Macbeth essay... HELP!!!!I am going in tomorrow for my final essay on Macbeth and a MAJOR grade for the last semester of High School. I am just a little bit lost on how to write out an outline and...

Macbeth essay... HELP!!!!

I am going in tomorrow for my final essay on Macbeth and a MAJOR grade for the last semester of High School. I am just a little bit lost on how to write out an outline and thesis to the following topic :


"Shakespeare uses much comparison and contrast in building a character. Explain and discuss how this is done with Macbeth in his relationship with Banquo. "


If you have ANY ideas, please let me know ASAP!

Expert Answers
Karen P.L. Hardison eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Shakespeare's technique of contrasting Banquo to Macbeth begins at their first introduction in the play. While they compare in terms of courage and bravery on the field and loyalty to Duncan, they contrast in personal philosophy, susceptibility to the influence of the supernatural, gullibility, and dedication to personal ambition. Your outline might progress something like this:

Introduction (specification of work and topic and statement of thesis: maybe a thesis something like: "Though Macbeth and Banquo compare in some points, Shakespeare defines the character of Macbeth beginning early in the play by contrasting his personal qualities to Banquo's personal qualities.")

Comparison between Macbeth and Banquo

Contrast A with support

Contrast B with support

Contrast C with support


mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

As a supporting detail to illustrate the contrast between Banquo and Macbeth, the third scene of Act I serves well in which Banquo in an aside to Macbeth cautions him against trusting in what the witches tell him, but Macbeth lends their words credulity.


And oftentimes, to win us to our harm,

The instruments of darkness tell us truths,

Win us with honest trifles, to betray's

In deepest consequence. (1.3)


If chance will have me King, why, chance may crown me,

Without my stir. (1.3)

davidwheeler eNotes educator| Certified Educator

kc4u is absolutely right in everything she says. However, there is  another dimension.

The witches tell Macbeth that he will become king, but they also prophecy that Banquo will be the father to a line of kings. This furhter motivates Macbeth to have Banquo murdered: Macbeth cannot bear the thought that he has killed Duncan - and suffered intolerable gulit and mental anguish at this act of betrayal and treason - only for Banquo's sons to reap the rewards. This explains Macbeth's attempt to have Fleance killed.

davidwheeler eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Good luck! another pint to make might be to point out that after meeting the witches, Macbeth takes steps to ensure what thye have predicted comes true; Banquo does nothing. Macbeth is credulous about the witches; Banquo is sceptical.

kkganey | Student

Thank You!!! I am using both ideas! Ill post my essay + grade when finished!!!

kc4u | Student

Yes, Banquo is one of the many foils to Macbeth although unlike Macbeth, Banquo is set aside, at least physically, even before the play reaches its halfway mark. Consider the following points for your essay:

a) Banquo is one of the two illustrious generals of Duncan; Banquo too fought alongside Macbeth in the battles as reported by the bleeding sergeant in act 1 scene 2; but while Macbeth steals the limelight, Banquo remains only second in importance and acclaim.

b) As the witches meet Macbeth in act 1 scene 3, Banquo is there; he is apparently doubtful as to the intention of the weird sisters while Macbeth is very much influenced by the prophecies of the witches; it is not clear if Banquo is also tempted by the supernatural creatures.

c) When Macbeth and Banquo visit king Duncan, the former receives more admiration and reward from Duncan.

d) Macbeth suffers from a sense of inferiority and desperately resolves to kill Banquo, and the latter becomes a more potent threat to Macbeth in the form a ghost.

e) At the Banquet, Banquo appears twice to expose the crime of Macbeth and thus invite the nemesis.