"Macbeth" by Shakespeare

Essay by Matt RuweUniversity, Bachelor's January 1997

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Macbeth is presented as a mature man of definitely established character, successful

in 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 any

other man's at a given moment, is what is being made out of potentialities plus

environment, 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 must

not, therefore, deny him an entirely human complexity of motives. For example, his

fighting in Duncan's service is magnificent and courageous, and his evident joy in

it is traceable in art to the natural pleasure which accompanies the explosive expenditure

of prodigious physical energy and the euphoria which follows.

He also rejoices no

doubt in the success which crowns his efforts in battle - and so on. He may even

conceived 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 are

obscured in his consciousness by more vigorous urges. In the main, as we have said, his

nature violently demands rewards: he fights valiantly in order that he may be reported in

such terms a 'valour's minion' and 'Bellona's bridegroom'' he values success because it

brings spectacular fame and new titles and royal favor heaped upon him in public. Now

so long as these...