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Why is Act III, scene 4 so important in "Macbeth"?

Act III, Scene IV, is important because it is Macbeth's high point as King. Once he sees the
ghost, his image as king is changed, tarnished with questions of madness.
"Then comes my fit again: I had else
been perfect;
Whole as the marble, founded as the rock,
As broad and general as the casing air:
But now I am cabin'd, cribb'd, confin'd, bound in
To saucy doubts and fears. But Banquo's safe?" (Act III, Scene IV)
"Can such things be
And overcome us likes a summer's cloud,
Without our special wonder? You make me
Even to the disposition that I owe,
When now I think you can behold such sights,
And keep the natural! ruby of your cheeks,
When mine are blanch'd with fear." (Act III, Scene IV)
Macbeth begins to question his sanity, he can't believe his eyes, yet he cannot look away
from Banquo's ghost. In front of his dinner guests, he acts in an unstable, irrational manner,
causing Lady Macbeth to make excuses for his behavior. At this point, King Macbeth has lost
some of the respect and admiration of his court.
His subjects do not look at him the same way after this scene, it is a turning point
for Macbeth. His manner and attitude becomes more tyrannical, he decides after this scene to
consult the witches again, to seek their guidance.
Macbeth begins the slow descent into madness after this scene, losing his ability to control
the future, something that he has killed to achieve
What happens after the ghost scene in Act 3, Scene 4 of Macbeth?
When Macbeth is visited by the ghost of Banquo, it is a pivotal scene in Macbeth. It shows
that Macbeth is feeling guilt, and that he is beginning to crack up. As a result, he goes on a
murderous rampage and kills Macduffs family.
Macbeth is enjoying himself before the feast. He is king, and he has taken care of Banquo.
He has not a care in the world. Unfortunately, his conscience starts to bother him.
The time has been,
That, when the brains were out, the man would die,(95)
And there an end; but now they rise again, (enotes etext p. 51)
Its all downhill from there. Macbeths ranting about the table being full and gory locks
leads the dinner guests to assume that he is not well. Lady Macbeth covers for him, saying
hes suffered from these fits since he was a child, but she also admonishes him to get a hold
on himself. It doesnt work, and the party ends abruptly when Macbeth asks the guests why
they arent bothered by such sights.
As a result of Banquos ghosts visit, Macbeth determines that he has not killed enough people
yet. His terrible and senseless slaughter of the Macduff family finally spurs Malcolm and
Macduff to act, and they come for Macbeth and take him out.
What does Macbeth plan to do in Scene 4 of Act III after Banquo's murder?
At the end of Act III Scene 4, after Macbeth has learned that Banquo is dead but Fleance
escaped, then behaved like he was a sandwich short of a picnic when the ghost of Banquo
showed up at his banquet, thereby deeply disturbing all the lords in attendance, Lady
Macbeth dismisses the guests ("Stand not upon the order of your going / But go at once.").
Macbeth, still disturbed by the gory ghost of Banquo (who has left the scene), says, "It will
have blood; they say, blood will have blood," then muses about how odd things happen in
nature (trying to make sense of what he has seen).

