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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 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; he has no criminal

tendencies. But once permit his self-love to demand a

satisfaction which cannot be honorably attained, and he is

likely to grasp 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

with his nature to make him upright in all his dealings with

those about him. But moral goodness in him is undeveloped and

indeed still rudimentary, for his voluntary acts are scarcely

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, the demonic forces of evil-symbolized by the Weird

Sisters-suggest to his inordinate imagination the splendid

prospect of attaining now 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 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 in any sense based upon

moral grounds. No doubt he normally shrinks from the

unnaturalness of regicide; but he so far ignores ultimate

ends that, if he could perform the deed and escape its

consequences here upon this bank and shoal of time, he'ld

jump the life to come. Without denying him still a complexity




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