I have a question regarding Macbeth that has been irritating me for some time. Recently, I had to read Macbeth in British Literature class and I asked the teacher (who was unable to answer this question) why, if the witches prophesied that Banquo's seed would sit on the throne, does Macolm reign after the defeat of Macbeth? Why not Fleance, the son of Banquo?? That is why Macbeth had Banquo killed and tried to slaughter Fleance at the same time. . .so that the seed of Banquo would never sit on his throne! Can anyone help me??? I would really appreciate a reply. Thanks to any and all who will relieve my aggitation.
Hello Erin

Well spotted!

Shakespeare took the story of Macbeth from Holinshed's 'Chronicle'. Holinshed suggests that Banquo's descendants were the Stuarts, who were later to reign in Scotland (and England too).

As you say, Shakespeare doesn't make this clear. But since the play was written (c. 1606) specifically for performance before James I of England (= James VI of Scotland), himself a Stuart, Shakespeare no doubt assumed that the king wouldn't need too explicit a reminder about his own connection with this very flatteringly portrayed 'ancestor'.

There may also be a dramatic reason. The Weird Sisters take pleasure in stirring up trouble. 'Fair is foul' etc. We see them promising the throne to Banquo's seed; Macbeth stirred up thereby to murder Banquo; Malcolm nonetheless reigning at the end. If we don't know Holinshed, we're left with the impression that the Sisters told Banquo a lie, simply to cause trouble. It all adds to the sense of confusion and malevolence.

Hello MrP

Thanks so much for getting back to me on my question. The info was very helpful and enlightening . Now I can go back to class and share my new knowledge!