Fleance is Banquo’s son, and according to the witches’ prophecy, he may one day become the King of Scotland. Although he only appears in two brief scenes, the inclusion of his character in the play works to complicate Macbeth’s pursuit of the throne. The witches reveal in Act I that while Macbeth will become king, Banquo’s children are also destined to occupy the throne. This detail drives Macbeth to view both Banquo and Fleance as enemies, and he conspires to kill them both in order to secure his power. When the murderers attack the pair outside the palace, Fleance manages to escape his father’s fate and flees to safety. This may be the final moment in which he appears on stage, but his survival works to uphold the witches’ prophecy. For Macbeth, Fleance serves as an ongoing source of uncertainty as he tries to navigate his new status. The fact that no one knows where Fleance has escaped to further exacerbates Macbeth’s concerns about his influence as he has no way to suppress him. For both the play’s other characters and the audience, however, Fleance serves as a reminder that a future exists beyond Macbeth’s corrupt rule. This small source of optimism offers relief from the overall tragic nature of the play.

While Fleance’s escape in Act III ensures the promise of his future, Shakespeare foreshadows this key role earlier in the play. Fleance’s first appearance on stage occurs in Act II, Scene 1 when he accompanies his father in the dark halls of Inverness. While their exchange may seem simple, the ominous setting and Fleance’s actions suggest that he may have the power to free Scotland from Macbeth’s kingship. Both father and son initially comment on the eerie timelessness of the night, a detail which can function as a metaphor for the unnatural darkness falling on Scotland as a result of Macbeth’s behavior. Within this environment, however, Fleance bears a torch symbolizing the hope that he will usher in a new, more peaceful era. Fleance bears a torch in the attack scene as well, a detail which further reinforces this uplifting identity.