• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Why is Banquo such an important character in Shakespeares play Macbeth?

Extracts from this document...


Why is Banquo such an important character in Shakespeare?s play ?Macbeth?? Banquo serves as a dramatic foil to highlight the character of the title role of Macbeth. There are superficial similarities between the two characters, but, beneath the surface, there is significant contrast between them. The use of contrast as a dramatic device is an effective way to focus the audience?s attention on the aspects of Macbeth?s character Shakespeare wants to emphasise. In the beginning of the play, Banquo is presented as a parallel figure to Macbeth. Both have fought courageously for their King and are good friends. Both have promises made to them by the Witches. But there the similarity ends. Banquo is loyal, wise, truthful and honourable. Macbeth is dishonest, power-hungry and weak. It is significant that Macbeth receives the title of the former traitor, Thane of Cawdor. Both are multi-faceted characters, however. Shakespeare was able to create three dimensional roles and Macbeth still has redeeming features: he has pangs of conscience, for example, and it is he who tells us about Banquo?s goodness (his ?royalty of nature?), showing that he can still distinguish good from evil. ...read more.


He is honest and loyal, wanting to keep his conscience clear. He begins to suspect Macbeth because he clearly states that, whatever Macbeth promises, he will not be tempted into wrong-doing. Macbeth says ?If you shall cleave to my consent, when ?tis, /It shall make honour for you.? But Banquo answers ?So I lose none/ in seeking to augment it, but still keep/ my bosom franchised and allegiance clear.? Polanski successfully highlights the contrast between the two men in his film version of Macbeth. The atmosphere is gloomy and sombre, setting the scene of foreboding. The starless sky (?There?s husbandry in heaven: /Their candles are all out.?), the sounds of dripping water from the rain and an owl hooting add to this use of pathetic fallacy which foreshadows the murder to come. The flickering candlelight falls on the faces of the characters in an eerie way, adding to the tension. Whereas Banquo is in the open and acting kindly with his son, Macbeth is furtive and hiding, spying on Banquo before he shows himself. Banquo carries his bedding as if it is the ?lead? of the ?heavy summons? which he speaks about. ...read more.


He only speaks on the film when he?s directly looking at and holding the real dagger, which makes his coming down to earth more marked. The imagined dagger looks silver and temptingly shiny and pure. Again, Macbeth is furtive and secretive, in semi-darkness in this part of the scene. Polanski emphasises his dark and corrupted nature in this way. In Act 3 scene 1 we hear Banquo?s thoughts about Macbeth before we hear or see Macbeth himself. Banquo does not praise Macbeth?s character; on the contrary, he says ?I fear /Thou play?dst most foully for?t?, showing his suspicion of Macbeth. He is the only person who links Duncan?s murder with Macbeth. In contrast, when Macbeth speaks of Banquo he talks of his ?royalty of nature?, his ?wisdom? and his ?valour?. These parallel private thoughts make the characters of both men even more emphasised. Banquo is wise and has insight to the truth. Macbeth recognises the good in Banquo and his own weakness and faults are highlighted in comparison. To sum up, Banquo represents honour and wisdom in the play. He serves as Macbeth?s conscience. This becomes apparent when he reappears as a ghost ? a manifestation of Macbeth?s guilt. He is essential as the character who places Macbeth?s ?black and deep desires? into sharp relief through his goodness and integrity. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE Macbeth section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related GCSE Macbeth essays

  1. Marked by a teacher

    What is the importance of Banquo in Shakespeare's play Macbeth?

    4 star(s)

    Macbeth, but in another time, maybe death, he will be greater a man. When the witches eventually leave, Macbeth commands them "Speak then to me, who neither beg nor fear, your favours nor your hate". Maybe at this point, Banquo acknowledges that Macbeth believes them, and he is overcome with the prospect of ultimate power.

  2. How is the character Macbeth presented in Shakespeares' play Macbeth

    It shows a very evil and brutal side to Macbeth, and it shows that Macbeth has become very paranoid due to the prophecies of the witches. We empathise strongly with banquo because he is always presented to be loyal and trustworthy to Macbeth, who just has ordered his death.

  1. Discuss Shakespeare's dramatic purpose and technique in Act 1 and how these are important ...

    For example; the theme of the supernatural. This is done by using audio and visual effects. Some of the visual effects are the thunder and the appearance of the witches. This seems like a clich� now but in the time of Shakespeare the supernatural was still a huge aspect of

  2. William Shakespeare's use of dramatic techniques in the play Macbeth.

    Shakespeare also uses various other ways to create reader expectation by not introducing the major character until later on thus encouraging the audience to continue to watch developments. At this point people can only make assumptions about Macbeth's' character. By introducing the witches Shakespeare also introduced the idea of evil in the world at this early stage of the play.

  1. Compare and contrast two different film versions, of Shakespeare's Macbeth.

    The BBC used actors that are middle aged. There are less guests and the making of the film is set on a much smaller scale than that of the Polanski version. The use of colour in the film is minor and the settings are dull and drab, there are few guests and it is not particularly regal.

  2. How is Evil Presented in William Shakespeare's Macbeth

    However Shakespeare counters this in the next Act by using dramatic irony. When Macbeth is mentioned the second time is it through praise from another man who is reporting back to the king. The words used in this scene help build up a picture of Macbeth being a brave and courageous soldier.

  1. Make detailed reference to Shakespeare's

    The next day, after Duncan's sons, Malcolm and Donaldbain, find out about their father being killed, they decide to run away. They said, "there's daggers in men's smiles." This basically means people could be pretending to be good, but underneath they aren't.

  2. William Shakespeare's Macbeth

    Macduff kills Macbeth because he was not "born of a women" he was born by caesarean section. Malcolm- The first son of Duncan, and heir to the throne. After his father is murdered he escapes to England, as he fears for his life.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work