In Macbeth how does the soliloquy of Act I bring to light Macbeth's qualities?Act 1 scene 7 Qualities such as imagination, conscience, ambition, honesty, cowardice

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

As King Duncan partakes of the hospitality of the Thane of Cawdor, expecting the customary graciousness and safety that is his due as a guest, Macbeth leaves the table momentarily to contemplate his future actions. It is, indeed, a pensive Macbeth that weighs the consequences of his intention to assassinate Duncan, both practically and morally. He wishes that the assassination could be done successfully and without consequence; however he sensibly realizes that one assassination can make others necessary--

                                    .....But in these cases
We still have judgement here, that we but teach
Bloody instructions, which being taught return
To plague the inventor.... (ll. 7-10)

--or they can create the desire in others for power. Macbeth ponders that the impartiality of justice often brings death to the killer himself after an assassination:

This even-handed justice
Commends the ingredients of our poison'd chalice
To our own lips. (ll.10-12)

Then, his fears and intentions are momentarily overridden by his conscience as Macbeth considers the ancient custom of providing a guest a safe haven where he can rest and enjoy a satisfactory repast.  Instead, he plans to murder his kinsman and king of sterling qualities,

Besides, this Duncan
Hath borne his faculties so meek, hath been
So clear in his great office, that his virtues
Will plead like angels trumpet-tongued against
The deep damnation of his taking-off (ll.16-20)

These qualities are so virtuous that when murdered, Duncan may well become a saint, and his assassin be condemned by many. Thus, his reason and conscience tell Macbeth his deed is wicked, dangerous, and unconscionable since Duncan is his relative and a good king. Still, with no valid reasons to kill Duncan, Macbeth feels himself driven by his overriding desire for power,

I have no spur
To prick the sides of my intent, but only
Vaulting ambition, which o'erleaps itself
And falls on the other— (ll.25-28)

Certainly, in his soliloquy, Macbeth is very candid and honest with himself as, realizing in his conscience what he should do, he nevertheless is so driven by his ambitions and lust for power that he chooses to commit the murder of his king and friend.