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    Yet Another MacBeth Essay (705 words)

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    Macbeth is presented as a mature man with a definitely established character. He is successful in certain fields of activity and enjoys an enviable reputation. However, we must not conclude 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. 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. 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. He may even conceive of the proper motive which should energize the 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 to be reported in such terms as “valour’s minion” and “Bellona’s bridegroom.” He values success because it brings spectacular fame, new titles, and royal favor heaped upon him in public. Now, so long as these mutable goods are at all commensurate with his inordinate desires – and such is the case, up until he covets the kingship – Macbeth remains an honorable gentleman.

    He is not a criminal and has no criminal tendencies. However, if he allows his self-love to demand satisfaction that cannot be attained honorably, he is likely to resort to dishonorable means that are safe to achieve his goal. In other words, Macbeth has a lot of natural goodness that remains unimpaired. His environment has worked with his nature to make him upright in all his dealings with those around him. However, his moral goodness is undeveloped and still rudimentary because his voluntary actions are not fully aligned with his ultimate end.

    Ashe returns from a victorious battle, puffed up with self-love that demands ever-increasing recognition of his greatness. The demonic forces of evil, symbolized by the Weird Sisters, suggest to his inordinate imagination the splendid prospect of attaining the greatest mutable good he has ever desired. These demons, in the guise of witches, cannot read his inmost thoughts, but from observation of facial expression and other bodily manifestations, they surmise with comparative accuracy what passions drive him and what dark desires await their fostering. Realizing that he wishes for the kingdom, they prophesy that he shall be king. They cannot thus compel his will to evil, but they do arouse his passions and stir up a vehement and inordinate apprehension of the imagination, which so perverts the judgment of reason that it leads his will toward choosing means to the desired temporal good.

    Indeed, his imagination and passions are so vivid under this evil impulse from without that nothing is but what is not,” and his reason is so impeded that he judges, “These solicitings cannot be evil, cannot be good.” Still, he is provided with so much natural good that he is able to control the apprehensions of his inordinate imagination and decides to take no step involving crime. His autonomous decision not to commit murder, however, is not based on moral grounds. No doubt he normally shrinks from the unnaturalness of regicide, but he ignores ultimate ends to the point that if he could perform the deed and escape its consequences here upon this bank and shoal of time, he’d jump the life to come.

    Without denying him a complexity of motives, as a kinsman and subject, he may possibly experience some slight shade of unmixed loyalty to the king under his roof. We may even say that the consequences which he fears are not all inward and spiritual. It is doubtful whether he has ever considered the possible effects of crime and evil upon the human soul. His later discovery of the horrible ravages produced by evil in his own spirit constitutes part of the tragedy. He is mainly concerned, as we might.

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