Macbeth’s Deteriorating Mental State

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William Shakespeare’s Macbeth is a tragedy in which the main characters are obsessed by the desire for power. Macbeth’s aspiration for power blinds him to the ethical implications of his dreadful acts. The more that Shakespeare’s Macbeth represses his murderous feelings, the more he is haunted by them. By analyzing his hallucinations it is possible to trace his deteriorating mental state and the trajectory of his ultimate fall. Throughout the play Macbeth is never satisfied with himself. He feels the need to keep committing crime in order to keep what he wants most: his kingship. The harder Macbeth tries to change his fate the more he tends to run into his fate. His ambition and struggle for power was Macbeth’s tragic flaw in the play. Macbeth’s rise to the throne was brought about by the same external forces that ensure his downfall.

Throughout the play, Macbeth’s ambition steadily progresses. Macbeth realizes that his ambition is the only thing that really makes him want to kill the king because it is for his own benefit. This is evident when Macbeth says,

“I have no spur

To prick the sides of my intent, but only

Vaulting ambition, which o'erleaps itself

And falls on the other.” (1.7.25-27)

After Macbeth committed a dreadful crime at the start of the play, he realizes that by killing even more people he can get what he wants whenever he wants. Macbeth reaches a point where he is too busy fulfilling his own ambitions that he was not fulfilling his obligations as king. “Those he command move only in command, / Nothing in love…” (5.2.22-23). His obsession with power caused him to murder his good friend Banquo, and Banquo’s son. Macbeth’s out of control ambition has caused him to lose his emotion. He progressively sta...

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...two apparitions make Macbeth feel like his title as king is safe. He thinks this because Macbeth takes all of what the apparitions say literally and straightforward. Macbeth feels that it is impossible for Birnam wood to move towards the castle, this is ironic because the audience knows that the bark and branches from trees from Birnam wood have been used to camouflage the number of soldiers heading towards Macbeth’s castle. Macbeth does not think of it in this point of view, therefore making him feel very safe and confident about the war. The apparitions told warned Macbeth that Macduff is a threat to his title as king, and Macbeth took action by hiring murderers to kill Macduff’s whole family. Macbeth lies to the murderers and makes them believe that Macduff has been unfaithful to them just so that the murderers would go through with his plan.

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