Here’s a character analysis of Fleance with relevant quotations and context. Fleance is a relatively minor character in William Shakespeare’s play “Macbeth,” but his presence is significant in the context of the story. Fleance is the son of Banquo, one of Macbeth’s trusted friends and an early victim of Macbeth’s ambition. 


  1. Fleance’s Role as an Heir:

  • Context: In the play, Banquo is initially seen as a potential threat to Macbeth’s newly acquired throne because the witches’ prophecies foretell that Banquo’s descendants will inherit the throne.
  • Quotation: “Thou hast it now: king, Cawdor, Glamis, all, / As the weird women promised, and I fear / Thou play’dst most foully for’t.” (Act 3, Scene 1)

Fleance is significant because he represents the potential fulfilment of the witches’ prophecy, posing a future threat to Macbeth’s rule.

You might be interested: Macbeth Act 1.1 – Modern Translation

  1. Fleance’s Escape:

  • Context: After Macbeth orders the murder of Banquo and Fleance, the hired murderers successfully kill Banquo but fail to kill Fleance.
  • Quotation: “Fleance, his son, that keeps him company, / Whose absence is no less material to me / Than is his father’s, must embrace the fate / Of that dark hour.” (Act 3, Scene 1)

Fleance’s escape from the murderers is a crucial event in the play. Had he been killed, Macbeth’s position would have been more secure.


  1. Fleance’s Symbolic Role:

  • Context: Fleance represents hope, continuity, and the enduring legacy of Banquo’s bloodline, which threatens Macbeth’s reign.
  • Quotation: “There the grown serpent lies; the worm that’s fled / Hath nature that in time will venom breed, / No teeth for th’ present.” (Act 3, Scene 4)

Fleance is often seen as a symbol of the “worm” that has escaped but will eventually become a threat to Macbeth’s rule, as his descendants may seek vengeance.


  1. Fleance’s Limited Stage Time:

  • Context: Fleance appears only briefly in the play, primarily in Act 3, Scene 3, when he escapes from the murderers.


Fleance’s character, while not extensively developed, serves an important thematic purpose in “Macbeth.” He symbolises the idea that Macbeth’s ambition and tyranny cannot escape the consequences foretold by the witches. Fleance’s survival hints at the eventual downfall of Macbeth’s rule and the potential for justice to be restored as Banquo’s descendants retain a claim to the throne.


Thanks for reading! If you find this resource useful, you can take a look at our full online Macbeth course here.

This course includes: 

  • A full set of video lessons on each key element of the text: summary, themes, setting, characters, context, attitudes, analysis of key quotes, essay questions, essay examples
  • Downloadable documents for each video lesson
  • A range of example B-A* / L7-L9 grade essays, both at GCSE (ages 14-16) and A-Level (age 16+) with teacher comments and mark scheme feedback
  • A bonus Macbeth workbook designed to guide you through each scene of the play!