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The Corrupting Power Of Ambition In William Shakespeare's Macbeth

1536 words - 6 pages

The vigorous desire to achieve and willingly attain something holds the capability to greatly affect 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 downfall as he battles between his wants and moral judgement. He struggles to maintain stable relationships with others as his selfish desires and goals hurt those around him when achieved. In addition to clashing with himself and others, he is seen as a tyrant leader and is slowly turned against by Scotland's nation as well as England. Shakespeare's play Macbeth provides the reader with a clear understanding of ambition's corrupting power in Shakespeare's tragic character Macbeth, through his inner conflicts, struggle to maintain stable relationships with those surrounding him, and clash with society.

To begin, Macbeth experiences an internal downfall due to his ambition where he battle between his desires and moralistic values. Initially, the idea of attaining power over Scotland by killing King Duncan sparks a sense of fear and paranoia in Macbeth, however, his conscience struggles 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 contemplates on killing King Duncan as he visualizes the long term consequences of committing the crime. The reader can grasp 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 much 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 Shakespeare displays how Macbeth has progressed into a sinful character of immoral judgement. In the middle of the play, Macbeth states,"By the worst means the worst. For mine own good,/ All causes shall give way. 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 develops 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. In comparison to his previous self, Macbeth demonstrates that he acts upon impulse to attain his desires. He orders to kill Macduff's family and everyone in his castle simply because of a prophecy he is given stating to beware Macduff. Through his statement, the audience can understand the transition between his old self and regenerated self - a person of sin and immoral vices. Contrasting his old self...

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