“Macbeth suggests that great ambition, or inordinate lust for power, ultimately brings ruin.”
William Shakespeare’s ‘Macbeth’ is a play, which tells the story of Macbeth’s rise to power and subsequently his tragic downfall as a result of outside forces and his great ambition, or his excessive use of power. While the play centralizes around the ideas of ambition and power there are also other outside forces and elements, which greatly influenced Macbeth’s decisions and ultimately lead to his ruin.
The main root of Macbeth’s ruin was his uncontrollable ambition and how his inordinate lust for power blinded him and took over his former traits. After meeting the ‘weird sisters’, Macbeth is told that he will become king and so his desire for the prophecy to become reality becomes an obsessive trait for him. Macbeth’s ambitions completely change his nature and ultimately alter his views upon the world by ruling out his moral and social conscience. Due to Macbeth’s ambitions, he is filled with the notion of being king and results to murder as the way of attaining the title while completely disregarding his morals. He even questions himself as to why he suggests that murder will be the solution to his desires; “Why do I yield to that suggestion, whose horrid image doth unfix my hair and make my seated heart knock at my ribs.”(A1,S3) Through the quote the reader is made to see that his thought of murder is not intentional as he questions his own imagination, rather it is caused by his natural desires and ambition, which is not under his control. In pursuit of his desires Macbeth is completely blinded by his lust for power and discounts his morals and former traits, which ultimately bring him to his ruin.
Even though Macbeth may seem to be the one responsible for his own destruction, Lady Macbeth also plays a major role, which impacts the tragic ending. In his rise to power, Macbeth did not personally have the ambition to take the throne. Even though he had no personal ambition, his greedy wife, Lady Macbeth, pushes him to take action in order to take the throne through murdering those ahead of him. “What beast was’t, then, that made you break the enterprise to me? When you durst do it, then you were a man.” Lady Macbeth questions his manly hood and furthermore forces Macbeth into direct involvement, which he would prefer to have avoided. Additionally, Lady Macbeth gives him false hope by stating prior to the execution of their plot that they would succeed without any other complications and that their plan would be flawless. However, through being pressured into murdering Duncan many other problems arise and Macbeth realizes that he is not safe as king yet, “we have scorch’d the snake, not kill’d it.” He then realizes that in order to maintain his safety many other murders have to take place. Thus, Macbeth employs several other murders to cover for the original murder, which Lady Macbeth was responsible for. The reader is made to see how Lady Macbeth manipulates Macbeth into all his decisions and so it is clear to see how she was solely responsible for Macbeth’s ambition, which led him to his own murderous behavior and ultimately his ruin.
Macbeth is a man with many imperfections, which ultimately brought his ruin however along with his inordinate lust for power, his overconfidence was another major flaw in his traits that led to his defeat. As time passed, the witches’ influence on Macbeth gradually increased. Driven by dark ambition provoked by the witches, he begins to not only believe in the prophecies, but also commit to them, and puts his full trust in the witches. Towards the end of the play he even goes as far as to command the witches to show him more of the future: “I conjure you by that which you profess… answer me to that what I ask you.” Because of Macbeth’s overconfidence in the witches, he interprets the apparitions as encouragement instead of warnings and becomes reckless with his actions. He becomes careless because he ignores his rational side, and follows his desires, blindly. A significant example of Macbeth’s overconfidence is towards the end of the play where he faces Macduff. He is convinced that he cannot be harmed by any man of women born, and becomes careless into thinking that he is invincible. He later finds out that Macduff was, “untimely ripp’d,” from his mother’s womb however it much too late and due to his recklessness he was defeated. Macbeth’s overconfidence and his feeling of security can be said to be his “biggest enemies,” or flaws, which ultimately brought him to his ruin.
Macbeth’s ruin is a result of Lady Macduff misdirecting him and two of his biggest flaws: his overconfidence and his ambitions or inordinate lust for power. These traits that Macbeth developed became more serious over time and his constant need to fulfil his ambition was what blinded him from his social and moral conscience, which ultimately led to his fall.