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Compare and contrast Banquo and Macbeth looking particularly at the first meeting with the witches.

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Introduction

Compare and contrast Banquo and Macbeth looking particularly at the first meeting with the witches. In the beginning, Macbeth is a successful general, described as noble and courageous. He has a great ambition to be king, which eventually gets the better of him, because the temptation is too strong. The witches play upon Macbeth's weakness and so does his ambitious wife, Lady Macbeth. Macbeth thinks that the supernatural powers of the witches will help him, but instead they lead him to his downfall. Macbeth's downfall is really his own fault, because he makes a deliberate choice to take the road of evil. He is responsible (both directly and indirectly) for the murder of King Duncan, his colleague Banquo, and Lady Macduff and her children. Throughout the play there is a gradual progression of Macbeth's character. He changes from the courageous warrior he was described as at the beginning into a ruthless "butcher". However, Macbeth is aware of his mistake and is deeply regretful of what he has done. This is what makes him so fascinating, because he is much more then just a horrible beast. The audience feels both repelled by the evil in Macbeth and sorry for the waste of all the good things in his character. Banquo is Macbeth's friend and is a loyal and honourable Scottish nobleman and a warrior in the king's army. ...read more.

Middle

He then asks the witches to predict his own future and they say: "Lesser than Macbeth, and greater." "Not so happy, yet much happier." "Thou shall get kings, though thou be none." (Act 1 Scene 3.65) The witches' chose the right moment to approach Macbeth, as he was full of the triumphant of battle and fresh from killing. What the witches say seems to strike a chord in Macbeth's mind, especially the prediction that he will be king, as he asks to here more: "Stay, you imperfect speakers, tell me more" (Act 1 Scene 3.70) The witches vanish and Macbeth is confused as what he thought was solid has disappeared. Macbeth and Banquo each react differently to the witches' prophecies. Banquo senses that the witches are evil and is deeply suspicious of their powers. Unlike Macbeth, he has no ambition to be king. Banquo was not afraid to talk to the witches and demanded that they tell him what the future had in store for him. Macbeth is tempted by the witches' predictions, because they echo his own thoughts. Macbeth seems worried about the prediction that Banquo's children will be kings, as though this is some kind of threat to his future. If Banquo's children will be kings, Macbeth's rise to power will be pointless if his line stops when he dies. ...read more.

Conclusion

Also, Macbeth is afraid of Banquo because he knows too much about Macbeth's meetings with the witches. Macbeth tells the audience why he is afraid of Banquo in a soliloquy. He says that Banquo is brave, clever and wise and that he is the only man he fears. "But to be safely thus: our fears in Banquo Stick deep, and in his royalty of nature Reigns that which would be feared. 'Tis much he dares, And, to that dauntless temper of his mind, He hath a wisdom that doth guide his valour To act in safety. There is none but he Whose being I do fear" (Act 3 Scene 1.48) Macbeth sees his time on the throne as "barren" because Banquo's children will be the future kings. Macbeth's "seeds" will not grow, but Banquo's will. Macbeth begins to think that he has corrupted himself and murdered Duncan for Banquo's benefit. He feels he has not done evil just for somebody else to get the rewards. Macbeth's battle with fate begins, as he decides to deliberately prevent Banquo's heirs from becoming kings. The murder of Banquo strikes out Macbeth's last hope, but the escape of Fleance allows the witches' predictions to come true. Although "Lesser" in power than Macbeth, he is also "greater" than him in terms of goodness and future power, as Macbeth feared. Banquo's descendants will indeed become kings, in spite of all Macbeth's efforts to prevent this. ...read more.

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