Macbeth Act 3 Scene 4 Banquo’s Ghost

Summary Macbeth welcomes various guests to his banquet.The first murderer appears and macbeth steps aside to speak with him. The murderer tells macbeth that banquo is dead, but that fleance has escaped.Macbeth is disturbed. He returns to the feast and s gently reprimanded by his wife for his absence.He stands to raise a toast in praise of banquo. As he does so, banquo’s ghost enters and sits in his place.Only macbeth can see the ghost and macbeth is terrified. Lady macbeth says her husband often has these fits. Her quick thinking covers up for macbeth as he begins o reveal his guilt.The ghost disappears and Macbeth regains his composure. Once more he tries to seem cheerful and praises, ‘our dear friend banquo’.The ghost reappears and macbeth loses his nerve altogether.He recovers when the ghost disappears again, but this was too late for the banquet to continue. Lady macbeth dismisses everyone.Alone with his wife, macbeth says he thinks macduff is against him. He reveals that he has spies in his lords houses. He tells her that he intends to revisit the witches.
Why is this scene important? Shakespeare shows the macbeth’s at the high point of their careers, on their thrones, entertaining their guests, all of whom except macduff are prepared to accept them.It ironically foreshadows the future, banquo’s ghost occupies macbeth seat, as his descendants will occupy his throne and ‘push us from our stools’.It marks the beginning of the decline of macbeth’s rule and power, he cannot keep calm on this important occasion of state, and almost reveals his guilt.The theme of the supernatural is evident.It exploits dramatic tension. The audience see the murdered man appearing at a state banquet, will macbeth be exposed?We also see the close bond between lady macbeth and macbeth is beginning to dissolve, she covers for him but it is a strain on her. Macbeth no longer talks of ‘we’ but ‘himself’.
Who are the key characters in this scene? Macbeth and Lady MacbethThe strain on lady macbeth is evident. By the end of the scene, although he has been terrified, macbeth seems casual in his attitude to what has happened. His comment, ‘we are yet but young indeed’ suggests that this is a blip that will soon pass. Lady macbeth, however as shakespeare shows, has had to use all her resources and wit to contain the potential damage of exposure.Earlier she said ‘noughts had, alls spent’ and we see this particularly here, she wanted to be queen and the scene begins with her keeping ‘her state’, in other words, remaining on her throne. If there was anywhere in the play where lady macbeth could enjoy being queen to the full, t is here, on her throne, surrounded by subjects. Yet, because of macbeth’s actions, this becomes a hollow and empty event, lacking any dignity or regal significance`.