Why did Macbeth want to kill Fleance, and was he right to attempt to kill him?

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Macbeth is motivated to kill Fleance in order to solidify his reign and cement his legacy as Scotland's king. When Macbeth and Banquo initially received their prophecies from the Three Witches, they prophesied that Banquo's descendants would become kings. Macbeth understands that he is damning his soul by assassinating the king and does not want his efforts to be in vain. Essentially, Macbeth does not want to become king only to have Banquo's descendants inherit the Scottish throne. After murdering King Duncan, Macbeth assumes power and becomes completely consumed with protecting his title as king and securing his legacy. In order to ensure that Banquo's descendants do not inherit his throne, Macbeth knows that he must kill Banquo and his only son, Fleance. Strategically, Macbeth makes the right choice in ordering Fleance's assassination. He knows that if he kills Fleance, Banquo will have no descendants to inherit the throne and the witches' prophecy will not be fulfilled. However, the murderers are only able to kill Banquo and Fleance escapes, which is why Macbeth continues to worry about his legacy.

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Macbeth, having given himself over to the desire to become king, finds it within himself to do terrible things, including killing his once beloved king so that he might take the throne. Once he finds himself wearing the crown, his desire to keep it leads him to consider finding ways to avoid the prophecy of the witches that Banquo's heirs should take the throne. So he resolves to kill Banquo and his son Fleance in order to maintain his hold on the throne.

Whether it is right or not perhaps depends on the perspective. From Macbeth's point of view, if he wants to avoid the prophecy's fulfillment, killing Banquo and his heirs seems to be the expedient way to do it. On the other hand, from a moral perspective, it certainly seems repugnant to want to kill a child in order to maintain one's hold on a throne that was taken only by murder in the first place.

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Why would Macbeth order Fleance’s death?

In The Tragedy of Macbeth, by William Shakespeare, Macbeth orders Fleance's death in an effort to "tie up loose ends" and prevent any potential threats to his reign. 

From the start of the play, Macbeth and Banquo are very close.  They fight together under Duncan, and they are both known for their courage and valor in battle.  However, once Macbeth is given the Weird Sisters' prophecy that he "shalt be king hereafter" (1.3 33), he takes steps to not only become the King of Scotland, but also to eliminate any potential threat to his reign.  Banquo, Fleance's father, was present at the time of the prophecy, and he later begins to suspect Macbeth of foul play in the death of Duncan (rightfully so, as Macbeth murdered Duncan).  Further, during the initial encounter with the Weird Sisters, Banquo received the prophecy that "Thou shalt get kings, though thou be none" (1.3 70).  In other words, Banquo will "father" kings.  A member of his...

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line will eventually be the king of Scotland.  Just as Banquo eventually suspects Macbeth of foul play in the death of Duncan, Macbeth, as his paranoia grows, begins to believe that Banquo will plot against Macbeth's reign in part to ensure Banquo's own line gains the crown.  In Act III, Scene II, Macbeth admits his fears toLady Macbeth, saying "O, full of scorpions is my mind, dear wife!/ Thou know'st that Banquo and his Fleance lives" (3.2 41-42).  However, he goes on to tell her that "There's comfort yet; they are assailable" (3.2 44).  Unbeknownst to her, he has already enlisted murderers to kill Banquo and Fleance while they are out on an afternoon ride.  His desire to kill Fleance stems from both his desire to end Banquo's line and to prevent any potential act of vengeance by Fleance, after his father has been murdered.  This is essentially Macbeth's attempt to silence two potential threats with one act.  Finally, from a dramatic standpoint, this act is the first time that Macbeth orders the murder of a child.  Early in the play he struggled against his conscience before and after murdering Duncan, an aged king; the ease with which he can now order the death of a child further demonstrates just how far he has fallen.

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