Ambition In Macbeth Essay

1843 Words 8 Pages
Powerful Witches, Feeble Humans

In capitalist societies, ambition drives enterprising individuals to slave away until they realize their goals. Because of the arduous labor that consumes their lives, entrepreneurs often feel proud of their great accomplishments, thinking that their elevated positions in society are completely a result of their own initiative and hard work. The same can be said, perhaps, about those who wrest political power. William Shakespeare’s Macbeth tells a story that questions whether that feeling of satisfaction is justifiable. Macbeth, a noble thane, usurps the throne of Scotland. He increasingly fears that his dynasty will fail to endure for posterity, and his fears ultimately become reality. His wife, who has
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By helping galvanize Macbeth to action, Lady Macbeth has fulfilled the duty that the witches assign to her when they transform her into a man. With Macbeth as king, the witches no longer have a need for Lady Macbeth to be a man, and Lady Macbeth expresses the emotions that one would often associate with women. While the doctor and gentlewoman watch her sleepwalking, Lady Macbeth says, “All the perfumes of Arabia will not sweeten this little hand” (5.1.53-55). Nothing can undo what her hands are guilty of; no “perfumes” can diminish the scent of blood and absolve one who has played such a role in regicide. When the witches need Lady Macbeth to act like a man, she does, but after Lady Macbeth’s acting like a man serves its purpose, Lady Macbeth ceases to act like a man. Therefore, it is probable that the witches make Lady Macbeth adopt the personality of a man. This goes along with the chant that the witches utter as they await Macbeth, “Fair is foul, and foul is fair,” which implies that men and women should switch places (1.1.12). (And lo and behold, while Lady Macbeth is working on framing Duncan’s guards, Macbeth asks himself, “Will all great Neptune’s ocean wash this blood/Clean from my hand?” a question quite …show more content…
The witches predict that Macbeth will succeed to the throne in the beginning of the play. After the witches tell Macbeth his fortune, Banquo implores them do the same for him. The witches oblige, saying, “Thou shalt get kings” (1.3.70). Thus Macbeth thinks early on that he is not the sole beneficiary of the incipient political turmoil. But Macbeth will not acquiesce to those who deny his descendants of the crown, first showing this by complaining to himself before the banquet that the witches “placed a fruitless crown [upon my head]” and “put a barren scepter in my grip” (3.1.66, 3.1.67). Then, he challenges fate, saying “[C]ome fate into the list” (3.1.76). Macbeth “cannot bear … the consequence of the Sisters’ prophecy that Banquo [will] … be father to a line of kings,” so he wants to grapple with fate in “the list,” or fighting ring (Rosenberg 16). Macbeth first attempts to grapple with fate when he tries to kill Banquo and his son—and he only succeeds at killing Banquo because killing Fleance would probably destroy the possibility that the prophecy would be fulfilled. Later, Macbeth hears more of what fate has in store in his visit to the witches, whom he has sought out; as a result, he has more to work with in his attempt to deny fate. Macbeth learns from the first apparition to “Beware the Thane of Fife,” Macduff

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