Banquet Scene of Macbeth

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The Banquet Scene (scene iv, Act III) opens at the royal hall of Scotland with the banquet ready celebrating Macbeth’s coronation. The audience find the couple now at the height of double-dealing, and detect in the opening words of the new king tinge of irony: “You know your own degrees…” The fact is that it is Macbeth who has forgotten his degree, his limitation as a human being. Therefore, the arrival of Banquo as a ghost is necessary to expose this treacherous person. But before that, treachery has been highlighted in the act of offering the banquet. One may detect here an ironic reversal of the Last Supper offered by Christ, the Saviour. In fact, Macbeth’s act of murdering the king and thus violating the moral order is re-enacted in his consecration of such a sacred tritual as offering a communal feast, a ritual which has been looked upon as a gesture of faith and fraternal bond existing in the community everywhere and always in the human culture. Fittingly enough, the announcement of the banquet is disturbed and delayed by the arrival of the first murderer at the door. It should be noted here that Macbeth becomes alarmed at the sight of blood on the face of the murderer. It may be surmised whether the blood of Banquo, and the news of the escape of Fleance, leaving behind the possibility of the fulfilment of the Witches’ prophecy, unhinge his mind for the moment. He says himself, “…now I am cabin’d, cribb’d, confined, bound in Saucy doubts and fears.” But the dramatic irony becomes most effective when the audience watch the blood ghost of Banquo enter the stage and sit at Macbeth’s appointed chair and Macbeth, unaware of its presence, wishes: “Were the graced person of our Banquo present.” As he becomes aware of its presence, the whole scheme goes awry for Macbeth. Though the queen tries hard to stop the involuntary confessions, the situation goes beyond her control. Here the audience can notice that the lady is not the kind of stuff now as she had been...
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