Unchecked Ambition Can Corrupt One's Morals and Lead to Tragedy.
William Shakespeare’s play Macbeth is set in medieval Scotland and tells the tragic story of a brave soldier, who, overwhelmed by his own ambition for power and encouraged by his equally ambitious wife, murders his king and takes the throne for himself. The play explores the consequences of this act for Macbeth, tracking his decline into paranoia and anxiety which results in increasingly violent and delusional behaviour as he struggles to hold onto his ill-gotten power. Macbeth’s character arc, which takes him from noble soldier to mad tyrant, demonstrates the way in which unchecked ambition can corrupt a person’s moral centre, and as a result, destroy their relationships; peace of mind; and prospects for the future. At the beginning of the play, Macbeth enjoys a close relationship with his wife, Lady Macbeth, but throughout the course of the play, as he become increasingly paranoid and bloodthirsty, he distances himself from her. In Act One, when he hears the witches’ first prophecy, he immediately writes to tell Lady Macbeth, addressing her as “my dearest partner in Greatness” and explaining that anything that affects him also affects her. To begin with, it is apparent that Macbeth considers his wife as his equal and treats her as his confidant, which is clearly shown by the way he shares his hopes and fears with her. This is further shown in their conversation when she encourages him to kill Duncan and he falls in with her plans; it is evident that he dotes on her and respects her opinion. However, by Act Three he is less inclined to include her in his plans, answering her questions around Banquo’s murder with “be innocent of the knowledge dearest chuck”. While he has not included Lady Macbeth in his plans to assassinate Banquo, he still addresses her with a term of endearment which suggests that he still loves her. Then as he focuses more on his ambition and is consumed by the fear that he...
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