Macbeth Summary & Analysis , Characters, Symbols Act 3
Act 3, Scene 1
Alone at Macbeth’s court, Banquo voices his suspicions that Macbeth has killed Duncan so as to satisfy the witches’ prophesies. He muses that perhaps the witches’ vision for his own future also will be realized, but pushes the thought from his mind. Macbeth and woman Macbeth enter to the fanfare of trumpets, alongside Lennox and Ross.
Macbeth announces that he will hold a banquet within the evening which Banquo is going to be honored as chief guest. Banquo states that he must ride within the afternoon but will return for the banquet. Macbeth tells him that Malcolm and Donalbain won’t confess to killing their father. After confirming that Fleance will accompany Banquo on his trip, Macbeth wishes Banquo a secure ride.
Left alone, Macbeth summons the 2 murderers he has hired. While he waits for them, he voices his greatest worry of the moment—that the witches’ prophecy also will come true for Banquo, making his children kings. He will put an end to such worries by hiring two men to kill Banquo and Fleance. the lads aren’t professional assassins, but rather poor men who are willing to figure as mercenaries.
Macbeth has already blamed their current state of poverty on Banquo. He now tells them that while Banquo is his own enemy the maximum amount as theirs, loyal friends of Banquo’s prevent him from killing Banquo himself. Macbeth proceeds to detail the particulars of the murder: they need to attack him as he returns from his ride—at a particular distance from the palace—and they need to also kill Fleance at an equivalent time.
Act 3, Scene 2
Alone on stage, Lady Macbeth expresses her unhappiness: there seems to be without stopping to her desire for power, and she or he feels insecure and anxious. Macbeth enters looking upset and she or he counsels him to prevent mulling over the crimes they need committed.
But Macbeth declares that their job isn’t done: he still spends every waking moment in fear and each night embroiled in nightmares. He even envies Duncan, who now sleeps peacefully in his grave. Lady Macbeth warns him to act cheerful ahead of their dinner guests. She also tries to comfort him by reminding him that Banquo and Fleance are by no means immortal. Macbeth responds by telling her that “a deed of dreadful note” is going to be wiped out the night, though he won’t divulge the small print (33).
Act 3, Scene 3
The two murderers are joined by a 3rd, who says that he has also been hired by Macbeth. Horses are herd approaching and Banquo and Fleance enter. The murderers attack Banquo but Fleance manages to flee. The murderers leave to report back to Macbeth.
Act 3, Scene 4
At the banquet, a murderer arrives and reports to Macbeth even as the dinner guests begin to arrive. He informs Macbeth that Banquo is dead but Fleance has escaped. Shaken, Macbeth thanks him for what he has done and arranges another meeting on a subsequent day. The murderer leaves and Macbeth returns to the feast.
Looking over the table, Macbeth declares that the banquet would be perfect if only Banquo were present. At now Banquo’s ghost appears unobserved and takes Macbeth’s seat. The guests urge Macbeth to take a seat and eat with them but Macbeth says that the table is full. When Lennox points to Macbeth’s empty seat, Macbeth is shocked to ascertain Banquo’s ghost. He addresses the ghost, saying, “Thou canst not say I did it. Never shake / Thy gory locks at me” (49-50).
The guests, confused by his behavior, think that he’s ill. Lady Macbeth reassures them, however, by saying that he has had similar fits since youth which he will soon be. She draws Macbeth aside and attempts to calm him by asserting that the vision is simply a “painting of [his] fear”—just like the dagger he saw earlier (60). Ignoring her, Macbeth charges the ghost to talk but it disappears. After Lady Macbeth scolds him for being “unmanned in folly” (73), Macbeth returns to his guests and claims that he has “a strange infirmity,” which they ought to ignore (85).
Just as the party resumes and Macbeth is offering a toast to Banquo, the ghost reappears. As Macbeth once more bursts call at a speech directed at the ghost, Lady Macbeth tries to smooth things over with the guests. In response to Macbeth’s exclamation that he sees sights that make his cheeks “blanched with fear,” Ross asks what sights Macbeth means (114). Lady Macbeth asks the guests to go away since Macbeth’s “illness” seems to be deteriorating. Alone with Lady Macbeth, Macbeth expresses his deep anxieties and vows to return to the Fates.
Act 3, Scene 5
On the heath, the witches meet Hecate, queen of witches, who chastises them for meddling in Macbeth’s affairs without involving her or showing him any fancy magic spectacles. She tells them that Macbeth will visit them tomorrow which they need to placed on a more dramatic show for him.
Act 3, Scene 6
Lennox and another lord discuss politics. Lennox comments sarcastically on the recent deaths of Duncan and Banquo. He suggests that it seems implausible for Malcolm and Donalbain to be inhuman enough to kill their father. Moreover, Macbeth’s slaying of the bodyguards seemed very convenient, since they probably would have denied killing Duncan. Lennox proposes that if Malcolm, Donalbain, and Fleance were in Macbeth’s prison, they might also probably be dead now. He also reveals that since Macduff didn’t attend Macbeth’s feast, he has been denounced. The lord with whom Lennox speaks comments that Macduff has joined Malcolm at English court. the 2 men have asked Siward to steer a military against Macbeth. Lennox and therefore the lord send their prayers to Macduff and Malcolm.
