Ambition and Power Destory Macbeth

Good Essays
Ambition and Power Destroy Macbeth

‘Thriftless ambition that will ravin up, Thine own life’s means.’1

Shakespeare’s tragedy Macbeth shows the destructive power of uncontrolled ambition and power on a man. Burning ambition and later, uncontrolled power leads to the downfall of all Macbeth’s ‘life’s means’, that is religion, sanity and a good national relationship.

In the 17th century, religion was the lifeblood of all men; it bonded all people – from peasants to Kings under a central belief. Through the act of regicide, Macbeth essentially cuts himself off from God, which destroys a vital part of what Macbeth is as a man. After killing Duncan, Macbeth is unable to ask for forgiveness, he ‘could not say amen’ when he was in ‘most need of blessing’. The ‘sacrilegious murder’ of a King makes Macbeth realise that he has committed an unforgivable sin. This leads him to believe that he has been cursed as he hears a voice say ‘sleep no more,’ ‘the innocent sleep’. As a result of this Macbeth believes God has abandoned him and this destroys his religious destiny, a core part of his being.

Burning ambition and a lust for power drive Macbeth insane and this is linked to his eventual demise. As Macbeth’s guilt and paranoia set in, the audience soon realises that Macbeth - once a noble and mighty warrior, is not fit to rule. Although he now appears to have all he desires, he still ‘dwells in doubtful joy’, not satisfied with merely being monarch Macbeth despises having been given a ‘fruitless crown’ and ‘barren sceptre’ – he believes his children must be monarchs as well. This constant struggle to remain on the throne causes Macbeth to become paranoid, he sets spies upon the other Thanes and refuses to sleep - terrified that he will be killed as Duncan was. This constant inner turmoil, combined with the pressures of being a monarch eventually become too much for Macbeth to handle and he drives himself insane.

Macbeth’s uncontained ambition and absolute power

You May Also Find These Documents Helpful

  • Good Essays

    Macbeths ‘ambition which overleaps itself’ leads him to commit heinous crimes that show his depravity and ultimately leads to his downfall. Macbeth lets his ‘ambition’ rule him and his decisions; his ambition comes before everything…

    • 704 Words
    • 3 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Good Essays

    The insatiable strive for ambition and power can seem to be true perfection once you have it, but one should be careful with what they wish for because that power might be exactly what causes their downfall. The idea of power and ambition can reveal one’s ambitious nature and true motive in what they deeply desire. This idea of ambition can be presented as a dangerous quality throughout the course of Shakespeare’s play, Macbeth. The main character, Macbeth and his ambition cause him to spiral out of control, leading him to make unwise decisions and immoral actions. At first, Macbeth can be seen as a brave, capable, and vigorous general and man who is a powerful war hero. However, after Macbeth let his ambition overwhelmed him, his lack of strength…

    • 223 Words
    • 1 Page
    Good Essays
  • Good Essays

    Do you have the power to let power go? Most would say yes, but how does one truly know unless they are put in a predicament with real life consequences to their decisions. Most people hold a firm grasp to power because they fear of what would happen to them if they were indeed, powerless. This notorious human characteristic is fully explored in William Shakespeare’s play, Macbeth, a story of the destructive consequences a deep ambition for power can lead to. Macbeth’s paranoid sense of ambition, and the prodding from his “partner in greatness”, blind him from appreciating his more than exceptional life; apparently, a promotion from the king, a loving wife, and nobility status were not enough to quench Macbeth’s thirst for power. Unfortunately,…

    • 1805 Words
    • 8 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Satisfactory Essays

    The drive of Macbeth to gain power will ultimately be his down fall through out the plot. One way Macbeth tries to keep his power is hiring murders to kill Banquo and his son, explain why his power could be taken by Banquo and his son. Macbeth also has the murders killed to dispose the evidence. This is an example of Macbeth and his insanity […”Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow creeps in this pretty pace from day to day, to the last syllable of recorded time” (Act 5, Scene, Lines 19-21). The last two actions Macbeth tries to do to keep his power is fight and kill Siward, then fight Macduff, but ends up being defeated by him. The downfall of Macbeth changed the plot drastically with his desire for…

