In "Macbeth", what are 4 personality traits that Banquo possesses, supported with quotes?

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davmor1973 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Banquo is ambitious. He, like Macbeth, prompts the Weird Sisters to tell his fortune. However, there is one big difference: Banquo's not prepared to break his oath of loyalty to Duncan in order to achieve his ambitions. Nevertheless, ambitious he remains, as can be seen from his soliloquy in Act III Scene I:

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.
There's clearly more than a hint of resentment in Banquo's words. And he suspects that Macbeth performed dark deeds to win all his various titles. But he comforts himself with the fact that his descendants, and not Macbeth's, will one day sit on the throne. Banquo is highly ambitious, but is at least able to transfer his ambition to those who'll come after him.
 
Banquo is supremely loyal to King Duncan, his lord and master. Though ambitious, as we've just seen, he'd never dream of carrying out an assassination in order to claim the throne as Macbeth does. Yet he also shows great loyalty to Macbeth, who promises to reward his friend one day. To which Banquo responds:
So I lose none
In seeking to augment it, but still keep
My bosom franchised and allegiance clear,
I shall be counselled. (Act II Scene I)
And this excerpt shows another of Banquo's characteristics: his integrity. He's pledged his loyalty to Macbeth, but at the same time wants to keep his conscience clear. Banquo's loyalty to Macbeth isn't absolute; he'll do anything for him just as long as it doesn't offend his conscience. This, more than anything else, makes him a foil to Macbeth. It also make him a potential threat to Macbeth's throne.
 
Banquo is also a profoundly noble character. Macbeth, in a fit of jealousy, refers to his "royalty of nature." (Act III Scene I). Though Macbeth is the king, it is Banquo who has the natural qualities of a monarch, and Macbeth deeply resents him for it.
 
 
 
 
accessteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Instead of thinking first about the qualities of Banquo it would be well worth your while to think a bit wider in terms of Banquo's overall function in the play, and from that point go back and pick out his characteristics.

In this play one of the main purposes of Banquo's character is to act as a contrast to the character of Macbeth. Banquo is brave and noble - characteristics that Macbeth arguably doesn't possess. Interestingly, like Macbeth, Banquo is ambitious, but signficantly, unlike Macbeth, Banquo does not act on those ambitious thoughts to convert them into action. Indeed, Banquo has the presence of mind or the ability to question the weird sisters and their prophecies: "oftentimes, to win us to their harm, / The instruments of darkness tell us truths, / Win us with honest trifles, to betray us." This ability to reflect on the prophecies is a quality that Macbeth definitely does not possess.

If you think about this comparison a bit further it is clear that Banquo's character stands in the play for a path that Macbeth did not take, and acts as a reminder that ambition by itself does not necessarily have to be translated into treachery and assassination. We can see therefore why it is Banquo's ghost (and not the ghost of Duncan) that haunts Macbeth and why this haunting is so powerful. The ghost interestingly reminds Macbeth that Banquo did not copy Macbeth's response to the witches' prophecy.