Banquo as the Victim of Shakespeare's Macbeth

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Banquo as the Victim of Macbeth The reader finds in Shakespeare's Macbeth that the cunning and machinations of evilly inclined people do not pay off. On the other hand, the progeny of the honest will rule the kingdom. This paper is the story of Banquo the innocent. Blanche Coles states in Shakespeare's Four Giants that Banquo is "a man to be feared" by Macbeth: Besides Lady Macbeth, the one who knows how much Macbeth is acting is Banquo. In the scene where Banquo is starting for his afternoon ride, the conversation between the new King and his "chief guest" is artificial on both sides. In pretending that he is about to seek advice from Banquo, Macbeth [. . .] is relying on the security of his office to prevent a contradiction from Banquo. A few lines farther on he says that his fears in Banquo sink deep. In the long soliloquy, beginning "To be thus is nothing," he reflects that Banquo would dare a great deal, and yet his daring is accompanied by a certain wisdom that would guide him to act safely. So he is a man to be feared. (56-57) In Everybody's Shakespeare: Reflections Chiefly on the Tragedies, Maynard Mack explains how the Bard upgraded the Holinshed version of Banquo: His [King James] family, the Stuarts, claimed descent from Banquo, and it is perhaps on this account that Shakespeare departs from Holinshed, in whose narrative Banquo is Macbeth's accomplice in the assassination of Duncan, to insist on his "royalty of nature" and the "dauntless temper of his mind" (3.1.50). Many critics see a notable compliment to James in the dumb show of kings descending from Banquo ("What, will the line stretch out to th' crack of doom?" (186) Clark and Wright in their Introduction to The Complete Works of William Shakespeare comment that Banquo is a force of good in the play, set in opposition to Macbeth: Banquo, the loyal soldier, praying for restraint against evil thoughts which enter his mind as they had entered Macbeth's, but which work no evil there, is set over against Macbeth, as virtue is set over against disloyalty. (792) In Fools of Time: Studies in Shakespearean Tragedy, Northrop Frye explains the rationale behind Banquo's ghost in this play: Except for the episode of Hercules leaving Antony, where mysterious music is heard again, there is nothing really supernatural in Shakespeare's tragedies that is not connected with the murder of the order-figures.
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