What Is The Theme Of Ambition In Macbeth

How could a suppressed thought, a choice crammed in the back of a mind, develop into something with the power to ruin a man’s life? In William Shakespeare’s Macbeth, we are introduced to a man who discovers the true power of a decision. Macbeth is a “tragic hero” flawed by his unbridled ambition. He hears a wonderful prophecy from witches- that he is to become king. He decides to act upon his future through his ambition. Throughout the play, this ambition grows, progressing from a hidden thought, to a frightening reality, and finally into a paranoia that haunts him. Together, the play illustrates the life of a man who, cursed by a fatal flaw, ruins his own future. In Macbeth, Macbeth’s immoderate ambition suggests that ambition can often cause …show more content…
By the time that Macbeth decides to murder the king, his ambition has become frighteningly real, expressed through his words. While thinking to himself, Macbeth acknowledges his morality and states that the only thing motivating him is “vaulting ambition, which o’erleaps itself” (1.7. 26-27). He admits that aspiration makes people rush ahead of themselves to disaster, yet he does nothing to stop his own. He knows full well that people will suffer from his actions, but he doesn’t mind. In addition to this, a new idea rises from Macbeth’s view. Based on this passage, when he speaks about the crown, he does not see the physical crown. In his mind, he sees the power and respect of others, or the things he values. Then Macbeth’s ambition is physiological, rather than material. He struggles internally. Later, when he relays his inner doubts to Lady Macbeth he is impressed by her courage, and decides that “[he] is settled”(1.7. 92-96). Macbeth’s tragedy is that he knows what effect killing Duncan will have on him, but he still gives in to his ambition. Based on what we know about Macbeth’s mind, he is not actually convinced by Lady Macbeth. His mind is already set on killing the king. Macbeth’s ambition is strong enough to erase all sense of morality. Macbeth feels that his desire is more important than the consequences that will inevitably accompany it. He willingly brings his plots into reality through …show more content…
His ambition has developed to the point where he is almost paranoid. He begins to think illogically. Macbeth begins to fear Banquo because the witches prophesized that he would father kings. He believes the witches have “[placed upon his head] a fruitless crown/ And put a barren scepter in [his] grip/ Thence to be wretched with an unlineal hand” (3.1. 66-68). Looking at the word choice, “wretched” and “barren scepter”, suggests Macbeth thinks that Banquo’s sons will forcefully take the crown from him. With this knowledge, Macbeth believes that the throne is worthless. However, backtracking returns us to the fact that the witches have not specified which kings Banquo’s posterity will become. Macbeth’s ambition creates this false interpretation that blinds him, making Macbeth commit another murder, to make Duncan’s assassination “worthwhile”. In context, he shows a lot of agony, using words such as “fruitless” and “barren” to emphasize his pain. Adding to this is the fact that he “is in blood/ Stepped so far that, should [he] wade no more/ Returning were as tedious go o’er” (3.4. 168-170). Going back to being good is now as difficult as to keep murdering others. He is in a “river” of blood, symbolizing his ambition. He has “gone too far” into that river. Macbeth believes that he is drowning in his own ambition. He feels that he has sold his soul to the

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