What steps were taken by Macbeth to remove Banquo and Fleance?
Macbeth hires two murderers to kill Banquo and Fleance. In Act III, Sc. i Macbeth convinces the two murderers that Banquo is their enemy and adds that he is Macbeth’s enemy too (l. 115). Simultaneously he notifies them that Fleance, Banquo’s son, is also a threat: “Fleance his son, that keeps him company, / Whose absence is no less material to me / Than his father’s” (l. 134-136). It is a crucial point to note that Macbeth not only hires the murderers to kill Banquo and Fleance, but he also takes every precaution to protect himself. As the murderers are convinced that Banquo is their enemy, they kill Banquo to protect their own lives. In Act III, Sc. iii Banquo is killed, while coming to Macbeth’s feast (the Banquet – See: Act III, Sc. iv). Fleance, however, escapes. Through Banquo’s murder Macbeth’s character takes a new direction. The readers start to become conscious of the fact that Shakespeare is slowly transforming Macbeth’s character to project him as a Machiavellian king.
In Act III, Scene 1, Macbeth hires murderers to accomplish the bloody deed. Macbeth has instructed Banquo to attend the feast later that night, so he will become an easy target as he returns to the castle with Fleance. Macbeth convinces the murderers that Banquo is their enemy also. Unfortunately for Macbeth, the three murderers fail in killing Fleance, the son, so Macbeth's fears concerning Banquo's offspring inheriting the throne are not allayed. Also, unfortunately for Macbeth, Banquo's ghost comes back to haunt him in Scene 4 and make him look mad (insane) in front of the royal court. Therefore, Macbeth has his friend's blood on his hands without accomplishing anything more than darkening his already black soul!
Macbeth ordered them murdered! He hired two men, who were frustrated with their lot in life, convinced them that Banquo was to blame for their terrible circumstances, saying,
"this I made good to you
In our last conference, pass'd in probation with you
How you were borne in hand, how cross'd, the instruments,
Who wrought with them, and all things else that might
To half a soul and to a notion craz'd
Say, 'Thus did Banquo.'"
The murderers waited for Banquo and Fleance in the woods, where they were traveling by horse. They successfully murdered Banquo, but Fleance escaped.
Ever since the witches had prophesied that Banquo will never become a king but that his sons will become kings Macbeth becomes jealous of Banquo and decides to murder him and his son Fleance: "the seed of Banquo kings! / Rather than so, come fate into the list." (Act III sc.1.)
In ActIII sc1 he poisons the minds of the two murderers who agree to murder both Banquo and Fleance. However,in ActIII sc3 when the two murderers wait in the park to ambush and murder Banquo and his son Fleance a third murderer makes his appearance. He has been hired secretly by Macbeth to ensure that the previous two assasins do not double cross him. This is a clear indication of the crooked way in which his sinister mind works under the weight of fear and suspicion.
It is this third murderer who identifies the victims Banquo and Fleance as they walk through the park to the palace, and it is he who remarks that only Banquo has been killed and that Fleance has escaped:'There's but one down; the other's fled." (Act III sc.3).