Banquo, Macbeth: An Overview Of Macbeth's Banquo Character (2022)

Banquo is a character in Shakespeare’s Macbeth, and the ghost of Banquo is one of the most famous ghosts in English literature.

Banquo is Macbeth’s friend and fellow military commander. At the beginning of Macbeth we see them together, fighting and defeating the rebels against the king, Duncan.

Word of their victory reaches the camp where Duncan is waiting with his two sons, Malcolm and Donalbain. Macbeth and Banquo are his top officers and he is waiting to receive and honour them for their loyalty and their success in battle.

Banquo, Macbeth: An Overview Of Macbeth's Banquo Character (1)

Paddy Considine as Banquo

(Video) Character Analysis: Banquo

On their way to Duncan’s camp the two men are stopped by three witches who show that they know who the two are. They predict that Macbeth will soon become Thane of Cawdor and, subsequently, king. They ignore Banquo but he asks them what they have to say to him.

They turn to him and tell him that he will not be king but will be the father of a long line of kings. The two men laugh about it but the idea stays with Macbeth and he is struck with a thought that he can’t bear to allow – that to become king he would have to kill Duncan.

Macbeth dismisses the thought but it becomes difficult when he is met by two messengers from the king, telling him that the king has awarded him the lands and title of the recently executed traitor, the Thane of Cawdor.

Macbeth writes to his wife, Lady Macbeth, and tells her about the encounters. That puts the same idea into her mind, that the king will have to be killed, and she quickly decides that she will work on it.

The king greets his two captains and tells Macbeth that he will be coming to spend the night at his castle at Inverness before going hunting the next day. When a messenger arrives at the castle and tells Lady Macbeth that the king is coming she knows that she will have to persuade her husband to act.

Macbeth returns to his castle and Banquo and his son, Fleace – a child – go with him. Lady Macbeth puts great pressure on Macbeth to murder Duncan. At first, he resists but she prevails and he agrees to stab Duncan in his sleep.

(Video) The Foils: Macduff and Banquo character analysis

After the murder Macbeth is proclaimed king. He and his old friend chat and Macbeth tells Banquo that he had better make sure that he attends the state banquet he and the queen are holding to honour their ascent to the throne. Banquo suspects Macbeth of having murdered the king but expresses his loyalty. He tells Macbeth that he has to go away on business and will do his best to get back in time. He also tells him that Fleance, will be accompanying him.

By this time Macbeth is already sleepless as a result of the guilt he is experiencing. He is already paranoid and is about to embark on a reign of terror, murdering his rivals and opponents. Banquo is to be the first of these.

Macbeth hires some murderers and tells them to attack Banquo on the way back and to make sure that he kills his only son, Fleance, as well.

During the banquet one of the murderers arrives and Macbeth is called out of the hall. The murderer tells him that he has killed Banquo but that Fleance has escaped. That throws Macbeth into a state of panic.

But he pulls himself together and returns to the table and begins to make a welcome speech. He says that he wishes that Banquo could be there. There is a figure sitting at a table in Banquo’s place and when he turns to look at the king Macbeth sees the blood-drenched face of Banquo.

He starts yelling and cowering away from the ghost. Lady Macbeth calms him down. He apologises and returns to his speech. When he mentions Banquo again the ghost appears once more and this time Macbeth goes mad. Lady Macbeth dismisses the guests, telling them to leave as fast as they can.

Macbeth becomes increasingly bloodthirsty and Shakespeare gives us the onstage spectacle of one of the murderers killing a young child – a son of Macduff, the man who eventually defeats and kills Macbeth.

We see Banquo once more. Macbeth returns to the witches to ask them to predict the future. Their predictions come in riddles but the last prediction is an image of Banquo wearing a crown and leading an endless parade of his descendants.

(Video) Character Analysis Banquo

Banquo is hardly a character in Macbeth. He has a function rather than a dramatic role in the play. It is his function to be the first victim in Macbeth’s reign of terror and his ghost’s is to pile on to the guilt that is already beginning to unsettle Macbeth.

He has the further function of appearing as an image in the witches’ prediction of what is going to happen as a result of Macbeth’s regicide. It is a dumb show, demonstrating that one of his descendents is going to ascend the throne of Scotland and that the dynasty is going to endure for a very long period of time.

