Macbeth And Banquo
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Macbeth and Banquo meet the witches--Kenneth Branagh's Macbeth (2013)
Not the perfect characters but the imperfect and evil characters make the deepest appeal; make, indeed, any kind of effective appeal to our imagination and to our moral sense. Macbeth and Lady Macbeth, Brutus and Julius Caesar, Hamlet and Ophelia, Othello and lago, Satan in Paradise Lost , Lancelot and Guinevere, the Duke in My Last Duchess , Andrea del Sarto and Lucrezia: all are evil or failing characters, failing rather than inherently evil, no doubt, if we see deep enough, but all alike lacking in precisely those moral qualities which a study of their characters consistently inspires.
Why is this? Read on Did You Know? In his soliloquy To be thus is nothing , Macbeth recalls the Witches' prediction that he will have no successors. Interestingly, although the historical Macbeth sires no children, he did have a stepson. By her first husband, Gillacomean, Lady Macbeth had a son named Lulach. Banquo's role in the coup that follows the murder is harder to explain. Banquo's loyalty to Macbeth, rather than Malcolm , after Duncan's death makes him a passive accomplice in the coup: Malcolm, as Prince of Cumberland, is the rightful heir to the throne and Macbeth a usurper.
Daniel Amneus argued that Macbeth as it survives is a revision of an earlier play, in which Duncan granted Macbeth not only the title of Thane of Cawdor, but the "greater honor"  of Prince of Cumberland i. Banquo's silence may be a survival from the posited earlier play, in which Macbeth was the legitimate successor to Duncan. Banquo is in a third of the play's scenes, as both a human and a ghost.
As significant as he is to the plot, he has fewer lines than the relatively insignificant Ross, a Scottish nobleman who survives the play. In the next scene, Banquo and Macbeth, returning from the battle together, encounter the Three Witches , who predict that Macbeth will become Thane of Cawdor, and then king. Banquo, sceptical of the witches, challenges them to predict his own future, and they foretell that Banquo will never himself take the throne, but will beget a line of kings.
Banquo remains sceptical after the encounter, wondering aloud if evil can ever speak the truth. He warns Macbeth that evil will offer men a small, hopeful truth only to catch them in a deadly trap. When Macbeth kills the king and takes the throne, Banquo—the only one aware of this encounter with the witches—reserves judgment for God. During the melee, Banquo holds off the assailants so that Fleance can escape, but is himself killed. A terrified Macbeth sees him, while the apparition is invisible to his guests. He appears again to Macbeth in a vision granted by the Three Witches, wherein Macbeth sees a long line of kings descended from Banquo.
Many scholars see Banquo as a foil and a contrast to Macbeth. Macbeth, for example, eagerly accepts the Three Witches' prophecy as true and seeks to help it along. Banquo, on the other hand, doubts the prophecies and the intentions of these seemingly evil creatures. Whereas Macbeth places his hope in the prediction that he will be king, Banquo argues that evil only offers gifts that lead to destruction. Banquo steadily resists the temptations of evil within the play, praying to heaven for help, while Macbeth seeks darkness, and prays that evil powers will aid him. Banquo's status as a contrast to Macbeth makes for some tense moments in the play.
In act two, scene one, Banquo meets his son Fleance and asks him to take both his sword and his dagger "Hold, take my sword Take thee that too" . Scholars have interpreted this to mean that Banquo has been dreaming of murdering the king as Macbeth's accomplice to take the throne for his own family, as the Three Witches prophesied to him. In this reading, his good nature is so revolted by these thoughts that he gives his sword and dagger to Fleance to be sure they do not come true, but is so nervous at Macbeth's approach that he demands them back.
They argue that Banquo is merely setting aside his sword for the night. Then, when Macbeth approaches, Banquo, having had dreams about Macbeth's deeds, takes back his sword as a precaution in this case. Macbeth eventually sees that Banquo can no longer be trusted to aid him in his evil, and considers his friend a threat to his newly acquired throne; thus, he has him murdered. His spirit lives on in Fleance, his son, and in his ghostly presence at the banquet. When Macbeth returns to the witches later in the play, they show him an apparition of the murdered Banquo, along with eight of his descendants.
The scene carries deep significance: King James, on the throne when Macbeth was written, was believed to be separated from Banquo by nine generations. What Shakespeare writes here thus amounts to a strong support of James' right to the throne by lineage, and for audiences of Shakespeare's day, a very real fulfilment of the witches' prophecy to Banquo that his sons would take the throne. Banquo's other appearance as a ghost during the banquet scene serves as an indicator of Macbeth's conscience returning to plague his thoughts.
Banquo's triumph over death appears symbolically, insofar as he literally takes Macbeth's seat during the feast. Shocked, Macbeth uses words appropriate to the metaphor of usurpation, describing Banquo as "crowned" with wounds. Like the vision of Banquo's lineage, the banquet scene has also been the subject of criticism. Critics have questioned whether not one, but perhaps two ghosts appear in this scene: Banquo and Duncan.
Scholars arguing that Duncan attends the banquet state that Macbeth's lines to the Ghost could apply equally well to the slain king. To add to the confusion, some lines Macbeth directs to the ghost, such as "Thy bones are marrowless",  cannot rightly be said of Banquo, who has only recently died. Scholars debate whether Macbeth's vision of Banquo is real or a hallucination. Macbeth had already seen a hallucination before murdering Duncan: a knife hovering in the air. Several performances of the play have even ignored the stage direction to have the Ghost of Banquo enter at all, heightening the sense that Macbeth is growing mad, since the audience cannot see what he claims to see.
Scholars opposing this view claim that while the dagger is unusual, ghosts of murdered victims are more believable, having a basis in the audience's superstitions. Spirits in other Shakespeare plays—notably Hamlet and Midsummer Night's Dream —exist in ambiguous forms, occasionally even calling into question their own presence. The concept of a character being confronted at a triumphant feast with a reminder of their downfall is not unique to Shakespeare and may originate from Belshazzar's feast , as portrayed in the Bible.
The term 'ghost at the feast' has entered popular culture, and is often used as a metaphor for a subject a person would rather avoid considering, or considering the general plot of Macbeth a reminder of a person's unpleasant past or likely future. Banquo's role, especially in the banquet ghost scene, has been subject to a variety of interpretations and mediums. Shakespeare's text states: "Enter Ghost of Banquo, and sits in Macbeth's place. Special effects and camera tricks also allow producers to make the ghost disappear and reappear, highlighting the fact that only Macbeth can see it.
Stage directors, unaided by post-production effects and camera tricks, have used other methods to depict the ghost. In the late 19th century, elaborate productions of the play staged by Henry Irving employed a wide variety of approaches for this task. In a green silhouette was used to create a ghostlike image; ten years later a trick chair was used to allow an actor to appear in the middle of the scene, and then again from the midst of the audience. In a shaft of blue light served to indicate the presence of Banquo's spirit. In a Russian director named Theodore Komisarjevsky staged a modern retelling of the play Banquo and Macbeth were told of their future through palmistry ; he used Macbeth's shadow as the ghost.
Film adaptations have approached Banquo's character in a variety of ways. Akira Kurosawa 's adaptation Throne of Blood makes the character into Capitan Miki played by Minoru Chiaki , slain by Macbeth's equivalent Captain Washizu when his wife explains that she is with child. News of Miki's death does not reach Washizu until after he has seen the ghost in the banquet scene. In Roman Polanski 's adaptation , Banquo is played by acclaimed stage actor Martin Shaw , in a style reminiscent of earlier stage performances. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. This article is about the character in Shakespeare's Macbeth. For the small town in the United States, see Banquo, Indiana.
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