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Macbeth vs. Ruthless Ambition

By kittifizz May 16, 2010 896 Words
MacBeth vs. Ruthless Ambition

Everyone wants to be on top. People all want respect, many want fame, more want fortune. But this lust for power is the drive for several changes in people, both good and bad. Many times this desire can overtake a person. They become selfish, greedy, cold, obsessed with power. Some will do whatever it takes to get to the top, no matter how steep the climb. In William Shakespeare’s The Tragedy of MacBeth, the desire that fills MacBeth’s character corrupts his once brave soul and kind heart. He loses everything, eventually even losing his grip on reality. The reader is the witness as Macbeth’s once pure mind and brave actions evolve, slowly entering a realm of darkness. As the days go by and his addiction grows, MacBeth’s ruthless ambition changes his formally great character, pushing him to his own demise.

The human mind is a sponge, constantly absorbing fresh information. In the play, Lady MacBeth pours the evil waters of ruthless ambition into MacBeth’s mind. As the water level rises, the vicious thoughts begin to consume him. It wasn’t all Lady MacBeth’s fault though. With these words “…whose horrid image doth unfix my hair and make my seated heart knock at my ribs…” it becomes apparent that MacBeth has his own seeds of ruthless ambition growing in his mind. As the story progresses, the reader watches the seed prosper. When MacBeth says “We’d jump the life to come,” it shows how his fear and hesitation is beginning to melt away. One of the main concerns of people in Macbeth’s time was to make sure they lived a good life so that they would be able to go to heaven in their afterlife. These thoughts show just how serious he is getting. Finally, one can see another example in Act II, Scene 2, when Macbeth hallucinates and sees a dagger. As his ambition and lust for power grows, it overtakes his mind completely, causing him to lose his grip on reality completely. This slow transition is a crucial part of his downfall.

Thoughts are the basis of one’s speech, and when these thoughts become corrupted, spoken words will do the same. The reader can see as the play begins, that MacBeth’s thoughts and therefore also his words, were pure. After the witches visit him and begin his ambitious quest for power, things change. In Scene 3 of Act I, Banquo asks MacBeth “why do you start, and seem to fear things that do sound so fair?” This shows that MacBeth is afraid of something, his mind has already begun to change. This is also shown when not long after, he barks out an order to the witches, “Speak, I charge you.” Because of his drastic mental change, his personality has undergone very alarming changes too. MachBeth is no longer the heroic man worthy of kingly praise the reader sees in the beginning of the play. In Act IV, Scene 1, MacBeth says “But yet I’ll make assurance double sure,/And take a bond of fate. Thou shalt not live..” These few words shed some light on just how mad MacBeth has become. He doesn’t have to kill MacDuff, but he’s going to, “just to make sure”. Again, this shows the evil spreading.

Eventually, after MacBeth has succumb to all the ambition driven madness, it really starts to affect himself and everyone around him. Thoughts and words can only do so much damage, but actions can do a whole lot more. In Act II, Scene 2, MacBeth kills king Duncan. In the beginning MacBeth thought that maybe if he just let things run their course, that everything would work out fine. Things changed when he let his ambition get to him, and he decided to take matters into his own hands. Not only has he killed the king, but he even admits to more murder as seen in this quote: “O, yet do repent me of my fury,/That I did kill them.” He claims it was out of fury, anger at his king’s death, but as the reader knows, it wasn’t, nor was it necessary. A final example of MacBeth’s changing actions is how he outwardly—and inwardly—reacts when told of his own wife’s death. “She should have died hereafter…” he says. He shows no sign of grief as any healthy, normal man would, he is too preoccupied by other matters. His ruthless ambition has finally completely changed him, and threatens to push him over the edge to his own death.

As MacBeth’s ruthless ambition grew, his entire person changed. He trampled anyone and everyone in his way, costing the lives of several good people. Because he allowed his greed to take over, MacBeth lost sight of everything that should've been important to him. He cut down any obstacle that lay before him, not sparing a thought as to whom it may be affecting. Because of this, he lead himself down all the wrong paths and ended up sitting on death’s doorstep. He challenged death, and because of his selfishness, thought he could win. Maybe if he hadn’t destroyed himself in the process of getting there he could’ve won, but unfortunately for him, that was not the case.

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