And so, Banquo is important for other reasons than functioning as a dramatic character: Shakespeare hasn’t realized him as a character. All we can say about him is that he is a loyal supporter of Macbeth.

Although he strongly suspects Macbeth of the crime he does not show any resistance in the way most of the other characters do. He also does not actively support Macbeth in the sense of helping him against his opponents. Moreover, he does not live long enough to play any part in the great drama that follows the murder of Duncan.

However, his dying words “oh slave!” are a condemnation of Macbeth as he realizes in his last moments that he has been betrayed by his friend. As he dies he calls instructions to his son, running away from the murderers, to avenge his murder.

Top Banquo Quotes

That look not like th’ inhabitants o’ th’ Earth
And yet are on ‘t?—Live you? Or are you aught
That man may question?
You should be women,
And yet your beards forbid me to interpret
That you are so. (act 1, scene 3)

If you can look into the seeds of time,
And say which grain will grow and which will not,
Speak, then, to me, who neither beg nor fear
Your favours nor your hate. (act 1, scene 3)

Were such things here as we do speak about?
Or have we eaten on the insane root
That takes the reason prisoner? (act 1, scene 3)

(Video) Macbeth Character Profile - Banquo

That, trusted home, Might yet enkindle you unto the crown, besides the thane of Cawdor. (act 1, scene 3)

Thou has it now: king, Cawdor, Glamis, all. As the weird women promised, and I fear. thou played’st most foully for ‘t. (act 3, scene 1)

O treachery! Fly, good Fleance, fly, fly, fly! Thou may’st revenge – O slave! (act 3, scene 3)

See All Macbeth Resources

Macbeth | Macbeth summary | Macbeth characters: Banquo, Lady Macbeth, Macbeth, Macduff, Three Witches | Macbeth settings | Modern Macbeth translation| Macbeth full text | Macbeth PDF|Modern Macbeth ebook | Macbeth for kids ebooks | Macbeth quotes | Macbeth ambition quotes |Macbeth quote translations | Macbeth monologues | Macbeth soliloquies | Macbeth movies | Macbeth themes

(Video) Banquo Character Analysis

FAQs

What is the character of Banquo? ›

He is kind and caring, loyal and trustworthy.

When he and Fleance are attacked his first thought is to keep his son safe. Banquo displays all the character traits that go to make up someone who would be regarded as a truly noble person. Macbeth considers what it is about Banquo that gives him cause for concern.

What is the function of Banquo's character in the play Macbeth? ›

Banquo is hardly a character in Macbeth. He has a function rather than a dramatic role in the play. It is his function to be the first victim in Macbeth's reign of terror and his ghost's is to pile on to the guilt that is already beginning to unsettle Macbeth.

What is the significance of Banquo's character versus Macbeth so far? ›

He has lost all loyalty to his King and friends and has changed to an ambitious evildoer. Macbeth not only embraces the witches' prophecy but kills to make it come true sooner. Banquo, on the other hand, still remains loyal to King Duncan and still fears the prediction made by the witches.

Is Banquo a good person? ›

He is Macbeth's friend, Duncan's supporter, a sort of all-round good guy who is horribly betrayed and murdered by his bezzie. Rarely is he presented as rather pleased with himself about the witches' predictions for him and secretly perhaps as ambitious as Macbeth.

How is Banquo in Macbeth? ›

Banquo is a thane in Duncan's army, and at first a friend to Macbeth. He is equal in rank to Macbeth at the beginning of the play, and although Macbeth is told he will be King, Banquo is told that his children will be kings.

How does Banquo's reaction reveal his true character? ›

The witches tell Banquo that he will be the father of future kings. How does Banquo's reaction reveal his true character? This reveals Banquo's true character because he understands what is soon to come. He is filled with intelligence and is revealed by this scene.

What are Banquo's motives? ›

Like Macbeth, Banquo is open to human yearnings and desires: He is, for example, just as keen to hear what the Witches have in store for him in Act I, Scene 3. He is kept from sleep by his dreams of the Witches (Act II, Scene 1).

How does Macbeth feel about Banquo? ›

How does Macbeth feel about Banquo? He fears that Banquo and his sons will cut short his reign. He believes Banquo to be a loyal friend.

