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    The Dark Descent: Unraveling Macbeth’s Decision to Kill Banquo

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    Imagine being a college student, immersing yourself in the fascinating realm of Shakespearean literature – I’ve been there. Among all his works, the one question that keeps me up at night is why Macbeth decides to off Banquo in his titular tragic play. Shakespeare’s narrative genius paints a portrait of ambition, power, and what happens when our desires run wild. The point where Macbeth determines to knock off his once-loyal friend Banquo carries significant narrative weight, stirring my curiosity about the driving forces behind such a horrific act. In this essay, let’s explore the twisted tangle of emotions that prompts Macbeth to commit this awful act. As we delve into the interconnected dynamics of ambition, fear, and moral decline, we’ll deepen our grasp of Macbeth’s character and the timeless messages woven through Shakespeare’s immortal work.


    Macbeth’s decision to take Banquo’s life is sparked by an ambition so fierce it consumes his every thought. The witches’ prophecy of kingship ignites a wild fire within Macbeth, fanning his thirst for power and success. Suddenly, his old friend and warrior comrade Banquo becomes a potential roadblock to his royal ambitions. Why? The witches also foretold that Banquo’s descendants would be kings. This unrelenting ambition transforms Banquo from a friend into a stumbling block on Macbeth’s road to power.

    Fear and Paranoia:

    Fear and paranoia sneak into Macbeth’s heart, dogging his every move, and compelling him to strike down Banquo. The prophecy’s mention of Banquo’s heirs becoming kings fills Macbeth with fear. Overwhelmed by the idea of his potential fall from grace and loss of his newly gained kingship, Macbeth’s mind spirals into suspicion, viewing Banquo as a threat to his reign. Paranoia skews his judgement, stoking his determination to wipe out any perceived threats to his power.

    Corruption of Power:

    Power can be a destructive force, and it grips Macbeth, morphing him from a respected man to a merciless, power-obsessed tyrant. As Macbeth becomes more entrenched in his kingly role, his quest for power blinds him to the moral costs of his actions. He’s willing to forfeit friendships, loyalty, and even his conscience to safeguard his position. Power’s intoxicating allure perverts his once noble intentions, propelling him down a dark path of moral decline, and making him capable of heinous acts to hold onto his throne.

    Betrayal and Loss:

    Trust and friendship crumble between Macbeth and Banquo, adding a tragic layer to Macbeth’s decision to murder him. Once war comrades and confidants, their bond breaks under Macbeth’s unchecked ambition and increasing paranoia. Macbeth worries that Banquo may not remain loyal or may suspect his sudden rise to power. This perceived betrayal cuts Macbeth deep, further stoking his determination to eliminate anyone who could potentially challenge his authority. The loss of their friendship is a casualty of his relentless quest for power.

    Tragic Consequences:

    The decision to kill Banquo triggers a series of devastating consequences that shred Macbeth’s sanity and ultimately lead to his downfall. The guilt, regret, and haunting hallucinations serve as constant reminders of the moral line he has crossed. This regicidal act not only robs Macbeth of a faithful friend but also intensifies his fall into isolation and darkness. The weight of his actions presses heavily on his soul, morphing him from an ambitious tragic figure to a tormented soul walking a path of self-destruction.


    Macbeth’s decision to kill Banquo is born out of a lethal cocktail of ambition, fear, and the corruptive force of power. Blinded by his ambition, Macbeth disregards the moral ramifications of his actions, walking a dangerous path that leads to destruction and despair. Through Macbeth’s motivations and the subsequent fallout, Shakespeare offers a stark warning about the dangers of unchecked ambition and the fragility of our morals. It compels us to consider the true price of selling out our values for personal gain, serving as a chilling reminder of the disastrous consequences of letting ambition overrule our ethical compass.


    1. Shakespeare, William. “Macbeth.” First Folio.
    2. Bradley, A. C. “Shakespearean Tragedy: Lectures on Hamlet, Othello, King Lear, Macbeth.”
    3. Bloom, Harold.  “Shakespeare: The Invention of the Human.”
    4. Greenblatt, Stephen.  “Will in the World: How Shakespeare Became Shakespeare.”
    5. Kranz, David. “A Brief History of Macbeth Criticism.”

    This essay was written by a fellow student. You may use it as a guide or sample for writing your own paper, but remember to cite it correctly. Don’t submit it as your own as it will be considered plagiarism.

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    The Dark Descent: Unraveling Macbeth’s Decision to Kill Banquo. (2023, Jul 18). Retrieved from

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