Ambition in Shakespeares' Macbeth

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Shakespeare’s play “Macbeth” explores the struggles and effects of possessing a dire sense of ambition and an overbearing lust for power. Through characters such as Macbeth, Lady Macbeth and The Witches, Shakespeare is able to show how these adverse features ultimately bring a disastrous conclusion in a person’s life and the world one lives in. Evidently, the play carries with it, ambition and a greed for power as a key factor and incentive for the characters. In the words of Lady Macbeth, “Thou wouldst be great; Art not without ambition, but without the illness should attend it:” (1.5.18-20), ambition per se cannot be great without that underlying wickedness alongside it.

The play sets with a foreshadowing of events, “Fair is foul, and foul is fair” (1.1.9), an indication by the witches that certain mores of the world are going to turn upside-down. This proceeding is triggered by the witches’ scheme of inflicting Macbeth’s ambition. Prophesying Macbeth’s enthronement as Thane of Cawdor and “King hereafter” causes Macbeth to contemplate and eventually take action, betraying the king of Scotland. As a result of this, the world’s natural order is lost, “Tis said, they (horses) ate each other” (2.4.18), consequently reversing nature’s motif.

* As the prophecies make it’s way to Macbeth, Lady Macbeth is introduced into play. Her sense of ambition, attended by cruelty, is seen in an instant with a soliloquy declaring her intentions “Come, you spirits That tend on mortal thoughts, unsex me here, And fill me, from the crown to the toe, top-full, Of direst cruelty” (I, v, 40-43). Shouldering a corrupt rationale, Lady Macbeth manipulates her husband into chasing the ill-fated prophecies of the witches. Hence, she is perceived to be mentally strong, adhering to a conscience that does not falter despite committing murder. As the tragedy progresses and the ruthlessness augments, her power-hungry exploits causes her to slowly deteriorate. Her ambition has...
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