The Importance of Act 3 Scene 4 in Macbeth

Macbeth: Act 3 Scene 4 ‘They say, blood will have blood’ ‘Lesser than Macbeth but greater,’ theses are the words which make Macbeth start to think about whether his bestfriend, Banqou, can be trusted. In one of the first scenes of the play the three witches tell him this after he killed King Duncan. The words start to drive him insane as he starts to believe that Banquo or his son, Fleance, may take the throne away from him. His sanity leads him to killing Banquo, making him so guilty that he breaks down at the State Banquet.

Act 3 Scene 4, the Banquet scene, is one of the most significant scenes as it shows Macbeth has finally cracked as he goes insane in front of all his guests. I will be discussing how violence, the supernatural, masculinity, ambition, guilt and prophecies effect Macbeth throught the scene. The supernatural is one of the most biggest themes in the play. It starts off in Act 1 Scene 1, with the 3 witches and carries on with the prophecies given by them, which i believe make macbeth insane, believing that he can be all powerful.

The supernatural links into this scene because, when Macbeth looks over the banquet he says ‘the table is full’ and sees the ghost of Banquo sitting in his chair. Macbeth speaks to the ghost, ‘Thy gory locks at me,’ the ghosts ‘locks’ of hair as described as gory because as the guest enter the first murderer tells him that Banquo diesd with twenty gashes on his head. Interestingly, if this does link into the theme of supernatural then Macbeth would have thought that the others would be able to see it to.

However the confusion on their faces could suggest that the figure may have just been an hallucination created from the guilt. Macbeths ‘halluciantions’ have gone from a mere dagger to a ghost, matching his riding madness. The ghost or hallucination can also be seen as Macbeth’s personal tormentor, making him feel guilty and slowly pushing him towards his own death. I think he wanted Banquo killed away from the castle so he was out of sight, and eventhough it was done, the body has come back to show Macbeth the truth of what he has done.

Irony is created in this scene by the appearence of Banquo’s hideous ghost. This is because when Macbeth looks over he see’s the ghost in his chair, this is ironic because it could have been Banquo who was sitting there showing that he could have been king. This also suggest that his escaped son, Fleance, or any of his decendants may become king. This is not the first time Macbeth has experienced this, earlier on in the play he see’s a dagger before him but, this is before he kills Duncan.

The dagger is used to play with his mind, whereas the ghost is used as a tormentor, these are one of the few things that help Macbeth go mad. In this scene Lady Macbeth manipulates her husband by questioning his manhood after he breaks down, she also does this to him before he kills Duncan. When he is unsure with carrying out the murder she makes him by questioning his manhood. During the seen Macbeth finds an oppotunity to prove to his wife that he is a real man instead of a fearful child. As soon asthe ghost appears he tries to drive it away with words.

Violence occurs alot througout the play, from the brutal murder of Duncan to the killing of he friend banquo. Interestigly, most of the murders are done offstage but the characters give us gory descriptions throught their words and emotions. Eventhough there is no violence in this scene, there is anger, and anger alwyas leads him to violence. This has occured many times in the play, once when the withches prophecied that Banquo was to be better than Macbeth. I think the prophecies may have confused him at the time but, as the more higher up and he more powerful he becomes, the more violent he becomes.

As soon as he is told, by the witches, that Banquo’s decendants could be king he becomes furious and orders not just for his friend, Banquo, to be killed, but also his son Fleance. But as the murderer enters the banquet, Macbeth soon finds out that Fleance escaped and yet angain becomes angry yet worried that he might want to take over and seek revenge. Macbeth says to himself, ‘There the grown serpent lies; the worm that’s fled Hath nature that in time will venom breed No teeth for th’present. ’

This metaphor is important because it shows that Macbeth eventhough Banquo is dead, he is still mad because he considers Fleance a threat to him. Macbeth says that the guilt of his actions keep him awake because he has not yet accomplished ebough murders to be able to ignore his conscience. Guilt has occured throughout the whole play eversince Macbeth murdered Duncan. Not just does Macbeth feel guilty but also he wife, Lady Macbeth, she feels guilty soon after King Duncan’s murder, when she is horrified after entering the room.

Soon this guilt is represented by blood as she is has a horrified feeling of being stained. At the begining she tells her husband that a little water will clean out the blood but soon she is stained with it do, which symbolises guilt. It links to this particular scene because Macbeth’s guilt starts to show more when he looks over the table and sees his friend who he murdered sitting in his chair, causing him to break down infront of his guests. He wont admit he feels guilty but blames it on the lack of rest, which is due to all his guilt.

Another main theme is ambition. At the start of the play Macbeth is a courageous general who isn’t naturally influenced to do evil deeds, yet he greatly desires power. In war, killing is not seen as a bad thing but, soon he kills Duncan against his own intelligence and therefore suffers in guilt. Towards the end of the play he is drawn to madness due to his ambition. On the other hand Lady Macbeth reaches her goals with determination but is less capable of withstanding her backlash of her beaviour.

Macbeth’s ambition make suceed him in having power but also causes him to muder his friend in order to mantain it, which ends up with him feeling guilty causing him to leash out at the banquet. Eventhough Macbeth’s guilt ambition and anger lead him one more step towards insanity it doesn’t makes him feel remorse, or anything but makes him determind to see things through to the end. He immediately starts thinking of what must be done next, and asks his wife what she thinks of the fact that Macduff has refused to come to their banquet.

She asks if he has sent for Macduff, to get an explanation. He answers that he will send for him. I think that Macbeth is worried that Macduff might know that it was him who killed Duncan and Banquo. As the guests leave Macbeth mutters to himself that, ‘they say, blood will have blood. ’ This means that the blood of the victim will seek out the muderer, and that the muder will be discovered. I believe that in this scene Macbeths starts to realise that secrets have been told and has learnt that no one can be trusted.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *