Banquo is Macbeth’s best friend, and the Witches promise him that his descendants will be future kings of Scotland. This prediction puts him in mortal danger with Macbeth. Macbeth is so worried about losing the throne that he is willing even to kill his best friend in an attempt to cheat fate. Banquo reappears after his death as a disapproving ghost at Macbeth’s banquet.
Banquo is friends with:
How does Shakespeare show that Banquo is sceptical?
Banquo warns Macbeth:
Banquo’s warning is a prediction in itself. This is what happens to Macbeth. Some of the predictions come true, so Macbeth is taken in even more by the Witches, and this leads to his eventual destruction. In plays, this kind of innocent insight into the future events of the play is called dramatic irony.
Where do we see Banquo becoming suspicious of Macbeth?
Banquo thinks to himself that Macbeth
played ‘st most foully (Act 3 Scene 1) for the throne.
Banquo has good reason to suspect Macbeth of murder. He knows that the Witches’ predictions would have given Macbeth a motive for murdering King Duncan.
Is Banquo a loyal character?
Banquo is loyal to Macbeth until his death. He is also more loyal to Duncan than Macbeth is.
Minutes before Macbeth murders the King, he makes a vague promise to Banquo:
Banquo replies that he will always be loyal to Macbeth as long as he’s not asked to do anything that goes against his heart and conscience. This puts him in direct contrast with Macbeth. The Witches made Banquo promises too, but he did nothing in response to those promises, so he seems far more noble than his friend.
In Act 3 Scene 1, Macbeth mulls over his personal reasons for having his good friend, Banquo murdered.
Can you find words or phrases that tell you that Macbeth knows that Banquo is a respected and noble person?
Macbeth says that Banquo has a noble heart:
Macbeth is afraid of Banquo’s goodness because he himself has done something that he knows would appal his friend.
Does Macbeth think that Banquo is going to kill him?
Macbeth is fairly certain that Banquo won’t kill him. He says:
This means that Macbeth believes that Banquo won’t do anything rash and will tread carefully to keep himself safe. He still remains a threat though, and so do his children.