"Macbeth" By Shakespeare Essay

1704 words - 7 pages

Macbeth is presented as a mature man of definitely established character, successfulin certain fields of activity and enjoying an enviable reputation. We must not conclude,there, that all his volitions and actions are predictable; Macbeth's character, like anyother man's at a given moment, is what is being made out of potentialities plusenvironment, and no one, not even Macbeth himself, can know all his inordinate self-love whose actions are discovered to be-and no doubt have been for a long time-determined mainly by an inordinate desire for some temporal or mutable good.Macbeth is actuated in his conduct mainly by an inordinate desire for worldly honors;his delight lies primarily in buying golden opinions from all sorts of people. But we mustnot, therefore, deny him an entirely human complexity of motives. For example, hisfighting in Duncan's service is magnificent and courageous, and his evident joy init is traceable in art to the natural pleasure which accompanies the explosive expenditureof prodigious physical energy and the euphoria which follows. He also rejoices nodoubt in the success which crowns his efforts in battle - and so on. He may evenconceived of the proper motive which should energize back of his great deed:The service and the loyalty I owe,In doing it, pays itself.But while he destroys the king's enemies, such motives work but dimly at best and areobscured in his consciousness by more vigorous urges. In the main, as we have said, hisnature violently demands rewards: he fights valiantly in order that he may be reported insuch terms a 'valour's minion' and 'Bellona's bridegroom'' he values success because itbrings spectacular fame and new titles and royal favor heaped upon him in public. Nowso long as these mutable goods are at all commensurate with his inordinate desires - andsuch is the case, up until he covets the kingship - Macbeth remains an honorablegentleman. He is not a criminal; he has no criminal tendencies. But once permit his self-love to demand a satisfaction which cannot be honorably attained, and he is likely tograsp any dishonorable means to that end which may be safely employed. In other words,Macbeth has much of natural good in him unimpaired; environment has conspired withhis nature to make him upright in all his dealings with those about him. But moralgoodness in him is undeveloped and indeed still rudimentary, for his voluntary acts arescarcely brought into harmony with ultimate end. As he returns from victorious battle,puffed up with self-love which demands ever-increasing recognition of his greatness, thedemonic forces of evil-symbolized by the Weird Sisters-suggest to his inordinateimagination the splendid prospect of attaining now the greatest mutable good he hasever desired. These demons in the guise of witches cannot read his inmost thoughts, butfrom observation of facial expression and other bodily manifestations they surmise withcomparative accuracy what passions drive him and what dark desires await...

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