Wendy has a Ph.D. in Adult Education and a Master's Degree in Business Management. She has 10 years experience working in higher education.
Recap of Act 2, Scene 4
In Macbeth Act 2, Scene 4, Ross discussed the recent strange happening with an old man outside Macbeth's castle. After a few minutes, the two were joined by Macduff, who told Ross that Macbeth was on his way to Scone to be crowned king.
Macduff also told Ross that Duncan's sons, Malcolm and Donalbain, were suspected of paying the attendants to kill Duncan. This explained why they quietly ran off right after Duncan's murder. Then, the men all said their goodbyes. Ross went to Scone, and Macduff went back home to Fife.
Banquo Thinks Back
As we begin Act 3, Scene 1 of Macbeth, we find Banquo in the king's palace in Forres. Now that Macbeth is king, Banquo thinks back to the three witches' prophecies: ''Thou hast it now: king, Cawdor, Glamis, all, As the weird women promised.'' Banquo realizes that all their prophecies about Macbeth have come true.
Banquo then wonders about the witches' prophecy about himself: ''That myself should be the root and father Of many kings.'' He recalls that the witches said his children will be king. So he wonders, ''Why, by the verities on thee made good, May they not be my oracles as well And set me up in hope?''
Since Macbeth's prophecies all came true, will the prophecies about Banquo come true as well?
King Macbeth Enters
Macbeth enters, now dressed as king. Lady Macbeth also comes in, now dressed as queen. They both greet Banquo. King Macbeth invites Banquo to a great formal dinner he is having that evening. Banquo accepts, but says he is first going for a ride with his son Fleance.
King Macbeth tells Banquo that he needs his advice: ''We should have else desired your good advice, Which still hath been both grave and prosperous, In this day's council.'' The king has asked Banquo's advice before because he has always been helpful.
King Macbeth Worries & Thinks Aloud
Banquo's history of good counsel is why King Macbeth tells Banquo to make sure and attend the dinner. He then explains what he needs Banquo's advice on: ''We hear our bloody cousins are bestow'd In England and in Ireland, not confessing their cruel parricide, filling their hearers With strange invention.''
It seems that Duncan's sons, Malcolm and Donalbain, have run away to England and Ireland, but not only have they not owned up to Duncan's murder, they also have been telling false stories to anyone who will listen. This is the matter for which King Macbeth needs advice.
Banquo leaves to go on his ride with his son Fleance. King Macbeth then dismisses everyone until the formal dinner that night. Meanwhile, two men have been waiting outside the palace gates to see the king. Macbeth asks an attendant to bring them in.
As the attendants are fetching the men, King Macbeth starts a soliloquy, speaking his thoughts aloud: ''Our fears in Banquo Stick deep; and in his royalty of nature Reigns that which would be fear'd.'' King Macbeth is afraid of Banquo. In fact, the King fears Banquo more than anyone else. ''There is none but he Whose being I do fear.'' And he has good reason for this extreme fear. King Macbeth also remembers the witches' prophecy about Banquo's sons becoming kings.
The king compares that prophecy to his own situation. ''Upon my head they placed a fruitless crown And put a barren sceptre in my gripe.'' King Macbeth realizes that the witches did not foresee an heir for him. Therefore, his crown and scepter - a decorated walking stick - are his alone.
The king then goes on to say that ''Thence to be wrench'd with an unlineal hand, No son of mine succeeding.'' His crown and rule will be taken from him by someone from another lineage, or family line.
And that is when the reality of it all hits King Macbeth. ''For Banquo's issue have I filed my mind; For them the gracious Duncan have I murder'd.'' King Macbeth realizes that killing Duncan and the heavy guilt he feels as a result have all been ''To make them kings, the seed of Banquo kings!''
In other words, to simply make way for Banquo's sons to become king.
King Macbeth Makes Plans
At this point, the attendant comes back with the two men. King Macbeth dismisses the attendant and begins talking with the two men. It turns out the men are murderers King Macbeth had hired the previous day. The king had told them how Banquo had mistreated them over the years: ''Know That it was he in the times past which held you so under fortune, which you thought had been Our innocent self: this I made good to you In our last conference.''
The men say they fully understand how Banquo has wronged them over the years. King Macbeth then asks the men, ''Do you find Your patience so predominant in your nature, That you can let this go?'' Are they simply willing to let those wrongs go unpunished?
The men say they are too angry and manly to simply let their enemy go unpunished. King Macbeth then tells the men that Banquo is his enemy as well. However, the king cannot kill Banquo himself because they share common friends, and it will arouse too much suspicion.
The king then tells the men that they must kill Banquo and his son Fleance. The men agree and wait in the palace for King Macbeth's command.
In Act 3, Scene 1 of Macbeth, Macbeth is now king, and all the witches' prophecies about him have come true. This makes Banquo wonder about the witches' prophecy about his sons becoming kings. King Macbeth invites Banquo to a formal dinner that night. He tells Banquo that he needs his advice, and he should not miss the dinner.
King Macbeth then begins a soliloquy, and after he is done thinking out loud, he realizes that Banquo poses a threat to his throne. He hires two men and tells them about how all their troubles are because of Banquo. King Macbeth then tells the men they must kill Banquo as revenge. The men, angry, promise to do so.
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