What is the purpose of the scene between Macbeth and Banquo?

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Both Banquo and Macbeth are key players in the Weird Sisters' prophecies. Among other things, this means that their respective fates are closely linked. When the Weird Sisters prophesy that although Banquo will never sit upon the throne, his descendants will, they immediately plant seeds of suspicion in Macbeth 's...

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Both Banquo and Macbeth are key players in the Weird Sisters' prophecies. Among other things, this means that their respective fates are closely linked. When the Weird Sisters prophesy that although Banquo will never sit upon the throne, his descendants will, they immediately plant seeds of suspicion in Macbeth's mind. Banquo is Macbeth's friend, but as Macbeth wants to found a dynasty of his own, he perceives the very prospect of Banquo's offspring ascending the throne as a clear threat to his own ambitions.

Yet, as with all the other murders that Macbeth commits, his killing of Banquo brings him no rest whatsoever, no peace of mind or mental stability. When Banquo's ghost appears to him at the banquet, Macbeth is overcome with guilt for his wicked actions. As regards his political situation, far from strengthening Macbeth's grip on power, the murder of Banquo has greatly undermined it.

But instead of turning his back on the bloody path he's chosen, Macbeth actually doubles down, becoming even more oppressive and tyrannical. He also becomes ever more reliant on the Weird Sisters' prophecies, an indication that he's finally crossed the Rubicon and taken his stand with the forces of darkness.

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Banquo is the only character who is present when Macbeth first hears the prophecy.  He knows Macbeth will become king.  The witches also prophesize that Banquo will beget kings.  Both of these characters have something to gain in the future.  This makes the scene important because it clearly shows foil characters:  one good character, Banquo, who will not do anything that will not keep his conscience clear; Macbeth, the evil character who will now do whatever it takes to become king. 

The two characters are used to show good and evil and how important indivdiual choice is.  The witches motivate Macbeth while they do nothing to change who Banquo is.  Macbeth is clearly a weak pawn dictated by the witches.

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