MACBETH

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 of motives - as
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 at
all inward and spiritual, It is to be doubted whether he has ever so far considered the
possible effects of crime and evil upon the human soul-his later discovery of