Compare and constrast the way Banquo and Macbeth understand and react to the witches' prophecies? What is the difference between Banquo and Macbeth regarding the witches?

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It is Banquo who first notices and addresses the witches, clearly showing his contempt and revulsion. Though Banquo is milder and more modest than Macbeth in other situations (it is significant that while Macbeth is made Thane of Cawdor, Banquo is given no reward for his part in the battle and seems not to mind), he is consistently arrogant and high-handed in his treatment of the witches. Even when asking them to predict his future, he makes his indifference clear:

If you can look into the seeds of time,
And say which grain will grow and which will not,
Speak then to me, who neither beg nor fear
Your favours nor your hate.

Macbeth, by contrast, is very quiet while the witches are speaking, rapt in his concentration on their words. He only speaks when they have finished as they are about to disappear while he begs them to answer his questions with a humility of which Banquo would be incapable.

When the witches vanish, Macbeth cries "Would they had stay'd." Banquo expresses no such wish and...

(The entire section contains 4 answers and 1064 words.)

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Last Reviewed by eNotes Editorial on December 3, 2019