Saturday, August 31, 2019

Discuss the character of Banquo and his role in ‘Macbeth’ Essay

Banquo was one of Duncan’s brave generals. He was a man of honour and integrity. He held the same rank as Macbeth and they were very closely linked characters. They were courageous and loyal warriors. They both witnessed the Witches’ prophesies and their future successes were foretold throughout the play. Banquo had a generous spirit and a rational view of the world and had the attributes required by a good King, however, Banquo was an ambiguous character, in that he was sceptical of Macbeth’s manner following their encounter with the Witches. Macbeths’ beliefs worried Banquo, as he was a good man and he believed deeply in upholding God’s rule of order. Banquo sensed that the Witches’ prophesies prompted new reactions in Macbeth – further encouraging his ambitions towards kingship. Banquo’s first encounter with the Witches was quite unbelievable to him and he remarked to Macbeth, â€Å"What are these, So withered, and so wild in their attire, That look not like th’inhabitants o’th earth, And yet are on,t?† , Banquo’s words describe Macbeth’s startled and uneasy reaction to the Witches’ prophesies, touching moral confusion in Macbeth by saying to him, â€Å"Good sir, why do you start, and seem to fear Things that do not sound so fair?† The half rhyme ‘fear’ and ‘fair’ echoes the Witches previous ‘fair’ and ‘foul’. Although Banquo was not afraid of the Witches, he still wanted them to speak to him but at the same time he wished to remain detached from them. He addressed the Witches, saying, â€Å"Speak to me, who neither beg, nor fear Your favours nor your hate.† The Witches in turn replied, â€Å"Thou shalt get Kings, though thou be none.† The Witches directed most of their prophesies towards Macbeth and Banquo noticed how lost in thought his companion was because of this experience and remarked, â€Å"Look how our partner’s rapt.† When the Witches vanished, Banquo and Macbeth were astounded, wondering if what they had just witnessed was indeed real or just fantasy. When Banquo heard that Macbeth was to become Thane of Cawdor, in contrast to Macbeth’s excitement, he showed wariness and sensed that the Witches’ words might be deceitful by telling Macbeth, â€Å"And oftentimes, to win us to our harm, The instruments of darkness tell us truths, Win us with honest trifles, to betray’s In deepest consequence.† Banquo is clear-sighted in his summary of the way of temptation. However, resisting the prophecies was a struggle, even for Banquo. He said to his son Fleance, â€Å"Merciful powers, Restrain in me the cursed thoughts that nature Gives way to in repose!† Banquo was clearly disturbed by all the strange events that had taken place. He was afraid to sleep and the Witches words returned to him in his dreams when he did so. After King Duncan was murdered, Banquo became very suspicious of Macbeth and was becoming concerned about his destiny. He spoke of this to the King’s son Malcolm, â€Å"In the great hand of God I stand, and thence Against the undivulged pretence I fight Of treasonous malice.† However, I criticize Banquo because of his passivity when he says, soon afterwards, â€Å"Thou hast it all now, King, Cawdor, Glamis, all As the weird women promised, and I fear Thou play’dst most foully for’t:† It was obvious that Banquo suspected Macbeth’s involvement in Duncan’s death, yet he took no steps against Macbeth. I suspect this was because Banquo had ambition too, like Macbeth when he says, â€Å"May they not be my oracles as well, And set me up in hope? But hush, no more.† Macbeth’s prophecy had come true, so he hoped, perhaps it would all happen for him and he would father a line of Kings. Banquo’s inaction and suspicions of Macbeth attracted Macbeth’s attention as his soliloquy in Act 3 denotes, â€Å"Our fears in Banquo Stick deep, and in his royalty of nature Reigns that which would be feared.† Then at the end of his soliloquy he really expresses his innermost thoughts by saying, â€Å"Only for them, and mine eternal jewel Given to the common enemy of man, To make them Kings, the seed of Banquo Kings!† This showed that he was determined that no- one would interfere with his kingship. Macbeth saw Banquo as simply too strong and honourable a rival to be left alive. Here again, we see that Macbeth and Banquo were closely linked. They were both tragic and doomed with flaws within themselves. Macbeth became obsessed by irrational passions, then anger and fear took hold, resulting in Macbeth having Banquo murdered. Macbeth held a banquet to celebrate his kingship which Banquo had agreed to attend as chief guest. He was indeed chief guest, but only visible to Macbeth as a ghost, taunting him, driving him insane with guilt. Macbeth felt this ghost was real, but it was only an extension of the evil in Macbeth’s troubled mind. This hysterical reaction in Macbeth’s vision aroused the suspicions of the lords attending. All this behaviour exhibited Macbeth as totally deranged, however, it was Banquo who finally exposed Macbeth’s deceptiveness by appearing to him as an ‘avenging angel’ and deeply highlighting Macbeth’s guilt. There were contrasts in Banquo’s character. He was honourable to the King, yet, he was pathetic, unable to act when his suspicions of Macbeth’s evil were obvious. There is also evidence of contrast between Macbeth and Banquo in Act 2. I, when neither of them can sleep. Banquo was tormented by the Witches’ predictions and Macbeth was driven by them. Banquo really wanted what the Witches predicted, but at the same time he wanted to keep a clear conscience. He also observed how Macbeth changed from a loyal warrior into a self-seeking tyrant, but with everything happening so hastily he might not have had the time to act upon his suspicions and maybe he thought about the fact that his suspicions may have been wrong. Banquo clearly displays signs of ambiguity throughout the play.

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