Difference Between Macbeth and Banquo

Key Difference – Macbeth vs Banquo


Macbeth and Banquo are two of the finest characters that emerge in the play ‘Macbeth’. This can be considered as one of the greatest works of William Shakespeare. Through the play, Shakespeare portrays the image of a man who succumbs to darkness. The characters of Macbeth and Banquo function as two very different or else contrasting characters. The key difference that we notice between Macbeth and Banquo is that while Macbeth succumbs to darkness as he embraces the prophetic greetings of the three witches, Banquo clearly rejects this emerging as an emblem of light.

Who is Macbeth?

Macbeth is a general of King Duncan’s army. He encounters the three witches on his way from the battlefield, where the witches tempt him with prophetic greetings saying Thane of Glamis, Thane of Cawdor and as the future king. Macbeth is stunned by these greetings due to his ambitious nature. After King Duncan promotes Macbeth as the Thane of Cawdor murderous thoughts, enter into Macbeth’s mind. With the assistance of his wife the Lady Macbeth, he becomes king after murdering King Duncan.

Although Macbeth becomes king, he is often tormented by his thought or murder and suspicions. Since Macbeth lives in fear of Banquo, he plans to murder Banquo and his son so that the prophetic greetings of Banquo would not come true. Even after the murder of Banquo, Macbeth is tormented by the future that he goes to the witches again. The witches warn him of Macduff but create a false sense of security in Macbeth with their prophecies that no man born of a woman can harm him. In the later part of the play, we see both Macbeth and Lady Macbeth suffering due to all the evil plans that they implemented. It is not only these two characters, but even the country seems to perish at the hands of an evil ruler. However at the end of the play, it is Macduff, who kills Macbeth and saves the land from the evil hands of Macbeth.

Difference Between Macbeth and Banquo

Who is Banquo?

Banquo is a general of King Duncan’s army who bravely fights with Macbeth on the battlefield. After the encounter with the three witches, Banquo clearly rejects the prophetic greetings of the witches though the witches prophesied that Banquo will father a line of kings although he fails to be one.

Due to Macbeth’s fear of Banquo that he will suspect him of the murder of King Duncan, Macbeth arranges Banquo and his son Fleance to be murdered. As a result, of this attempt, Banquo dies but Fleance runs away. Even after the death of Banquo, Macbeth has hallucinations of Banquo appearing in front of him as a ghost. Throughout the play, Banquo acts as the contrast to Macbeth’s evilness as he is guided by light.

Key Difference - Macbeth vs Banquo

Macbeth’s and Banquo’s first encounter with the witches

What is the difference between Macbeth and Banquo?


Macbeth is a general of King Duncan’s army.

Banquo is also a general of King Duncan’s army.

Impact of the Witches:

Macbeth succumbs to darkness as he embraces the prophetic greetings of the witches.

Banquo instantaneously rejects the prophecies.

Light and Darkness:

Macbeth is associated with darkness.

Banquo is associated with light.


Image Courtesy:

1. “Thomas Keene in Macbeth 1884 Wikipedia crop” by W.J. Morgan & Co. Lith. [Public Domain] via Commons

2. “MacbethAndBanquo-Witches” by Théodore Chassériau – Musée d’Orsay. [Public Domain] via Commons