Fleance in Macbeth: Character Analysis

Fleance in Macbeth: Character Analysis
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  • 0:00 Who Is Fleance?
  • 0:47 Fleance In Macbeth
  • 2:30 Fleance's Significance
  • 3:38 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Katie Surber

Katie has a Master's degree in English and has taught college level classes for ten years.

In William Shakespeare's play ''Macbeth'', Fleance is the son of Macbeth's friend and ally Banquo. Although he is not present for long in the play, his escape from Macbeth plays a significant role in Macbeth's decline and ambition to stay king.

Who is Fleance?

Even just one domino knocked over can set a whole plan to ruin. The single domino itself doesn't seem all that important until you witness the effects of it. minor characters in a play, such as Fleance in Shakespeare's Macbeth, can play such an important part.

When Macbeth and Banquo, Macbeth's ally and friend, first encounter the three witches, they tell Macbeth that he will one day be king. At the same time, they tell Banquo that his descendants will also be king one day. Because of this, Macbeth feels threatened by Banquo and decides to kill him and his son Fleance. However, Fleance escapes the murder. By the end of the play, we do not yet know where Fleance is, but many assume that he is in Scotland.

Fleance in Macbeth

Fleance is first seen in Act II of the play. In his first scene, Banquo and Fleance arrive at Macbeth's castle late in the night. Banquo hands Fleance his sword before going to bed. By giving Fleance his sword, this signals to us that Fleance is serving as his father's squire, or young nobleman acting as an attendant.

Although we do not see Fleance again until his father is murdered, Macbeth does mention him to Banquo. Macbeth is planning the murders of Banquo and Fleance and asks his friend, 'Goes Fleance with you?' Macbeth wants to be sure that Fleance will be present when he sends his men to murder them.

In Act III, when Macbeth's men arrive to murder Banquo and Fleance, they first attack Banquo. Banquo is immediately worried about his son saying, 'O, treachery! Fly, good Fleance, fly, fly fly.' Listening to his father, Fleance flees and successfully escapes the murder plot.

After Fleance hides, we do not see him again in the play. Macbeth does express his disappointment that Fleance was not dead describing him as 'the worm that's fled.' Macbeth is relieved that he has killed Banquo but is worried that Fleance is still alive, knowing that the witches' prediction may still come true.

Finally, Fleance is mentioned once more in the play by Lennox. Following Banquo's murder, Lennox is relieved the Fleance was able to escape, saying 'For Fleance fled: men must not walk too late.' Lennox knows that Fleance would have been killed as well if he had stayed or was found.

Fleance's Significance

After Macbeth receives the witches' prophecy that he would become king, he immediately begins to plot on how to take the throne and keep it. The promise given to Banquo that his descendants will also be king lingers over Macbeth. When he decides to kill Banquo and his family, he is trying to secure his reign.

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