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The Banquet scene takes place in Act III, Sc.iv.

It is a very important scene because it


catches the crisis in the play besides the supernatural element, which heightens the
inner drama of conflict and dichotomy in the mind of Macbeth. The Banquet Scene opens
at the royal hall of Scotland with the banquet ready celebrating Macbeths coronation. It
is very important and simultaneously the high point of Macbeths reign and the beginning
of his downfall. It shows us how Macbeths fear controls him and will destroy his life.
The scene opens with Macbeth's warm welcome to the lords. This composure is soon
broken when Banquo's murderer appears. His guilt manifests itself as Banquo's ghost and
sends him into a frenzy of apparently irrational behaviour. Lady Macbeth who is unable to
see the ghost is unsupportive and embarrassed by his outburst. The banquet ends
abruptly when Lady Macbeth feels obliged to ask the guests to leave. In order to satisfy
the popular taste of the contemporary audience for melodramatic presentation of
materials on the stage, Shakespeare presents a popular spectacle on the stage in the
form of Banquos ghost in Macbeth, which subsequently has come to generate numerous
debates. Whether the ghost of Banquo is subjective or objective is variously debated, On
the stage the ghost is visible only to Macbeth and the audience, both of whom
understand the cruelty involved in the act of murder, while the other characters are
supposed to be unaware of its presence. In this perhaps it becomes possible to
understand that Banquos ghost plays an important and integral role in the development
of the tragic action of the play and in bringing about the nemesis of Macbeth.
The arrival of Banquo as a ghost is necessary to expose this treacherous person. But
before that, treachery has been highlighted in the act of offering the banquet. One may
detect here an ironic reversal of the Last Supper offered by Christ, the Saviour. In fact,
Macbeths act of murdering the king and thus violating the moral order is re-enacted in
his consecration of such a sacred ritual as offering a communal feast, a ritual which has
been looked upon as a gesture of faith and fraternal bond existing in the community
everywhere and always in the human culture. Fittingly enough, the announcement of the
banquet is disturbed and delayed by the arrival of the first murderer at the door. It should
be noted here that Macbeth becomes alarmed at the sight of blood on the face of the
murderer. It may be surmised whether the blood of Banquo, and the news of the escape
of Fleance, leaving behind the possibility of the fulfilment of the Witches prophecy,
unhinge his mind for the moment. He says himself, now I am cabind, cribbd,
confined, bound in Saucy doubts and fears. But the dramatic irony becomes most
effective when the audience watch the blood ghost of Banquo enter the stage and sit at
Macbeths appointed chair and Macbeth, unaware of its presence, wishes: Were the
graced person of our Banquo present. As he becomes aware of its presence, the whole
scheme goes awry for Macbeth. Though the queen tries hard to stop the involuntary
confessions, the situation goes beyond her control. Here the audience can notice that the
lady is not the kind of stuff now as she had been before while goading Macbeth into
murdering the king. Though she does not reflect upon herself, it can be said that right
from this point the weakening of her character beginsthough she succeeds in giving
the correct psychological explanations behind her husbands hallucinations: This is the
very painting of your fear, the strange will very soon infect her and bring in her
nemesis. As Lady Macbeth pushes him towards the corner of the stage, Macbeth bursts
in mixed reactions of fear, anger, irritation, uneasiness, submission, philosophical
ruminations and apprehension of retribution. He now understands that in the moral
universe, tumbled upside down by him, death to a person does not put an end to all, that
dead men rise again, With twenty mortal wounds on their crowns, And push us from
our stools On the stage these reactions or confessions are made dramatically more
effective by the loud choric answer of the lords: Our duties, and the pledge, an answer

which does not have any significance for Macbeth when sees the ghost re-enter the hall.
From Macbeths confessions it becomes clear that he is afraid of the ghost because it
bears the evidence of his gruesome murder, thereby exposing his hypocrisy and moral
flaw. Macbeth now understands the truth that blood will have blood, that is, murder
begets murder; but he falsely draws the conclusion to his own purpose, that is, further
murders will become necessary to protect his throne. The king of Scotland, however,
talks of the dilemma of ambition, which was typical the Renaissance and is symptomatic
of the modern age: I am in blood Steppd in so far that, should I wade no more,
Returning were as tedious as go ovr: And herein lies the tragic appeal of the drama to a
modern reader/audience. It is in this scene that Macbeth emerges as a confirmed
murdered with strange thingsin head. In other words, the ghost of Banquo leads
Macbeth unwittingly to his tragic downfall. It is unclear whether Banquos ghost really sits
in Macbeths chair or whether the spirits presence is only a hallucination inspired by
guilt. Macbeth, of course, is thick with supernatural events and characters, so there is no
reason to discount the possibility that a ghost actually stalks the halls. Some of the
apparitions that appear in the play, such as the floating dagger in Act 2, scene 1, and the
unwashable blood that Lady Macbeth perceives on her hands in Act 4, appear to be more
psychological than supernatural in origin, but even this is uncertain. These recurring
apparitions or hallucinations reflect the sense of metaphysical dread that consumes the
royal couple as they feel the fateful force of their deeds coming back to haunt them.
Banquos ghost plays an important and integral role in the development of the tragic
action of the play and in bringing about the nemesis of Macbeth. In fact Shakespeares
world of spirit appears as the physical embodiment of the images conjured up by lively
fancy and the presence of the apparition is felt only by those who have an excitable
imagination. However, the ghost in the Banquet scene of Macbeth is not merely a stage
M device, but an integral part of the tragedy. The ghost in Macbeth can be interpreted
as the subjective projection of Macbeths own troubled sense of morality. The scene
shows the inner cowardice of Macbeth. It also shows the guilt, fear and the corruption
deep within Macbeth. The scene portrays the fears in Macbeth about the consequences
of his sin.
Shakespeare has written a masterful and dramatic scene, where the chaotic ending of
the banquet is in total contrast to its orderly beginning, just as Macbeth is in total
contrast to his former heroic self. The symbolism and irony of the banquet scene is the
essence of the entire play. Macbeth in the beginning of the play had it all. He was a true
man -- a brave warrior who had just won his greatest victory, saved Scotland from ruin,
and was honored by the king. He had much to look forward to, until the three evil witches
planted a seed of greed in his mind. Suddenly, he had thoughts of being more than just
Thane of Cawdor. In weakness, he let his even greedier wife really talk him into murder.
His conscience had warned him against the plot, but he was manipulated by Lady
Macbeth in an unmanly manner to do it anyway. So by appearing like a man in his wife's
eyes, he had, in reality, thrown away his manhood. In this scene, Lady Macbeth is urging
her husband to again become a man, when she had earlier begged him to destroy his
manliness by ignoring his conscience and committing the murder. But his conscience has
now stolen his self-respect, forever. He is a lost soul. His wife cannot save him, as she
tries to do in this scene; he can only save himself. Ironically, he has become too unmanly
to do that, as clearly demonstrated in the banquet scene. As a result, from this point
forward in the play, the audience will watch Macbeth as he totally unravels himself to
ruin.