Ambition As The Root Of Macbeth's Downfall

1381 words - 6 pages

Ambition as the Root of Macbeth's Downfall

Ambition plays the largest part in Macbeth's downfall. However,
without the interference of the witches his ambition would not have
changed. The witches increase his ambition drastically by the thought
of kingship. Lady Macbeth sees the potential for his ambition to be
great, but knows he will do nothing with it, so she plans it all for
him; all he has to do is stab Duncan.

The three witches are introduced at the beginning of the play; they
give Macbeth three prophecies, that he will be Thane of Cawdor, Thane
of Glamis and King. The witches can foretell the future; they add
temptation and influence Macbeth but they cannot control his destiny.
The witches themselves have no particular goal to reach. When it comes
to Macbeth they are just having fun. As Hecate argues, all they
achieve is:

'How did you dare/ To trade and traffic with Macbeth/ In riddles and
affairs of death'

The language used here by Hecate is dark and unpleasant, and the way 'death'
is used, implies that the witches could have known that their
interference would lead to the death of characters.

The witches are only responsible for the introduction of these ideas
to Macbeth; they are not responsible for his actions throughout the
play. Yet their meddling inevitably causes a change within Macbeth.
This is the growth of his ambition from his previous state. From being
a good and honest man, Macbeth transforms into a conniving plotter
against the King:

'The Prince of Cumberland: that is a step/On which I must fall down.
Or else o'erleap,/For in my way it lies. Stars hide your fires/Let not
light see my black and deep desires.'

His language here is a complete contrast to earlier on in the play; it
is the first sign of the evil within Macbeth. It is dark and full of
bad intent.

Lady Macbeth observes the start of this change in him and acts upon it
to encourage it since she knows that Macbeth possesses ambition within
him, but not the malicious intent necessary for him to become king.

'yet do I fear thy nature/It is to full o'th'milk of human kindness.'

She is selfless, and wants what is best for her husband. However
Macbeth is not resolved to go through with the killing of the King.
Lady Macbeth manipulates Macbeth's self-esteem by playing on his
manliness and his bravery, in order to ensure that he realises the
opportunity in front of him.

'when you durst do it, then you were a man. /And to be more than what
you were, you would/Be so much more the man.'

This convinces Macbeth to commit regicide, because being one of the
bravest men in Scotland, he could not stand being called a coward. He
has to prove to his wife that he still is big and masculine. Although
Macbeth has the final say in whether or not to go ahead with the
initial killing, he...

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