What is the significance of Macbeth's soliloquy before the death of Banquo (3.1. 48-72)?
a. Does it reveal the setting?
b. Does it offer a contrast to the previous/following setting?
c. Does it have anything to do with the theme?
d. Does it serve to indicate the passage of time?
Macbeth's soliloquy of Act III, Scene 1 propels the theme of "vaulting ambition" to its fears and guilts. As Shakespeare's soliloquies always reveal the inner thoughts of his characters, Macbeth's soliloquy indicates his paranoia and guilt. For, now that he is king, he worries that he has killed Duncan for nought since the witches have foretold that Banquo's sons will be kings. Macbeth agonizes about how to be rid of Banquo who is very cautious:
He hath a wisdom that doth guide his valor
To act in safety. There is none but he
Whose being I do fear; and under him
My genius is rebuke, as it is said(60)
Mark Antony's was by Caesar.
Macbeth also feels some jealousy of Banquo:
For Banquo's issue have
I filed my mind.
since he is childless: "Upon my head they placed a fruitless crown."
Above all, Macbeth's "vaulting ambition" which has led him to paranoia, now has finally brought him guilt and misery
For them the gracious Duncan have I murdered,(70)
Put rancors 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!
Nevertheless, after Macbeth mulls over his fears and guilts, his "vaulting ambition" overcomes the other emotions because he orders the murderers to kill not only Banquo, but his son Fleance, as well.