The struggle for power lies at the heart of the drama Macbeth. It shapes and changes the title character Macbeth, leading him down a path of moral corruption, crime and tyranny; eventually to his death. Ambition; stirred by the three witches’ prophecy of Macbeth becoming King, is the fatal flaw that causes this tragic hero’s downfall. Lady Macbeth shares her husband’s longing for power and uses him to achieve control. The murderous actions of Macbeth and his wife have dire consequences, particularly the tremendous guilt that clouds their consciences and the deaths of innocent lives. Shakespeare comments on the negative effect that the struggle power has through the dramatic techniques of the characterisation of Macbeth and Lady Macbeth, and the symbolism of the crown.
Macbeth explores the destructiveness that a longing for power can have through the characterisation of Macbeth. Macbeth is a perfect example of a tragic hero, as his character begins as a well-respected Thane, who has fought bravely for his country. However, Macbeth’s ambition is the tragic flaw that causes his downfall, as he becomes so thirsty for power that his moral views are obstructed and he commits the murder of King Duncan, and orders the murders of Banquo and Macduff’s family. Macbeth’s desire for power overrules his morality. This is shown through his speech: “I have no spur/ To prick the sides of my intent, but only/ Vaulting ambition which o’erleaps itself/ and falls on th’ other –…” (Act 1, Sc. 7, ll. 25-28) Macbeth regrets that he is motivated only by ambition and not by some more worthy motive. Those propelled by ambition often end up worse than they were before, once the deed is done, which is evident in Macbeth’s case. As Macbeth undergoes change throughout the play, he becomes a ruthless and ambitious man who loses sense of his conscience and sanity – willing to go to extremes for what he wants. The