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Ambition and the Downfall of Macbeth Essay

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Macbeth is one of William Shakespeare’s most powerful and emotionally intense plays. Macbeth, once known for his courage and bravery is transformed into a ruthless tyrant. His wife, Lady Macbeth, once known for her strength and great ambition is soon engulfed by guilt and sensitivity greatly weakens her. As the tragic hero Macbeth is overcome by tensions in his criminal act and the reactions by his conscience (Nix).
In the opening act of this play Macbeth is a solider who has just returned from war. The captains are speaking highly of Macbeth’s valor, courage, and bravery. Suddenly Macbeth meets up with three witches. These witches tell him, “All hail, Macbeth! Hail to thee, thane of Glamis, thane of Cawdor, that shalt be king hereafter!” (I.3.48-50). Macbeth currently was the thane of Glamis but at first while Macbeth is in disbelief. This changes when Ross appears informing Macbeth he is now promoted to the thane of Cawdor. The witch’s prophecy has now brought upon the ambition of Macbeth. That night Duncan has decided to be a guest at Macbeth’s castle. Macbeth is starting to believe that in order for him to become King he must kill Duncan.
Lady Macbeth first appears in Act One as she is reading a letter from her husband. He is telling her of his promotion to the Thane of Cawdor and details of his meeting with the witches. However Lady Macbeth is not entirely sure that her husband will be able to fulfill such prophecies. She says to herself, “Yet I do fear thy nature; It is too full o’ the milk of human kindness to catch the nearest way. Thou wouldst be geat; act not without ambition, but without the illness should attend it” (I.5.12-16). After she gets word from a messenger that her husband and King Duncan are on the...


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...but beast-like (Nix). Macduff later kills Macbeth.
Due to the influence of ambition on both characters, Macbeth and Lady Macbeth both end up dead. Compared to the beginning to the end of the play Macbeth and his wife seemed to have switched who they were. No longer did any relationships exist between Macbeth and any other person at the end of the play. For the ambition and greed that Macbeth and Lady Macbeth acted upon, Malcolm summarizes the result of their behavior, “ Producing forth the cruel ministers Of this dead butcher and his fiendlike queen” (V.VIII.68-69).



Works Cited

"Macbeth." SHAKESPEARE for Students. Ed. Mark W. Scott. Detroit: Gale Research. 263-69. Print.
Nix, Bryan. "The Nature Of Evil In Macbeth." Print.
Shakespeare, William. Macbeth. Adventures in English Literature. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1979. 119-82. Print.


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