The thematic importance of ambition is revealed throughout MacBeth in a manner that is not always instantly visually evident to a conscientious reader. Although it is responsible for MacBeth's rise to power, his "vaulting ambition" is also to blame for MacBeth's tragic downfall. MacBeth would not have been able to achieve his power as King of Scotland, or have been able to carry out his evil deeds, if it was not for his ambition. In these instances, ambition helped MacBeth achieve his goals to a certain subdued degree. Consequently, however, MacBeth's ambition has another face and is what leads him to his disastrous fall from grace. Had he not been fixated with becoming King and remaining powerful, he would not have continued to kill innocent people in order to keep his position. In due course, MacBeth's removal from power is attributable to these killings, along with his over bearing attitude.
MacBeth, at the beginning of the play, seems to be an exceptionally noble person. He is characterized as being vastly loyal and honorable. He courageously and victoriously fights a battle for his country and this establishes a strong sense of his loyalty. MacBeth is later appointed Thane of Cawdor, which, once more, proves that he is honorable in the eyes of royalty. However, the instant the witches spark ambition in him, using their prophecies, he is no longer trustworthy because his mind fills with evil and deceit. Even before he reaches his home, thoughts of murder creep into his head and he is overcome with the desire to be powerful. In the following quotation, MacBeth admits, metaphorically, that it is only his ambition that prompts him. "I have no spur to prick the sides of my intent, but only vaulting ambition, which o'erleaps itself and falls on the other" (I, 7, 25 ff). At this point in the play, Macbeth's unruly ambition begins to become apparent. A seed of evil has bloomed into a flower of defiance and MacBeth has reached a point of no return. MacBeth...
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