Banquo

We hear of Banquo before we meet him in Shakespeare’s Macbeth. In Act 1, Scene 2, a wounded sergeant describes how Macbeth and his fellow general Banquo fought bravely for King Duncan “as cannons overcharged with double cracks” (1.2.41), meaning they fought twice as hard as the enemy. This tells us that Banquo’s main qualities are his bravery and loyalty to king and country. This mirrors the description we get of Macbeth in the first scenes. Both Macbeth and Banquo are Duncan’s generals, brave soldiers, and seemingly friends with one another.

However, in Act 1, Scene 3 we start seeing the differences between Banquo and Macbeth. While Macbeth reacts with shock and conviction upon hearing the witches’ predictions, Banquo is much more practical and sceptical. He scolds the witches when they first only deliver a prophecy for his friend, which shows that he is not afraid of supernatural creatures. This fits the idea of a soldier being a rational, down-to-earth type of person. When Banquo has heard his own prophecy (that he will father kings), he is wary: “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.” (1.3.132-135). In these lines, he is warning Macbeth about trusting supernatural creatures since they might trick you, and his words therefore foreshadow Macbeth’s tragic end. B...

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