Table of Contents
A Scottish lord who is very noble, general, and a real friend of Macbeth. He is also the father of Fleance. The strange witches visions that while Banquo will never be King of Scotland, his offspring will one day sit on the throne.
A Noble Guy
Banquo is as motivated as Macbeth, but unlike Macbeth, he resists hitting his selfish plans above his honour or the good of Scotland because he both knows the prediction and is honourable, Banquo is both a danger to Macbeth and a living example of the noble path that Macbeth chose not to take.
After Macbeth has Banquo killed he is ghostly haunted by Banquo, which signifies Macbeth’s terrible guilt at what he has become. We can acquire knowledge a lot about Macbeth by looking at Banquo. Banquo is a man of honesty. He is courageous in war but thoughtful in his actions.
It is valuable to look at how he and Macbeth react differently to similar circumstances. There is no difference between Macbeth and Banquo both are leading personalities of Duncan’s army as they fight side by side. They seem to be equally daring in the struggle.
Banquo and Macbeth get a chance to meet the witches together, and Banquo’s reaction to the prophecies is shrewder than Macbeth’s. He is doubtful from the beginning. When the witches first time appear, he scoffs at them: “Speak then to me, who neither beg nor fear / Your favors nor your hate.” (Act I, Scene iii, lines 61-62).
After the prophecy that Macbeth will become Thane of Cawdor comes true, Banquo is more thoughtful. He warns his friend Macbeth not to be won over by small realities only to be deceived in more important matters. He senses the women are evil, and he expects a trick.
Unaware of Macbeth’s Plans
Banquo is the man of honest and trusting nature. It never occurs to him that Macbeth may have the wish to kill Duncan to make the prophecy come true. Later, even when he suspects that Macbeth killed the old King, Banquo does not suspect that he is in any danger.
It is fascinating to note that Banquo also does have an interest in such type of things like “witches” promise him. He shares his dream with Macbeth about them. He really worried if prophecy for Macbeth proves right, he should prepare mentally that his descendants will be great kings.
But Banquo denies compromising on his honour and his integrity to get the things he wants to achieve. He has no problem to wait for the fullness of time to bring about whatever is coming.
Also, notice that Banquo is not like Macbeth, he does not hide the original fact that he sometimes ponders about the three witches. So it reflects that Shakespeare presents Banquo’s character the way he did to show how a man of honour & dignity would react to the kind of enticement that Macbeth gives in to. There is probably the alternative reason why Banquo is portrayed as he is.
King James’s Agent
Historically, Banquo was an ancestor of King James I of England. Macbeth was leading presented for James. In Holinshed’s Chronicles, which was Shakespeare’s source for the story, Banquo helped Macbeth murder the king. Many critics believe that Shakespeare changed Banquo’s role to please King James.
Father of Kings
The heroic, honourable, daring general, whose children, according to the witches’ vision, will inherit the Scottish throne. Like Macbeth, Banquo thinks determined judgments, but he does not interpret those judgments into action. In a sense, Banquo’s personality stands as a rebuke to Macbeth, since he represents the path Macbeth chose not to take a path in which ambition need not lead to betrayal and murder.
Role of Banquo’s Ghost
Suitably, then, it is Banquo’s ghost—and not Duncan’s—that haunts Macbeth. In addition to exemplifying Macbeth’s guilt for killing Banquo, the ghost also repeats Macbeth that he did not emulate Banquo’s reaction to the prediction of the witches.
Shakespeare’s story of Banquo is the contrast of Macbeth, his clean, ethical character foil. Banquo has no vaulting ambition and thus can easily escape the trap of the Witches’ predictions.