M A C B E T H
Act III Scene I :
After Banquo exits, Macbeth is left alone with his thoughts. He quickly realizes that to be king is nothing unless the king is safe. And he does not feel secure with Banquo around, who "hath a wisdom that doth guide his valour ... There is none but he whose being I do fear ... under him, my genius is rebuked." Since the rest of the witches' prophesy has already turned into truth, Macbeth fears that the part about Banquo's children taking over the kingship will also come true. To prevent the last part from coming true, Macbeth decides to kill his trusted friend and his son, Fleance, later that night. Right away he orders in a pair of poor and ignorant beggars, convinces them that "it was [Banquo] in the times past which held you so under fortune," and persuades them to commit the murders as revenge while, at the same time, receiving a grand reward for their loyalty to their king. Macbeth also tells the duo that Banquo is his own enemy as well, and he should be attacked during his journey, away from the palace, to prevent suspicion.
A n Analysis
In this scene, we immediately notice a great change in the behaviour and attitude of Macbeth toward murder. After his first meeting with the witches, Macbeth had worried about their prophesy the King's murder. He had plenty of rational reasons at the time against the plot, and had to be convinced by his wife to commit the highest crime possible. But now he is at much ease about innocently killing anyone standing in his path to greatness. All rational reasoning has left him and he is no longer aware of Banquo's kind and honest nature or his long friendship with him. All that matters now is, to get rid of Banquo, so the rest of the prophesy cannot be fulfilled, and Banquo's children will not be able to take his "fruitless crown" away from him.
Then Macbeth meets with the potential murderers. It seems like he dumped a lot of dirt on the pair in the past, and now he blames all their bad fortune on Banquo: "Know that it was he, in the times past, which held you so under fortune, which you thought had been our innocent self." Being poor and desperate, they believe him. Then when Macbeth questions their manhood, the two are provoked into telling the King that they are angry enough to kill Banquo. When questioned this, they feel the great need to prove their maleness. This "being a man" test has happened once before in the scene with Lady Macbeth and her husband. When asked by Macbeth, the pair answered: "we are men, my liege." Unsatisfied by their response, they are criticized of being inferior examples of human beings....