    • 568 Words
    • 3 Pages
    Satisfactory Essays
  • Better Essays

    William Shakespeare’s Macbeth exemplifies the theme of passion and power versus morality. The play begins when three witches promise Macbeth, thane of Glamis, that he will inherit Cawdor and later become King. “All hail, Macbeth! Hail to thee, thane of Cawdor!” “All hail, Macbeth, that shalt be king hereafter!” (Shakespeare 14) Once he is named thane of Cawdor, he becomes compelled by the thought of being crowned King. As the current King is still living, Macbeth finds himself thinking of the impossible, murder. As he contemplates whether he should kill the king or not, the desire for power slowly permeates his moral duties, making him more and more ruthless. He is no longer what he seems, “Fair is foul, and foul is fair.” (2)…

    • 1025 Words
    • 3 Pages
    Better Essays
  • Good Essays

    Redeeming In Macbeth

    • 159 Words
    • 1 Page

    William Shakespeare’s tragedy Macbeth, first performed in 1606, clearly embodies the attitudes and beliefs of his Jacobean era audience. Performed during the reign of King James I, a time period where religion and superstition was accompanied by scientific discovery and philosophy, the play centres around a heroic Scottish warrior, Macbeth, whose all too human fatal flaw of ambition ultimately corrupts him and leads to his demise. This, combined with his ‘Humanist’ ideology, that man is responsible for his own fate, are the driving forces behind Macbeth’s actions, some of which conflicted with many of the accepted beliefs of the time, including the Divine right of King’s and the Great Chain of Being. While Macbeth reveals certain redeeming…

    • 159 Words
    • 1 Page
    Good Essays
  • Good Essays

    Macbeth Untamed Ambition

    • 720 Words
    • 3 Pages

    In the plotline of Macbeth, we find that the main theme can be expressed as wretched destruction through the selfish ambitions of others that seem to have no moral constraints. These ideas are most evident and powerful in the book’s two main characters – Macbeth, a Scottish general who is not naturally inclined to commit violent deeds, while deep down, has a strong desire to advance in status and power. As a result of his lingering evil intentions, he kills Duncan against his original moral judgments to quench his thirst for power, and is later tormented by guilt and paranoia regarding the violent act of murder he committed. Toward the end of the play, he boasts out in…

    • 720 Words
    • 3 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Powerful Essays

    Macbeth Essay

    • 1716 Words
    • 5 Pages

    Credited as one of William Shakespeare’s bloodiest and darkest works, The Tragedy of Macbeth is an emotionally tense, gripping play about loyalty, betrayal and ambition. Blinded by his vaulting ambition and encouraged by his wife, Macbeth attempted to remove the obstacles preventing him from being king; these obstacles happened to be other characters in the play. Macbeth accepted the prophecies of witches as a guide for what would be, and misjudged what they told him. In the end, his overconfidence led him to his death as he believed that he could not be harmed, when he was just a mortal man. Over the course of Macbeth, one can clearly see the deterioration of Macbeth’s character; at the beginning of the play Macbeth was hailed as, “Bellona’s bridegroom” (1.2. 54), “brave Macbeth” (1.2 16), and a “noble partner” (1.3. 54), but at the end of the play he was the villain and was described as, “an untitled tyrant, bloody-sceptr’d” (Shakespeare 117). Macbeth is a tragic figure because he failed to live up to his great potential; he allowed the witches’ prophecies, his wife’s advice and his vaulting ambition to lead him to his unfortunate, untimely demise. In William Shakespeare’s Macbeth, Macbeth is responsible for his own destiny because he gave in to his vaulting ambition, succumbed to the wicked counsel of his wife and allowed the prophecies of the witches to fuel his greed and jealousy.…

    • 1716 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Powerful Essays
  • Better Essays

