Was Macbeth A Victim Of Ambition

805 words - 3 pages

At the end of the play, Malcolm refers to Macbeth and Lady Macbeth as: '...this dead butcher and his fiend-like queen...', consider the accuracy of Malcolm's judgment by reference to their speeches and actions throughout the play. (2,5 pages)

In Malcolm's eyes, the Macbeths are just tyrannical murderers who snatched the throne away from him and his father and reigned a rule of terror in all of Scotland. But looking carefully from a different point-of-view, we see that Macbeth is driven by the powerful contradictions in his character. Unlike other villains, Macbeth does not enjoy doing evil; he has not totally renounced the idea of morality, although it is apparent that his ambition is stronger than his conscience.

At first, Macbeth had the itch to be king, but he did not have the will to scaratch it. We can see that Macbeth is not a cold-blooded monster in that the very idea of killing Duncan horrifies him, and in Act II he tries to tell Lady Macbeth that he will not go through with the murder. The character of Lady Macbeth is therefore required to provide Macbeth with the extra will-power to fulfil his royal ambitions. Macbeth is almost 'forced' by Lady Macbeth to murder Duncan. After committing the murder, Macbeth seems almost delirious and he says that '...all great Neptune's ocean....hand'. We can already see that he is sorry for what he has done.

When Macbeth orders Banquo's murder, he is still in torment, but the cause of his anguish seems to have been changed. He is afraid of Banquo, because Banquo knows about the witches and their predictions of his(Banquo's) descendants being kings. Banquo's death, he says, will put his mind at rest. Banquo's murder, he figures, will serve as an aspirin to his aches and pains.

We are never told how Macbeth feels about the murder of Macduff's wife and children. Their killing gains him nothing. He has good reason to fear Macduff though, but slaughtering his enemy's family is pointless. Macbeth seems to order their murder for spite, out of a feeling of desperation. Despite the witches' new prophecies, which appear to be reassuring, he is afraid of losing the crown. Since he cannot get at Macduff directly, he lets loose this senseless violence to those closest to Macduff.

Macbeth's other unspecified act of...

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