Banquo Quotes

What quotes can be used to discuss the significance of Banquo's character in Macbeth?

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teachersage eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Banquo and Macbeth have been the best of friends and fellow soldiers fighting side by side. They both hear the witches' prophecies. Banquo does not have Macbeth's single-minded ambition, but like his friend, he is not without ambition—and the witches' words have played on his mind too. In the quote that follows, from act 3, scene 1, we learn that Banquo is only human. Although he suspects Macbeth got the crown through some kind of foul play ("I fear/Thou played'st most foully for't"), he does not want to look too deeply into the circumstances, because he hopes the witches' prophecies will benefit him too:

Thou hast it now—king, Cawdor, Glamis, all, 
As the weird women promised, and I fear 
Thou played'st 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. 

At the end of the passage, he censors his thoughts, saying, "But hush, no more." This shows a chief difference between Banquo and Macbeth: Banquo is able to stop his ambitious desires before they get too strong a grip on him.

By act 3, scene 4, Banquo is dead, his throat slit on Macbeth's orders. This murder upsets Macbeth as no other, so much so that Macbeth hallucinates that he sees Banquo's ghost at a banquet. This hallucination shows Macbeth's guilt, but it also reveals the depth of friendship the two men shared and what a capacity for friendship Banquo must have had. After all, even killing his king has not affected Macbeth so deeply. Macbeth cries out:

Take any shape but that, and my firm nerves

Shall never tremble: or be alive again,

And dare me to the desert with thy sword.

Macbeth would rather face any wild animal, such as a bear or a tiger or even Banquo alive in a sword fight, than face what he has done to one who has always been his loyal friend.

litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Banquo is an important character because he has Macbeth’s best interests at heart, but Macbeth spends the majority of the play obsessing over him—even after he kills him.

Banquo seems to have been a good friend.  He was there to hear the witches’ prophecy, but he was skeptical of it.  He questioned the witches’ motives, and tried to advice Macbeth against taking what they said to heart.

In an aside to Macbeth after he finds out about his promotion, Banquo tells Macbeth to be cautious.

But ’tis strange;

And oftentimes, to win us to our harm,

The instruments of darkness tell us truths,

Win us with honest trifles, to betray's(135)

In deepest consequence—

Cousins, a word, I pray you. (Act 1, Scene 3)

Banquo does not want the kingship to himself, as Macbeth thinks. He is disturbed by the witches, and would rather not think about what they say any further.  He tries to tell Macbeth no good will come of it, but Macbeth is already full of ambition and dreaming of the day he is king.

When Macbeth kills Duncan, Banquo suspects something.  He is concerned that the witches are poisoning his friend’s mind, and his friend is up to no good.

Thou hast it now: King, Cawdor, Glamis, all,

As the weird women promised, and I fear

Thou play'dst most foully for't: (Act 3, Scene 1)

He is actually right to be worried.  Macbeth is concerned that Banquo now stands in his way.  Duncan and then Malcolm stood in his way before, and he killed one and framed the other into exile.  He has to get rid of Banquo too in order to secure his throne.