What effect does Banquo's ghost have on Macbeth?

1 Answer | Add Yours

rrteacher's profile pic

rrteacher | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

Macbeth is struck with fear and guilt when he sees Banquo's ghost. This is a crucial turning point in the play, as it is when we see Macbeth expressing his internal guilt for the first time. It remains possible, even given the significant role of the supernatural, that the ghost is not supernatural, but rather a manifestation of Macbeth's inner turmoil. None of the other guests at the banquet, including Lady Macbeth, can see the apparition, and it thus seems very odd when Macbeth begins shouting at it:

Avaunt, and quit my sight! Let the earth hide thee! 
Thy bones are marrowless, thy blood is cold; 
Thou hast no speculation in those eyes 
Which thou dost glare with.

As Macbeth continues to shout at the invisible ghost, his wife asks their guests to leave. When they do leave, he talks openly about the sense of guilt and fear that the ghost has aroused in him:

It will have blood: they say blood will have blood. 
Stones have been known to move and trees to speak;
Augres and understood relations have 
By maggot pies and cloughs and rooks brought forth 
The secret'st man of blood. 

The ghost, then, reveals the fear, guilt, and paranoia that Macbeth's deeds have caused. He worries that Macduff, who did not attend the banquet, may be conspiring against him, and decides that the only thing to do is to consult the witches for advice.


We’ve answered 319,205 questions. We can answer yours, too.

Ask a question