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Duality Of Ambition In Macbeth

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Ambition and desire are double-edged notions present in all who crave success and power. While ambition is most often associated with unfavorable greed and overwhelming need, people who express this desire are simultaneously praised for being goal-oriented and steadfast in achieving their goals. In the play Macbeth, by William Shakespeare, this duality of ambition is explored through the character of Lady Macbeth. In the play, Lady Macbeth’s husband, Macbeth, is prophesied to be king, and in order to expedite his path to the throne and their combined rise to power, Lady Macbeth plots to murder the current King Duncan. Throughout her Act I soliloquy, Lady Macbeth reveals not only her malevolent and scheming nature, but also profound determination…show more content…
Lady Macbeth’s murderous thoughts concerning the demise of King Duncan characterize her as callous and cruel, as well as ruthlessly determined to achieve her goal of rising to power alongside Macbeth. After she reads Macbeth’s letter containing his royal prophecy, Lady Macbeth immediately begins to concoct a plan that will dethrone King Duncan as quickly as possible. She tells “spirits/That tend on mortal thoughts” to “unsex [her] here,” (1.5.47-48) and allow her to promptly lose her identity and transform into a man on the spot. Her readiness to completely alter her appearance and gender emphasizes the lengths to which Lady Macbeth is willing to go in order to successfully carry out her plan. She then further implores the spirits to “come to [her] woman’s breasts/And take [her] milk for gall” (1.5.54-55). By asking the spirits to exchange her nutritive milk for fatal poison, Lady Macbeth suggests that she does not see her breasts as soft and nurturing, but rather obstructive to the execution of her plan, and that…show more content…
While speaking to herself, Lady Macbeth contemplates how she will convince Macbeth to agree to kill King Duncan. She urges Macbeth to hurry home so that she can “pour [her] spirits in [his] ear/And chastise with the valor of [her] tongue” (1.5.29-30). Lady Macbeth implies that her speech is honorable and just, and that she will be able to hold persuasive power over Macbeth and use it to their collective advantage in their rise to power. Her confidence in both the high caliber of her words and being able to convince Macbeth to follow through with her plan underscores her cruel ability to lure someone to murder another, as well as her bold resolve to successfully murder Duncan. Later, after a messenger arrives and tells Lady Macbeth that King Duncan will be arriving soon at the castle, she speaks of Duncan’s foreboding future; a “the fatal entrance…under [her] battlements” (Act, Page number, Line). The tone of finality in which Lady Macbeth describes the king’s arrival implies not only that Lady Macbeth already has full confidence that her deadly scheme will succeed,but also in the case that her strategic plan fails, she will persevere to ensure that Duncan does not leave her castle walls alive. Lastly, at the conclusion of her soliloquy, Lady Macbeth claims once she sees Macbeth that she “feel(s) now/The future in the instant” (1.6.64-65).
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