Shakespeare uses his two main characters as a testimony to the message he wants his readers to glean from the play. He creates these two characters in juxtaposition to each other to show how friends can be quite different but can both fall prey to the difficulties of the world they live in. The following essay will be split into six paragraphs which Macbeth and Banqou’s differences and similarities. The first two paragraphs will highlight how both Macbeth and Banquo’s personalities shifted in the beginning of the play after they met the witches. In the two paragraphs that follow, the trajectory will shift towards analyzing their personalities throughout the body of the play. The spotlight will be on how honesty and truth-telling can lead to ones rise or downfall. In the final brace of paragraphs, their personal lives will be examined and investigated thoroughly to see if the witches prophecies actually came true and if their premonition altered the future that the two characters experienced. The essay will be concluded by giving my personal opinion about this tragedy and emphasizing the thesis once more.
Macbeth started off in the story as a noble and brave general hero that the king respected. His mind was twisted by three witches that he and Banquo saw in the forest. When Macbeth and Banquo were walking in the forest the three witches appeared and told Macbeth “All hail,Macbeth, that shalt be king hereafter!”(1.3,15), When the witches told him about his fate, his personality automatically changed, his hubris became his most noticeable trait. His ambition was initially revolving around being promoted yet once he found out about the premonition he became more ambitious and started considering regicide. Macbeth became a person who takes killing friends and loved ones lightly and became and untrustworthy character.
On the other hand, Banquo is a character that is not totally expressive at the beginning of the play but is very much like Macbeth with regard to station at the start of the story. He was also a general in the war and was vying for a promotion. He was initially allegiant to the king and served him well in the war. However, the witches words never shook him and he didn’t take it seriously. When the witches told Banquo “Lesser than Macbeth,but greater”(1.3,15) “Not so happy, yet much happier”(1.3,17) he was not jealous at all and he didn’t think much about the witches’ words. His personality never shifted nor did it change; he always stayed loyal to Macbeth and always stayed a loving and sympathetic father.
All throughout the play, Macbeth was a character that was always paranoid without reason. Macbeth was only honest with himself and doesn’t trust other people to carry his secrets or ambitions except his wife. A quote that highlights this trait is when he admitted to his wife ” This is a sorry sight.”(2.2 ,49) Macbeth knew that his act was inhumane and he knows that what he did was wrong because Duncan was a good king who was loved by all yet he only admitted that when he was in his chambers surrounded by no one other than his beloved wife. Macbeth knew he was selfish and foolish to kill the king yet only showed remorse and guilt in the presence of his wife. In Macbeth’s defense his honesty and paranoia was highly influenced by Lady Macbeth who was encouraging Macbeth to kill Duncan and comforted him after he killed him. This is emphasized when she comforts Macbeth by telling him “A foolish thought, to say a sorry sight”(2.2,49).
Overall, Banquo is a character who seems to be extremely loyal. He never gave up Macbeth’s secret and he never uttered a word about the encounter with the witches to anyone. An important aspect in the story that shows Banquo withholding the truth is when the alarms ring for Duncan’s death and Banquo says” Dear Duff, I prithee, contradict thyself And say it is not so.”(2.3,61) At this moment, Banquo automatically perceived what happened but surprisingly did not tell anyone. This is a trait that portrays Banquo’s unjustified commitment to Macbeth and it shows that he still has hope that Macbeth will change. Throughout the story Banquo does not show any signs of untrustworthiness and is always a calm character. His faith in Macbeth turned out bad for him because Macbeth realized that he knows and decided to kill him. This highlights how much Macbeth is an untrustworthy character and how Banquo’s allegiance was not rewarded but was punished.
The prophecies played a big role throughout the length of the play. The witches’ words had a very big impact on Macbeth’s personality and the way he thinks. The witches said that Macbeth would eventually become king; they also specified that Banquo is not great but yet he is greater than Macbeth. The following statement is accurate because Macbeth is a character that is horrid, but the witches also say that Banqo is not great, the reason why they said this is because Banquo kept the truth about the kings murder to himself and he should have said it. The witches say ” Be bloody, bold, and resolute; laugh to scorn the power of man,for none of woman born shall harm Macbeth.”(4.1,155) This prophecy was fulfilled but in an unexpected manner because in the end Macduff kills Macbeth, the reason why is because the prophecy specified that no man born of a woman would vanquish Macbeth but Macduff was not naturally born and henceforth the witches’ irony resulted in Macbeth’s demise.
In the story Banquo prophecy was that he was not great but he was greater than Macbeth, and that he will not be so happy but he will be happier than Macbeth. This is highlighted in the story because Macbeth is a coward that takes killing lightly while Banquo knew about Macbeth’s deeds but did not act upon them. The witches also specify that Banquo will be happier than Macbeth, this is shown in the story many times because Macbeth is always suffering from guilt because of the deeds that he has done but Banquo just knows the secret and is not baring the weight of the crimes and slaughter that Macbeth takes part in. The most important part of Banquo prophecy is when the witches tell him “Thou shalt get kings, though thou be none.” (1.3, 17), the following quote specifies that Banquo’s children shall be kings. The prophecy is fulfilled in a twisted manner because at first Malcom becomes king but after his reign Banquo’s children and grandchildren acquire the throne.
In my opinion, the play was Shakespeare’s interpretation of several universal themes that people need to comprehend and live by. Firstly, surrounding oneself with negative and heartless people can cloud your judgement and push you towards doing something inhumane and wrong. The writer shows this through portraying how Macbeth’s wife influenced him and how her ambition blinded her husband and made him even more ruthless. Secondly, Shakespeare uses Banquo as an example to show that one must always say the truth and must always stand up for what is right and just in the world. Thirdly, justice is delayed but never forgotten and everyone eventually gets what they deserve; hence Macbeth’s final demise which is justified and anticipated given all the heartache and crimes he committed. This essay highlighted the differences between Banquo and Macbeth’s personalities and showed how an event, meeting the witches, can turn their fates and influence their decisions and ambitions. In the end the witches sent both men to their demise when they twisted their minds and influenced their thoughts. The writer leaves room for us to compare between different characters and analyze how anyone can fall prey to their ambitions. He shows how one event can change ones future and that people should stay true to their beliefs and their moral compass regardless of what they face in life.