14 February, 2011
The Collapse of an Ambitious Mind
Ambition is a very desirous trait. Macbeth’s ambition leads him down the path to perform wicked deeds that ultimately lead to his demise. Throughout the play of Macbeth, Shakespeare utilizes many forms of imagery. Some forms of imagery are shown through the character’s appearance in clothing, light and darkness and blood imagery. The most dominant form of imagery in the play is expressed through the clothing worn by the characters. In Macbeth, a play written by William Shakespeare, Shakespeare utilizes imagery of clothing and equivocation to demonstrate Macbeth's over ambitious mindset, which ultimately leads to his collapse. This is exemplified through Macbeth as he becomes the Thane of Cawdor, during the murder of King Duncan, and as Macbeth faces the forces of the British and Scottish. Equivocation and the three witches lead to the house of the Thane of Cawdor. Ross and Angus deliver the news to Macbeth. The Thane of Cawdor is to be executed for treason and Macbeth is to be given the title. When first called the Thane of Cawdor, he is skeptic at the prophesy. However, when the prophesy is realized he states, "The Thane of Cawdor lives. Why do you dress me/ in Borrowed robes." (1.3 114-115) Macbeth does not literally mean that he's going to wear the old thane's clothing. The robes represented the title, the Thane of Cawdor. Macbeth did not believe that the title belonged to him. However, along with the title of being named the Thane of Cawdor, Macbeth gained the power that came along with it. As a result, he became more greedy and began a demented pursuit for more power. These new robes ultimately acted as a catalyst for his tragic plunge into madness and eventual death. This tragic plunge was due the equivocation that the three witches provided. The witches stated that Macbeth would become the Thane of Cawdor but at what cost? The witches tricked Macbeth into evil. They planted a seed in his head and let his over ambitious thoughts turn him into a crazed man for power. This desire for more power is revealed in an article by Brooks. In Brook’s article Macbeth Tempts Fate, he states that: The crucial point of comparison, it seems to me, lies not in the smallness of the man and the largeness of the robes, but rather the fact that-whether the man be large or small-these are not his garments; in Macbeth’s case they are actually stolen garments. (Brooks 156) Brooks is stating that you cannot take someone’s title or power. It has to be earned or given to you. Macbeth stole the power of the King by killing him. Although he has the power, he cannot manage it because it is not his. Macbeth’s strive for power was only due to the equivocation that the witches provided. This equivocation is demonstrated in an article written by Kenneth Muir. In Muir’s article Image and Symbol in Macbeth, he states that, “The theme of equivocation runs all through the play… It links up with the equivocation of the fiend/That lies like truth, the juggling fiends That keep the word of promise to our ear/And break it to our hope…”(Muir 274) Muir’s statement can be related to the three witches. The witches represent the fiends that tell the truth and the word of promise. The truths that they tell lead to the crushing of hopes and dreams of individuals while resulting in death and destruction. The premonition of the witches portrays Macbeth as king. The seed has grown and the thought process is manic. Macbeth is thinking about the murder he's planning. His wife then comes looking for him. She powerfully points out that the King has almost finished his supper, and Macbeth should be there. Macbeth seems content with the position of Thane that has been awarded to him. Before Macbeth lies the dilemma of the death of the king. He is to kill King Duncan and fulfill the prophecy. Macbeth has second thoughts about the situation which...