MacbethWas he a good man?  Discuss.

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linalarocca eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I am wondering about the idea of Macbeth being "good" or "bad". Indeed, I too believe that Macbeth feels a sense of regret and guilt upon murdering Duncan. In addition, his  killing spree in the play is reflective of his ruthless and greedy character. However, we must at least look at the issue of mental incapacity in this play. Does he become progressively ill which would make him mentally incapable of feeling remorse for his violent actions? It is difficult to know whether his ambition caused his mental collapse, or if his mental illness caused him to behave in such a manner. Macbeth's vision of Banquo's ghost is a true reflection of his mental state. As well, his insistence on questioning the witches in the play reveals an obsessive and compulsive personality problem. Nonetheless, Macbeth is not a very "good" person if we look at his actions in the play.

susan3smith eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I don't see any good in his actions, but I do think that he would not feel the guilt he does if he did not have some good in him.  I do think he has extreme remorse for killing Duncan.  He immediately regrets the actions and wishes the knocking at the gate could wake Duncan.  He later says he would rather be the one dead.  But once he knows he has committed an evil act and lost his soul, he cannot or will not turn back.  He has crossed over to the evil side, and the good in him becomes more and more suppressed throughout the play--only breaking through occasionally as Banquo's ghost.

kiwi eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I agree that 'good' or 'bad' is a very harsh scale on which to offer judgement . He is referred to as 'Brave Macbeth - well he deserves that name'. Macbeth is indeed a killer from the beginning, but in the name of war this is celebrated and revered. His behaviour is as much an observation on what we decide makes someone 'good'.

Macbeth is human in my judgement. He has doubts, fears, remorse, guilt and poor judgement. His ambition is his achilles heel - but this is another quality for which one can be celebrated and criticised at the same turn.

ask996 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I would not consider Macbeth a good man. He was too easily swayed by the hags’ promise of power and success. The residual conscience that he was able to hang onto was easily overran by Lady Macbeth’s intentions and actions to ensure that he rose to power. Macbeth chose to allow her the control over his life because it was easier, and he wanted the same things she wanted even though he knew it was wrong.

teachertaylor eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I agree that overall, Macbeth is not a good man.  He is too selfish to truly realize the devastation that his actions cause--all that is important to him are the benefits that his actions reap.  However, I do agree with the earlier post that states that Macbeth must have some good in him because he shows guilt in the play.  It is unfortunate that this sense of good is overshadowed by Macbeth's greed.

Doug Stuva eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In short, not for the most part.  Even when he has second thoughts about killing Duncan, most of his worries deal with possible consequences.  He does feel badly because Duncan has been a humble and fair king, but he also worries about getting caught and about losing his salvation.  Then, once he's in charge, he becomes a murdering tyrant. 

pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Agree with #2.  I do not really see anything that he does that makes me think he is good.  All we ever really see him do is kill people.  He never shows any true remorse.  He just the kind I get mad at my kid for -- the kind where a person only regrets the consequences, not the act.