What is the relationship between Banquo and Macbeth? ›

Banquo is a friend of Macbeth and a fellow captain. Along with Macbeth, he has led the Scottish troops to victory. He is also given a prophecy by the witches. As he sees the prophecies come true for Macbeth, he begins to suspect his friend of evil deeds.

How is Banquo similar to Macbeth? ›

Banquo is a general in the King's army (same as Macbeth) and is often seen in contrast to Macbeth. Banquo is the only one with Macbeth when he hears the first prophecy of the weird sisters; during the same prophecy, Banquo is told that his children will be kings, though he will not be.

Why is Banquo a hero? ›

He lives a moral life and is heroic for this in a sense. A.C. Bradley in Shakespearean Tragedy explains the main interest in the character of Banquo: The main interest of the character of Banquo arises from the changes that take place in him, and from the influence of the witches upon him.

How is Banquo loyal? ›

In the first two acts of the play, Banquo has proven himself to be devoted to the king, showing honesty and loyalty to his leader. First, Banquo states, “So I lose none / in seeking to augment it, but still keep / my bosom franchised and allegiance clear, / I shall be counseled” (2.1. 36-39).

How does Banquo's reaction differ from Macbeth's? ›

How does Banquo's reaction to the witches differ from Macbeth's ? Banquo does not desire to know more, and he treats the prophecies with curiousness and sarcasm. MacBeth desires for details and is after how he can become King. MacBeth is alot more gullible than Banquo.

How is Banquo presented as ambitious? ›

For Banquo is ambitious, and the ambition pulls strongly on him. Although he is cautious of the temptation Macbeth may warily have put to him, he is, after all, willing to confer with Macbeth about augmenting his honour-as long as no dirty work is afoot.

What are Banquo's strengths and weaknesses? ›

Came back to haunt Macbeth

But overall Banquo may seem generous and honorable but he is not above reproach. He can be capable of selfishness to advance his personal interests too. Beneath the godly exterior could lay a weakness.

What are Banquo's fears? ›

What "fear" does Banquo express in his soliloquy? He fears Macbeth killed Duncan.

What does Macbeth want to learn about Banquo? ›

Why does Macbeth want Banquo and Fleance dead? He knows they suspect him of foul play, and he is furious that he has done all of the work (so-to-speak) of becoming king, and Banquo's descendants will benefit from it rather than his.

What is Macbeth conflict with Banquo? ›

Macbeth's fear of Banquo's suspicions about his involvement in Duncan's murder, his desire to remove someone who was present when the witches' prophesies were made, and his attempt to prevent the fulfillment of the prophecy about Banquo's descendants becoming kings.

Why is Banquo in conflict with Macbeth? ›

Banquo poses a threat because if he tells what he knows, he might cast suspicion on Macbeth. He may have kept the information to himself to use to his advantage, or he may have been afraid that telling others might implicate him in the murder. After all, he was promised that his descendants would be kings.

What is Banquo most important line? ›

Fly, good Fleance, fly, fly, fly! Thou may'st revenge – O slave! These lines are Banquo's dying words, as he is slaughtered by the murderers Macbeth has hired in Act 3, scene 3. In his dying breaths, Banquo urges his son, Fleance, to flee to safety, and charges him to someday revenge his father's death.

How are Macbeth and Banquo different? ›

The key difference that we notice between Macbeth and Banquo is that while Macbeth succumbs to darkness as he embraces the prophetic greetings of the three witches, Banquo clearly rejects this emerging as an emblem of light.

Is Banquo a better man than Macbeth? ›

Banquo begins as Macbeth's loyal friend, but he begins to suspect that Macbeth is up to no good after he becomes king. Alive, Banquo is a good man, but his ghost haunts Macbeth at the banquet, frightening him terribly.

Why were Macbeth and Banquo happy? ›

Because he'll never be king, Banquo is, in one respect, “not so happy” as Macbeth. But knowing that his descendants will ascend to the Scottish throne makes him much happier. Again, the fact that Banquo has children gives him a distinct advantage over Macbeth.

What is Macbeth's true character? ›

Macbeth is a Scottish general and the thane of Glamis who is led to wicked thoughts by the prophecies of the three witches, especially after their prophecy that he will be made thane of Cawdor comes true. Macbeth is a brave soldier and a powerful man, but he is not a virtuous one.

