3 March 2011
A Dishonorable Dignitary
Someone who has honor can be characterized as a person who uses their ethical values to make the right decision in an attempt to help others, even if their choice may harm themselves. In Shakespeare’s Macbeth, Banquo proves to be the antithesis of an honorable person because in Acts one, two, and three, he allows his personal gain to get in the way of bringing Macbeth to justice.
First, Banquo begins to show signs of his dishonor when his jealousy and ambition cause him to not fully stop Macbeth from having thoughts of regicide in Act I. For example, when the three witches prophesize that Macbeth will become thane of Cawdor, thane of Glamis, and King of Scotland Banquo becomes jealous. This is evident when he proclaims, “My noble partner/You greet with present grace and great prediction… To me you speak not… Speak, then, to me, who neither beg nor fear your favors nor your hate” (I. iii. 57-64). Also, when Ross tells Macbeth that he is now the thane of Cawdor, Banquo is not only surprised that the witches prediction comes true, but jealous that his friend’s prophecy came into fruition before his own. Finally, Banquo’s jealousy comes together at the end of the Act, which causes him to discourage Macbeth by saying that it is unwise to listen to the witches. Banquo is not giving his friend advice, but rather he is allowing his desire for his son become King along with his jealousy of Macbeth for becoming thane of
Cawdor to cloud his judgment. Overall Banquo starts to be dishonorable in Act I because he goes against his ethics, and allows his ambition and jealousy to take over, which culminates in him trying to deceive Macbeth.
Furthermore, Banquo proves to be even more dishonorable in Act II because he begins to suspect that Macbeth might kill the king, but he does nothing about it. In the Scottish culture of this time period,...