Banquo Essay

1267 Words Oct 1st, 2013 6 Pages
Banquo is a character in William Shakespeare's 1606 play Macbeth. In the play, he is at first an ally to Macbeth and they are together when they meet the Three Witches. After prophesying that Macbeth will become king, the witches tell Banquo that he will not be king himself, but that his descendants will be. Later, Macbeth in his lust for power sees Banquo as a threat and has him murdered; Banquo's son, Fleance, escapes. Banquo's ghost returns in a later scene, causing Macbeth to react with alarm during a public feast.
Shakespeare borrowed the character of Banquo from Holinshed's Chronicles, a history of Britain published by Raphael Holinshed in 1587. In Chronicles Banquo is an accomplice to Macbeth in the murder of the king, rather
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The House of Stuart was descended from Walter fitz Alan, the first High Steward of Scotland, and he was believed to have been the grandson of Fleance and Gruffydd ap Llywelyn's daughter, Nesta verch Gruffydd. In reality Walter fitz Alan was the son of a Breton knight.
Unlike his sources, Shakespeare gives Banquo no role in the King's murder, making it a deed committed solely by Macbeth and his wife. Why Shakespeare's Banquo is so different from the character described by Holinshed and Boece is not known, though critics have proposed several possible explanations. First among them is the risk associated with portraying the king's ancestor as a murderer and conspirator in the plot to overthrow a rightful king, as well as the author's desire to flatter a powerful patron. But Shakespeare may also simply have altered Banquo's character because there was no dramatic need for another accomplice to the murder. There was, however, a need to provide a dramatic contrast to Macbeth; a role that many scholars argue is filled by Banquo.
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, however, argues that when Ross and

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