he is not satisfied with the position he attains, but he nevertheless defends this position with continued murder. He is aware of this irrational phenomenon; one of his most fascinating features is that he is conscious of the goodness that he abandons.

Banquo was told he would father kings.

Friend and later victim of Macbeth.

Banquo is a decent and honorable nobleman who senses that the Witches are evil and thus not to be relied on. Thus, we see that Banquo's fate will be sealed by his virtue, just as Macbeth's is determined by his villainy.

Banquo's ancestry with King Duncan makes him an apt choice to stand in opposition to Macbeth as a pointedly virtuous comrade. That this is true is marked by Shakespeare's disregard for Fleance's fate or for the question of Banquo's descendants, once Fleance's survival ensures that he could have had some.