What are Banquo's strengths and weaknesses? ›

Came back to haunt Macbeth

But overall Banquo may seem generous and honorable but he is not above reproach. He can be capable of selfishness to advance his personal interests too. Beneath the godly exterior could lay a weakness.

How is Banquo presented as loyal? ›

In the first two acts of the play, Banquo has proven himself to be devoted to the king, showing honesty and loyalty to his leader. First, Banquo states, “So I lose none / in seeking to augment it, but still keep / my bosom franchised and allegiance clear, / I shall be counseled” (2.1. 36-39).

How is Banquo presented as ambitious? ›

For Banquo is ambitious, and the ambition pulls strongly on him. Although he is cautious of the temptation Macbeth may warily have put to him, he is, after all, willing to confer with Macbeth about augmenting his honour-as long as no dirty work is afoot.

What are Banquo's motives? ›

Like Macbeth, Banquo is open to human yearnings and desires: He is, for example, just as keen to hear what the Witches have in store for him in Act I, Scene 3. He is kept from sleep by his dreams of the Witches (Act II, Scene 1).

What are Banquo's flaws? ›

Macbeth is flawed with ambition and greed, and Banquo's notable flaws could be ignorance or failure to act on his suspicions, especially toward King Duncan's death.

How does Banquo feel about Macbeth? ›

In Act 3, scene 1, Banquo's soliloquy reveals that he is suspicious of Macbeth, who, in becoming king, has achieved all that the Witches promised for him. Banquo senses that Macbeth engaged in foul play in order to make the Witches' prophecy come true.

Gangs and the Music Industry Source Dave, Miranda and Claes, Michael, 2004.". Books can have a profound effect on society and the world because they enable an individual to change the world.. At a young age, Bill Gates got interested in software; he began programming at the age of 13 years.. Apart from his education, training, and experience, the personal characteristics of Bill Gates have played a pivotal role in his achievement .... In the opening lines, Dickinson cleverly states the subject of the poem, a snake.. This will be an on-going process wherein, Bank ties-up with Billing companies for electronically presenting bills to the customers of the Bank.

Banquo recognises that the witches could be telling lies in order to win his and Macbeth’s trust to betray them in the future and he warns Macbeth of this.. This illustrates the corruptive powers of unchecked ambition as Macbeth’s incredible ambition to be king has made him defy logic, as shown in Act1 scene 7, when he admits that his only reason for killing the king is “Vaulting ambition.” The corruptive powers of unchecked ambition have also led Macbeth to sacrifice his morals and commit an atrocious sin, whereas Banquo remains noble and loyal to the King.. Another strong point of contrast between the characters of Macbeth and Banquo is their different relationships with God.. As a consequence, in the immediate aftermath of killing Duncan in Act 2, scene 2, Macbeth claims “I could not say “Amen.”” Macbeth stated in the Act 1, scene 7 soliloquy that he was willing to sacrifice his place in the afterlife in order to be king in this world.. The contrast between Macbeth and Banquo is further illustrated in the key scene Act 3, scene 4 after Banquo is murdered.. The central concern of the corrupting powers of unchecked ambition is shown through the paranoia, guilt and fear Macbeth suffers due to his great ambition to remain King.

