Macbeth Questions and Answers
by William Shakespeare

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How does Macbeth feel toward his friend Banquo?

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Macbeth's feeling towards Banquo change drastically through the course of the play. In the early scenes, Banquo and Macbeth fight side by side to defeat the forces of Ireland and MacDonald. They trust each other and respect one another as servants to the king.

The two men later encounter the witches . First the witches describe Macbeth's future as king; then they describe how...

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Initially, Macbeth and Banquo are equals in valor and honor who share a mutual trust and admiration for one another.  Therefore, when they first hear the Weird Sisters' "prophecies," Macbeth is anxious to speak with Banquo further.  He says, "Think upon what hath chanced, / and at more time, / [...] let us speak / Our free hearts each to other" (1.4.170-173).  

The next time they speak, however, Macbeth is a bit dishonest about how much he's been thinking about those "prophecies."  When Banquo confesses that he dreamed of the Sisters, Macbeth replies, "I think not of / them" (2.1. 27-28).  Then, Macbeth speaks vaguely of the future, saying, "If you shall cleave to my consent, when 'tis [time], / It shall make honor for you" (2.1. 34-35).  In other words, if you will support me and join my cause, it will benefit you greatly.  Banquo has too much integrity to take the bait, though, and he says that he wants to keep his conscience clear and, as long as he isn't asked to do anything that would dishonor him, he'll be willing to listen to what Macbeth has to say.  

From here on out, Macbeth is distrustful of Banquo, and he even grows to resent his former friend when he considers that his crown will be "fruitless" because it will eventually pass to Banquo's descendants.  At this point, he plots the murder of Banquo and his son, Fleance, in order to prevent this from happening.  All bonds of former love are broken between the two, Fleance survives, and eventually Macbeth is vanquished.