Please summarise ActIII Sc.1 of "Macbeth" and comment on the character of Macbeth.

2 Answers | Add Yours

lit24's profile pic

lit24 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Valedictorian

Posted on

Act III sc.1 deals with Macbeth's plan to assasinate Banquo. He has arranged secretly for two  enemies of Banquo to murder Banquo:

"Both of you

Know Banquo was your enemy."

Macbeth is to hold a banquet at seven 'O clock in his castle. He invites Banquo to this feast and learns from him that Banquo will spend the time before this banquet by going out on a long ride. Macbeth instructs the assasins of Banquo's exact whereabouts and tells them that they must murder not only Banquo but also his son Fleance.

The scene takes place in the king of Scotland's palace at Forres. Macbeth has now firmly established himself as the new king of Scotland after placing the blame for Duncan's murder squarely on Duncan's two sons, Malcolm and Donalbain who fearing for their lives have now fled to England and Ireland:

"We hear, our bloody cousins are bestow'd

In England and in Ireland, not confessing
Their cruel parricide, filling their hearers
With strange invention."

The scene opens with a soliloquy by Banquo ruminating on the prophecies of the three witches. Banquo concludes that Macbeth has become of Scotland by foul means and that if what the witches had prophecied for Macbeth had come true then what they had prophecied for him-that his children and not Macbeth's children would become the kings of Scotland in future-must also come true:

"Thou hast it now: king, Cawdor, Glamis, all,

As the weird women promised, and, I fear,
Thou play'dst most foully for't: yet it was said
It should not stand in thy posterity,
But that myself should be the root and father
Of many kings. If there come truth from them--
As upon thee, Macbeth, their speeches shine--
Why, by the verities on thee made good,
May they not be my oracles as well,
And set me up in hope? But hush! no more."

This soliloquy of Banquo's should be contrasted with Macbeth's soliloquy just before he discusses with the hired assasins his plans to murder Banquo. In that soliloquy Macbeth reveals to us his deep seated fear and jealousy of Baquo:

"-Our fears in Banquo
Stick deep; and in his royalty of nature
Reigns that which would be fear'd: 'tis much he dares;
And, to that dauntless temper of his mind,
He hath a wisdom that doth guide his valour
To act in safety. There is none but he
Whose being I do fear: and, under him,

My Genius is rebuked."

But more importantly Macbeth reveals his bitterness and resentment at the fact that Banquo's children will become kings after him. Macbeth is not able to accept the fact that he has murdered Duncan and become the king of Scotland only for Banquo to establish a durable dynasty:

" He chid the sisters

When first they put the name of king upon me,
And bade them speak to him: then prophet-like
They hail'd him father to a line of kings:
Upon my head they placed a fruitless crown,
And put a barren sceptre in my gripe,
Thence to be wrench'd with an unlineal hand,
No son of mine succeeding. If 't be so,
For Banquo's issue have I filed my mind;
For them the gracious Duncan have I murder'd;
Put rancours in the vessel of my peace
Only for them; and mine eternal jewel
Given to the common enemy of man,
To make them kings, the seed of Banquo kings!

It is this bitterness and envy of Banquo which compels Macbeth to murder not only Banquo but also his son Fleance. He pointedly instructs the hired assasins that they must also eliminate Fleance:

"To leave no rubs nor botches in the work--

Fleance his son, that keeps him company,
Whose absence is no less material to me
Than is his father's, must embrace the fate
Of that dark hour."

This scene epitomises the evil nature of Macbeth. Not only is he evil and scheming but he is also selfish, envious and insecure and filled with bitterness and resentment.

We’ve answered 318,989 questions. We can answer yours, too.

Ask a question