What lesson did Fleance say that he learned from his father, Banquo, in the play Macbeth?  

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What lessons does Fleance learn from his father, Banquo, in Shakespeare’s Macbeth?

Fleance only physically appears twice in the play, yet he plays an important role as future king of Scotland, if the three witches’ prophesy is to be believed.  Whether his father tells him of it, we...

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What lessons does Fleance learn from his father, Banquo, in Shakespeare’s Macbeth?

Fleance only physically appears twice in the play, yet he plays an important role as future king of Scotland, if the three witches’ prophesy is to be believed.  Whether his father tells him of it, we don’t know, but we can analyze his interaction with his father to glean some possible father/son lessons.

At Inverness shortly before Macbeth murders Duncan, Fleance and Banquo walk about the castle at night by aid of a torch.  Banquo teaches his son how to judge the time of night by the fact that the moon has already gone down, an event he says happens at midnight.  This small exchange reveals that Banquo is in the habit of frequently instructing his young son, who willingly accepts his guidance.  

In this same scene, Banquo reveals to his son that his mind is troubled to the point of sleeplessness, uttering aloud the prayer, “Merciful powers, / Restrain in me the  cursed thoughts that nature / gives way to in repose!”  He also gives the boy his sword for protection in the dark.  This interaction allows readers to see their closeness, and suggests that it is possible he has told Fleance of the witches’ prophecy that his sons will be kings. Certainly the boy overhears his father speak to Macbeth of the three witches’ predictions coming true so far.  Fleance also hears his father’s heartfelt wish to remain honorable and keep his “bosom franchised and allegiance clear.”  Banquo is telling his friend Macbeth that he will only take his advice if it allows his own heart to remain innocent and his loyalty spotless. Fleance is soon to lose his father, and it is human nature to hold in our hearts the lessons of loved ones lost.  Banquo has clearly taught his son to value moral uprightness and loyalty in all circumstances.

The second and last time that we see Fleance in the play is when Macbeth’s three hired assassins attack them.  Banquo essentially gives his life to save his son, holding the killers off so Fleance can escape.  His last words to his son are, “O, treachery!  Fly, good Fleance, fly, fly, fly! / Thou mayst revenge.  O slave!”  In 11th century Scotland, upholding the honor of one’s clan, or family, was of primary importance, especially for the first-born male.  Surely in witnessing his father’s murder, Fleance learns not to blindly trust others, not even someone considered a friend. Banquo demonstrates that one’s own honor, loyalty to your superiors, and family come first, even to the point of revenge.

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