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This scene reveals much about the character Banquo. Although Banquo has been developed as a good and loyal man, he is not perfect. Like Macbeth, he is tempted by the witches' prophesies; but unlike Macbeth, he quells the temptations and even stays awake at night to avoid dreaming about them. He is a man in control and a loyal citizen of Scotland. Although he will serve the new King Macbeth, he does not trust him or how he came to the throne. The conversation between the two of them in this scene reveals Banquo's suspicions, and his cautious answers to the king are meant to be evasive.
The scene also reveals much information about Macbeth's state of mind. Although he has been crowned king (and his greed should be satisfied), he receives little pleasure from it, for "upon my head they placed a fruitless crown." Although this is a direct reference to the fact that he has no sons to be heirs to the throne, it also clearly indicates that the king has not even found "troubled joy" in the crown. He has grown very fearful about being discovered (his conscience at work) and about his safety. He has also grown jealous of anything that would stand in the way of his plans or his total power. During this scene, he directs all of this fear and jealousy towards Banquo, saying that next to him his own "genius is rebuked." He is also envious of Banquo because the witches have prophesied that his sons will become kings. During the conversation between the king and Banquo, it is obvious that the calculating Macbeth has some scheme in mind as he quizzes Banquo about his plans for the afternoon.
In Macbeth's impassioned soliloquy that follows this questioning, Macbeth reveals his agitated state of mind and his great fear and jealousy of Banquo. He admits that he does not feel safe and "fears in Banquo stick deep." He knows Banquo has a "royalty of nature" that he cannot trust, and he has become intensely afraid that the witches prophesy about Banquo's sons will come true. Macbeth then bemoans the fact that he has sold his soul to the devil only for the benefit of Banquo's heirs. Therefore, his sick mind reasons, he must have Banquo and Fleance murdered in order for him to control the future and his own posterity. He easily, without conscience, plans this second murder; there is none of the indecision that he suffered when contemplating Duncan's execution. He has already sold himself to the devil.
Macbeth has sent for two murderers who are brought in by a servant. He poisons their mind against the good Banquo. Then with deceitful persuasion, flattery, and promise of favors, the king convinces the two of them that they hate Banquo and should kill him on this very day. When he has their promise of murder in hand, the mercurial Macbeth dismisses them abruptly. Macbeth has truly become the despicable tyrant, manipulating people and using his power to his own purpose. Unfortunately, he acts out of fear and jealousy, and everything he wants is now evil.