Macbeth Banquo Analysis

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To what extent do two characters in Shakespeare’s Macbeth demonstrate courage?

Two characters who demonstrate courage in Shakespeare’s ‘Macbeth’ are Macbeth and Banquo. Both characters, to a great extent possess physical courage. However, Macbeth’s moral integrity vacillates whereas Banquo’s honourable courage is steadfast.

Both Macbeth and Banquo exemplify great physical courage.

Macbeth enjoys immeasurable strength on the battle field. He is hailed as a hero for his role in defeating the Norweyan enemy and is described by the Captain as:

‘Bellona’s bridegroom’ [I:II:54]

The suggestion here is that Macbeth makes a fitting partner to the Roman goddess of war. His physical courage is held up as Godlike and those who witness his fearless actions are in awe.

Macbeth is also feted as:

‘valour’s
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Next, Banquo informs Macbeth that he will offer his allegiance only if he can

‘still keep [his] bosom franchis’d and allegiance clear’ [II:I:28]

Here, Banquo makes it very clear to Macbeth that he is honourable, that he will not be tempted, no matter the returns to which Macbeth alludes. It is important to Banquo that his conscience remains free.

Does the following support the thesis that Banquo’s moral courage stays firm?

Surprisingly though, Banquo chooses not to act on his suspicions. When he states:

'May they not be my oracles as well, and set me up in hope?' [III:I:9]

he is compromising his morals because he wants to believe that the witches’ prophecies for him may also come true.

Shakespeare’s Macbeth and Banquo are successful in demonstrating physical courage to a great extent. However, where Banquo possesses steady and significant moral courage, Macbeth

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