Man Versus Self, Man, And World: The Corrupting Power Of Ambition In Macbeth

1275 words - 5 pages

The vigorous desire to achieve a goal holds the capability of having a great affect in one’s life. William Shakespeare's play Macbeth establishes the immense effect and influence of ambition. After gaining power over his country, Scotland, the protagonist, Macbeth, experiences an internal battle as he fights between his ambition and conscience. He also destroys stable relationships with others as his selfish goals hurt those around him when achieved. In addition to clashing with himself and others, he is seen as a tyrant leader and is progressively turned against by the nations of Scotland and England. Shakespeare's play Macbeth provides the reader with an understanding of ambition's corrupting power in the tragic character Macbeth, through his inner conflicts, his struggle to maintain stable relationships with those surrounding him, and his clash with society.
To begin, Macbeth experiences an internal downfall where he battles between his desires and moralistic values as a result of his ambition. Initially, the idea of attaining power over Scotland by killing King Duncan sparks a sense of fear and paranoia in Macbeth, however, his conscience fails to take over his ambition: "That we but teach/ Bloody instructions, which being taught, return/ To plague the inventor. /[...]/ I have no spur/ To prick the sides of my intent, but only/ Valuing ambition, which o'erleaps itself/ And falls on th' other-" (1.7.8-28). At this moment Macbeth displays his moral judgement as he understands that by proceeding with the murder, he is only causing his own demise and punishing himself. With that being said, Macbeth realizes that his ambition and desire to obtain power takes over his conscience when he concludes that his motivation for ambition is stronger than his will to act upon what is morally just, confirming how ambition is corrupting. Consequently, the battle between his desires and moral judgement comes to an end when Macbeth develops into a sinful character of immoral judgement. Macbeth’s character develops from one of a moral compass to a wicked man, which is shown when Macbeth states, " I am in blood/ Stepped in so far that, should I wade no more,/ Returning were as tedious as go o'er" (3.4.167-170). Macbeth progresses a shameless mentality where he believes that it is easier to continue committing murders than it is to turn back to a person of righteous values. The transition between his old self and regenerated self is proven as he shifts to become a person of sin and immoral vices. Contrasting his old self and prior to his ambition overtaking his conscience, he simply acts upon impulse without critically thinking of the consequences. He believes the only way to secure his power and political position is by continuing to murder. The shift in his personality exemplifies his internal downfall, proving how his ambition internally corrupts him.
Following his internal conflict, Macbeth's ambition destroys his relationships with those around him due to...

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