In Act 3 Scene 1, where Macbeth does a soliloquy, "To be thus is nothing, but be safely thus.." What does this soliloquy mean?This is right before Macbeth speaks with the two murderers.

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prhodes eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Macbeth is saying that now that he is king, he finds that it is more difficult to maintain his kingship than he imagined it would be: "To be thus is nothing;/But to be safely thus.--". Now that he's king, what he's focusing on is the fact that he does not feel safe in this position, especially because of Banquo's depth of understanding.

In part, this is because of his guilty conscience - the fact that not only has he committed regicide (killed the king) to gain the throne, but also he does not have the right to claim the kingship. Duncan had named his successor (Malcolm) before his death, as he was entitled to do, and Shakespeare's audience believed the kingship was bestowed by God. So Macbeth was not entitled to the kingship on either count.

Also, because of his own treachery, he distrusts other people, who may betray him. And he especially fears Banquo, who heard what the witches said, and who also was told his sons would succeed to the throne. Macbeth is now obsessing about the fact that he has damned himself to hell to attain the crown, and it won't even stay in his own family's hands.

At the end of the speech we see that he has already decided to take matters into his own hands again - he has a plan to kill Banquo and his son.

cmcqueeney eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Macbeth has become king as he aspired, but he fears that he is not safe as long as Banquo is alive. Banquo heard the prophesies of the witches and Macbeth thinks Banquo knows the king was murdered. He also talks about how the witches said Macbeth would be king, but they said Banquo would be father to kings, which would be considered better. At the end of the soliloquy, Macbeth realizes that if Banquo's sons are going to be the future kings, then Macbeth has committed murder for him. Macbeth benefits little from it.

sk8ergirl3210 | Student

Macbeth fears Banquo because of his integrity and fortitude - allusion to the witches' prophesies that Banquo will be less than Macbeth, but greater: "Lesser than Macbeth, and greater./.../Thou shalt get kings, though thou be none:..." (1.3).

He also realizes that because he has no heirs, Banquo's prophesy can come true. He now believes the crown is in jeopardy and Banquo is his greatest threat. He quickly decides to kill off Banquo because of 3 reasons (archetypal threes):

1. Banquo knows the prophesies and Macbeth believes Banguo knows he obtained the crown "most foully": "I fear,/Thou play'dst most foully for't:" (3.1)

2. Banquo's reaction to Duncan's murder - he vowed to go after and slay the murderer. Macbeth knows that Banquo would come after him because Banquo is secure enough to stick to his virtues, unlike himself.

3. Banquo's prophesy can still come true, and then all of Macbeth's effects for obtaining the crown are worthless since he would then have "Put rancours in the vessel of [his] peace/ only for them;...."

Macbeth: 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!

We also can observe a great change in character because if we compare this soliloquy to his "If it were done..." soliloquy ("If it were done when 'tis done, then 'twere well/It were done quickly:..." 1.7), we see that he no longer needs Lady Macbeth's manipulating powers, he begins to act on his own accord. This is almost a foreshadow for the rest of the play where Macbeth becomes more and more violent and without morals. No more contemplation between ambition and virtue. He only thinks of his plans as necessary, and this makes him increasingly dangerous.

This soliloquy paired with the flee of Fleance in the murder scene bring forth a very important theme: there is no way around fate.

im 14 and from england,

In this soliloquy macbeth uses a vararity of phrases.

this could mean he is in danger and thinks he has done wrong or just the fact he regrets it.

in the soliloquy were he kills duncan(the king) he thinks the dagger he see's is a sign for him to do this. he takes this sign and kills duncan. shakespeare has chosen for him to do this because all through out the story so far he has been the good guy and finding ways not to kill him but then he kills him and shocks the audience creating the suspision that infact macbeth is not as innocent as we think