What are two examples of sacrifice in the play Macbeth?

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davmor1973 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Banquo sacrifices his political ambitions in order to maintain his dignity and integrity. Banquo, like Macbeth, has been prophesied future honor by the witches. Crucially, however, it's the honor of his descendants that they foretell. This, in turn, kindles Macbeth's ruthless ambition. He simply cannot allow Banquo's progeny to take the throne that has just been granted to him in prophecy, and which he believes is rightfully his. Banquo has sworn an oath of loyalty to his king, but unlike Macbeth, he takes that oath very seriously indeed. He's not prepared to break it, even if doing so leads to future glory for his blood line.

One could also venture to suggest that Banquo sacrifices his life for that of his son, Fleance. In act 3, scene 3, Banquo and Fleance are set upon by Macbeth's hired killers:

"O treachery! Fly, good Fleance, fly, fly, fly!
Thou may ’st revenge—O slave!"
As both men are surprised, it's only entirely clear that Banquo holds off his attackers while allowing his son to make good his escape. Much depends on how the scene is staged. Nonetheless, Banquo is clearly putting Fleance first in his final scene, expressing with his last words on earth the heartfelt desire that his son may exact revenge on those who brutally murdered his father.
kmj23 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

There are lots of examples of sacrifice in Macbeth. First of all, by plotting and carrying out the murder of King Duncan, Macbeth sacrifices the friendship and respect that was bestowed on him by Duncan himself. In committing the murder, Macbeth shows that this was a relatively easy sacrifice to make: he values the crown far higher than this friendship.

Conversely, we could argue that Duncan sacrifices his life in order to make Macbeth king. Duncan's sacrifice, however, is an unwilling and unconscious one.

Secondly, a sacrifice is also made by Macduff. After Duncan's murder and Macbeth's accession to the throne, Macduff decides to leave Scotland and declare Malcolm as the true heir. In order to do this, Macduff sacrifices the connection to his family because he leaves them behind. Macduff, therefore, sacrifices his family in favor of ensuring Scotland's political future.

Sacrifice is, therefore, an important theme in the play and one which affects all of its major characters.

gmuss25 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

There are a few examples of sacrifice throughout the play Macbeth. At the beginning of the play, Macbeth and Banquo both sacrifice their health and well-being by courageously fighting against Macdonwald's troops. After defeating Macdonwald, Macbeth and Banquo take on the Norwegian king's forces and defeat them too. King Duncan recognizes and rewards Macbeth for his brave sacrifice by naming him the Thane of Cawdor. Another example of sacrifice takes place towards the end of the play. In Act Five, Scene 7, Young Siward comes face to face with Macbeth during the final battle. Young Siward courageously fights Macbeth but is unable to kill him. Macbeth believes in the prophecy and does not fear any man. Young Siward sacrifices his life and dies during the final battle against Macbeth. 

literaturenerd eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Macbeth's sacrifices in the play are not numerous.  In all actuality, Macbeth's sacrifices are forced by his actions.  First, after Macbeth murders Duncan, Macbeth finds that he can no longer sleep.  Therefore, Macbeth has sacrificed sleep to insure his claiming of the crown. Second, Macbeth sacrifices his sanity.  As he becomes more and more murderous, Macbeth loses his sanity.  Therefore, to gain the crown, and keep the crown, Macbeth sacrifices his sanity.

While sacrifice is typically looked at as something done for the better, here, Macbeth's sacrifices have very negative outcomes.  Yes, Macbeth looks at gaining the crown as positive.  The problem lies with the sacrifices he must make to gain and keep the crown.


lauradadgar | Student

Another two ideas:

-Lady Macbeth and Macbeth sacrifice their morals by killing many innocent people.

-Lady Macbeth sacrifices her sanity and happiness by murdering many and feeling so guilty from it that she dies because of it