The Ambition that drove Macbeth
Ambition is defined as, having strong want or desire for more than you have. In Macbeth, ambition plays a giant role in the devolvement of the characters. The three witches are the source of ambition within the story. It’s as if they control the negative or even dark, selfish ambition of the characters.
Ambition affects three of the major characters. Macbeth, Lady Macbeth and Banquo. Macbeth’s ambition is powered by the witches. The witches tell him that he is to be king. However, he doesn’t know how he is to be king.
The story soon shows us that ambition will bring his ruin. But way before he had this desire, he said that he would never have even considered killing the king in order to take his place. He wouldn’t even dream of it. The ambition later drives him to kill the king to do exactly what he claimed he would never do.
Lady Macbeth is even more corrupt and power hungry than her husband. She allows her ambition to driver her to encourage the final push of Duncan’s death to Macbeth. Of course Macbeth listens to her and kills Duncan. Her ambition though, is not driven by the witches. She’s driven by greed. She wants the power of being Queen. She wants to be the Queen. Both Lady Macbeth and Macbeth’s ambition proves to be such a tragic weakness for them both. Her want drives her to insanity, which ultimately is the cause of her demise.
There is a part of the story where she is sleepwalking. She goes to her room and sits down. She looks at her hands a sees blood all over them. She thus sticks her hands into the water bowl and attempts to wash them clean. But when she pulls them back out, her hands were still stained red. Only she can see the blood on her hands. Her maid and doctor see her and assume she’s gone crazy. This is only the beginning of her insanity. Just before her death, she reads the letter Macbeth had wrote her, telling her that he was to be King then finally, her guilt and greed kills her.
Banquo’s ambition is different from Macbeths and Lady Macbeth’s. His ambition does not drive him to murder. His is slightly less selfish. He wants his son to become king and he wants his son’s son to become king and so on for generations to come. He doesn’t know how he will make his ambition successful. But he does know, however, that it is definitely not worth killing for.
Later Macbeth finds out about this ambition and becomes jealous. His deep selfish desire drives him to kill Banquo to stop his plan from unfolding. Macbeth, was initially a respected and brave man. But he becomes a victim to his own ambition which thus leads him to guilt and paranoia. The first big burst of guilt is immediately after Duncan’s murder when Macbeth exclaims “One cried, ‘God bless us!’ and ‘Amen,’ the other, As they had seen me with these hangman’s hands; Listening their fear, I could not say, ‘Amen,’ when they did say ‘God bless us’” (2.2.37-40). It is clear that Macbeth feels intense guilt after committing such a gross sin.
Ambition in itself is not bad. It is when ambition goes unchecked. That’s when it becomes a danger. If Mcbeath would have wanted to be king and rightfully fight for the crown, that’s one thing. But allowing his greed for power to move him to murder is another.
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