Macbeth then says: "How say'st thou, that Macduff denies his person / At our great bidding?"
That is, "What do you think of the fact that Macduff, who was invited to the banquet, didn't
show up?"
Lady Macbeth responds oddly, saying, "Did you send to him, sir?" This is an odd question, in
my view, because until now, Macbeth has conspired with his wife, but this tells us that she
didn't know about his orders to have Banquo killed, which means she didn't understand what
he was raving about at the banquet. She must have been as freaked out as his guests.
Macbeth responds, "I hear it by the way; but I will send," meaning he's heard rumors of why
Macduff didn't attend, but he'll check into it. This is again odd. Why doesn't he tell his wife,
who started this trail of bloodshed, about his orders to have Banquo and Fleance murdered?
But he keeps the facts close to his chest. He merely responds, "There's not a one of them but
in his house / I keep a servant feed," meaning that he has spies in every great house in his
What does he plan to do next? Go back to the weird sisters, of course. He is now "bent to
know / by the worst means, the worst. For mine own good, / All causes shall give way: I am in
blood / stepp'd so far that, should I wade no more, / Returning were as tedious as go o'er. /
Strange things I have in head, that will to hand; / Which must be acted ere they may be
This marks a deep psychological change in a man who was, in the beginning, "too full of the
milk of human kindness / To catch the nearest way" to the crown. Macbeth, without consulting
his wife, let alone being coerced by her to commit evil deeds, has decided that he will return
to the witches (understood to be against nature and God's law, so he's daring hell here) to
find out what lies ahead for him, and he will know, no matter what he has to do. He has
realized at this point that he has gone so far that it doesn't matter if he slaughters a few more
people; he's already a murderer, so what's a few more murders in the grand scheme of
things? He resolves to act on his plans (to retain his crown) before he has a chance to think
about them from here on out. He has shut off his conscience now.
Why does Macbeth see Banquo's ghost in Act 3, Scene 4 of Macbeth?
Banquo is an important character in the play, and therefore Shakespeare gave the part to an
important actor. Shakespeare probably disliked killing this character off so early in the play.
While he was writing the script he probably thought of bringing Banquo back as a ghost,
thereby getting more exposure for the actor playing the part. Once Shakespeare had
established that Banquo was a ghost, he could use the same actor yet again in the scene in
which Macbeth confronts the three witches and demands to know more about the future.
I conjure you, by that which you profess,
Howe'er you come to know it, answer me:
Though you untie the winds and let them fight
Against the churches, though the yeasty waves
Confound and swallow navigation up,
Though bladed corn be lodged and trees blown down,
Though castles topple on their warders heads,
Though palaces and pyramids do slope
Their heads to their foundations, though the treasure
Of nature's germens tumble all together
Even till destruction sicken, answer me
To what I ask you.
(Act 4, Scene 1)
The witches conjure three apparitions and finally show Macbeth eight kings with the ghost of
Banquo standing behind them to symbolize that they are his own descendants. Macbeth
realizes that his assassination of Duncan was futile, since he only made it possible for
Banquo's progeny to inherit the throne.
Shakespeare got extra exposure out of actors in other plays besidesMacbeth. In Hamlet, for
example, he has the ghost of Hamlet's father appear several times. First the ghost appears to

Horatio, Marcellus and Bernardo in Act 1, Scene 1. Then it appears again in Act 1, Scenes 4
and 5. And much later in the play it will appear to Hamlet when he is having his violent
confrontation with his mother in Act 3, Scene 4. There was no great necessity for using the
ghost again in Act 3, but it gives the actor and an interesting character more exposure.
Shakespeare must have used minor actors many times in different roles in the same play. It
seems likely, for instance, that the same boy actor played Portia and Calpurnia in Julius
Caesar wearing different gowns and different wigs.
What is a critical appreciation of Act III, scene iv, in Shakespeare's play, Macbeth?
A critical appreciation of a literary text is the same as a critical analysis. A critical appreciation
discerns and analyses the individual parts of the literary devices that comprise a work,
including non-optional literary elements and optional literary techniques. Thus a critical
appreciation (i.e., analysis) will cover from structural elements to figurative language
techniques and everything in between. Some of the things you will analyze in a critical
appreciation of a work are:
point of view
chronological framework (time features)
narrator/narrative style
figures of speech
word schemes
Concerning structure, III.iv is in two parts and set in Macbeth's banqueting hall. There are six
major entrances and exits. First, Macbeth, Lady Macbeth and various Lords enter the
banqueting hall; First Murderer enters but remains by the door where Macbeth approaches
him; after the murderer's exit, the Ghost of Banquo enters, then exits, doing this twice; finally,
the Lords exit the hall, leaving only Macbeth and Lady Macbeth. They then exit the stage
themselves. The time is chronological progression until the entrance of First Murder, who
introduces a flashback to the recent time of the slaying of Banquo. The mood in this scene is
one of frenzy and chaos while the Lords listen in wonder and Lady Macbeth feels her panic
rise. The focus, or theme, of the scene is the torments that begin to assault Macbeth as a
consequence of their foul deed:
You lack the season of all natures, sleep.
Come, we'll to sleep. My strange and self-abuse
Is the initiate fear that wants hard use:
Some literary techniques used include the aside, simile, metaphor, cliche and idiom. After
Macbeth sees Banquo, Lady Macbeth speaks to him in an aside to question and caution him:

