How is Banquo presented in Macbeth

"Macbeth" - William Shakespeare and the greed for power

Indeed, "Macbeth" has often been interpreted as a chilling example of political crime and tyranny. This moral appeal seems obvious. And yet the fascination is hardly broken by the horror. Or is this tragedy no warning of the curse of evil at all? But a look into the abyss of man, into nihilism, into senselessness?


Macbeth - from loyal follower to tyrant

The Scottish highlands in the 11th century. Macbeth fought bravely in a battle for his king, the traitor is defeated. On the way home he meets three witches together with the nobleman Banquo. The righteous Macbeth as a follower of King Duncan already bears the title "Than of Glamis". But now the three sisters of fate awaken fatal ambitions in the good man with a prophecy:

"Greetings, Macbeth, greetings, Than von Glamis!"
"Greetings, Macbeth, greetings, Than von Cawdor!"
"Greetings, Macbeth, greetings, King of tomorrow!"
(1st, 2nd and 3rd witch, 1st act, 3rd scene)

Because in recognition of his performance in the battle, Macbeth is not only supposed to become Thane of Cawdor, but the three witches also promise him royal dignity. But you don't just become king like that. Lady Macbeth, who knows her husband very well, knows this too:

"Too full of the milk of humanity
The easiest thing to do. You would like to be big
You have the urge for it, but meanness is missing
That belongs to it. Whatever you want
You want it noble, reject cheating. "
(Lady Macbeth, 1st act, 5th scene)

So the lady has to persuade her husband to kill King Duncan, who has just honored Macbeth for his deeds. Because only then is the way free for Macbeth to become king himself. The plan: The king comes to Inverness and is supposed to be murdered during his guest stay in Macbeth's castle!

Macbeth initially agrees with the plan, but then has doubts and hesitates. Lady Macbeth then reproaches him, questions his manhood. She reminds him of his promise and pressures him with her own determination:

"I was breastfeeding, I know
How soft it is to love the child you suckle
But I would give him the happiest moment
tear his chest out of his mouth, smash his head,
if I had sworn as you swore. "
(Lady Macbeth, 1st act, 7th scene)

The ambitious Lady Macbeth urges action

Until the act is done, the couple changes roles; then he's the one pushing things forward. And finally Macbeth kills King Duncan with the dagger, while Lady Macbeth poisons his servant.

But it doesn't stop there: Banquo, to whom the witches had prophesied royal descendants, must also be removed. And the family of Macduff, who is a loyal follower of King Duncan, will be put out of the way while Macduff himself is in England.

Even after the murder of King Duncan, Macbeth recognized the act as a turning point in his life:

"If I had only died an hour
Before this blow, a present would be my life!
'Cause this moment erases everything
Which seems important. From now on everything is nothing.
Honor and dignity dead, the wine of life poured out. "
(Macbeth, 2nd act, 9th scene)

Ambiguous prophecies keep Macbeth safe

But the greed for power does not prevent Macbeth, who develops into a tyrant, from further murders from then on. Macbeth feels safe, because another prophecy says: No man born to a woman can harm him. He is invincible as long as the Birnam forest does not move forward.

Lady Macbeth feels guilty about what she has done. She suffers from insomnia, sleepwalking and eventually killing herself.

Macbeth finds his master in Macduff. Because the prophecies were ambiguous and deceptive: Macduff was born by caesarean section, so was not born by a woman in the strict sense. And the Birnam forest began to march when Seiward asked his men to use branches from the Birnam forest for camouflage:

"Let every man cut off a branch
And carry him in front of you. We shadow
Thereby the number of our army and make
The tyrant's customers mad at us. "
(Seiward, 5th act, 3rd scene)

So the men move to Dunsinane Castle, where Macbeth is staying. And Macduff kills Macbeth in battle:

"So surrender, coward,
And live to the fable and the drama
To be of the time. We want you, like any
A strange monster, painted
Carry it on a pole and write under it:
Here you can see the tyrant! "
(Macduff, Act 5, Scene 12)

Malcolm, one of Duncan's sons, becomes the new King of Scotland after Macbeth's death.


"Macbeth" is set in Scotland and England around 1040. The tragedy was written by William Shakespeare (1564-1616) around 1606. To this day they are

treated topics are up to date and offer plenty of material for interpretation: gender roles and the question "What is male?" The urge to power at any cost. And even what we call "virtual reality" today is an issue. Because William Shakespeare turned the theater into a testing room for alternative worlds.

Gender roles: what is male, what is female?

Female and male role behavior are not given by nature, but rather socially constructed - that is the basic consideration of today's gender concept.

A key scene is therefore the moment when Macbeth shrinks from the assassination of his guest after dinner with the king. Lady Macbeth asks him to prove himself to be a true man. She, on the other hand, declares herself ready to throw off all female virtues for the sake of the brutal act or for the sake of success. She surpasses her husband by far.

"Come here you spirits,
Those who serve the thought of murder erase what is woman in me
And fills me completely from head to toe
With cruelty, the coldest! Thickens my blood
Block every path for pity
That not a fit of remorse of nature
Shattered my dire plan, that between plan and deed
Do not come to peace, lie against my womens breast
And sucks, you murder helpers, serving the poisonous milk so facelessly
The nature of horror. "
(Lady Macbeth, 1st act, 5th scene)

The role of witches is also interesting. Bearded women are called "weird or wayward sisters". What is fascinating is that these witches, although they do not appear very much, still display great power. And in the end, all of their prophecies will come true.

Power at any cost

Rule and struggle, politics and slaughter were closely related, and the killing of competitors was one of the techniques of power acquisition at that time. The bloody rivalries today would only be of concern to medieval specialists if Shakespeare had not turned this 11th-century material into literary art.

When King Duncan stops at Inverness Castle for the night, the Macbeth couple want to murder their guest in their sleep and hold their entourage responsible for the crime. After that, they can take the throne themselves. This interaction of the couple in the struggle for status and success is one of the most compelling aspects of the piece. A process that can be interpreted and questioned anew at any time. Because in the end Macbeth destroyed every meaning of life for himself and his wife through his criminal policy.

Virtual reality - testing room for alternative worlds

William Shakespeare worked in a transition period with diverse changes in society, economy, culture and religion. His theater did not offer a fixed world model. Rather, he set up experimental arrangements in which constellations and possibilities were tried out and played out. With "Macbeth" there are two themes that are still captivating today: The escalation of violence that Lord and Lady Macbeth trigger with the murder of King Duncan. And the complicity of this couple: the monstrous female figure of Lady Macbeth and the initially hesitant, then increasingly unscrupulous Macbeth.

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