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Why Did Macbeth Kill Banquo: Unraveling the Motive and Consequences

SUMMARY: Fearing the fulfillment of the Weïrd Sisters’ prophecy, Macbeth makes the fateful decision to have Banquo killed, as he believes Banquo’s descendants pose a threat to his kingship.

Why did Macbeth kill Banquo?

To understand Macbeth’s actions, we need to delve into his fear of Banquo’s descendants taking over the kingdom. But what led him to make the decision to have Banquo killed?

  • Macbeth’s fear of Banquo’s descendants
  • Macbeth’s decision to kill Banquo
  • The role of the Weïrd Sisters’ prophecies
  • The result of Banquo’s murder

Read on to learn more about why Macbeth took such drastic measures, and discover the consequences it had.

Macbeth’s Fear of Banquo’s Descendants

Macbeth was overcome with a deep fear when he learned about the Weïrd Sisters’ prophecy that Banquo’s descendants would one day take over the kingdom. This prophecy threatened Macbeth’s position as the reigning king, and he couldn’t let that happen. The fear of losing power consumed Macbeth and led him to take drastic measures to prevent the prophecy from becoming a reality.

Macbeth’s Decision to Kill Banquo

Macbeth decides to have Banquo killed because he is afraid that Banquo’s descendants will take over the kingdom, just as the Weïrd Sisters predicted. He believes that by eliminating Banquo, he can prevent the prophecy from coming true. Macbeth’s fear and ambition drive him to make this fateful decision, ultimately leading to the tragic events that unfold in the play.

The Role of the Weïrd Sisters’ Prophecies

The Weïrd Sisters, also known as the Witches, played a significant role in Macbeth’s decision to kill Banquo. Their predictions had a strong influence on his actions.

When the Weïrd Sisters first appeared to Macbeth and Banquo, they made several prophecies. One of these prophecies stated that Banquo’s descendants would become kings. This prediction deeply troubled Macbeth because he feared losing his throne. He believed that if he allowed Banquo’s descendants to live, they would eventually challenge his rule and take over the kingdom. This fear, combined with his ambition to maintain his power, led Macbeth to make the decision to have Banquo killed.

Macbeth’s belief in the Weïrd Sisters’ prophecies was strong. He saw their predictions as a form of fate and destiny. Their words seemed to confirm his deepest fears and desires. Macbeth became obsessed with ensuring that the prophecies did not come true, driving him to commit heinous acts.

Overall, the Weïrd Sisters’ prophecies played a crucial role in Macbeth’s descent into darkness. They planted the seeds of doubt and fear in his mind, ultimately leading him to commit murder to protect his throne.

Result of Banquo’s Murder

The murder of Banquo had a profound impact on Macbeth’s mental state and the overall plot of the play.

After Banquo’s death, Macbeth’s guilt and paranoia began to consume him. He became increasingly haunted by his actions, plagued by hallucinations and visions of Banquo’s ghost. These manifestations reflected the torment and remorse that Macbeth felt for his role in Banquo’s murder.

Macbeth’s mental state deteriorated further as he faced additional challenges. The murder of Duncan, which Macbeth orchestrated earlier in the play, had already taken a toll on his conscience. The killing of Banquo, his once-friend and ally, added to the weight of his guilt.

Furthermore, Banquo’s murder had significant consequences for the overall plot. It marked a turning point in Macbeth’s descent into madness and tyranny. His actions led to a chain of events, including the suspicion and distrust of Macduff and ultimately, his downfall.

The murder of Banquo not only impacted Macbeth’s mental well-being but also had far-reaching consequences for the kingdom of Scotland. It set in motion a series of events that would ultimately lead to Macbeth’s demise and the restoration of order in the country.


In conclusion, Macbeth’s fear of Banquo’s descendants taking over the kingdom, as predicted by the Weïrd Sisters, led him to make the fateful decision to have Banquo murdered. This decision had significant consequences on Macbeth’s mental state and the overall plot of the play.

  • Macbeth was driven by his fear of losing the throne to Banquo’s lineage.
  • The Weïrd Sisters’ prophecies greatly influenced Macbeth’s actions and decision-making.
  • By eliminating Banquo, Macbeth hoped to prevent the prophecy from coming true.
  • However, Banquo’s murder only intensified Macbeth’s guilt and paranoia.
  • This event marks a turning point in Macbeth’s descent into madness and bloodshed.
  • The consequences of Banquo’s murder set in motion a chain of events that ultimately lead to Macbeth’s downfall.

Through Macbeth’s actions, we witness the destructive power of unchecked ambition and the consequences of succumbing to one’s fears. Shakespeare masterfully portrays the tragic consequences of Macbeth’s decision to kill Banquo, reminding us of the timeless themes of ambition, fate, and the corrupting influence of power.


Did Macbeth regret killing Banquo?

It is suggested that Macbeth experiences moments of regret and guilt following Banquo’s murder. His soliloquy during the banquet scene reveals his inner turmoil and remorse. However, Macbeth’s ambition and desire for power ultimately override any genuine remorse he may feel, leading him down a path of further violence and tyranny.

Did Macbeth succeed in preventing the prophecy?

No, Macbeth’s decision to kill Banquo does not ultimately prevent the prophecy from coming true. While Banquo is murdered, his son Fleance manages to escape, ensuring that Banquo’s lineage will continue. Moreover, Macbeth’s actions and the relentless pursuit of power ultimately bring about his downfall, as the prophecy ultimately unfolds against him.

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