Macbeth's character was illustrated in the Shakespearean tragic poem as a man of honor and greatness that was later on tarnished because of greed and too much ambition. The story revolves on the process by which Macbeth had tried to fulfill the prophecy by the witches concerning his becoming a king. This prophecy was given to him at the beginning of the story. As the story unfolds, the prophecy seemed to come true; thus, Macbeth believes that it is his destiny to become a king as the prophecy tells.
Lady Macbeth who is Macbeth's wife was also a kind woman who driven by greed had become someone evil. Evil in the sense that she was the one who came up with the idea that Macbeth must kill Duncan who was the king. In the beginning, the two were wary of bringing the king to his death. Nevertheless, since the vision of being a king and having all the power in their mind seemed attractive, they later decided that the king must really die.
Macbeth was a general, a thane. Being so, he was committed to defending the king and be his loyal servant. He was a great warrior who was used to taking away lives of people in the battlefield. He would not be so trusted if he were not good with swords and killing.
Nonetheless, on the night that he killed the king, he could not sleep. Thus, it was understood that his conscience kept on haunting him that he has "killed sleep". This constant nag of conscience shown in the story depicted that Macbeth was naturally a good man. That he has, in fact, a moral conscience that guides his actions and that killing the king was something that he perceived as a naturally immoral act.
Thus, it would not be right for anyone to judge Macbeth as someone who is evil just because he has caused harm to the king or just because he later on did evil acts such as committing more murders. Macbeth was portrayed by Shakespeare as someone who has a very good heart that was easily corrupted by evil. This seems to reflect how man can easily be influenced by the evils in his environment.
Shakespeare might be telling of a man's change of heart, denoting that no "foul is fair and no fair is foul", which seems to imply that there are certain things in this world that disguise themselves as fair although they are evil, and yet there are fair things that could have been gained through a foul act. It seems then that there is no clear distinction if an action should be seen as something that is really fair or foul since one may lead to the other and vice versa. This is especially the case when power is involved.
The Shakespearean theme in Macbeth has given one the idea concerning the role of power in a human character. As can be seen in how Macbeth was changed by the lure of power and his ambition, it could then be obvious that it is, indeed, power that could change a man's attitude and character. Power makes man greedy; the mere thought of one having it more than others could make a man change his former virtues just to reach the apex of his success.
There are instances in which the addictive quality of power could create a strong man, a dedicated man who would do everything to meet his goals. However, such instances when combined with evil thoughts to make the deed easier and faster could ruin someone's virtues and change him into an evil person, just as what had happened with Macbeth.
Formerly he was a good man, a man of respect and loyalty. Nevertheless, an opportunity was presented to him, which exposed all the viciousness in his character, eventually leading him to an ambition that drove him to his evil thoughts and wishes.
The story seemed also to reflect how man could actually be the one who fulfills his destiny. That prophecy may not come true if man himself would not let it happen. Macbeth was greatly influenced by his wife's ambition. His love for her, as could be seen in the scene before he decided to kill the king, was the trigger that set his thoughts to become the murderer that he came to be.
The thought that the blame would not be put unto him had ensured him that everything would be fine. The thought of gaining power that could bend laws and could make him the strongest and the most famous has deluded his senses and gave him enough strength needed to conduct the heinous act.
Although essentially Macbeth was a nice man, he believed that he was not given proper credit to his action. Man as shown in the work of Shakespeare was someone who has a weak will that could easily be moved by jealousy and other similar emotions that might make him higher or stronger than the others. This illustrates an egoistic man who thinks only of his own gain, sacrificing others and his former beliefs for the thought and ambition of a higher "good" even at the expense of other people.
Macbeth has demonstrated someone who used other people as a means to their end, justifying their actions through the results or consequences that are all favorable to themselves. Nonetheless, Macbeth also portrayed that no matter how polluted a man's mind could be, if he is not naturally evil, pangs of conscience would hunt him and would lead to his downfall.
It seems to portray that no evil could withstand goodness and justice after all. However, evil is something that could always be present and could disguise itself as something that is seemingly good.
In Macbeth, there are several instances that showed how evil is dressed as good. The prophecy itself could be the best example since the prophecy reveals something good and beautiful that results to something horribly evil. Shakespeare had demonstrated how something as great as becoming a king could destroy the person.
At the end, Shakespeare display Macbeth's agony in his tragic death as he faced his end, having only a living body but a dead soul. With words that follows:
Out, Out, Brief Candle!
Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury
Signifying nothing (Mystery of Evil)
This denotes that at the end, what was left was nothing but an image that cannot be changed. It could also be seen in the story how Macbeth has constantly worried about his afterlife, which seemed to resemble his fear of the act that he was doing as he let his greed and ambition take over his life.
Shakespeare, W., dir. Allan Seidelman. The Tragedy of Macbeth. 1981. Film.