Macbeth act 214





Summary of Act 2, Scene 1: Past midnight, Macbeth tells Banquo that they\'ll speak of the witches another time, and bids him goodnight. . . . Macbeth sees "a dagger of the mind," hears his wife\'s bell, and goes to kill King Duncan.
· Enter Banquo and Fleance.
Banquo: "How goes the night, boy? (2.1.1).
· Enter Macbeth and a Servant.
Banquo: "Give me my sword. / Who\'s there?" (2.1.9-10).
· Exit Banquo and Fleance.
Macbeth: "Is this a dagger which I see before me, / The handle toward my hand? (2.1.33-34).

Enter Banquo and Fleance:
The scene opens with some casual conversation which tells us that it\'s very dark, and that something bad is about to happen.
Banquo and his son Fleance are in the courtyard of Macbeth\'s castle, and Fleance is carrying a torch. Banquo asks Fleance, "How goes the night, boy? (2.1.1). He\'s not asking Fleance how he\'s doing; he\'s asking how late it is. Fleance hasn\'t heard a clock strike, but the moon is down, so it must be past midnight. Banquo then hands his sword to Fleance, who is apparently serving as his father\'s squire. Banquo also gives Fleance something else, perhaps the belt and sheath for the sword. It appears that Banquo is getting ready to go to bed, and he remarks that "There\'s husbandry in heaven; / Their candles are all out" (2.1.5). "Husbandry" is thriftiness; Banquo means that heaven has gone to bed, and has put out its "candles" (the stars) for the night.
The moon is down, the night is starless, and there are no street lights in Macbeth\'s castle. In short, it\'s darker than any dark most of us have ever seen. And within this dark is fear. Banquo is dead tired and feels as heavy as lead, but he\'s fighting sleep because he\'s afraid of his own thoughts or dreams. He asks the powers above to "Restrain in me the cursed thoughts that nature / Gives way to in repose!" (2.1.8-9), but we don\'t know exactly what "thoughts" he\'s afraid of. A little later he says that he has dreamed of the weird sisters, so maybe he\'s been thinking about their prophecies. Perhaps he fears that Macbeth is planning murder. Or he might fear his own thoughts about how he might become the father of kings. Or maybe he\'s just been having uncanny thoughts, such as seem to creep up on us in a very dark night, when every bush can be a bear.
Whatever fear it is that\'s keeping Banquo awake, it\'s also made him edgy. When he sees another torch, he takes his sword from Fleance and calls out "Who\'s there?" (2.1.10). Logically, he should have nothing to fear within the locked gates of Macbeth\'s castle, but he still feels the need to have his sword ready, just in case.
Enter Macbeth and a Servant:
When Banquo recognizes Macbeth in the dark night, he wonders why Macbeth is still up, and then tells him how pleased the King is with Macbeth\'s hospitality. The King has sent gifts to the cooks and other servants, and Banquo has a diamond which is a gift from the King to Lady Macbeth, to thank her for being a "most kind hostess" (2.1.16). Macbeth, with apparent modesty, replies that he and his wife were unprepared for the King\'s visit, so they weren\'t able to entertain him as they would have wished to.
Banquo reassures Macbeth that he has been an excellent host to the King, then brings up the subject of the witches. He says that he dreamed of the weird sisters the night before, and tells Macbeth that "To you they have show\'d some truth." Macbeth replies, "I think not of them" (2.1.21), which is a lie. True, we haven\'t heard him mention the witches, but he\'s been thinking of nothing except how to make their prophecies come true.
After this lie, Macbeth adds, with seeming casualness, that sometime he\'d like to talk with Banquo about the witches. Banquo replies that he\'s willing, anytime. Then Macbeth almost gives himself away by saying, "If you shall cleave to my consent, when \'tis, / It shall make honour for you" (2.1.25-26). "Cleave to my consent" means "give me your support"; "when \'tis" means "when the time comes"; and "honour," as it is