If I stand here, I saw him.
Fie, for shame!
Blood hath been shed ere now, i' the olden time, [...]
Your noble friends do lack you.
Another technique used is simile, as when Macbeth wonders if ghosts can really exist. He
compares the apparition's appearance to a "summer cloud" that suddenly overshadows the
sun and warmth of a summer's day. Another technique is metaphor. Macbeth wonders how
Lady Macbeth can maintain a natural state when seeing Banquo, while he is drained of color
and shattered (of course, Lady Macbeth does not see Banquo): he wonders how she can "keep
the natural ruby of your cheeks, ...." One last technique I'll mention is the use of cliche and
Shakespeare is noted for his mastery of language, including the use of popular cliches and
idioms. Macbeth is lamenting the appearance of Banquo's ghost and pronounces the idiomatic
cliche that "blood will have blood." This saying cannot be taken literally; it has a figurative
meaning that is different from the meanings of the words. While "blood" is personified and
attributes the human characteristic of demanding or requiring something, the saying means
that a murder will often result in another murder of revenge or cover-up. This was true for
Macbeth and for the Renaissance period.
It will have blood; they say, blood will have blood: ....
In Macbeth, Act 3 scene 4, what's ironic about Macbeth's speech before the arrival
of the ghost?
Let us remind ourselves of the context of this scene. Macbeth has just found out from the
Murderers that Banquo has been killed by his orders. He then rejoins his party, trying to play
the part of the host and benificent King. Note what he says to the assembled masses:
Here had we now our country's honour roof'd,
Were the grac'd person of our Banquo present;
Who may I rather challenge for unkindness,
Than pity for mischance!
Macbeth is saying that if Banquo were present he would have the best and most noble
members of his country all under the same roof. However, it is clear that this is verbal ironly in
a number of levels. Having just arranged Banquo's assassination, on the one hand it is
unlikely that Macbeth will believe this. On the other hand, the irony could actually run deeper,
as this speech may operate at some level to express the way in which Macbeth recognises
that Banquo is a much better man than he is, and there is truth therefore in what he says.
Either way, the irony of his speech lies in wishing for the presence of Banquo overtly whilst
secretly he knows that Banquo has been murdered.
In act 3 scene 4 of Macbeth, Macbeth says "what man I dare, I dare... / Unreal
mockery, hence." What is the irony of Macbeth's words to the ghost? Shakespeare's
After killing Duncan in order to ensure the prophecies of the witches, Macbeth finds himself
blinded by his ambition and power. So he hires murderers to kill Banquo lest his sons prevent
Macbeth from attaining his ambition. In the meantime, as he and Lady Macbeth discuss their
plans, they agree to dissemble before their guests are soon to arrive; Lady Macbeth tells her
Come on, Gentle my lord, sleek o'er your rugged looks;
Be bright and jovial among your guests tonight. 3.2.30-31)
Macbeth replies,

So shall I, love, and so, I pray be you:

Let your remembrance apply to banquo;
Present him eminence, both with eye and tongue:
Unsafe the while, that we must lave
Our honors in these flattering streams
And make our faces vizards to out hearts
Disguising what they are. (3.2.32-38)
Ironically, however, it is Macbeth who has cautioned his wife, that becomes overpowered by
guilt and fear at the banquet, having learned from the murderers that Fleance has escaped. In
this anxiety, he sees Banquo's ghost at the banquet and disconcerted, loses his earlier
confidence. While he accuses the ghost of Banquo of an "unreal mockery," it is his own
paranoia and guilt that mocks Macbeth himself, thus creating yet another irony.