    Macbeth’s vaulting ambition and tragic flaw are the principal factors, which lead to his downfall by gradually destroying his conscience and reputation. Macbeth is seen as a noble hero before his ambition takes over, reflected in the hyperboles, “For brave Macbeth – well he deserves that name – Disdaining Fortune, with his brandished steel, Which smoked with bloody execution, Like Valour’s minion,…”. This exaggerates and emphasises that Macbeth was well respected, and was depicted as a courageous, valiant and worthy gentleman, before his ambition takes over. Macbeth’s ambitions begin to arise after he is named Thane of Cawdor, reflected in the whispered dialogue of, “Glamis, and Thane of Cawdor The greatest is behind.” It also foreshadows his downfall and is ironic because Thane of Cawdor was guilty of treason and Macbeth eventually becomes a traitor too. His vaulting ambitions are portrayed when Duncan does not name him his heir. This is depicted in the metaphoric notions “Stars, hide your fires, Let not light see my black and deep desires.” It shows that Macbeth has begun to yearn for greater power. Macbeth’s conscience is still in control after Duncan’s murder since he cannot bring himself to return to the scene of the murder and is depicted as feeling excessively guilty of his crime, reflected through the cumulative listing of metaphors of no sleep, “Sleep that knits up the ravelled sleave of care, The death of each day’s life, sore labour’s bath, Balm of hurt minds, great nature’s second course…” It emphasises his fear of sleepless nights and having no peace of mind.…

    • 1581 Words
    • 7 Pages
    Better Essays
  • Satisfactory Essays

    The General statement made by William Shakespeare in the play Macbeth is that conflict that comes with the thirst of power can cause someone to conform, then is challenged to decide whether to pursue the desire of the thirst of power or conform to a regular life. More specifically, when Macbeth is given the prophecy from the three witches, he then has the thirst for power that makes him lose all of his morals.…

    • 444 Words
    • 2 Pages
    Satisfactory Essays
  • Good Essays

    How far can the power of man’s ambition extend? This complex question is examined in Shakespeare’s Macbeth, in which a Scottish soldier receives a prophecy from three witches that he will someday become king, spurring a relentless, murderous pursuit of the crown. Act I Scene VII occurs shortly before Macbeth commits his first murder - Duncan, the current Scottish king - and includes a soliloquy in which he contemplates the outcomes of his plan. The excerpt contributes to the characterization of Macbeth as a man torn between his own morality and desires, and suggests that under the right circumstances, the power of ambition may extend without limit.…

    • 298 Words
    • 2 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Good Essays

    Ambition of Macbeth

    • 948 Words
    • 4 Pages

    “The Prince of Cumberland! That is a step on which I must fall down, or else o'erleap, For in my way it lies. Stars, hide your fires; Let not light see my black and deep desires. The eye wink at the hand; yet let that be Which the eye fears, when it is done, to see.” During Act 1 Scene 4, Macbeth describes his ambition as “black and deep desires.” He expresses the terrible desires that come across his mind. Macbeth is so caught up in his ambition, where he is willing to do anything that he desires and feel is appropriate. He states, “I wont let my eye look at what my hand is doing, but in the end I’m still going to do that thing id be horrified to see.” Metaphorically speaking, even though is hand doesn't want to commit the crime, his mindset overpowers the fear he posses in doing the thing he’s horrified to see, which is kill the king.…

    • 948 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Good Essays

    Macbeth

    • 331 Words
    • 2 Pages

    As his wife spirals into madness and the Scottish thanes turn against him, he becomes increasingly isolated and emotionally volatile. Throughout the final act, his behaviour swings between reckless bravado and nihilistic despair. While we are appalled by the savage nature of his crimes, it is difficult not to feel some sympathy for this complex and tragic character as he comes undone. Macbeth’s death is inevitable and necessary to restore moral order. However, his acceptance and courage in the face…

    • 331 Words
    • 2 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Good Essays

    Macbeth And Evil Ambition

    • 368 Words
    • 2 Pages

    The tale of Macbeth is fitting example of what happens you put your selfish and evil ambition above your country.…

    • 368 Words
    • 2 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Good Essays

    Shakespeare’s illustrious tragedy, “Macbeth” has elucidated the imperative role of ambition in the transformation in the transformation of a pious and virtuous general into a paranoid, malicious murderer. Although ambition have its merits, it can also easily be besmirched into greed and envy which can lead even the most honourable men into the realms of damnation. Moreover, this idea was exemplified by Macbeth himself, as his “vaulting ambition” (I.vii.27) led him to “summon [Duncan] to heaven” (II.i.72). On that account, Macbeth’s own deeds illustrate the morphing of Macbeth’s ambition into the vile greed which will eventually plunge him into the realms of insanity, as Macbeth is betraying his own relative who has also ironically honoured…

    • 227 Words
    • 1 Page
    Good Essays