Why do you disagree that Macbeth's character is that of a "tool"?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

There is evidence in the play of Macbeth that Lady Macbeth manipulates Macbeth to commit murder. Macbeth could be seen as a tool for Lady Macbeth's own ambition. It could be argued that Lady Macbeth is not able to exercise her own ambition because of the restrictions of being a woman in her society. However, viewing Macbeth as a tool of Lady Macbeth is problematic and reductive, as he has many lines where he claims responsibility for his actions, which would not make him a "tool" of another character.

Macbeth is obviously shaken up in Act Two, Scene Two when he arrives after murdering Duncan. He states he heard voices and that he is paranoid for the future. He regrets his murder. However, while he is "afraid to think" what he has done (II.ii.66), he does not pin the murder on Lady Macbeth. As the play progresses, Macbeth is more careless with his life, declaring that "the wine of life is drawn" (II.iii.111). He grows even more paranoid, and his request for murderers to kill his friend Banquo is disturbing. Yet, he is not manipulated to request this murder. Macbeth states Banquo is his enemy and that Banquo must be murdered to protect Macbeth's power. Macbeth's ordering of Banquo's murder is one example, among many, that Macbeth is in control of his actions. 

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

I'm not sure I do disagree with the statement that Macbeth in William Shakespeare's play is a "tool", although being a professor, I would probably use more formal language to describe him.

If you wanted to write a sort of defense for Macbeth for an assignment, you might emphasize the opening of the play, where he is portrayed as a genuine hero, helping King Duncan suppress a rebellion by the traitorous Thane of Cawdor. In this part of the play, the Sergeant states:

For brave Macbeth--well he deserves that name--

Disdaining fortune, with his brandish'd steel, ...

 Like valour's minion carved out his passage 

This passage shows Macbeth as a brave and valiant warrior.

Next, you might argue that it is the three evil witches who tempt Macbeth to rebellion, stoking his ambitious, and planting in him the thoughts that will lead to his becoming a murderer and tyrant. Next, you could argue that Macbeth wavered initially on his path to murdering Duncan and probably would not have done so had not his wife, Lady Macbeth, strengthened his resolve. While this certainly justifies neither murder nor tyranny, you can argue that the decline of his character was not entirely his fault and that he did display a certain bravery even when he realized that Macduff would triumph.

 

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial