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Driving Ambition In Shakespeare's Macbeth Essay

1458 words - 6 pages

Ambition can be defined as the desire and willingness to strive towards achievement or distinction. On the contrary, driving ambition is the outright desire to achieve a certain goal, regardless of any possible consequences. In William Shakespeare’s Macbeth, driving ambition caused Macbeth and his wife to murder King Duncan because of their desire for power. In an attempt to retain his power Macbeth also murdered Banquo and Macduff’s family. Through both of these cruel actions, Macbeth and his wife displayed that they are not concerned about the cost of the deed, but only final result that is achieved. This not only results in their downfall, but also has many harmful consequences to other characters. In Macbeth, Shakespeare suggests that driving ambition often causes one to ignore the means and focus only on the final goal; this causes one to participate in actions that have unfathomable consequences for both oneself and for others.
Macbeth’s driving ambition to become king leads him to murder King Duncan. Once Macbeth learns of the witches’ prophesy that he will be King of Scotland, Macbeth immediately assumes that he must murder Duncan, the current king. Macbeth’s driving ambition to fulfill this prophesy causes him to believe that “If it were done, when ‘tis done, then ‘twere well / It were done quickly” (I, vii, 1-2). Macbeth is reluctant to murder King Duncan, because Duncan was a gentle, generous, and trustworthy king. On the contrary, Macbeth believes that if he will not be held accountable for murdering Duncan, he should murder Duncan shortly. This demonstrates that Macbeth is not overly concerned about the act of murdering Duncan, but only concerned about the final result. Thus, Macbeth’s driving ambition causes him to murder King Duncan so that he can achieve his goal of becoming King of Scotland.
Macbeth murders Banquo because of his driving ambition to remain as king. Macbeth believes that “To be safely thus: our fears in Banquo / Stick deep; and in his royalty of nature / Reigns that which would be feare’d… There is none but he / Whose being I do fear” (III, i, 53-59). Macbeth is suspicious that Banquo will expose him for murdering Duncan. This could occur because Banquo is the only other person who knows about the witches’ prophecies, and Banquo has always been loyal to King Duncan. Therefore, Macbeth arranges Banquo’s murder in order to eliminate the possibility of being connected to the murder of King Duncan; this would result in Macbeth losing his position as king. In order to maintain his goal of being king, Macbeth’s driving ambition causes him to murder one of his closest comrades.
Macbeth consults with the witches regarding his future because of his driving ambition to remain as King of Scotland. Macbeth is fearful of losing his title as king, so he consults with the witches, who are believed to have the ability of prophesy. Contrary to most kings, such as King Edward of England, Macbeth consulted with...

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