From the beginning of the play, Banquo is seen a Macbeth’s closest friend. In the start, Macbeth and Banquo are loyal, honourable and impressive warriors in the king’s army. Later in the play we see Banquo as being a contrast to Macbeth as Macbeth’s ambition and selfishness takes over.
Banquo and Macbeth’s friendship is challenged on their encounter of the ‘weird’ sisters. The witches promise kingship to Macbeth by which Banquo is eager to find out his future. Although Banquo’s descendants are promised to sit on the throne, Banquo hesitates to fully have faith in the witch’s prophecy. He has recognised them to be evil and cunning, “What, can the devil speak true?”. Banquo is quick to distinguish evil plans where Macbeth fails to. Banquo also warns Macbeth as a friend, “… oftentimes, to win us to our harm, The instruments of darkness tell us truths…”
Despite Banquo’s warning, Macbeth is now more confident that his deep inner desire will be fulfilled – especially after the witch’s prophecy. Mabeth feels that kingship is within his reach and acts upon the prophecy; however Banquo feels that he does not need to act, as he believes that if it is a true prophecy, it will happen without his action. This difference in their attitude is seen in their encounter with the witches. Unknowing if the witch’s declare the truth, Banquo is cautious in questioning them about the prophecies. “If you can look into the seeds of time, and say which grain will grow and which will not, speak then to me, who neither beg nor fear your favours nor your hate.” However, Macbeth commands “tell me more”.
Macbeth’s belief in the witch’s prophecy makes him to act to fulfil his desire and the prophecy. When Macbeth murders king Duncan, Banquo becomes suspicious of him, yet he remains loyal to Macbeth. Bunquo’s outstanding quality of loyalty stands out throughout the whole play. Banquo does not act on the witch’s prophecy but remains loyal to the king. Even after king Duncan’s murder, Banquo still remains faithful to the new king, Macbeth, although he is suspicious.
Macbeth’s evil ambition brings chaos to Scotland and also to Banquo’s friendship. In Macbeth’s selfishness, he also murders Banquo so that Banquo’s prophecy of his decedents sitting on the throne should not come to pass. At this stage we clearly see the differences between Macbeth and Banquo. Where Banquo hesitated to act on the prophecies, Macbeth acted. While Banquo chose to remain loyal, Macbeth murdered. When Banquo could detect evil, Macbeth could not. Macbeth died fighting for his own evil ambitions, but Banquo died as a martyr for Scotland.