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

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

Banquo is an important character in the play Macbeth. He plays a person of integrity, honour and a man who has high morals to uphold. Although Banquo may appear a minor character in the play as he dies early through the plot, he plays an influential part throughout the rest of the story. Some might say that when Banquo dies, he plays the part of Macbeth’s conscience.

 William Shakespeare wrote this play for King James I in 1606. William wrote this play for James I because he knew that he would be very interested and amused by the play. James I was interested in witchcraft and killed more “witches” than any other king. The play Macbeth is deemed unlucky because the spells in the story are true. They were taken from a book called ‘Demonology’ which was written by King James I. The character Banquo was based on a supposed descendant of James I, but all of his qualities are based on James.

        At the beginning of the story, Banquo is seen as an equal to Macbeth, both valiant warriors and both honourable, courageous Thanes. They were both regarded highly and respected by everyone, including Duncan, the King of Scotland.

        When Banquo and Macbeth first meet the witches after battling with the Norwegians, both characters seem very suspicious of them, but as the witches speak their prophecies. “All hail Macbeth, Thane of Glamis” “All Hail Macbeth, Thane of Cawdor” “All hail Macbeth! That shalt be King hereafter” Macbeth seems to be memorised by the fortunes. Banquo doesn’t realise the danger he is now in by being the only witness of the witches’ prophecies, perhaps this is a flaw in his character, to trusting of Macbeth. Another prophecy made is “Lesser than Macbeth, and greater” “Not so happy, yet much happier” “Thou shalt get kings, though thou be none”. These prophecies are referring to Macbeth and Banquo. “Lesser than Macbeth, and greater” is important because it shows in life, Banquo will be a lesser man than 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.

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        As the story goes on, Macbeth is made Thane of Cawdor, not long after the witches had made their prophecies. Banquo resists from this but his suspicion grows even stronger, even Macbeth cannot believe the prophecies are coming true, “What can the Devil speak true” states Macbeth. Later in the story, Macbeth succumbs to the prophecies and their possibilities; he cannot hide away from what the witches have said. He becomes even more curious and tempted than he was at the beginning. “Stars hide your fires! Let not light see my black and deep desires” This is an important quote ...

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This writer has referred to the text in some detail and has put quotes in context. At times they have commented on language but I would have liked more of this.