Is ambition a sin? And thus, is Macbeth rightly punished for his sins? “Whose murder is yet but fantisical”
The problem is that his imagination just will not let go of the possibility that he can become king. Banquo, too, is also tempted by the witches (he would like to talk further about what they said), and, it seems clear, likes to remember what they have prophesied for him. But Banquo puts at the front of his consciousness an awareness that if he should try to act to bring about that favourable event, he will compromise his honour, that is, his place in the social community). So the rosy prospect of a royal line of descendants does not grip Banquo's imagination; it does not, in a word, obsess him, as it does Macbeth, who cannot put from his mind so easily the vision of himself as king; it's a possibility which will not leave him alone. One of the chief functions of Lady Macbeth in the early part of the play is to keep this vision alive within him by any means at her disposal. She taunts him to act on his desires. What she is saying, in effect, is that he must not let any communal scruples stand in the way of his realization of everything which he wants for himself (in other words, he should not be like Banquo). Unlike Macbeth, she has no countervailing social conscience. In fact, she expressly repudiates the most fundamental social aspect of her being, her role as a woman, wife, and mother. Interestingly enough, part of her tactics with Macbeth is to urge him to be more of a man. She identifies his scruples as something unmanly. We should not on that account blame her for Macbeth's actions. He freely chooses to kill Duncan in response to his own deepest desires. Neither his wife nor the witches compel him to do what he does, and he is free at any time to refuse to carry out the murder or, having carried it out, to seek out various courses of new action. But his decision to carry out the deed is marked by a curious indecision. In a sense, Macbeth is never...
Please join StudyMode to read the full document