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Why does Macbeth have Banquo killed?

Question:

Why does Macbeth have Banquo killed?

Macbeth:

Macbeth is a tragedy about a man who is swallowed up by his ambition. Macbeth, the main character, murders the king after hearing a prophecy that states he will inherit the throne. Terrified of losing his newfound power, he proceeds to kill anyone he perceives as a threat. In the end, his surviving rivals band together against him, and he is defeated.

Answer and Explanation:

Macbeth kills Banquo for two reasons. First, Banquo was present when the witches delivered their prophecy to Macbeth. He knows that Macbeth was told he would one day be king, and he fears that Macbeth decided to take matters into his own hands. Unlike King Duncan, who trusted Macbeth implicitly, Banquo recognizes Macbeth's ambition. Macbeth knows that Banquo is suspicious of him, and that he could be an important witness against him. By killing him, he ensures that no one else will learn about the witches' words.

Second, Macbeth kills Banquo because of the witches' prophecy concerning him and his offspring. They told Banquo that he will never be king, but that his descendants will. This means that Macbeth's line will not hold the throne forever. His children will not inherit the throne. Macbeth interprets the prophecy to mean that Banquo's children are a direct threat to his reign. By killing Banquo, he will hopefully thwart this prophecy from coming true. Macbeth attempts to kill Banquo's family as well, ending all chance of the witches' promise being fulfilled, but he fails.


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