The “be a man” theme recurs in Macbeth’s address to the murderers. When Macbeth demands whether the murderers dare to kill Banquo, they answer “we are men, my liege” (III i 92). But their answer doesn’t satisfy Macbeth, who berates them as less-than-exemplary samples of men. Macbeth thus uses considerably an equivalent goading tactics his wife utilized in compelling him to kill Duncan. But what does it mean, exactly, to “be a man”? Both Macbeth and his Lady seem to possess a transparent idea of properly masculine actions. In Act 1, Lady Macbeth suggests that masculinity is essentially an issue of ruthlessness: one must be willing to “das[h] the brains out” of one’s own baby (58). She claims that she herself is a smaller amount “full o’ th’ milk of human kindness” than Macbeth—that is, more capable of casting away the last shreds of compassion, tenderness, loyalty, and guilt.
Lady Macbeth isn’t the sole character that values ruthlessness as a masculine trait. Duncan, too, evaluates heroic action on a rather gory scale. When the captain describes how Macbeth “unseamed [Macdonald] from the nave to th’ chops” with “his brandished steel / Which smoked of a bloody execution,” Duncan responds with high praise: “O valiant cousin, worthy gentleman” (I ii 17-22)! A “real man” in Macbeth, then, is one who is capable of copious bloodshed without remorse. The catch, of course, is that the bloodshed must be justified. Whereas Macbeth needs no reason to slay Macdonald in battle intrinsically, the 2 murderers require the justification that Banquo is an evil man.
As for the terms of murder, Macbeth warns the murderers to kill Fleance and thus “leave no rubs nor botches within the work” (III i 135). Macbeth “require[s] a clearness”—that is, a clearance from suspicion but also mental and physical cleanliness. The theme of stains and washing runs throughout the play. From Macbeth’s cry about all “great Neptune’s ocean” in Act 2 to his instructions to the murderers in Act 3, to Lady Macbeth’s famous “Out, damned spot” speech in Act 5, the Macbeths are haunted by the thought that they’re going to be forever stained. Even when Macbeth has Banquo killed at a secure distance from himself, the spilled blood still returns to haunt Macbeth. When the murderer shows up to report his success, Macbeth observes: “There’s blood upon thy face” (III iv 11). The blood itself serves a symbol and reminder of the Macbeths’ culpability—ultimately driving Lady Macbeth mad.
Banquo’s murder itself makes use of a standard theme in Shakespeare’s plays: the contrast between light and dark. While the murderers await Banquo and Fleance to approach, one among them observes that the sun is setting. this is often no coincidence: Banquo is a bright contrast to the dark night that accompanies Macbeth’s rise to power. he’s a person who doesn’t allow his ambitions to eclipse his conscience.
At the instant that he dies, therefore, it’s appropriate for the last remnant of sunlight to dissolve. Such symbolism is reinforced by the very fact that Banquo and Fleance approach the murderers carrying a torch. The torchlight is that the very first thing that the murderers see: “a light, a light” notes the second murderer (III iii 14). And after the deed is finished, the third murderer asks: “who did strike out the light?” (III iii 27). At an equivalent moment that the great and type Banquo dies, the sunshine is extinguished.
Another aspect of Banquo’s murder has intrigued generations of scholars: who is that the third murderer? Some believe that it’s Lady Macbeth, who expressed curiosity about Macbeth’s plans in Scene 2. Others believe that it’s Macbeth himself, who couldn’t trust the murderers fully. The third murderers could even be the three witches in disguise. In any case, introducing a 3rd murderer rounds out the number of murderers so that they balance the three witches. there’s the power within the number three: Macbeth meets three witches, commits three separate murders, and sees three apparitions. the amount three recurs throughout the play, adding to its mysterious and magic atmosphere
Finally, one among the foremost compelling scenes in Macbeth takes place at the banquet haunted by Banquo’s ghost. once more, the boundaries between reality and therefore the supernatural are blurred as Banquo’s ghost appears twice—both at precisely the moment Macbeth mentions him. It seems that the vision of Banquo accompanies the thought of Banquo in Macbeth’s mind. The ghost thus seems more just like the manifestation of an idea—a figment of the imagination—rather than a “real” ghost. Lady Macbeth says the maximum amount when she pulls Macbeth aside: “This is that the very painting of your fear; / this is often the air-drawn dagger which you said / Led you to Duncan” (III iv 60-62). a bit like the dagger, Banquo’s ghost appears to be a realization of Macbeth’s guilt. albeit the occurrence is supernatural, the event is extremely real for Macbeth.
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