Throughout the play, Banquo’s role is show how far Macbeth has fallen from his old self.. In the beginning of the story, Macbeth and Banquo are soldier and good friends.. He also doubts Macbeth later on showing that he will not be blinded to what is happening by his friendship with Macbeth .. Banquo’s purpose is to be Macbeth’s foil and demonstrate his decent to evil and murderous ways.. Macbeth decides to hire murderers to kill Banquo and his son, Fleance who is an innocent child that is unaware of the prophecy.. Macbeth went from being good friends with Banquo to killing his best friend to stay in. Next, Shakespeare uses a simile (I, VII, 18-20) "So clear in his great office, that his virtues Will plead like angels trumpet-tongued against The deep damnation of his taking-off" Macbeth is worried that Duncan 's attributes will show Macbeth as the true murderer.. This is shown when Macbeth is introduced to King Duncan by the Captain, “For brave Macbeth-well he deserves that name-“However, when Macbeth and Banquo encounter the witches we see the first signs of Macbeths ambition.. “All hail Macbeth, that shalt be King hereafter”, Macbeth’s reaction to the witches prophecy is one of suspicion though he seems to be curious to know more, which leads us to believe that Macbeth has pondered on the idea of Kingship before; Macbeth realizes that if he is to be king it would mean that King Duncan, the current king, will have to die.…. After Macbeth kills Duncan, he decided it was best to kill Banquo because of the part of the witches prophecy where Banquo’s heirs will succeed Macbeth.. Macbeth not only decided to kill banquo and his innocent son, Fleance, Macbeth influenced others to kill for him by twisting the murderer’s view of Banquo.…. The first two murderers did not know of Macbeth sending a third, the second murderer even saying “he needs not our mistrust” (3.3.3), which can be interpreted as the murder believing Macbeth does not trust them.. In addition, Macbeth betrays his friend Banquo by killing him.. Macbeth fears Banquo knows too much and feels it would be best to kill him: “To be thus is nothing, but to be safely thus.. Eventually the word gets out that Macbeth killed King Duncan and Banquo, that’s when everyone’s perspective shifts from Macbeth being good to him being evil.

Banquo serves as a dramatic foil to highlight the character of the title role of Macbeth.. In the beginning of the play, Banquo is presented as a parallel figure to Macbeth.. Why is Banquo such an important character in Shakespeares play Macbeth?. Both have promises made to them by the Witches.. Banquo is loyal, wise, truthful and honourable.. Shakespeare was able to create three dimensional roles and Macbeth still has redeeming features: he has pangs of conscience, for example, and it is he who tells us about Banquo’s goodness (his ‘royalty of nature’), showing that he can still distinguish good from evil.. Banquo, on the other hand, stays silent about the meeting with the witches and does not reveal his suspicions that Macbeth ‘playdst most foully’ to be King.. The contrast between Banquo and Macbeth is first made apparent in Act 1 scene 3.. Banquo links the witches with evil: ‘what, can the Devil speak true?’, showing his wisdom and insight, remaining calm and sceptical.. There is no music in the first part of this scene.. Only when the dagger appears we hear the first music of the scene.. In contrast, when Macbeth speaks of Banquo he talks of his ‘royalty of nature’, his ‘wisdom’ and his ‘valour’.. These parallel private thoughts make the characters of both men even more emphasised.

In Act 1 Scene 7, for example, Macbeth talks about how Duncan is ‘both his kinsmen and his subject’ as well as his ‘host’, all reasons not to kill the king.. This choice is one of the central turning points for this character and it is vital for anyone writing about Macbeth, or playing Macbeth on stage, to look at his motivations at this point and ask:. Act 1 Scene 7: Think about Macbeth’s own personality and Lady Macbeth’s reaction to his inner conflict.. Act 2 Scene 1: Take a look at what happens to Macbeth on the way to kill King Duncan.. As you explore Macbeth’s language, you’ll find even more evidence to back up your case and find more arguments for why he does what he does.. Lady Macbeth’s relationship with her husband is a core consideration for anyone writing about Macbeth, or playing Lady Macbeth on stage.. Act 1 Scene 5: Take a look at Lady Macbeth’s initial response to the letter about the witches’ prophecies.. Act 1 Scene 7: Think about the language Lady Macbeth uses to convince her husband to kill Duncan.. Lady Macbeth has the idea to kill Duncan as soon as she receives news of the witches’ prophecy in a letter, and intends to influence her husband’s actions.. As you explore Lady Macbeth’s language, you’ll find even more evidence to back up your case and find more arguments for why she does what she does.. The events that make Banquo become suspicious of Macbeth are central turning points for this character and it is vital for anyone writing about Banquo, or playing Banquo on stage, to look at these moments and ask:. Act 3 Scene 1: Think about how Banquo’s fears about Macbeth’s actions begin to build.. The following activities will also help you explore the characters of Macbeth, Macduff and Lady Macbeth even further with students.

Videos

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2. myShakespeare | Macbeth 1.3 Interview: Macbeth and Banquo
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3. Grade 9 in 3 minutes: The character of Banquo in Macbeth.
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4. Character Analysis Banquo - Ambition
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5. Banquo Character revision
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6. Banquo character ❤ (my journey to this role)
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