It would seem that Shakespeare meant to do something with this third guy, but never got around to fleshing it out, leaving English teacher geeks around the globe speculating here and there. This third murderer recognizes Banquo, understands his habits around Macbeth's stables, and was able to give at least some of the original plan to the other two murderers so that they would accept him. Yet he doesn't seem to know all of the plan since he was unaware of the light going out, and as a result, the main target got away.
|You can find some more awesome images from Macbeth (including some really freaky looking witches) by going to the artist's (Amy Hood) web site.|
I tell them that on their test, they are going to have to accuse one character and then defend their statement. We joked this year about people putting down Banquo as the murderer - a major feat since he was the one being killed at the time.
One student took this as a challenge and on the test stapled an extra sheet so that he would have enough space to properly accuse Banquo for being the third murderer of Banquo. Here is his answer:
Banquo. Banquo fakes his death in a simple process. He knew from the witches that his child would be king and not Macbeth's children. He knew that Macbeth was willing to kill to be king. When Macbeth became king, Banquo knew it was only a matter of time before Macbeth would kill him. Banquo then got body doubles of himself and his son and sent his son out of Scotland. When he heard of suspicious people meeting with the king, he knew it was time, and trailed the two murderers. He declared his double to be himself so that the others wouldn't think otherwise. When his son's double got away and met with Banquo for payment, Banquo killed him to tie up loose ends. I believe that after the play ended, Banquo got his son to take over Scotland and then ruled through the shadows.
Flawed? Sure, but he was so excited to prove that I was wrong when I said that Banquo COULDN'T be the third murderer. It's not often that you get a regular level student to get this passionate about a test answer.
This same kid followed up this response with the answer to this question:
Who is most at fault for what has happened in this play?
King James I. Shakespeare wrote this play because of the big stink James made about a supposed "witch" visiting him. If he had stayed calm and not made a big deal out of it, this play would never have been written.
Folks, it's hard to argue with this kind of logic. :)