Act 3, Scene 1:
Characters: Banquo, Macbeth, Lady Macbeth
Events: Banquo expresses his suspicion in what Macbeth will do next. He says that the first two of the witches prophecies have come true, so the third, which says that the crown will not go to Macbeth’s descendants, nor Banquo, but the descendants of Banquo, must have to come true aswell. Macbeth enters the scene and begins to converse with Banquo. He invites Banquo to dinner that night, and after thanking Macbeth, Banquo states that he is going riding this afternoon and will not be home until after dusk but should still be able to make the party. Upon Banquo’s departure, Macbeth speaks with two murderers that he has hired and gets assurance from them that are willing to murder Banquo and his son, Fleance. He then orders them to wait inside the castle to await further orders.
To be thus is nothing,
But to be safely thus. Our fears in Banquo
Stick deep, and in his royalty of nature
Reigns that which would be feared. ‘Tis much he dares,
And to that dauntless temper of his mind
He hath a wisdom that doth guide his valor
To act in safety. There is none but he
Whose being I do fear, and under him
My genius is rebuked, as it is said
Mark Antony’s was by Caesar. He chid the sisters
When first they put the name of king upon me
And bade them speak to him. Then, prophetlike,
They hailed him father to a line of kings.
Upon my head they placed a fruitless crown
And put a barren scepter in my grip,
Thence to be wrenched with an unlineal hand,
No son of mine succeeding. If ’t be so,
For Banquo’s issue have I filed my mind;
For them the gracious Duncan have I murdered;
Put rancors in the vessel of my peace
Only for them; and mine eternal jewel
Given to the common enemy of man,
To make them kings, the seed of Banquo kings!
Rather than so, come fate into the list,
And champion me to th’ utterance. Who’s there?
This is a very important soliloquy by Macbeth, in which he speaks of the Banquo and the witches prophecies introduced at the start of the play.
“There is none but he, Whose being I do fear,” in this extract from Macbeth’s soliloquy, he expresses his fear for Banquo, because according to the prophecies, he is the father of a line of Kings that will succeed Macbeth. Macbeth’s flourishing desire for power leads him to this fear of Banquo and his sons, as he knows that in order for the third prophecy to come true, he will have to die. He speaks of everything he has done to ensure that the prophecies have come true, including the murder of the late King Duncan who he was once loyal to. In the quote, “Rather than so, come fate into the list,//And champion me to th’ utterance.”, Macbeth is saying that he will not sit by and spectate Banquo’s children succeed the throne, but instead, he will meddle with fate and attempt to stop the third prophecy coming true by killing Banquo and his only son Fleance.
Act 3, Scene 2:
Characters: Macbeth, Lady Macbeth, Servant
Events: Macbeth speaks to his wife, Lady Macbeth of his concern that Banquo and his son Fleance still live. Lady Macbeth questions what he is going to do about it, and Macbeth replies by saying she will have to wait and see and celebrate when it is done.
Light thickens, and the crow
Makes wing to th’ rooky wood.
Good things of day begin to droop and drowse;
Whiles night’s black agents to their preys do rouse
Macbeth is referring to Banquo’s imminent death. He is talking about how the night is approaching and how the “nights black agents”, a reference to the two murderers that he has hired to kill Banquo, that are setting off to find and kill Banquo.
Act 3, Scene 3:
Characters: 1st, 2nd, 3rd murderes, Banquo, Fleance (silent)
Location: In the woods outside the Macbeths castle.
Events: The murderers that Macbeth has hired lay awaiting in the woods outside Macbeths castle. Banquo and Fleance appear on their horses and are ambushed by the murderers. Banquo cries out to his son Fleance to save himself, and then is quickly killed. Fleance manages to escape the murder alive and physically unharmed. The murderers leave the scene to seek Macbeth and notify him of the death of Banquo and the escape of Fleance.
O treachery! Fly, good Fleance, fly, fly, fly!
Thou may ’st revenge —O slave!
These are some of Banquos last words, and he speaks of the treachery being committed by his murder and pleads for his son Fleance to escape and seek revenge for his death.
We have lost best half of our affair.
In this quote, the second murderer is saying how with the escape of Fleance, they have failed their mission. This is because it is Fleance and his descendants that is prophesized to succeed the throne from Macbeth, and not Banquo.
Act 3, Scene 4:
Characters: Macbeth, Lords, Lady Macbeth, 1st Murderer, Lennox, Ross
Events: Macbeth and Lady Macbeth enter the court as King and Queen. One of the murderers comes to the door to speak to Macbeth and tells him of the night’s events. Macbeth is greatly disappointed that Fleance managed to escape as it means that his position on the throne is still threatened. He returns to the dinner table, where much to his surprise, he finds the ghost of Banquo sitting in his seat awaiting him. It appears that it is only Macbeth who sees the ghost, so for the guests in the hall, Macbeth’s spectacle created by his shock and surprise is quite alarming. Lady Macbeth attempts to explain her husbands’ actions, but eventually sends the alarmed guests out of the room as Macbeth’s spectacle continues.
There the grown serpent lies. The worm that’s fled
Hath nature that in time will venom breed;
No teeth for th’ present. Get thee gone. Tomorrow
We’ll hear ourselves again.
In this quote, Macbeth is referring to Fleance. He is saying that at the moment Fleance is harmless to him but in time, he will become dangerous and a threat to Macbeth’s position on the throne.
Act 3, Scene 5:
Characters: Hecate and the witches
Location: Upon the heath.
Events: The 3 witches meet with the goddess of witchcraft, Hecate, upon the ‘heath’. Hecate is not pleased that the witches had gifted prophecies to Macbeth without consulting Hecate. She orders that Macbeth will be presented with visions on his next appearance, that will amplify his confusion of his futur.e
He shall spurn fate, scorn death, and bear
His hopes ‘bove wisdom, grace, and fear.
And you all know, security
Is mortals’ chiefest enemy.
This is a powerful quote from Hecate prophesizing Macbeth’s deterioration in his state of mind. She says that:
He shall have a false sense of security and believe that he is greater than fate, widsom and fear. She says that security is a mans worst enemy.
Act 3, Scene 6:
Characters: Lennox, Lord
Location: Forres. The palace.
Events: Lennox and the Lord talk of Banquo’s death, and how Fleance has officially been named the murderer of his father. Both the Lord and Lennox suspect Macbeth for the murders of the late King Duncan and Banquo, and discuss their hope that Macduff and his plans will be able to save all of Scottland from Macbeth’s fate.