Macbeth, Banquo & Macduff (from Macbeth) Compare and contrast?

How are they alike? How are they different? Is it possible to argue that Macbeth is the play's villain and Macduff or Banquo its hero, or is the matter more complicated than that?



Since Macbeth is the focal character, it would be hard for anyone else to be considered the hero. MAcbeth IS definitely the "bad guy" of th play, but in a tragedy, the main character (aka the protagonist) is usually a flawed person, and the "good guy" is the ANtagonist--his opponent. If you retold the story of Macbeth from the perspective of Macduff or Malcolm, that character would certainly be the hero and Macbeth the villain, and the story would be a different type of literature, not tragedy. As for Banquo, however, although he's important, he dies too soon to be either the hero or the antagonist.

Certainly both Banquo and Macduff have more integrity than Macbeth--and it leads to misfortune for both of them. When Banquo sees the witches' prophecies being fulfilled for Macbeth, he is troubled because he suspects that Macbeth killed Duncan to bring that fulfillment about. What he might have done about his suspicions we don't know, because Macbeth has him killed. Macduff also senses something wrong about Macbeth's rise to kingship (well, he was there when the murder was discovered) and chooses not to attend the coronation. Then, evidently when he hears about Banquo's death, he leaves the country. As a Scottish lord, he may have felt morally unable to remain to serve a King whom he strongly suspected of two murders, but perhaps, as a man of integrity himself, he didn't yet dream that Macbeth would go so far as to take out his anger and fear on Macduff's family. As for Macbeth himself, he declines morally over the course of the play, but he never entirely loses some of his good qualities. At the end, he still has a shred of conscience, he still has undiminished courage, and, even though he has stopped confiding in her,.he still loves his wife enough that her death makes all his gains meaningless.

Other factors that you might take into consideration in your comparison are that Banquo and Macduff both have children and Macbeth has none. How might that fact affect their outlooks?