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Macbeth
The Effects of Unrestrained Ambition Lady Macbeth and Macbeth create their own tragedy by inciting ambition, and power-hungry obsession that fatalistically corrupts their minds. In the play, Macbeth by William Shakespeare, Lady Macbeth begins the downward spiral with her ambition, pushing Macbeth into wanting to become King. Macbeth then becomes obsessed with becoming King and gaining and maintaining power. These situations lead to both Lady Macbeth and Macbeth’s corruption, and ultimately, their deaths. In the characters of Lady Macbeth and Macbeth, Shakespeare demonstrates that unrestrained ambition and the dogged pursuit of power have severe consequences. Lady Macbeth’s ambition impacts her acquaintances, her relationship with Macbeth, and her own future. Firstly, she displays ambition towards the witches’ initial prophecy. The messenger delivers a letter from Macbeth explaining that the witches said he will be king. Lady Macbeth thinks aloud, “Cawdor; and shalt be / What thou art promis’d. Yet do I fear thy nature; / It is too full o’ the milk of human kindness /To catch the nearest way. Thou wouldst be great, / Art not without ambition” (Shakespeare, I.v.14-18). This quote shows Lady Macbeth’s realization that Kingship would be ideal but in order to obtain the title, it will take ambition and fearlessness. Next, she urges Macbeth and mocks his manliness in order to motivate him to agree to killing Duncan, so that he will be able to take over the throne. She states: “bear welcome in your eye, / you hand, your tongue: look like the innocent / flower / But be the serpent under’t” (I.v.62-65). Her words have the impact she intended and Macbeth agrees to murder King Duncan. By using her ambition and forcing him into things he initially did not want to do, tension is created within their relationship. Her ambition is also evident in her unrelenting need to obtain power. Lady Macbeth’s goal, as previously stated, is to encourage Macbeth to kill those who stand in the way of him becoming King. She convinces him with the final statement, “who dares receive it other, / As we shall make our griefs and clamour roar / Upon his death?” (I.vii.78-79). Her ongoing motivation is satisfied by ensuring that he will not be held accountable for his actions, and Lady Macbeth gets her way. The ambitious and obsessive pursuit of power corrupts minds and leads to tragedy throughout the play. Lady Macbeth and Macbeth obsess also over the guilt they experience as a result of using their power to execute their acquaintances. Macbeth’s obsession begins when he hires murderers to kill Banquo. By eliminating Banquo, Macbeth believes he will have nothing to fear. He shows his fear of Banquo by saying, “There is none but he / Whose being I do fear;” (II.i.54-55). Macbeth later sees Banquo’s ghost and continues to obsess over the guilt caused by killing Banquo in order to gain power. Next, Lady Macbeth is cursed with the guilt incurred by planning Duncan’s murder. She obsesses over a red spot that is not present, “Out damned spot! Out I say! One; two: why, then / ’tis time do’t. Hell is murky! Fie, my lord-fie!” (V.i.34-39). She is overwhelmed by guilt and cannot forget the sins she has committed. Lastly, Macbeth’s power-hungry obsession transforms into confidence, which lead to him murdering Seaward. With the witches’ apparition in mind, he kills Seaward and feels untouchable, “But swords I smile at, weapons laugh to scorn, / Branish’d by man that’s of a woman born” (V.vii.12-13). Macbeth’s obsession over the prophecy inspires him to kill Seaward. The power-hungry actions of Lady Macbeth and Macbeth fuel their growing obsession with maintaining power and further the accumulating guilt that comes from that. Both Lady Macbeth and Macbeth epitomize corrupted minds that are the outcome of an overload of ambition and obsession. To begin, Lady Macbeth has corrupted her husband. She forced him into killing King Duncan and the regret of that is overwhelming to him, “I am in blood / Stepp’d in so far, that, should I wade no more, / Returning were as tedious as o o’er / Strange things I have in head that will to hand,” (III.iv.136-140). As he is admitting his own self defeat (he knows that he has done so wrong, that there is no turning back), Lady Macbeth realizes what she has turned her husband into, and the guilt from that awareness that corrupts her mind. Following, Macbeth accepts the fact he is going to die fighting. He says, “I’ll fight till from my bones my flesh be hack’d. / Give me my armour” (V.iii.33-34). This statement proves that he has been corrupted because every person should value his or her life, only those with a tainted mindset accept death willingly. Lady Macbeth’s life is corrupted, such that it life ends with suicide. She reflects on her previous actions of assisted murder, “What’s / done cannot be undone” (V.i.64-65). It is the wrong doings of her actions that lead to her suicide. Macbeth and Lady Macbeths’ corruption leads to tragedy and death. The unbridled ambition within the play Macbeth causes a negative chain of event that ends with tragedy. Lady Macbeth’s ambitions instigate her own and Macbeth’s obsession over power and guilt. The interacting effects of ambition, obsession, and corruption produce volatile situations with tragic conclusions.

Work Cited
Shakespeare, William. Macbeth. Ed. Roma Gill, Oxford: Oxford UP, 1977, Print.

Cited: Shakespeare, William. Macbeth. Ed. Roma Gill, Oxford: Oxford UP, 1977, Print.

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