With this scene the real action of the play begins. The first scene brought the witches before us; the second gave us a noble picture of Macbeth. Now the two parties, the tempters and the tempted, meet, and from their meeting and the witches' prophecy proceed directly all the remaining events of the story. The witches awaken in Macbeth the passion of ambition, which henceforth is the mainspring of his action. But we must not think that they in any way enchant Macbeth or compel him to do their evil will. After the meeting, as before, he is a free man, and can act or refrain from action as he sees fit. This is shown, in part at least, by the fact that Banquo, although also greeted by the witches with prophecies of future honour for his house, is not led on to any crime to make good the prophecy. There is something in Macbeth's own heart that receives and answers the greeting of the witches. This is Shakespeare's way of writing tragedy ; he makes the fate of his men and women depend upon their own characters, not upon chance or outside influences.
In the first thirty-seven lines of the scene, the witches recount to each other the evil deeds in which they have been engaged since their last meeting. It is worth noting that these deeds are petty and vulgar; but just as every good deed — even the giving of a cup of cold water, — is a blessed thing, so every evil deed — even the killing of swine — is a delight to the powers of evil. This conversation, moreover, serves to identify the "weird sisters" of the play with the familiar witches of Elizabethan superstition.
Banquo remains on stage only for a short duration. After that his presence is known only through other characters. He lives through the celestial regeneration and through the words and thoughts of Macbeth. This might leave casual readers without much of an impression of him but it must not be so with someone who is writing a Macbeth research paper.
Banquo enters the scene with Macbeth in his first...