Why didn't Banquo's son, Fleance, become the king after Macbeth dies?According to the Witches' prophecies, Banquo's children will be future kings, even though Banquo himself will never be. The...

Why didn't Banquo's son, Fleance, become the king after Macbeth dies?

According to the Witches' prophecies, Banquo's children will be future kings, even though Banquo himself will never be. The other two prophecies about Macbeth have come true, so why then did Shakespeare not let the third prophecy come true?

Asked on by limjiahui

5 Answers | Add Yours

impeccable's profile pic

impeccable | College Teacher | (Level 1) Honors

Posted on

The major misunderstanding arises from the wrong selection of the word meaning by the Modern English Translators.  Read again carefully the dialogue of  the third witch in this context.  " THOU SHALT GET KINGS, THOUGH THOU BE NONE....ETC".  The translators of modern english have taken the meaning of the word GET as BEGET and from there the confusion springs up.

The word GET has many other meanings and the one that fits in logically in this context is the meaning "LINEAGE".  According to the Websters seventh collegiate dictionary the meaning of this word is " A GROUP OF PERSONS TRACING DECENT FROM A COMMON ANCESTOR".  Here the witch did not say that Banquo's son would ascend the throne after Duncan but had averred that the lineage carried down the generation would produce the Kings.  Who was the ancestor of the kings who have filled the throne of Scotland afterwards?  Who was the ancestor of James the sixth of scotland and the first of England? Are they not the decendents of Fleance?  lastly who was the ancestor of the king under whom both the crowns of England and the Scotland have got united?  Was he notthe decendent of Fleance's lineage?


Thus the prophecy of the third witch had not gone unfulfilled.


God bless you.

lit24's profile pic

lit24 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Valedictorian

Posted on

Fleance and his father Banquo are both fictional characters but presented as historical fact by Raphael Holinshed whose "Chronicles" was the source for Shakespeare's "Macbeth." In Raphael's "Chronicles" Fleance flees to Wales in fear of Macbeth, there he marries a Welsh princess by name Nesta Verch Gruffydd. They beget a son Walter who makes his way back to Scotland where he becomes the Royal Steward. According to the legend he began the Stuart line of monarchs through whom Scotland and England were united.

In 1722, the Scottish historian Richard Hay revealed that both Banquo and Fleance were only fictitious characters. Modern historical research has proved that Banquo and Fleance never existed.

The plot of "Macbeth" ends with the death of Macbeth. Shakespeare does not continue the drama after that because if he had continued to write about what happened to Fleance then the tragic intensity of his play would have been diluted.

davidm25's profile pic

davidm25 | High School Teacher | eNotes Newbie

Posted on

The prophecy goes unfulfilled to emphasize that the characters themselves are controlling their own fate.  There is much academic debate concerning exactly who is in control or has power throught the play.  As other prophecies are fulfilled, readers may interpret that the witches have control and that they are manipulating events through their prophecies.  The unfulfilled prophecy in the play simply emphasizes that the characters were always in control of their actions, and that ambition was the controlling force.

guardcat's profile pic

guardcat | College Teacher | eNotes Newbie

Posted on

Because Fleance who was actually Banquo's grandson became the grandfather of the Stuart kings and thus a threat to the Tudor throne and the ruling party during Shakespeares time.

We’ve answered 317,752 questions. We can answer yours, too.

Ask a question