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 …show more content…
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