Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.
Throughout the ages, many have spent their lives on a quest for power, believing that power holds the key to all they desire. Yet power, with its illusive duality, may enable one to accomplish amazing feats or result in ones tragic downfall. In Macbeth, the character of many power hungry men was put to the test, and each respond differently based on the traits they possess. For many different characters in Macbeth, Shakespeare entwines the traits, which epitomize a man, none of greater importance than ones honor. Throughout Macbeth, many of the characteristics that embody a man vividly display themselves. However, no individual portrays all of these traits. Malcolm lists many of these desirable traits:
The king-becoming graces,
As justice, verity, temp’rance, stableness,
Bounty, perseverance, mercy, lowliness,
Devotion, patience, courage, fortitude. . . . (IV iii 106-109) While this list of virtues and traits holds a high mark for any man, many men in Macbeth prove they possess these traits. Malcolm, Banquo, and Macduff exhibit courage, and
fortitude in their willingness to shed their own blood in order to overthrow the tyranny of Macbeth. This display of devotion to their country earns them the respect of their countrymen. Furthermore, to earn the title of “man” one must prove himself worthy of the trust of others. Macbeth himself comments on the value of trust when he says, “The service and the loyalty I owe, / In doing it pays itself” (I iv 25-26). While a man gains respect by earning the trust of others, trust does not come without responsibility. Banquo epitomizes this responsibility as he resists the temptations to succumb to the witches lure: So I lose none
In seeking to augment it but still keep
My bosom franchised and allegiance clear,
I shall be counseled (II i 34-37).