Why does Macbeth want Banquo and Fleance dead?

Why does Macbeth want Banquo and Fleance dead?

But just why does Macbeth want Banquo and Fleance dead?

The Tragedy of Macbeth is one of William Shakespeare’s most celebrated (and is the shortest) tragedies. It was first performed in 1606 and remains popular with audiences today. It is surely one of the longest running plays to have ever been performed – it has been continuously in production since the 1660s.

Macbeth is a Scottish general under the rule of King Duncan. He is told, by three witches, that he will become the King of Scotland. He believes this to be true and, with the encouragement of his conspiring wife, murders Duncan ensuring Macbeth’s ascension to the throne. However, Macbeth proves to be a cruel and tyrannical King and is ultimately overthrown by combined Scottish and English armed forces.

Banquo is Macbeth’s friend and a general in King Duncan’s Army. Fleance is Banquo’s son.

Banquo was present when the three witches delivered their prophecy to Macbeth. In fact, the witches prophesised that Banquo would “get kings, though [himself] be none”. That was interpreted by Macbeth to be a reference to Fleance becoming King. Macbeth did not approve of what was prophesised to Banquo and arranges for Banquo to be murdered. Banquo is murdered by three men but Fleance escapes. After he is informed, Macbeth sees Banquo’s ghost sitting in his place at the feast.

Macbeth took the drastic action of arranging for Banquo to be murdered because Macbeth was concerned that Banquo knew that Macbeth murdered King Duncan. It was obviously in Macbeth’s interests to ensure the truth remained concealed. Macbeth is also resentful that despite being the one to kill King Duncan, Banquo and his descendant’s (namely, Fleance) will benefit from it. Macbeth also perceived Banque to be a threat to his position as king due to the prophesy made by the witches. 

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