According to Macbeth, why does he himself not kill Banquo? What does Macbeth tell the murderers about Banquo? Where has Macduff gone?

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lensor eNotes educator| Certified Educator

This scene occurs at the beginning of Act III.  (If you need the text of the play, eNotes has it available in a highly accessible form, with helpful annotation.)

Macbeth cleverly convinces the murderers that Banquo is their enemy and that their misfortunes are his fault.  (Are you so gospell'd/
To pray for this good man and for his issue,/ Whose heavy hand hath bow'd you to the grave/And beggar'd yours for ever? Act III, Scene 1).

Macbeth insists that Banquo is his enemy, as well.  As he explains to the murderers, however, he cannot kill Banquo himself, for they share friends whom Macbeth must not offend or otherwise wrong by committing the murder. (For certain friends that are both his and mine,/Whose loves I may not drop, but wail his fall/Who I myself struck down; and thence it is,/That I to your assistance do make love,/Masking the business from the common eye/For sundry weighty reasons. Act III, Scene 1)

amymc eNotes educator| Certified Educator

According to Act III of the play, Macbeth hires murderes to kill Banquo instead of killing him himself because he realizes that Banquo is a well - liked an honored man and that killing him himself may raise further suspicion.  Thus, he convinces the murderers (low-life scoundrels) that Banquo is the chief reason for their pain and unfortunate circumstances.  Also, he is hosting a banquet, so he will have an alibi for the time of the murders.  He has questioned Banquo and knows he will be riding that day.  Thus, nobody will suspect Macbeth becuase many people will see him at the banquet.  In addition to Banquo, Macduff is absent from the banquet as well.  He has made his suspicion of Macbeth obvious by his actions, and he must flee to England and try to convince Malcolm to return to Scotland and regain the throne.