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Alone on stage, Lady Macbeth expresses her unhappiness: there seems to be no end to her desire for power and she feels insecure and anxious.Macbeth enters looking upset and she counsels him to stop mulling over the crimes they have committed.The murderer leaves and Macbeth returns to the feast.
Lady Macbeth reassures them, however, by saying that he has had similar fits since youth and that he will soon be well.
She draws Macbeth aside and attempts to calm him by asserting that the vision is merely a “painting of [his] fear”—just like the dagger he saw earlier (60).
When Lennox points to Macbeth's empty seat, Macbeth is shocked to see Banquo’s ghost.
He addresses the ghost, saying, "Thou canst not say I did it. The guests, confused by his behavior, think that he is ill.
While he waits for them, he voices his greatest worry of the moment—that the witches' prophecy will also come true for Banquo, making his children kings.
He will put an end to such worries by hiring two men to kill Banquo and Fleance.
The men are not professional assassins, but rather poor men who are willing to work as mercenaries.
Macbeth has already blamed their current state of poverty on Banquo.
He now tells them that while Banquo is his own enemy as much as theirs, loyal friends of Banquo's prevent him from killing Banquo himself.
Macbeth proceeds to detail the particulars of the murder: they must attack him as he returns from his ride—at a certain distance from the palace—and they must also kill Fleance at the same time.